The Evolution of Social Media and How It Has Impacted Global Change Since COVID-19


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Note: article originally published on LinkedIn and Medium. Ideas are original and my own.

When Facebook came on the scene in 2004, it was mostly about personal reasons. You could connect with friends, family, acquaintances. It was a way to keep in touch. Then followed Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Pinterest.

When social media became mainstream in 2009, the space evolved such that social media could be a technology that could be leveraged for other more useful purposes. It could be used for professional contacts, news, video media, and even more.

It could be used as:

1.A way to connect with potential customers and clients.

2.Market and sell business products and services.

3.Build communities and groups around common interests and causes.

4.A way for businesses to keep their customers engaged.

5.A way for businesses to market, advertise, and enhance their brand.

6.A means and avenue for education.

The space evolved where one could use their platforms, and their connections to rapidly scale, grow, reach, and amplify one’s target audience. In essence, from single dominating news media outlets (NBC, Fox, CBS), a single individual could now become their own media outlet.

From the space came YouTube stars, Instagram influencers, and public figures making their messages known on TikTok, SnapChat, Pinterest, and other platforms.

Soon, social media morphed into attracting users based on medium form, and type of content. In a way, social media has represented the shift from the physical into the digital world. The transition from printed media into digital forms, with audio-video now dominating the dominant means of media consumption.

If you liked videos - you went onto YouTube. But then video evolved into short-form content, and there appeared SnapChat, and soon the major platforms (Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, TikTok) started offering live and recorded video content options. From this trend, came paid content including Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, MasterClass, Disney+, and soon Quibi.

  • Quick news and text, you would go to Twitter

  • Facebook - was for personal uses, and then evolved into communities including Facebook Groups.

  • Pinterest - pins, words and pictures

  • SnapChat - short content video

  • Instagram - words and pictures, short and long form videos, along with a live video option

  • TikTok - 15 second video clips

  • LinkedIn - professional networking

  • Podcasts - becoming highly popular.

Think about the last time you tuned into mainstream TV where you watched sitcoms such as Friends, Seinfeld, or the Simpsons. For me, that was 11 years ago. Now it is all about streaming content from internet platforms (Netflix, Hulu, Disney+). The cable networks have slowly started to follow. Additionally, the content is on-demand, and you can watch it from anywhere, anytime, and any device.

In the upcoming decade, the adoption of AI, and the use of SaaS, AIaaS will become more and more mainstream. 20 years ago, if you didn’t have a website presence, you were at a significant disadvantage. Today, if your business isn’t on social media, you are at a significant disadvantage. And each platform has to keep innovating to keep their audiences engaged and native to the platform.

What we’ve seen is an an explosion in the variety of ways social media can be used from business branding, marketing, selling, advertising.

We’ve also seen an explosion of social change - from #BLM movement, to police reform, and #MedBikini movement. No doubt, GenX, Millenials and GenZ will be impacting the world in ways we have yet to imagine. Don’t get met wrong, there are still issues with social media including privacy, fraud, hate, bullying, and a whole host of other issues.

But it is interesting to see how social media has evolved over the last 10 years, and how COVID-19 has accelerated a lot of these trends. And it will be interesting to see how social media will continue to evolve, and how mainstream users will continue to use social media for education, entertainment, information, political, and social change.

Christopher H. Loo is a physician and author of How I Quit My Lucrative Medical Career and Achieved Financial Freedom Using Real Estate.

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