By Deep Patel
The giants of the social media sphere melded their technology with the way we live and how we pursue what we value most.
Over the last decade, social media platforms have taken the world by storm. Facebook now boasts over 2 billion monthly active users. Instagram sits at 800 million active users. Snapchat has about 180 million daily active users, who send a total of 3.5 billion snaps each day.
Some pessimistic observers question the legitimacy of these budding social networks. They might think that these apps are a waste of time and wonder why so many people are obsessed with them.
A more optimistic observer might ask why. What is it about these apps that attracts so much attention and energy? There is plenty to learn from the viral success of popular social media platforms. You can learn not just about technology but also human psychology by studying these success stories.
The titans of the industry, including Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, are great examples of how to build a successful social media startup. Here are five of the most prominent reasons why they have succeeded thus far:
1. They are obsessed with the user experience.
The teams at Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram care about every detail across the user experience. Furthermore, every part of their applications, from initial download to daily usage, is optimized for the target user persona.
Customization helps these platforms maintain high levels of engagement. They know exactly what will draw users in and what will keep them there. Facebook’s newsfeed, for example, is extremely personalized and catered toward a specific user experience. The feed is tailored to provide content that appeals to a specific user’s attention. Snapchat has made it as easy as possible for users to view many stories in a short amount of time.
These platforms want everyone to have a great experience. Since those experiences look different for each person, customized content pops up for each user. Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have also worked out the kinks regarding the design and placement of the various buttons. The platforms are intuitive and easy to onboard, and every feature seems to be exactly where it should be.
2. Long-term focus.
Facebook has been around since 2004. That’s almost 14 years! They have been able to succeed (and will continue to do so) because of their long-term thinking. Their acquisition of Instagram is a perfect example of this. Facebook is also investing in virtual reality and countless other areas that could thrive in the future.
This long-term mindset has enabled these platforms to avoid making choices purely for the instantaneous reward. Making decisions that have a short-term effect might raise the stock price today, but it will not keep them alive down the road. Future planning should pay off five to 10 years from now.
3. They allow people to easily communicate with each other.
Easy communication among people from all over the world has always been a huge component of these platforms. Text messaging came along before Facebook, but they were one of the first companies to enable simple communication between people in different countries. Snapchat upped the ante by creating photo messaging so that you could see the person you were talking to.
We are inherently social creatures, so the opportunity to seamlessly converse and connect with one another is very valuable. Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat make it incredibly easy to exercise this innately human quality.
4. They appeal to human ego.
The profile functionality that these companies have enabled is not always the most healthy. However, people love the opportunity to showcase themselves online. They have total control over what appears and what does not. They can paint any picture of themselves to their friends and followers. There are studies indicating that getting Facebook or Instagram likes or views on a Snapchat story create a dopamine release similar to when someone takes certain drugs.
It is easier to live in an online world where you can control the exact photos and perspectives of yourself that exist, as opposed to living in reality and taking chances of making mistakes. This ability to showcase oneself in any way and receive feedback in the form of friends, followers or likes can be addictive.