What’s all the noise about social media? Why the great hype on the vast utility of social media to businesses and individuals? These are questions only a person who is not internet-literate can ask. Which may appear quite out of place in the modern age of global connectivity. However, we are aware that there are still many individuals out there who are not well educated. Nor are they computer literate enough to appreciate the power and wide coverage of the internet.
As we speak, social media has become the most indispensable marketing and advertising tools for businesses on the internet worldwide. In fact, social media has evolved into a testing ground; the startpoint and endpoint of information. Indeed, social media has rudely truncated traditional everyday interactions and exposed hidden conversations in people’s heads. Even more, it has collectively become the voice of the ignored, platforms to hone creativity, and money-making machines.
Social media is now the collective space where secrets are exposed and breaking news are delivered fresh, first-hand. In essence, it is the de-facto mouthpiece and jury of the internet! The entire planet of internet users freely share, collect, confirm, and refute facts on social media channels almost without any restraint. And all these took place within the space of about half of a century. If you are still in doubt, wait till you see the latest reports on social media usage worldwide.
Social Media For Businesses: Here Goes the Statistics
The sproutsocial website in its compilation of global social media usage statistics as at March 2023 indicated that:
- an estimated 4.89 billion users worldwide make use of social media sites;
- an average person cruises between seven different social media channels every month.
- internet users now spend an average of 151 minutes per day on social media – the highest amount of time ever recorded.
- TikTok is now the fastest-growing social media channel, at a whooping 100% user growth rate between 2020 and 2022.
- The number of social media users worldwide grew by an additional 137 million users (about 3% growth year-on-year) from January 2022 to January 2023.
What Actually is Social Media?
According to the online Britannica, social media is the collective term for all communications (channels) on the internet, “through which people communicate and share information, ideas, messages and other content (such as video).” Social media websites are used for ‘social networking’ – that is, “users building online communities amongst themselves”.
Also Read- The Top 5 Mistakes Small Business Owners Make (and How to Avoid Them)
The Origins of Social Media
A number of online sources claim that the first ever social media software emerged in May 1996 – the little known SixDegrees site created by Andrew Weinreich. However, Wikipedia refutes this claim by exposing the rudimentary technology/network known as the PLATO System, created by the University of Illinois in the 1970s. In describing the PLATO System, Wikipedia states its ‘internet-ready’ features thus (the features are underlined):
“PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations) was the first generalized computer-assisted instruction system. Starting in 1960, it ran on the University of Illinois‘ ILLIAC I computer. By the late 1970s, it supported several thousand graphics terminals distributed worldwide, running on nearly a dozen different networked mainframe computers. Many modern concepts in multi-user computing were originally developed on PLATO, including forums, message boards, online testing, e-mail, chat rooms, picture languages, instant messaging, remote screen sharing, and multiplayer video games.
PLATO was designed and built by the University of Illinois and functioned for four decades, offering coursework (elementary through university) to UIUC students, local schools, prison inmates, and other universities”.
The underlined features of the PLATO System above led into great advancements in computing, networking, and telecommunications that were eventually used to power the internet. The entire PLATO infrastructure became a prototype for future internet connectivity and communications across the globe. Over the course of time, related technologies such as Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and Bulletin Boards emerged. These finally led to the creation and global acceptance of online communities.
From USENET (1979) to The WELL (Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link; 1985) to Classmates (1995) to SixDegrees (1996), people were led into the more recent social media forums such as Friendster, MySpace and Facebook in the 1990s. Then user-friendly operating systems, internet browsers (especially Mosaic browser in 1993) and the World Wide Web emerged in-between. These technologies made it incredibly easier to navigate between websites and connect with people everywhere. More blogging sites, instant messaging sites (e.g. Yahoo Messenger and Windows Live Messenger), social networking sites (such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram) were created. And many more are still in the making.
The Top 20 Social Media Sites of 2023
These are the most popular social media sites of the current year. Depending on the identified target audience of your business, certain sites would be more suitable for your business than others. Particularly when you look at the age range and other demographics of users on each social media platform that can readily accept your brand. It would take some dedicated research by the marketing and sales teams of every business entity to unveil the usefulness of each channel. The top seven social media apps for instance, resonate heavily with the younger generation of users (30 years and below) who enjoy video and picture content as well as storytelling.
- 1. Facebook — 2.9 billion MAUs (Monthly Active Users)
- 2. YouTube — 2.2 billion MAUs
- 3. WhatsApp — 2 billion MAUs
- 4. Instagram — 2 billion MAUs
- 6. WeChat — 1.26 billion MAUs
- 7. TikTok — 1 billion MAUs
- 8. Sina Weibo — 573 million MAUs
- 9. QQ — 538.91 million MAUs
- 10. Telegram — 550 million MAUs
- 11. Snapchat — 538 million MAUs
- 12. Kuaishou — 519.8 million MAUs
- 13. Qzone — 517 million MAUs
- 15. Twitter — 436 million MAUs
- 16. Reddit — 430 million MAUs
- 17. Quora — 300 million MAUs
- 18. Skype — 300 million MAUs
- 19. Microsoft Teams— 270 million MAUs
- 20. LinkedIn — 250 million MAUs
Importance of Social Media to Businesses
For any business or organization to become relevant and gain widespread acceptance amongst its target audience, social media must not be ignored. It is necessary to harness the huge number of users that access social media on a daily basis. The estimated number of existing social media websites as of 2023 stands at around 128 of them. Why waste that opportunity to gain customers?
In essence, every business entity should have social media presence to thrive in modern society. In fact, every organization and entity (whether government, private, public, influencer, celebrity, small business owner etc) needs to establish itself on social media. And literally tap into the potential honey well of blessings by connecting with social media fans. So what can your business achieve through social media?
Benefits of Social Media to Businesses
Through social media, a business can:
- connect with new and existing customers to create greater brand awareness and visibility for your company and its products/services.
- create and test ongoing, viable marketing strategies to invite more leads and increase sales. It needs to be backed by analytic and research tools.
- build trust and connectivity with your customers through meaningful, engaging content
- establish yourself as an authority, knowledgeable in the field of your expertise and ready to offer solutions to the needy.
- segregate your target audience from the crowd, and focus more on serving their needs for greater all-round profiting.
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