Reflecting on 10 years of social media.
In 2010, Tik Tok by Ke$ha spent nine weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Angry Birds was among the most downloaded apps of the year, and “double rainbow” took the internet by storm. Apple released the iPhone 4, but Siri had not yet been created. Nearly a decade later, Old Town Road by Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus dominated the Billboard chart for 19 weeks, breaking records. We’ve witnessed more than 20 Angry Birds games and two feature-length Angry Birds movies. The iPhone 11 Pro has four cameras, and many of us have multiple robot assistants, from Alexa to Siri and others. Meme culture is pop culture. And some of the top memes of 2019 came from one of the most popular apps this year, TikTok (we’ve really come full circle).
The 2010s brought sweeping change to the world in many facets, but one thing is certain: this was the decade of the smartphone, and with the rise of the smartphone came the rise of social media.
In early 2010, Facebook—the world’s largest social media entity—had roughly 400 million active users. That same year, The Social Network was released, further increasing the platform’s popularity. At the end of Facebook’s third quarter of 2019, the company reported 2.45 billion active monthly users. That’s a 512 percent increase in active users despite the company facing numerous controversies this decade, including a menagerie of user privacy concerns.
In 2012, Facebook purchased another social media biggie, Instagram, which was created in 2010 and had around 15 million active users at the time. Now, Instagram has more than 500 million active users. The app’s popularity skyrocketed, and its active user count increased by more than 3,000 percent. Facebook purchased WhatsApp in 2014, further expanding its ownership of the social media space.
Twitter has been around since 2008, but the company unveiled “New Twitter” in late 2010. This update changed the site’s user interface and allowed photos and videos to be shared. In 2013, Twitter unveiled Vine, an app that allowed users to film and publish six-second video loops that could be viewed in the Vine app and on Twitter. Vine died three years later (rest in peace to Vine, my personal favorite of all social media). Now, Twitter has around 330 million active users.
Google+, an oft-forgotten social media endeavor from Google, launched in 2011. G+ didn’t catch on as Google hoped—boasting less than 400 million active users at its prime—and was shut down in April 2019. But don’t shed a tear for Google. Their flagship social media efforts may have flopped, but Google owns YouTube, which has more than 2 billion logged-in users each month and many more without accounts. Every day, people watch 1 billion hours of videos on YouTube.
One of the fastest-growing social media platforms this year—and the last one I’ll be mentioning here (sorry, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Snapchat)—is TikTok. Formerly Musical.ly, TikTok is a short-form video sharing service that boasts 500 million active users each month. If Vine and YouTube had a baby, that baby would be TikTok. Videos on the app can be up to a minute long, and content ranges from comedy sketches to makeup videos, lip-syncing, dance videos and more. TikTok will likely become more popular in 2020, but rising concerns about threats to national security may slow the app’s growth.
As we look towards the 2020s with a renewed sense of hindsight, we can bet social media isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The increasing popularity of influencers, the spread of news—both fake and credible—and the development of new platforms will likely shape the social space in 2020 and beyond. Social media is the easiest way to reach consumers and will continue to be so in the years to come. So, as we enter a new decade, grab your phone or laptop and get social. Don’t let your company or clients fall behind the social media curve.
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