What you need to know

As the market approaches saturation, with eight in 10 consumers having recently accessed a social network, the distinction between social and media networks has blurred because social networks have progressively integrated more and more media content, which has resulted in a weaker consumer interest in accessing media networks.

While content and functionality integration has benefited daily usage, monetization of users through digital advertising remains difficult, as the reach and effectiveness of branded content are still relatively limited, mostly due to security and privacy concerns.

Covered in this Report

For the purposes of this Report, Mintel makes a distinction between ‘social networks’ and ‘media networks’ based on what would be considered the core function of the network, as follows:

Social networks

Mintel defines social networks in this Report as any networks which have person-to-person interaction at the heart of their offering. The four main networks Mintel includes under this heading in the UK are Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Messaging apps, such as WhatsApp and Google Hangouts are not included within social networks.

Although Snapchat’s emphasis on photo sharing means it has a strong media element, due to its evolution from a messaging app it has been classified as a social network for the purposes of this Report. 

Media networks

Media networks are defined by Mintel as networks that facilitate person-to-person communication either through the sharing of media, or with a thematic focus on media (such as books, films or games). For example, Tumblr and Pinterest are both media networks with a social element.

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