Social media is a major influence on the direction of the world today. It is increasingly shaping our affairs as humans. We depend on it for information, amusement, virtual association etc. Its main feature is that it brings down the borders of distance to connect the world. Due to the advent of social media, communication has reached new heights; information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expressions are created and shared via virtual communities and networks. Social media facilitates and strengthens communication such that from Africa, one can connect with the Far East, with Europe, with Asia, anywhere in the world all in quick time. This holds immense benefit for businesses, groups and individuals.

The wide reach offered by social media is almost inexhaustible; we are talking about well over 2 billion people and a projection of about 2.67 billion people by 2018. It has now become a must-do for everyone and to optimize the benefits of social media, it is important to understand the available platforms, the different inclinations of these platforms and figure out how to enjoy the numerous benefits offered by social media. The following are some of the most popular social media platforms and their inclinations:

  • Facebook

Facebook is an online social networking service that enables users to create a profile, add other users as “friends”, exchange messages, post status updates, photos and videos. Additionally, users may join common-interest ‘Groups’ and organizations can create ‘pages’ to showcase their brand and engage their supporters.

Facebook allows users to engage friends in chats, allow users build relationships and also to build special interest communities through Groups.

Users: over 1.79 billion active users worldwide

  • YouTube

YouTube is a video-centric social networking service. It allows users to discover, watch, share, upload and edit videos. Users can also follow channels, comment on and discuss videos, and follow other users’ content. It is a great source for referencing videos of events or happenings around the world You Tube is the world’s second-largest search engine.

Users: over 1.3 billion users worldwide

  • Twitter

Twitter is an online social networking service that enables users to send and read short 140 – character messages called ‘tweets.’ Users can also follow, mention and reply to people, build lists, highlight and search keywords and share content.

Twitter allows for information sharing and news circulation. It has become a hub for celebrities and organizations to engage fans and customers respectively through visual content, building relationships and other charities.

Users: over 317 million users worldwide

  • Instagram

Instagram is an online social network app that enables users to take and share photos and videos (up to 59 seconds length) from a mobile device, and share them on other social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr. Users can follow people and engage with their photos by liking or commenting. Instagram is owned by Facebook meaning shared content displays as images or videos rather than links.

The main features of Instagram include image and short video sharing while building a network of followers.

User: over 600 million users worldwide

  • LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking service that enables users to build their professional identity and connect with colleagues; learn about professional opportunities; get updates, inspiration, and insights. LinkedIn offers itself as a platform that allows users function in a professional network.

Users: over 414 million users worldwide.

The fact is the success of social media continues its pervasive spread across the world.  The number of subscribers continues to increase, so also there is an increasing number of a social media platform. This suggests that despite the unbeatable success of social media, its full potential is yet to be reached. Since the world evolves at a speed influenced by social media, it is important to understand the nature of the evolution and to employ this understanding in our everyday lives. This would help us not be left behind by the ever-evolving social media connected world.


Culled from Issue 15

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