From Social Media to Instant Messaging

Somewhen in 2010 we started to ask ourselves which service would surpass (in usage, eyeballs, clicks, whatever the metric) Facebook and when. This question is important not only to FB, but to anyone carvin a living out of the social network.

Strong contenders nowadays are instant messengers (remember ICQ?). With the advent of smarter mobile devices and cheap data plans, usage of 3rd-party IM to replace costly text messaging surges. Plus, since our Moms and Dads have their own Facebook nowadays (plateau of productivity reached), most importantly teens left the platform aside and went on the search for greener pastures. They found this place with IM.

I do not link to all the rants, analysis and commentary on the “demise of Facebook”. Also, this is not about the behavioral shift from many to many to one to one that underlines the surge in IM usage. Both points are interesting enough and I might write about them again, but they are out of scope for this article.

Facebook is an ecosystem. Advertising agencies, media agencies, social media experts and software developers, to name a few, all generate revenue from it. The point I am trying to make: They won’t be able to do this to the same extent via IM. Go figure.

(Oh: Can we, some 17 years later, drop the “Instant”?)

Photo by Volker Lannert / General-Anzeiger, depicting Friedhelm Hillebrand, one of the inventors of short message services.

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