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Stories

Privacy concerns push people to private, group-based platforms

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Communication in general is becoming more private and group-oriented — primarily via messaging platforms — as well as more ephemeral through the use of formats like "Stories."

Why it matters: Privacy concerns on big, open social networks, as well as a need for tech platforms to expand revenue and build audience engagement, are pushing users away from endless content feeds, where scrolling can be mindless. They are heading toward more community-focused forums where people are comfortable engaging.

By the numbers: Around the world, more people are using messaging platforms than social media networks.

  • The combined total MAU count of the top 4 messaging apps has grown to 4.1 billion in 2018, with the top 3 messaging apps touting user bases of 1 billion or more, per Business Insider's 2018 The Messaging Apps Report.
  • Meanwhile, a fourth quarter 2018 Global Digital Statshot report from Hootsuite and We Are Social finds that there are roughly 3.4 billion monthly active social media users worldwide.

The shift is happening mostly on Big Tech platforms, where mobile users spend the majority of their phone time.

  • You see it happening on Twitter, which has made "Moments" to include collections of stories only elevated for a few hours a day when timely.

Be smart: Snapchat has really pioneered many of these features and functions. The company created "Stories" in 2014, and said in 2017 that it would separate social aspects of its app from media to give users a more intimate, private experience.

The big picture: Traditional communications strategies have focused on perfecting messaging so that it can be relevant to many people for years after it publishes.

  • But in a world driven by ephemeral posts and closed-group conversations, where nothing is designed to live in perpetuity, they need to be more timely and authentic for consumers to pay attention.
"The movement towards private groups and more ephemeral content has accelerated in the past 12 months ... Companies who don't adapt now towards more discreet online communities could find themselves playing catch-up to maintain an engaged audience for years to come."
— Matt Navarra, social media consultant who tracks trends, tells Axios

Go deeper: Why privacy regulations are no longer a pipe dream