It’s not about ice cream socials and your neighbourhood book club anymore. Though you can still hang out with the guys and girls and discuss forty shades sadder or whatever it is people read these days, social media has been on the rise since the early days of the Internet as we know it. With the most used social media sites constantly changing up and down the online hierarchy over the years. Yesteryear’s MySpace is now a desolate wasteland, entirely populated by seemingly sentient spambots. Interacting with other, supposedly more attractive spambots. And other elders in the saga seem to have either shared the same fate or go on to reinvent themselves as something else. Or just carry on anyway with a bit more oddity.
No. Now is the dawn of behemoths. Massive, all-encompassing entities that span the entire globe. Consuming all its denizens with instant messaging, maximum user-friendliness, and the ability to share any interesting (and dull) moment of their lives instantaneously with the whole world over. So why not delve into the world of the most used social media in our time? It’s always good to make friends.
Points to Consider
A lot of planning and experimentation goes into optimizing any form of social media. True it only starts as a humble idea shared between a few promising young men and women. It eventually blossoms into something they never thought could gain so much traction. The most used social media today has to factor in a set of features that ultimately aim to make their user experience as streamlined and intuitive as humanly possible. In this article, the most used social media will be given a brief but informative rundown when it comes to purpose, fame and most of all, features. Things like integration into other sites, mobile friendliness and potential online marketing power. As any industrious Internet entrepreneur knows, whenever there’s an opportunity to generate revenue, there’s an investment to be made. And it doesn’t hurt to make a few friends in the process, right?
Social Media versus Social Networking
Though both terms get the same exchangeable treatment in the eyes and ears of the uninformed. Social media, though similar sounding, is not the same as social networking. It’s more centred around communication and content sharing than it is networking with a wide populace. Though it includes the same trappings as a social networking site such as videos, blogging and content in general, it’s more concerned with connecting people and facilitating the exchange of information in any medium, making media much more dynamic than we once considered it to be back before the Internet boom. Blogging is a great example of getting started on a social media strategy. But when it comes to social networking, the aim is to connect with a much wider audience at large and at once. Through sharing information about a story or your brand via news posts, photo sharing, videos or a poll on Facebook, you get the opportunity to converse and connect with as many potential friends and leads as your stamina and drive can handle. It’s a long and fruitful process of relationship building and hype generation for whatever sort of content, product or message you want to spread to flocks of people in one fell swoop.
When it comes to the most used social media platforms out there, the two terms tend to overlap to a degree. Take Facebook and Twitter for example. They include both aspects of social networking, via engaging with droves of interested individuals, and social media, via content sharing and the free flow of information between peers. Whereas platforms such as YouTube are primarily geared towards sharing content, video in this case, between the members of its wide community. Though YouTube has incorporated some aspects of social networking as of late, its focus is more that of a social media platform. But what both have in common is their innate and powerful viral capabilities, where content that’s the slightest bit appealing or evokes a strong enough emotional reaction can be shared countless times between untold numbers of users. A resourceful online marketeer can use this to boost their online marketing efforts.
For the purpose of this article though, we’ll be referring to both. Utilizing both kinds of platforms together organically to spread your message or build hype for your brand is key to your online marketing strategy’s success. Be it through appealing to and connecting with your target audience and building a fan base, or through sharing tidbits, Q&As and informative audiovisual media with potential leads.
The Most Used Social Media In Our Time
Bear in mind that this article is based on statistics and information from this point in time. And will also sometimes interchangeably use the term “Social Media” for both actual social media sites as well as those more geared towards social networking. Although both of which will be made clear in the entries listed. So without further ado, here are some of the top social sites dominating the Interwebs nowadays.
Starting off a list of the most used social media with anything but Facebook is like making a sandwich starting with the mayonnaise. Beginning its humble origins in the Harvard dorms of Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin back in the 4th of February of the year 2004, it was only limited to students of Harvard at the time as a means to connect with each other. It then quickly gained appeal and recognition, eventually extending to all universities around Harvard and eventually being available to anyone on two main conditions: owning a valid email address and being over the tender age of 13 years. Now with an estimated two billion (can you even count that high?) established users and close to one and a half billion other unique visitors every month, it’s no wonder that Facebook has the strongest footing among the most used social media sites out there. Combining both aspects of social media and social networking, it allows people of all sorts and backgrounds to connect with each other, share videos, stories, articles, news and all sorts of other content at the click of a button. Not satisfied with existing on people’s computers, Facebook also invests heavily in its mobile apps in order to reach out to even more people and keep them connected via the official Facebook mobile app or the more popular Messenger app. With its acquisition of Whatsapp not too long ago, the folks over at Facebook ensure that everyone has access to quality content, an intuitive interface and the ability to chat and share moments and memories with their friends with the minimal amount of effort humanly possible in that context. Many small to medium businesses, from restaurants to conglomerates, can attribute their success and fame to a simple presence on Facebook, sharing news and videos about their products and services to a much wider audience than using traditional techniques and at a fraction of the cost. Utilizing Facebook’s wide reach and advertisement capabilities can put you on the map to the revenue river in virtually no time.
Often lovingly referred to as “The SMS of the Internet,” Twitter’s humble origins can be traced back to the 21st of March of 2006 in San Francisco, California, when a then undergraduate Jack Dorsey pitching an idea about lone individuals being able to use SMS with a small group of people to communicate. It was initially named twttr, in part due to the existence of the twitter.com domain back in those days. After six or so months of the service’s launch, the domain was eventually bought by the original crew and the service renamed to Twitter. Dorsey elaborated on the title’s selection saying:
“we came across the word ‘twitter,’ and it was just perfect. The definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,’ and ‘chirps from birds.’ And that’s exactly what the product was.”
As a form of microblogging, Twitter allows its users to post thoughts and news within a surprisingly favoured 140 character limit on a free form feed referred to as a “tweet.” Other members of the site could share (or retweet in the context of twittology) or comment on each others’ tweets, with visitors to the site having only the ability to read tweets (no terminology for this just yet). Twitter allows the rapid deployment and viral spread of all sorts of happenings in a matter of seconds, allowing influencers and entrepreneurs alike to conduct a question and answer segments, convey news and product details and connect with even more influential peers in their respective industries to spread brand awareness among the denizens of the Twittersphere. With over 320 million active users and even more joining on a monthly basis, a robust and efficient mobile app and the raw marketing ability and ad revenue waiting to be claimed by a would-be marketeer, Twitter is no doubt a valuable tool for your online marketing strategy and revenue generation.
Think Facebook but for those of us who are more career oriented. Beginning its professional journey on the 28th of December of 2002, when it was founded by the industrious Reid Hoffman and a number of founding fathers of both Socialnet.com and PayPal and then launching on the 5th of May of 2003, LinkedIn is among the most used social media, acting as a social networking service more geared towards business and employment than sharing videos of your cat Foofins. With over 106 active users online and over 400 million registered members using either the site itself or one of the associated and highly functional apps, both available in over 24 languages, anyone who was ever seriously interested in career advancement and staying up to date on industry news and seeking to expand relations for their company or business should invest in LinkedIn. With attractive and professional user-friendly profile layouts that more or less resemble a well-structured curriculum vitae listing various past work experiences, courses, certifications, qualifications and awards, users can easily share market information, statistics, news and reviews with like-minded peers in any relevant industry. The aspiring online entrepreneur, as well as the novice career seeker, would be wise to pool a considerable amount of their effort and time into establishing a strong presence on LinkedIn.
Here’s where you might find Foofins among many others. Try to remember a time when you needed to see a video about literally anything and not instantly thought about YouTube (We see you old timers there in the back muttering things about MetaCafe). Not ringing many bells right? Starting its online adventure on the 5th of February of 2004 by a trio of ex PayPal, Chad Hurley, Steven Chen and Jawed Karim, Its origin story is disputed to either be about a dinner party one of the bunch missed out on and the others wanting to share the video of it. And one of the packs wanting to more easily find video clips of interesting and important events happening around them. Though the stories might differ, the idea is the same. To make video content much more accessible and easily scavenged on the Internet without people having to bend over backwards and wade through the endless shady forest of the online world. With untold numbers ranging from vlogs to tutorials on how to talk to your banzai tree to music to webisodes brought to you by all sorts of creative and savvy folk, YouTube is the premiere most used social media when it comes to video sharing. Even after its hefty acquisition by Google back in 2006, it still ranks as the second most used search engine after Google due to its unique recognition as a separate entity regardless. With features such as a highly streamlined and optimized main site offering video content in varying display qualities for anyone using any sort of connection to the Internet, live streaming capabilities, an efficient and intuitive mobile app and Google integration, as well as the paid YouTube Red which offers unlimited viewing without ads, YouTube is a cornerstone of the modern man’s online identity. And a boon to any would-be online marketeer to spread video content about their product or service that has the viral potential to reach thousands or even hundreds of thousands through shares and hype alone.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Or in the case of Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram, A billion dollars. Unlike our other entries so far, Instagram started out as a free mobile application exclusively for iOS on the 6th of October of 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger as a mobile platform for users to share images and short videos with each other either publicly or privately on the go. Allowing members to share their best photos and videos of their travel adventures, culinary experiences or the family dog trying to figure out how to interact with a Roomba. With an Android release following two years after its launch on iOS, Instagram has proven itself to be the premier most used social media for image sharing and has been used extensively by Instagram influencers to generate legitimate and impressive revenue. Something a smart online entrepreneur would be wise to make use of in their endeavours to further their brand awareness and profitability. With constant updates including the recent Stories function, a feature-limited but still functional website and constant optimization updates in addition to chat functionality, Instagram has carved a niche for itself in the online world. Becoming one of the most used social media platforms and among the top social sites lists, you’ll find anywhere on the great wide web.
Woefully wrong is a man who assumes that the Internet hasn’t covered every topic there is that has ever existed under the sun. And with Reddit being a frighteningly dense and insightful compendium of online information, that fact is only gaining more and more roots. Founded on the 23rd of June of 2005 by the ever-industrious Steven Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, then 22-year old graduates of the University of Virginia, as a social news aggregation, web content rating and discussion platform on literally any topic throughout its various and almost countless Subreddits. Users of the world over can come together and share unlimited amounts of information, news, videos, articles and opinions amongst each other with great ease. Which makes Reddit a venerable powerhouse of both social media and social networking with a key focus on user engagement. Allowing users to rate all entries in any given subreddit based on their overall satisfaction with the content using a voting system, users can upvote or downvote entries with the most upvoted getting a prime spot atop the subreddit it’s nestled in. This social engagement feature also comes in the form of Reddit AMA’s (Ask Me Anything) which have people of all sorts from persons of online interest, to industry leaders to celebrities appearing to answer people’s inquiries about aspects of their lives or journey in life, or about products and brand associated information. Feature marketers heavily take advantage of. Though its user interface takes some time and an open mind to grow fond of, Reddit has proven itself to be one of the most used social media sites in existence with its broad coverage of every topic complete with images, videos and relevant information on any topic you can think of. Don’t believe how expansive and varied the kind of information available on Reddit is? There’s a whole subreddit about provocative pictures of Avocados. Need we say more?
Now, this is an example of a novel concept gaining traction and spawning features purely based on ingenuity. Established as an iOS-only app like its distant cousin Instagram on the 8th of July of 2011 as “picaboo” by Stanford grads Reggie Brown, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy. The concept behind picaboo was having users communicate with each other via transitory or “self-destructing” photos and videos. This concept hit home hard with the millennial demographic due to the significantly reduced pressure of needing to share short moments with a wider populace and instead, keeping it on a one to one basis, keeping the flow of memories and special points in time more organic and free-flowing. The company Snap.inc would soon relaunch the app as Snapchat after focusing on more technical and optimization aspects of the mobile-only app. What soon followed were added features that further enhanced the overall Snapchat experience. Features such as “My Story” which allowed users to chronologically organize their snaps in a way that conveys a process or natural progression of the finished product accessible to friends or those of the users choosing (a feature that has penetrated the likes of Facebook, Instagram and even Whatsapp). Later followed by “Live Stories” that allowed users to document the progress of events, be they large or small, on the go to a wider audience. Another feature is known as “Official Stories” allowed more famous, influential public figures similar functionality with a verification of their identity and accounts for dedicated fans. With the last feature to be introduced, “Memories,” which allowed users to save the most memorable snaps to a private collection. With Snapchat’s ever-evolving potential as a social media platform and updates that further its user’s utilization of ads, One can only assume that Snapchat is one of the most promising and most used social media applications known to modern man.
Arguably the most used social media platform on mobile phones, Whatsapp has been a faithful companion to everyone with even the most basic of smartphones. Conceptualized by Brian Acton and Jan Koum back in February of 2009, aided by friend Alex Fishman and Russian iPhone developer Igor Solomennikov after realizing the potential of the iPhones app store and the rising need for a more user-friendly and feature fortified instant messaging app. After a few technical issues at the advent of its launch, Whatsapp managed to rid itself of any major bugs and established itself as the main go-to for your mobile and desktop instant messaging needs. Allowing its users to chat, share media of all forms, location data, files and even phone contacts with a handful of onscreen taps. In addition to its end-to-end encryption guaranteeing total privacy to its users and its cross-platform nature between mobiles, computers and literally anything else that can support it, and the recent inclusion of the “Stories” feature which allows its users to share photos or videos throughout the day with all contacts similar to Snapchat. Whatsapp is also a robust tool for those more marketing inclined, allowing marketers and small businesses to have easier connectivity with their clients and customers through advertising their company’s Whatsapp number for continued support and interaction. It makes sense that top social media behemoth Facebook acquired it not too long ago.
Honourable Mentions: Most Used Social Media Elsewhere
You’d be sort of surprised to realize that the top social media services such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are blocked in most areas of China for example. Places outside the USA and some parts of Europe either don’t have access to most used social media (rarely) or simply rely more on their regional equivalents. Here are a few examples of the most used social media around the world.
Also known as VK, VKontakte was the brainchild of St. Petersburg University’s Pavel Durov. Sharing a somewhat similar story to Facebook in its origin, it went into beta testing in September of 2006 initially among students of the university only through invitation. After gaining enough steam and garnering over 100,000 users in February of 2007, and surviving a DDoS attack at its advent, it quickly became the second top social media site in Russia. Reaching well over a million users in July of the same year and then leaping to ten million in April. Besting competitor Odnoklassniki and becoming the number one most used social media site in Russia. It soon went on to accrue over 410 million registered users as of January of this year and becoming the top social media and networking site in Europe, with the majority of its users being in Russia. VK is available in a variety of languages and offers users chat capability either publicly or privately, groups and pages similar to those of Facebook as well as events, tagging and sharing media in all its various forms. Through its intuitive design, appeal and popularity to Russian, Belarussian, Ukrainian and Kazakhstani audiences, VKontakte became the 5th most popular website worldwide.
Formerly known as Xiaonei.com and founded by a collection of university students, most notably Wang Xing, Wang Huiwen and Lai Binqiang from Tsinghua University and Tingjing University in December of 2005. Later acquired by Joseph Chen, an MIT graduate and now chairman and CEO of the then Xiaonei. Later changed to Renren in August of 2009 along with the domain name and logo. Primarily aimed at college students, its profiles depend on the user’s various points of education from middle school all the way to university in addition to various other aspects relevant to the user, such as contact info, favourite music and movies, different hobbies and with the added ability to personalize profile backgrounds and music. With similar albeit strictly monitored and censored aspects to Facebook such as sharing, messaging, online gaming and all the regular trimmings you’d expect from a social networking site. And with the release of Renrenzhuomian, the instant messaging component and mobile app available for both iOS and Android, more and more people can gain access to Renren’s features. Ranking high among the most used social media services in China, Renren has a strong following and continues to see its user base increase as the years go by.
This one is something else by all accounts. Aiming to be not just a mobile instant messaging client, but an entire entity with multiple service suites for everything from social networking to paying your electricity bills. WeChat started its humble journey as a project at Tencent Guangzhou Research and Project centre in October of 2010, originally known as “Weixin” and conceived by Xiaolong Zhand and Ma Huateng. It was released in 2011 backed by the government in their attempts to finance the Chinese e-commerce market. It was then re-branded as Wechat for a wider international market. Reaching somewhere around 900 million active monthly users in 2016, the majority of which being of Chinese origin. Featuring a robust instant messaging system complete with all the usual aspects you’d come to expect, such as voice messaging, media sharing, conference calls and locations. It also has the ability to integrate with other, more popular social media networking services such as Facebook-owned apps. It also comes with its own automatic translation program built in. In addition to its “Moments” feature which basically mimics the timeline you’re oh so used to from Facebook, allowing people to share music, videos, the content of any form and cast their approval with a “Like.” It even offers to link to either Facebook or Twitter to automatically share moments to both platforms. The most enticing feature yet to come out of WeChat is the ability to link your bank account to the app in order to pay for goods, services or even bills in addition to money transfers using “WeChat Pay.” many stores in China now accept WeChat payments as an option. Many an aspiring social media developer or online entrepreneur can learn a thing or two from Tencent’s approach to social media.
That Was Pretty Neat
Hopefully after reaching this point in the article, you’ll have learned a thing or two you might not have known about the most used social media in our time and day. Remember that social media is always on the rise, a global trend that won’t cease to grow as the years go by. And that its benefits and market potential are not to be denied under any circumstance. So go forth, share cat videos, spread your brand around to as many people as you can organically and get your social media marketing wings going.
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