How did we ever survive before social media?
Thanks to social media, family who are half-way across the globe are a Skype call away. Want to learn how to knead dough the French way? There’s a YouTube video on that. Or half a dozen videos. Looking for a nice, romantic restaurant in a city you’re visiting? Find out which ones people recommend on Trip Advisor.
It’s hard to imagine life now without social media. Yet web-based social media is a fairly new phenomenon. Based on the infographic below, for example, Trip Advisor is barely 14 years old:
Looking at this impressive chart, I’ve come to three conclusions:
1. Human beings are social.
We’re hungry to connect. From smoke signals, to telegraphic beeps, and now text, images, and sounds on a screen, we’ve always been trying to communicate with each other.
2. We consume, and we create.
We started out consuming media: reading newspapers, listening to the radio, and watching TV and films. But as soon as the technology became widely available, we became prolific creators. Blogger and Live Journal were among the first to make publishing on the web accessible to mere mortals who knew nothing about web code in 1999.
Today, even the traditional media makers — including news giants like CNN — allow audiences to create their own piece of news.
3. We like rich media.
Usually, things begin with text, the written word. Then we add images. Then sound. Then we combine them into moving images with sound, aka video. It’s not that we will ever choose one over the other. Rather, each medium supports and reinforces the other. Someone’s always predicting the death of printed text. Or radio. Or television. The truth is, they never die. They evolve. Books are now on tablets. The radio is on your smartphone. And telephone can now be seen on-demand.
I remember “experts” decrying television and the Internet, predicting that younger generations would no longer learn to read. Well, guess what? We’re having to read more than ever! With so much information available online and offline, poor readers will be left behind.
I just wanted to point out an omission on the above infographic: Instagram. This social photo sharing site was first launched in 2010. Not even four years later, it now has 150 million active users per month who upload an average of 55 million photos a day.
And if you think Instagram is only for sharing pictures of your kids, pets, and food, think again. Check out this pic that was posted on Instagram on January 1, 2014:
“For the first time in 7 years I am without an apparel sponsor. Thus I am forced to workout in the nude until a company comes to the rescue.”
And then the next day:
“@brooksrunning came to the rescue and clothed me! Excited to announce that I now working with them!!”
Ok, ok, negotiations probably began outside of Instagram, but the point is, it has become a large enough social network to include in your PR and marketing toolbox.
What about you? What are your thoughts about how social media has evolved? Where do you think it’s heading?
Elena is founder of a technology PR agency that works with startups to billion-dollar companies. She is passionate about helping marketers and small business owners with practical publicity strategies, which she's also using for her own bling flip flop company.
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