It wasn’t long ago that social media platforms as we knew it did not even exist. From the early days of javascript websites offering us customised profiles to decorate with stickers and glitter to showcase to our friends, to simple discussion boards that have existed since the dawn of the web, social media as we know it has come a long way. Fast forward to today and the social media landscape is unlike that of 20 years ago, yet the big platforms of 5 or 10 years ago are still the top social platforms of today. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram.

Since the crown has been taken up by the three big social platforms in the western world, nobody has come close to dethroning them. We’ve seen the rise and fall of Vine, an attempt at takeover by privacy-focused social platforms as well as viral social apps but none have come close to match those that stand at the top. For those with the crown, it has hardly been a scandal-free run for them either, with 40% of surveyed people seeing Facebook as the company they trust the least with their personal information with Twitter being seen as suppressing individuals but at the same time, not suppressing content enough. As for Instagram: they’ve been criticised for failing to remove graphic self-harm images, with a young girls father blaming Instagram for the death of her daughter. Any of these scandals would be enough to tip the boat for any smaller platform, but with the dwarfing nature of these social platforms – they’re almost unstoppable. Despite this, any future for an upcoming social platform to become successful as those at the top is inexistent. Here’s why.

1. Lack of trust

We can start with trust. Firstly, it’s true that trust in social media as a whole has evaporated. People get that through using social media they’re handing over their data to these big organisations, but it’s mostly seen as a trade-off for the ability to have a platform to stay up to date with their friends, to message others and to discover what those around them are getting up to. With the numerous privacy scares over the years, including a major information leak of 50 million accounts on Facebook (and Facebook most definitely knows a lot about you!), a few social media platforms have attempted to shine in with their own privacy-first social platform, but despite media-backing, have failed. ELLO anyone? Not hello, but the platform ‘ELLO’ that was proclaimed to be the ‘Facebook killer’. A few years later, their mainstream status was nowhere to be seen. It has become a niche artist community, though. If privacy can’t get people to jump ship…

2. Rise of the one-stop-social-shop

Instagram is offering up in-app integrations for retail outlets to sell and promote their products within the app. Twitter Moments offers us more than just tweets in the form of small articles for us to explore. Facebook presents us with a marketplace, a calendar, the weather forecast, games to play and the ability to explore local events in your area, amongst more. It’s certain that the three crowning platforms want to be ‘jack of all trades’ in their offering, ensuring that you won’t necessarily have to leave their platform when you want to access other information. As social media platforms at the moment already offer everything that we need, why move to another platform that will offer everything we’ve already got or less? The platforms at the top are also best positioned for implementing additional features in the future too, with a massive development team and budget to make that happen.

3. It’s hard to get everyone on board

As Vera Lynn once said, it hurts to say goodbye. With any dramatic switch to a new social media platform, it’s hard to leave behind all the content you’ve curated on that prior platform: from your messages, your posts and photos and indeed, your friends too. Getting one friend on board with a new platform is hard enough, but when you’re trying to direct all your friends towards a new platform, it’s near impossible. The problem with new social media sites is it takes a lot organically for it to grow and transform into something that people are willing to opt for over other options available to them.

4. Social boredom

Social media fatigue is an ever-growing state of mind with many people choosing to leave the social realm as a whole for good. More and more people are finding ways to live a life without being chained to the world of social media and for them, a new platform won’t and can’t cut the mustard. For those who have left social media, a rehashed version of what we’ve seen before is not going to get many people in a rush to sign on up and with more and more people leaving, the target audience available to promote your platform to becomes ever-more minimal. Although social media usage around the world is on the increase, it could be said that this is mostly down to the various parts of the world that have only recently been introduced to the social realm, so are going through the cycle themselves before too ending up abandoning these very platforms.

With this, we can see that the platforms that dominate now will be here to stick around for quite a while, leaving no wiggle room for any new future successful social media platforms. With a lot preventing any success: from trust in social media deteriorating, social media platforms already offering us everything that we require from such a platform, the challenges that inviting everyone over to a new platform brings, as well as fatigue in social media as a whole becoming ever so present – the odds are definitely stacked against any potential venture.

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