Six Degrees, the first recognizable social media site, went live in 1997. MySpace, Friendster, and Facebook soon followed, and by 2011, the number of social media users had flown past 1 billion. Seven years later and the user base has tripled, with 3.03 billion active users around the world in 2018. This kind of explosive growth has certainly left its mark on communication, whether between friends or across cultures. Here are 9 points that show how social media changed our communication behavior
How Has Social Media Reshaped Communication?
1. #NoFilter. Before social media became big, your message would have to be reworded before it was broadcast, even with freedom of speech in place. Now you can post your messages in all their uncensored sharpness. This also goes for advocacies that previously didn’t make it onto mainstream media. Think: would #MeToo or #FindDancingMan have taken off in an earlier era?
2. Information Overload. It’s now effortless for people receive steady stream of updates and new content. Feeds on social media sites are now dotted with dinner plate pictures and “#WokeUpLikeThis selfies. Some celebrities have even gone as far as sharing their menu for the day or casually mention that they’re sitting on the toilet as they tweet.
3. Small World. Neighbors and family friends formed enough of a network for most people prior to social media. Now, people can now extend their networks to include people from the opposite side of the planet. Influencers have thousands upon thousands of followers even from across the globe. This means that your content can be read, liked, and shared by a much wider audience than before.
4. Global Storytelling. Snapchat regularly features a certain city from anywhere in the world and provides a stream of live content from people in that area. A “Rio” feed, for example, would give users a chance to see Rio de Janeiro from the point of view of someone who actually lives there. These streams also allow users to follow their favorite celebrities live. See how news anchor Jason Carr announced his transfer to WDIV-TV, or BuzzFeed’s dance battle.
5. Real Life Goes Live. While on the topic of live feeds, Facebook Live emerged as a way for people to share updates as they unfolded in real-time. Initial livestreams concerned lightweight material such as pets or occasions, but users began to broadcast news as it happens-police shootings, bombings and even citizens behaving badly. This has sparked more conversations about the issues presented in each video, making users more self-aware of their actions.
6. Personalized Interactions. Social media has brought warmth to communications. It’s a long way from stiff emails. Aside from interacting with the content, brands on Snapchat, Facebook or Instagram can add filters and stickers on their post to reflect their identity. It also allows a deeper level of customer engagement, occasionally leading to priceless exchanges over social media.
7. Word Games. Thanks to social media users, new words such as “selfie” are emerging, and existing words are taking on new meanings. The word “friend,” for example, has been around since the 13th century. With the rise of Facebook, “friending” someone now means adding them to your circle of Facebook friends, and “unfriending” refers to removal.
8. Fast, Fresh News. 40% of millennials say that they get their news from digital outlets. This is because people can keep tabs on trending news, taking advantage of social media channels. An example of this is how Facebook comes alive with status updates about typhoons as it happens-like when typhoon Mhangkut landed in the Philippines’ Area of Responsibility. News feeds such as Twitter trends can be adjusted to follow global events or developing stories in a specific country.
9. Serious Business. Aside from bringing about personalized customer service as mentioned above, social media is reshaping the marketplace by allowing consumers to look up customer reviews and purchase products from the platform. A potential consumer can ask a crowd of Instagram followers what they think about a certain product. 71% of consumers say that social media referrals can help push them towards a purchase.
Social media has changed the way that people communicate in far greater ways than initially expected of it. Ordinary people are able to send warmer greetings and discuss pressing issues online, and more and more brands are taking advantage of social media trends to make their PR strategy more encompassing. As technology continues to advance, communication will evolve together with it. For instance, what will virtual reality bring to the table? How will Chatbots and AI change the way consumers purchase online? Whatever the next ten years will bring, there’ll definitely be live feeds and hashtags for it. Follow our Facebook page to keep yourself updated with these social media trends.