We all use it. But do we all understand it? Hardly.
Social media is a great big world in and of itself. A few short years ago, social media didn’t even exist. People called each other on the phone. They planned to meet up with people, or they would stop by their neighbor’s house to say hi.
But that stuff is weird now, almost exclusively as a result of social media. Want to learn about social media, how it works, and why it’s a thing in the first place?
We’ve compiled some facts about social media that have the potential to blow your mind. Keep reading below for answers to all the questions you may have never thought to ask about current social media trends.
1. The History of Social Media
Everyone thinks that Myspace was the advent of social media. And that’s sort of true, but not really true.
With myspace, we saw the masses adopt social media for the first time. But Myspace came after Six Degrees. Six Degrees was a website created in 1997, where users could create a profile and add their friends.
The name pays homage to the fact that most people in the world are at most six degrees of separation from one another, and likely much closer.
The site was popular for tech junkies who knew how to use the internet back then. But in 2003, the infamous Tom Anderson created Myspace. Soon, teenagers and twenty-somethings would rush to create profiles, organize their top eight friends list, and customize their page daily.
But Myspace was soon taken over once Facebook became popular. Everyone rushed over to the Facebook platform, leaving Myspace high and dry, seemingly overnight. Luckily, Tom had sold Myspace by then, becoming very rich, and retiring shortly after.
And the rest is history. LinkedIn came out, to help working professionals expand their Network. Instagram was launched, creating the first image-focused platform, which Facebook then bought.
And today, the biggest focus on social media is video, as all platforms are moving away from static content.
2. Over Half the Planet Uses Social Media
There are currently 7.7 billion people on the planet today. Over four million of those people use social media. That’s right, over half of the world’s massive population uses this technology to connect with others.
That’s pretty crazy. Very few things in the world have that kind of reach. The internet is one. Mobile phones are another. But all three of these go hand in hand.
To put that into perspective, consider that only 18% of the world owns a car, and the automotive industry is one of the biggest on the planet.
The average person spends over two hours a day on social media. Two hours, across four billion people, is a lot of social media hours across the world.
While the social media industry might not be the biggest in the world, might make the most money, or might not employ the most people, they certainly control the most attention.
3. Social Media Is Where the Money Is
Social media is a money-making machine. You might not think so, since as a user, you don’t pay for anything in order to use the platform. There aren’t any registration fees, and the apps are free to download.
But if you haven’t already heard, if you aren’t paying for a product, then you, my friend, are the product.
That’s right, social media today no longer exists to connect people around the globe (that’s a means to an end). Social media exists to capture attention and data, in order to sell that attention and data to advertisers.
So your attention, and your data about what you like and dislike, is the kind of information sold to companies who want to sell products to you.
So money is made by social media companies, as advertisers pay lots of money to advertise on the platform. And these advertisers also make tons of money, as social media advertising is one of the most effective marketing channels of all time.
And thanks to the power of social media to give anyone a voice, people who develop their own “platform” on social media, otherwise known as influencers, bloggers, and content creators, also get to make a killing.
The only person not making money on social media is you (and me, to be honest).
4. Facebook Is Becoming Meta
On October 28, 2021, big Mark Zuckerburg made a surprising announcement. The name of the company has been changed from Facebook to Meta.
Mark is on a mission to turn Facebook into a metaverse; an entirely online, digital world. Facebook will continue to exist, however. The overarching company will now be called Meta, and Facebook will be one of the subsidiaries, just like Instagram and WhatsApp.
Meta will utilize technology like virtual and augmented reality to create an online universe, where people can create avatars and interact with one another. And there’s a lot more to the story. The next few years will be very interesting regarding the social media landscape.
But let’s be real; Facebook is getting weirder all the time. That’s just technology these days. Want to see some other really weird stuff? There’s an entire site dedicated to it called JustWeirdStuff.com.
5. Lots of Data Is Collected
And of course, you can’t talk about how awesome social media is without mentioning the massive amounts of data that is collected from its users.
As mentioned earlier, when it comes to social media, the users are the product. These platforms are so good at collecting data from their users, that advertisers can pinpoint the exact type of customer that they want to show ads to.
Social media can really be categorized under the “big data” industry if we’re honest.
Want some social media tips, so you know how to use social media a little bit safer? Don’t disclose all of your personal information. It just becomes an easy target not just for social media companies and advertisers, but also for hackers.
Limit personal information. Fudge the numbers a little bit regarding your age and birthday. Don’t include your middle name.
The Real Facts About Social Media
Social media in and of itself can be a great tool. It gives us the opportunity to connect with friends and family across the globe, as well as to make new friends and connections based on interests, hobbies, causes, and more.
But the honest facts about social media is that these platforms can be destructive, based on addictive tendencies and corporate interest. It’s not something to avoid, but it’s something to use carefully and intentionally.
Otherwise, you just might get sucked into an entirely different universe than the one you are actually meant to live in.
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