Select Page

Social media influence audiences worldwide

Social media influence audiences worldwide

By Julian Mentzel
Bank Windhoek’s Digital Marketing Specialist.

Social media is present in almost every part of our everyday lives. It is a universal platform for entertainment, communication, and information sharing. With billions of users globally, social media sites like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), Threads, TikTok, YouTube, and LinkedIn provide various features to appeal to different audiences in the rapidly changing digital communication landscape.

The social media platform has come a long way from its modest beginnings as straightforward online forums and chat rooms to the vast networks of today. But how did it all start and where is it going?

The beginning
When social media first started, its primary function was to help people communicate with one another in online groups. The foundation for future developments was established by websites like Six Degrees, which debuted in 1997, and Friendster, in the early 2000s. These early platforms laid the groundwork for the subsequent social networking boom by introducing ideas such as buddy connections, user profiles, and messaging features.

In 2003, social media reached a significant turning point in its development with the launch of MySpace, which popularised the idea of user-customizable profiles and offered a venue for music discovery and self-expression. However, with Facebook’s introduction in 2004, it was Mark Zuckerberg who forever changed the social media digital world by making the user the focal point of the platform.

The current situation
Social media sites now function as primary information sources for as many users as possible, making them essential to consuming news. While it may be debatable, platforms such as X and people like Elon Musk advocate for free speech on social media instead of the highly censored content on other platforms, which aim at providing a more transparent and decentralized way of information sharing.

Social media has also become a potent marketing tool. This is because of the growth of influencer culture, where businesses use people’s reach and influence to market goods and services to specific audiences, and sponsored, data-driven adverts that reach an audience based on purchase behaviours, demographics, and geographics. Furthermore, real-time engagement and genuine connections between users are made possible by introducing live streaming, stories, and temporary material.

The future
Social media’s evolution and innovation are expected to continue due to technological advancements and changing user behaviour. With their immersive settings for social engagement and shared experiences, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have the potential to transform the social media experience. Developments in Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial intelligence (AI) are anticipated to improve social media platform personalisation and customization by providing recommendations and content customised according to user preferences and behaviour patterns.

The idea of the metaverse, a shared virtual environment for communities formed by merging virtual and physical reality, signifies a fundamental change in how we interact with digital environments and social media. Social media platforms will primarily define and sculpt the metaverse experience as the lines between the real and virtual worlds intertwine.

Social media Trends to Look out for in 2024
Remote Collaboration: Social media platforms are used more frequently for professional networking, information exchange, and team collaboration. Platforms such as WhatsApp, Slack, and LinkedIn are adapting to meet the needs of these teams by enabling smooth communication and collaboration.

Privacy and Data Security continue to influence how people use social media, especially with the commercial use of ML and AI. Consumers and governments are calling for more robust privacy safeguards and control over personal information.

Embracing Playful Brand Personalities: Brands are experimenting with hilarious and playful content strategies to engage audiences more light-heartedly.

Authenticity Reign Supreme: Authentic narrative and behind-the-scenes content are becoming crucial elements of brand communication strategy. In a congested digital market, brands that value authenticity stand out by showcasing actual employees, working with creators, or sharing informative and educational content.

Social media has advanced significantly since its inception, going from bare online discussion boards to extensive networks that influence almost every part of our lives. Its development ability to connect, cooperate, profit, and create meaningful experiences has been optimistic and will continue to impact our lives, significantly.


About The Author

Guest Contributor

A Guest Contributor is any of a number of experts who contribute articles and columns under their own respective names. They are regarded as authorities in their disciplines, and their work is usually published with limited editing only. They may also contribute to other publications. - Ed.