Laura Solomon, the Library Services Manager for the Ohio Public Library Information Network, posted Part 1 of “Social Media Isn’t What It Used To Be…and It Never Will Be Again” to her blog this week. In this post, Solomon talks about the decline of social media use in 2018. She addressed things like addiction, content shock and stress as reasons why social media use is on the decline. Solomon has been teaching librarians for the last decade on how to do social media better, so she said this post felt weird for her to write.
If social media is and continues to be on the decline, what could this mean for libraries and our usage of social media? Will we have to change our approach or shift our content? How have we made adjustments to our content in the last three years?
Below is an excerpt of Solomon’s post.
For the past few years, the vast majority of news from the social media realm has been in a positive vein. Popular formats and platforms. Demographic shifts between channels. Social media influencers. And, overarching the more granular changes, the continual rise of social media use. Until now.
2018 has marked the beginning of something we’ve not seen before: a decline in the overall use of social media (Baer 2018). A 3% drop may not seem particularly significant, but it is the fact that it is a drop that should cause concern. For the past nine years, social media use in the U.S. has increased an average of nearly 8%.
At the very least, this data is indicative that the love affair with social media may be over. “In terms of what we consider to be the primary “social networks” (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, et al.), we may have reached ‘peak social media.’ It’s likely that we’ll see a subsequent decline in usage in 2019.” (Baer 2018)
Anecdotally, I don’t find this surprising. I, myself, have an ambivalent relationship with the medium, despite my ongoing involvement. I have often wondered if I could possibly walk away from it. A fair number of attendees in my workshops have indicated similar feelings. Perhaps, many, like me, feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume and nonstop feeds of emotions and news.
And it’s not just “olds” like myself. Even Millenials are falling out of love with social media. A poll, taken in December 2017, found that 34% of this age group have deleted entire social media accounts (Vega, 2018). More than 50% reported that they were “seeking relief from social media.”