News & Insights

Users Ditch Feeds for DMs and GCs—Latest Social Media Trend

Users Ditch Feeds for DMs and GCs—Latest Social Media Trend

Not too long ago, users documented virtually everything in their lives—every party they rolled to on a Friday night, every meal they ate in a day (ahem, Snapchat era), and every song they grooved to on the way to the gym.

Set to Private

Today, we're seeing a new social media trend: Social media users have become more private, almost embarrassed about oversharing on their social media feeds (unless they’re influencers). Instead of posting life updates for other users to see, they’re sliding into private messaging and closed communities to interact, send updates, and swap information with a selected—significantly smaller—target audience. 

The Growing Fatigue

The nature of this private messaging behavior suggests that people don't want to be disturbed by brands.

What’s driving them away from feeds? Well, social media feeds are now flooded with an overwhelming amount of ads and sponsored social media content, not only from brands but also from social media users themselves. The level of rawness just isn’t there anymore, making interactions feel increasingly impersonal.

In an article by Campaign Asia, Instagram's Head Adam Mosseri described this phenomenon as “social media fatigue,” wherein social media users feel disinterested and tired from the excessive exposure to social media and its repetitive content.

Unsurprisingly, they’re sick of the same bland social media content. Too much branded and paid social media content leaves a bad taste for consumers, as it's not the type of content they want to engage with daily.

“The nature of this private messaging behavior suggests that people don’t want to be disturbed by brands,’’ added Siona Singletary, Associate Strategy Director at digital marketing firm R/GA Australia.

The ‘New’ Feed

This is driving people to increasingly engage in private messages, closed communities, and messaging channels to experience more meaningful human-to-human interactions.

For instance, users find a deeper sense of connection and community on platforms like Discord, Telegram, WhatsApp, and Viber, where there are fewer sponsored social media posts and divisive conversations.

User Growth

Discord is now the third most downloaded app on the App Store. Its popularity stems from its large membership capacity, niche-centric servers, and file-sharing and screen-sharing features, which set it apart from other social media channels.

Discord is expected to see a surge in users in 2024, with projections suggesting an increase to 614 million—up by 51 million from the previous year, according to BankMyCell. Meanwhile, Telegram's user base is anticipated to grow by 46% in 2024 compared to last year.

The meteoric growth of these messaging platforms is driving top social media platforms to look into their apps’ private messaging features. Communication is the core function of these channels, with features like voice chat, video chat, and media sharing, all of which make it easier to connect and keep in touch with specific users and groups.

Feature Expansion

As more and more users are moving away from social feeds and turning to private messaging platforms, tech companies are doubling down on improving their private messaging capabilities to boost in-app engagement and stay up-to-date with social media and marketing trends.

For instance, popular social media platform TikTok, which has limited direct messaging capabilities, is focused on expanding this feature in the coming months. This effort aims to keep TikTok users engaged within the app and discourage them from sharing TikTok content elsewhere, as reported by Axios.

Instagram, on the other hand, has already rolled out its broadcast channels feature to enhance its private messaging. Broadcast channels are a one-to-many messaging tool that allows creators to communicate directly with their followers.

Through broadcast channels, creators can share text, videos, photos, and polls, making interactions more personal and exclusive. Meta has similarly extended this feature to Facebook and Messenger.

Impact on Advertising

From a social media marketing perspective, with private messaging platforms on the rise and social media feeds taking a hit, brands face a challenge: there just aren’t many places to advertise on these private messaging apps.

Among these top messaging apps, Telegram was the first to roll out ads for group chats—a sweet deal for advertisers. Other private messaging apps could follow suit and set up their own ad systems in-app.

Call to Connection-Building

Meanwhile, industry experts recommend that brands, as part of their social media marketing and digital marketing strategies, focus on nurturing their communities within social media platforms in the most organic ways possible.

Certainly, this social media trend in behavior offers valuable insights for brands regarding their social media marketing strategy. Improving connection-building and authentic storytelling can help brands boost engagement with their audiences more effectively on social media platforms.

As Singletary puts it, “Brands need to develop holistic distribution plans that deliver value for both them and social media users. The focus should be on aligning with behavior, not fighting against it or trying to insert the brand in inauthentic ways.”

Unlock insights into 2024's social media trends with our white paper—download now.