Are social media users looking for alternatives to Facebook?
Published: Monday, October 15, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
Mary-Kathryn Vest enjoys keeping up with her friends and family on Facebook, but logging on to Facebook and seeing public bickering between her family members leaves her annoyed and frustrated. However, Vest has found a new social media outlet with significantly less turmoil.
“I’d choose Pinterest over Facebook in a heartbeat. With Facebook there’s an overwhelming amount of drama and things to keep up with. Pinterest has none of that; it’s just fun,” said Vest.
She is not alone. Pinterest is just one of the many alternative venues to Facebook. Social media users are now flocking to other sites such as Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest to communicate and share. What do all of these have in common? They are focused on pictures. This increasing popularity of photo-rich sites could detract usage from Facebook, which has been the longstanding “king” of social media, with over 900 million users.
Willie Baronet, advertising professor at Southern Methodist University, said one of Facebook’s main flaws is that it can cause conflict among groups of people.
“It can cause some insulation among groups who only hear people with similar opinions repeating the same thoughts over and over,” said Baronet.
While all of these sites are centered on photo content, each one brings something different to the table.
With an estimated 73.2 million users, Tumblr is a micro-blogging platform as well as a social media site. It is different from Instagram and Pinterest in presentation. Everything appears in a blog format, and users post their own content and re-blog from other users.
Instagram has around 15 million users and is a free photo-sharing platform where users can take photos, apply a filter or effect, and then share it with the Instagram community. It is a fast way to create lasting memories on the Web while sharing with others.
In contrast, Pinterest is an online pin board styled site for sharing photos. “Pinners” may create different themed boards and “re-pin” other pinners’ photos in order to express their own taste.
Taylor Suzanne is a food blogger, but said she found her new passion is Pinterest.
“Pinterest is a vessel to help the creatively challenged! It provides a creative outlet, allowing me to think outside the box,” said Suzanne.
Suzanne is currently obsessed with holiday decorating ideas, but on a regular basis, she uses Pinterest to get ideas and recipes for her food blog.
Tumblr’s format tends to be less organized, however Pinterest users are able to create as many boards as they wish under countless categories.
“I could spend my whole day on Pinterest. It’s such a great way to organize ideas and things that intrigue or inspire me,” said Vest.
Vest is an aspiring wedding photographer, and likes to view photography and wedding boards on Pinterest for inspiration.
Because Pinterest and Instagram can link to Facebook, if the user so chooses, SMU student Travis Carlile believes these digital-sharing sites only strengthen Facebook.
“I don’t think that Facebook has lost its popularity, it’s just that the whole horizon has just been spread out more,” said Carlile.
Carlile believes each new social media is focusing on a part of Facebook, but that users will continue to use Facebook because it provides a central location for statuses, check-ins, and photos.
Baronet believes as the popularity of photo-sharing social media apps and sites increases, some wonder if the photo quality online will be reduced. Baronet says this is possible.
“I do think the pervasiveness of social media does shift people’s expectations about what ‘acceptable photography’ can be,” said Baronet.
Baronet also said photo-sharing sites affect bloggers.
“I’ve been blogging since 2005, and it’s definitely caused me to blog less. I think that would be the impact for many bloggers,” said Baronet.
As with all advancements in technology, these multi-media sites will create a change in the way people communicate and share knowledge and ideas in the years to come.
Baronet said new multimedia sites would provide, “Greater connection, less privacy, more tolerance, more transparency from those with privilege/power hopefully, quicker access to news, and continued ways to enhance how we connect to one another.”