A recent survey with Tapatalk suggested that the end of social networking may be near – or at least it may be the end of trust in said networks. Before you drop too deep into the findings, remember here that Tapatalk is a Forum-centric business – because of this, they’ve got a pretty good reason to suggest forums are on the uptake. Assuming they’re completely on-the-level, the survey’s results are pretty gosh-darned interesting, and unexpected.
Technology doesn’t generally trend in reverse, or in cycles. Once something new comes along, it either replaces the last bit of tech, or the last bit of tech endures. In the case of the internet, the difference between a forum and a social network has more to do with social structure than it does with the technology that allows either sort of group to exist.
Tapatalk suggested that they surveyed “over 1,000 Americans who have visited a forum site and/or used Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.” In this survey, according to Tapatalk, “the findings demonstrated that Americans are increasingly turning to the original social media format – specialized forums – rather than the feeds or pages of Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, to find the answers they seek regarding specific questions and niche topics as well as to discuss their hobbies with other enthusiasts.”
One of the key points in the survey was that two-thirds of respondents go online at least daily to find an answer to a question, and 42% of those users said they did so multiple times a day. Given the amount of times I and everyone I know go online every day to ask questions and find answers, I must assume that the rest of the people (who ask 1 question or fewer per day) are lying.
Of the same 2/3 of people that said they went online at least once daily to ask questions, 27% said they would “consult a Facebook Group.” Of all respondents, 88% suggested that they belonged to “online discussion communities around niche topics.” That’s outside of the most major social networks, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so forth.
Again, the survey was done by Tapatalk, so the questions in the survey sort of leaned in the direction of forum use. Negative questions about Facebook and Twitter were asked, including leading questions about how “the integrity of sites like Facebook and Twitter have diminished in the past couple of years.” With answers like “agree,” “strongly agree,” and so forth, respondents tend to skew positive toward positive questions about the test-giver’s business, in this case forum administration assistance.
Forum use might be on the rise – but it probably has the MOST to do with the rise of the smart digital assistant. Google, in particular, is pushing the use of forums (like Quora) because they allow answers to questions to be parsed and posted quickly – and through Google Assistant. If Quora provides quick answers to questions people are asking on Google, Google uses the best Quora answer, and it shows up in a survey like this as “forums” being used more than Facebook. In reality it might be largely be Google and their omnipotent search box (typed or spoken) that’s to blame.