From Posts To Messages -- Are People Turning Their Backs On Public Social?

Are users claiming back their feeds? Are they switching away from cluttered, random timelines for direct communication with real friends, relatives and work colleagues? Well, the research that is starting to come in would suggest so.

Earlier this week we had research from analytics firm, SimilarWeb, that people are switching toward messaging services and today we have figures from RadiumOne which suggest that four-fifths of "social" sharing is actually done direct on "dark social."

The SimilarWeb study found that use of Instagram in both the UK and U.S. is down by around a quarter a and a third, while Twitter wasn't faring much better, with just under and just over a quarter drop in the UK and U.S., respectively. Facebook and Snapchat saw falls, but nowhere near as severe.

It now means that while the most popular social site is Facebook, there's no surprise there -- the next spots go to WhatsApp, Telegraph and Whisper. After these messaging apps, we then get back to the formerly more familiar territory of Instagram, Snapchat and then Twitter.

This fits in perfectly well with the finding from RadiumOne. More than four in five social shares now occur on what it calls "dark social" and two in three clicks to a publisher's site from shared content come from "dark social" rather than material that has been posted in the open on the likes of a Facebook post or tweet.

The thing about this research is that it just kind of makes sense. It's pretty easy to accept that people are getting a little tired of showoffs on Facebook and Instagram and simply can't keep track of a Twitter page feed. So it would make sense that they may be in the early stages of preferring to share content that matters to them directly with friends. It also figures that if a friend in real life -- and not a social acquaintance -- has personally sent content to you or a group on a messaging app, you will give it more attention and check it out. Otherwise, you're going to look pretty rude the next time you meet up and they ask if you saw that amazing video or article they sent over the other day.

After years of posting widely and publicly, I think it is fair to say we're starting to see a partial move back to sharing content directly with friends through messaging rather than public walls. Don't expect Facebook to go anywhere anytime soon, but do be aware that content marketing clicks could be coming through messaging apps and not the social giants you were presuming.

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