Over the past 2 decades, there has been a rapid transformation in information and communication technology with a key development being the birth of social media. This revolutionary means of communication has connected people inhabiting multiple time zones like never before. Besides catching up with your loved ones at any time of the day, social media is used by businesses and marketers in reaching out to their consumers conveniently with an entirely new approach.
Wondering why all this fuss around social media being a revolutionary change?
Social media has created a huge impact on society over the years and it is visible. Research by Global WebIndex shows that the daily usage of social media in people’s lives accounts for 2 hours and 25 minutes (145 minutes). Due to this, the popular website Mashable launched World Social Media Day on June 30, 2010, to bring the world together to recognize and celebrate social media’s influence on global communication. That’s right! A whole day dedicated to the celebration of social media. This day can be best enjoyed by cherishing the positives that these platforms bring into our lives and celebrating it by-
- Posting a photo, video or even updating your status
- Initiating a hashtag
- Trying out a new platform
ABCD of Social Media you would want to know
Social media can be defined as computer-based technology facilitating the sharing of ideas, thoughts, and information through the building of virtual networks and communities. The most common social media platforms in the current world include Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, WeChat etc.
Let’s go back in the days to unfold the journey of social media throughout the years.
- In 1997, the first-ever social media platform SixDegrees was launched by Andrew Weinreich. With features such as bulletin boards, profiles and school affiliations, this website allowed users to list friends and family members. SixDegrees came to an end eventually in 2001 when it had over a million users.
- Later in 2002, the first modern social media platform Friendster came into existence. Over a hundred million users, this website allowed people to safely make new friends. The users mostly resided in Asia.
- LinkedIn, the first social media platform focused on businesses was launched in 2003.
- Then in 2004, MySpace was introduced and in the same year Facebook also took off. But Mark Zuckerberg’s creation did not gain much popularity initially.
- Enabling users to post their music, MySpace became the largest social media platform in the world by 2006 with users loving the customized profiles.
- In 2005, YouTube came into the light with its website dedicated to video.
- With its limited characters platform, Twitter was then launched in 2006.
- Instagram witnessed rapid growth since its launch in 2010. It gained a million users within the first couple of months. As its dominance kept increasing, Facebook purchased the platform for $1 billion in 2012 and in 2014, it expanded by purchasing the encrypted messaging platform WhatsApp for $16 billion.
- Snapchat, a platform that gained popularity because of its disappearing stories feature, was launched in 2011 and Facebook forwarded an offer to buy that platform as well. However, the $3 billion offer was turned down by the platform in 2013.
- TikTok is the most recent addition to the family of social media. It was launched in 2016 and due to its extensive music and vast video editing features, the app instantly became popular.
Why are people fond of Social Media?
As social media lets us connect with anyone and everyone around the world, it has become a huge source of entertainment, information, shopping and news. And that is the most important feature of social media- that it is accessible. With the onset of Social Media, there remains no barrier on who you can connect with. The n number of people out there can be connected with just a request or a direct message.
You must agree, that social media is an additional entertaining element in our lives these days. It lets you follow and watch the things you prefer watching the most. You will always be welcomed by the platforms with a varied range of content. Be it pet videos, cookery videos, funny videos, intense informational/inspirational videos or travel videos, you name it and you will find it in the vast library. Not just that, you can even create your own content for the world to watch.
Social media has hands down given a platform for various creators out there to showcase their talent, voice their opinions or even document their lives. Without having to go through the auditions in films, one can kickstart their careers from these leveraged platforms- Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
The Growing Impact of Social Media
- Impact on Politics: The rising impact of social media can easily be seen in politics as well. Researches show that one out of five adults receives their daily dose of news primarily through social media. It further states that these adults tend to be less informed and more likely to be exposed to unproven claims. The influence of social media in political campaigns has increased tremendously.
- Impact on Society: As most of the people in the world are using one or the other social media platform, the interactions among people has become powerful because each person with marginal views receives support from fellow thinkers. And when these people meet, they create worlds that bolster their viewpoint and then break into the mainstream.
- Impact on Commerce: Brands and organizations have actively started reaching out to their customers through social media platforms to understand their preferences better as well as to build revenues. To generate insights, stimulate demand, and create targeted product offerings, businesses need to use these platforms immensely in today’s world.
Although social sharing has become a norm, some companies decide to go against the grain and remove the social sharing buttons from their website, after experiencing some adverse effects of social media.
- Impact on Recruitment and Hiring: LinkedIn has made its space in the employers, as well as employees, lives in this professional world. Anyone looking to stand out in their profession must have a strong presence on social media to create and market a personal brand.
- Impact on Relationships: Social media has tremendously affected the relationships or the ‘relationship statuses’ of people. People tend to cherish ‘social media friendships over actual friendships. In a relationship, intense interaction, face to face conversations is frequently needed to develop a personal bond, which is lacking in this social media era.
In this virtual world, it is often assumed and witnessed that society is getting more aware of situations or societal issues with these platforms. But the question remains as to whether the awareness created is translating to any real change? Though it is said that sharing information has led to a lot of awareness and people are encouraged to use computers and mobile phones to express their concerns on social issues without actually having to engage actively with campaigns in real life. Yet the support that can be seen is limited to just pressing the ‘Like’ button or sharing content.
The rising social media trend has also led to various other issues in youngsters and adults’ lives. Cyberbullying is one of them. Teenagers are often in need of validation and an urge to fit in in order to outdo others. Though this existed long before the advent of social media, yet in the world of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, they suddenly feel pressured to grow up too fast.
Presence on social media also invites a lack of privacy such as stalking, identity theft, personal attacks and misuse of information. Social media users usually face these threats on a regular basis as there is a lack of understanding of how to differentiate private and public elements. Social media has also eventually led to immense hatred being thrown at people, as the one commenting is usually behind the keyboards and not visible to people which gives them the unnecessary power of attacking people on any matter they want without having to face any consequences.
However, there is no denying that social media has given that power to everyone out there which traditionally was in the hands of a few. The platforms are a source of information and are just a click away. Even during these trying times when the world was suffering from the pandemic, social media played a vital role in connecting people who needed help with people who could lend a helping hand. Although social media has its cons with people using it adversely, it can be a safe place for people to keep their voices alive.
Image Source: BBC