[seerealBOX] What is Social Media?

What is social media? To me, it’s a service that allows me to share snippets of my everyday life and hobbies. Wikipedia, however, defines it as:

“interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation or sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks.”

Whether you resonate with my simplified interpretation of social media or the elongated version provided by Wikipedia, it is undoubtably one of the most influential technologies in the society today, in which it penetrates through nearly half the world’s population.

Obviously a single social media platform doesn’t penetrate through half of the world’s population (yet), but some of the notable ones like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram connect millions or even billions of users worldwide. Today, we will dive into some of the most widely used social media platforms and decipher the characteristics of each that contributed towards their success.

<Facebook>

Founded: February 4th, 2004

Monthly Active Users (MAU): 2.498 billion users (as of April 2020)

Definition: Social media platform based in Menlo Park, California, USA

The name of the platform originates from ‘face book,’ which is a directory of people in an organization or institution that includes an image of each person. The directory, in this case, was particularly relevant to college freshmen who would use the directory to get to know one another.

Characteristics: By simply clicking “Share,” videos, images, texts, and all other contents can be shared. This feature is one of the main reasons why memes quickly rose to popularity. Additionally, teens and young adults use it also to exchange messages.

<Twitter>

Founded: March 21st, 2006

Monthly Active Users (MAU): 386 million users (as of April 2020)

Definition: Social media platform and micro blog service

The name of the platform reflects the sound of a young or small bird chirping.

Characteristics: “Retweets” that allow followers to repost to its own followers. A single ‘tweet’ can hold up to only 280 characters (formerly 140 characters), which entices users to share simple contents. This platform is particularly acknowledged for being able to gather ideas about various topics and opinions.

<Instagram>

Founded: October 6th, 2010

Monthly Active users (MAU): 1 billion users (as of April 2020)

Definition: Online photo sharing and social media platform. It differentiates itself from other platforms with its image-driven feeds.

The name “Instagram” is a mashup of two words: ‘telegram’ and ‘Instant.’ It originates from an idea of sending a telegram to ‘Instant,’ a camera that allows instant viewing of photos.

Characteristics: Hashtag-based posting and search functions that allow users to practice self-expression based on their experiences and preferences.

<Reddit>

Founded: June 23rd, 2005

Monthly Active Users (MAU): 430 million (as of April 2020)

Definition: As a giant collection of forums, users can upload posts to particular threads of interest, which varies from clothing to technology. Users can communicate through the platform by commenting on others’ forums and/or using the ‘upvote’ buttons. The more ‘upvotes’ it gets, the higher it will place in the main page.

<LinkedIn>

Founded: December, 2002

Monthly Active Users (MAU): 310 million users (as of February 2020)

Definition: Unlike other popular social media platforms, LinkedIn is a business-focused social media where it allows professionals and job-seekers to connect with other members within the industry (or even outside of the industry). It also supports a job search portal and is used as one of the most popular ways to find a job.

<Snapchat>

Founded: September 16, 2011

Monthly Active Users (MAU): 398 million users (as of April 2020)

Definition: A social media platform that introduced a unique photos and video sharing system that disappear within 10 seconds of viewing. It gained massive popularity in U.S and other countries among teenagers and those in their 20s.

From web-based to mobile-centric, from text to image to video contents, various trends have has risen in the social media sphere.

As the sources below suggest, Facebook still dominates the social media platform industry by a pretty large margin. However, there are several other platforms that now have over a billion users (albeit many owned by Facebook).

In just the last few years, we have seen certain social media platforms, such as Instagram, gradually climb up to the top in terms of number of users. We also can’t turn a blind eye against TikTok, which has gained tremendous popularity over the past year. As new platforms continue to emerge in an ever-growing market, it leaves me to wonder — which platform will be next?

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