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The Rise and Fall of Social Media Platforms

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social media platforms popularity

The Rise and Fall of Social Media Platforms

Since its inception, the internet has played a pivotal role in connecting people across the globe, including in remote locations.

While the foundational need for human connection hasn’t changed, platforms and technology continue to evolve, even today. Faster internet connections and mobile devices have made social networks a ubiquitous part of our lives, with the time spent on social media each day creeping ever upward.

The Scoreboard Today

Over the last 15 years, billions of people around the world have jumped onto the social media bandwagon – and platforms have battled for our attention spans by inventing (and sometimes flat-out stealing) features to keep people engaged.

Here’s a snapshot of where things stand today:

Global RankSocial PlatformParent CompanyMonthly Active Users
1Facebook🇺🇸 Facebook2.2 billion
2Instagram🇺🇸 Facebook1.1 billion
3Qzone🇨🇳 Tencent528 million
4Weibo🇨🇳 Sina Corp528 million
5TikTok🇨🇳 ByteDance 524 million
6Twitter🇺🇸 Twitter340 million
7Pinterest🇺🇸 Pinterest329 million
8Snapchat🇺🇸 Snap Inc302 million
9LinkedIn🇺🇸 Microsoft260 million

Today’s entertaining video, from the Data is Beautiful YouTube channel, is a look back at the rise and fall of social media platforms – and possibly a glimpse at the future of social media as well.

Below we respond to some key questions and observations raised by this video overview.

Points of Interest

1. What is QZone?

Qzone is China’s largest social network. The platform originally evolved as a sort of blogging service that sprang from QQ, China’s seminal instant messaging service. While Qzone is still one of the world’s largest social media sites – it still attracts around half a billion users per month – WeChat is now the service of choice for almost everyone in China with a smartphone.

2. LinkedIn has been around for a long time.

It’s true. LinkedIn, which hasn’t left the top 10 list since 2003, is a textbook example of a slow and steady growth strategy paying off.

While some networks experience swings in their user base or show a boom and bust growth pattern, LinkedIn has grown every single year since it was launched. Surprisingly, that growth is still clocking in at impressive rates. In 2019, for example, LinkedIn reported a 24% increase in sessions on their platform.

3. Will Facebook ever lose its top spot?

Never say never, but not anytime soon. Since 2008, Facebook has been far and away the most popular social network on the planet. If you include Facebook’s bundled services, over 2 billion people use their network each day. The company has used acquisitions and aggressive feature implementation to keep the company at the forefront of the battle for attention. Facebook itself is under a lot of scrutiny due to growing privacy concerns, but Instagram and WhatsApp are more popular than ever.

4. What Happened to Snapchat?

In 2016, Snapchat had thoroughly conquered the Gen Z demographic and was on a trajectory to becoming one of the top social networks. Facebook, sensing their position being challenged by this upstart company, took the bold step of cloning Snapchat’s features and integrating them into Instagram (even lifting the name “stories” in the process). The move paid off for Facebook and the video above shows Instagram’s user base taking off in 2016, fueled by these new features.

Even though Facebook took some of the wind out of Snapchat’s sails, the company never stopped growing. Earlier this year, Snapchat announced modest growth as its base of daily active users rose to 190 million. For advertisers looking to reach the 18-35 age demographic, Snapchat could still be a compelling option.

5. Why is TikTok so popular now?

The simple answer is that short-form video is extremely popular right now, and TikTok has features that make sharing fun. The average user of TikTok (and its Chinese counterpart, DouYin) spends a staggering 52 minutes per day on the app.

TikTok user growth

Also propelling its growth is the company’s massive marketing budget. TikTok spent $1 billon last year on advertising in the U.S., and is currently burning through around $3 million per day to get people onto their platform. One looming question for the China-based company is not whether Facebook will co-opt their features, but when.

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How COVID-19 Has Impacted Media Consumption, by Generation

This visualization explores how each generation’s media consumption is changing amid the frenzy of pandemic-induced quarantines.

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Media Consumption in the Age of COVID-19

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to wreak havoc across the globe, people’s time that would have otherwise been spent perusing malls or going to live events, is now being spent on the sofa.

During this period of pandemic-induced social isolation, it’s no surprise that people are consuming vast amounts of media. Today’s graphics use data from a Global Web Index report to explore how people have increased their media consumption as a result of the outbreak, and how it differs across each generation.

More Time to Kill

Global Web Index found that over 80% of consumers in the U.S. and UK say they consume more content since the outbreak, with broadcast TV and online videos (YouTube, TikTok) being the primary mediums across all generations and genders.

Unsurprisingly, 68% of consumers are seeking out pandemic updates online over any other activity. Gen Zers however, have other plans, as they are the only generation more likely to be listening to music than searching for news.

internet activities

Overall, younger generations are more likely to entertain themselves by playing games on their mobile or computer. Millennials also stand out as the foodie generation, as they are the most likely to be searching for cooking recipes or reading up on healthy eating.

Leaning on a Pillar of Trust

Across the board, consumers view the World Health Organization (WHO) as the most trusted source of information for any COVID-19 related updates.

This isn’t true everywhere on a regional basis, however. For example, while U.S. consumers trust WHO the most, UK consumers view their government as their most trusted news source overall.

media consumption trust

Trust in information shared on social media is higher than word of mouth from friends and family, and even foreign government websites. That said, it is lower than information shared on the radio or news websites.

The Need for Pandemic Positivity

While staying abreast of pandemic updates is important, ultimately, a positive mindset and the ability to switch off will help people cope better day-to-day.

Therefore, it seems reasonable that people are more inclined to invest in new subscription services since they have been in isolation, with almost one-third of Gen Zers considering purchasing Netflix, followed by Disney+.

media consumption subscription

Understandably, people are becoming increasingly worried about how much time they are dedicating to their screens. However, research suggests that screen time itself is no cause for concern. Rather, it’s the content we choose to consume that could have a significant impact our psychological well-being.

Perhaps most intriguingly, the TV shows and movies that are increasing in popularity on Netflix are about pandemics—which could signify the need for people to fictionalize the chaos we find ourselves in.

Regardless of what type of content we are consuming, the fact is that every generation is relying on their devices during this pandemic to inform and distract more than ever before, creating a huge opportunity for media companies to engage a captive audience.

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How Technology is Shaping the Future of Education

From artificial intelligence to chatbots, this infographic visualizes what the future of education could look like. Can schools keep up with the times?

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Technology has transformed almost every aspect of our lives, and now it seems that education systems around the world are due for an update.

Educators are tapping into the digital revolution and adopting new technologies to help students reach their full potential, but can they adapt quickly enough to prepare children for the changing future of work?

The Growing Role of Tech in Classrooms

Today’s infographic from Best Education Degrees explores the different ways technology is transforming classrooms, and disrupting education as we know it.

future of education graphic

The Next Generation

Although some might view technology as pervasive, for younger generations, it is ever-present.

Children and young adults make up one-third of all internet users, so it’s no surprise that they are more hyper-connected and digitally savvy than their parents.

The combination of evolving educational needs for children and a more uncertain future of work means that updating what children learn, and how they learn it, has become a crucial issue for schools and colleges—but what should be prioritized?

Classrooms 2.0

In a survey of 1,400 educators, the majority of them say they believe that classrooms of the future will be centered around self-paced and personalized learning.

This student-centric approach would allow children to choose their own pace and learning objectives based on individual interests—all of which could be guided by artificial intelligence, chatbots, and video-based learning.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence in education typically focuses on identifying what a student does or doesn’t know, and then subsequently developing a personalized curricula for each student.

The AI-powered language learning platform Duolingo is one of the most downloaded education apps globally, with more than 50 million installs in 2018. The platform single-handedly challenges the notion of traditional learning, with a study showing that spending just 34 hours on the app equates to an entire university semester of language education.

AI-driven applications in education are still in their infancy, but Duolingo’s success demonstrates the growth potential in the sector. In fact, the nascent market for AI in education is expected to reach $6 billion by the year 2025. Over half of this will come from China and the U.S., with China leading globally.

Chatbots

Chatbots are also quickly becoming a fundamental tool in next generation education. Designed to simplify the interaction between student and computer, chatbots provide a wide range of benefits, including:

  • Spaced interval learning: Uses algorithms and repetition to optimize memorization
  • Immediate feedback: Papers can be graded with 92% accuracy and in a faster time than teachers
  • Self-paced learning: Tracks a student’s performance and guides them based on their individual needs

This innovative technology is arming educators with new strategies for more engaged learning, whilst simultaneously reducing their workload.

Video Learning

Although video-based learning may not necessarily be considered as innovative as artificial intelligence or chatbots, 98% of educators view it as a vital component in personalized learning experiences. Most institutions report incorporating video into their curriculums in some way, but even higher demand for video-based learning may come from students in the near future.

This is due to the fact that video learning increases student satisfaction by 91%, and student achievements by 82%, which could be why educators are increasingly using video for tasks like:

  • Providing material for student assignments
  • Giving feedback on assignments
  • Flipped instruction (blended learning) exercises

A flipped classroom overturns conventional learning by focusing on practical content that is delivered online and often outside the classroom.

The Battle Between Traditional and Tech

Flipping classrooms is a trend that has gained momentum in recent years—and may be considered to be a radical change in how students absorb information. The relatively new model also eliminates homework, by empowering students to work collaboratively on their tasks during class time.

Although new models of learning are disrupting the status quo of traditional learning, could the increasing amount of time children spend in front of screens be detrimental?

Research has shown that children are more likely to absorb information from books rather than screens. There has also been an evident increase in low-tech or tech-free schools that believe that human interaction is paramount when it comes to keeping children engaged and excited to learn.

Creating First-Class Humans

Although we may not be in the era of iTeachers just yet, the benefits of technology as teaching aids are undeniable. However, what is more important is that these aids are used in tandem with developmental and educational psychology—ultimately keeping students rather than technology at the core of education.

The future will be about pairing the artificial intelligence of computers with the cognitive, social and emotional capabilities of humans, so that we educate first-class humans, not second-class robots”

—OECD, Trends Shaping Education report

After all, how children develop these skills is perhaps less important than their ability to navigate change, as that is the only thing that will remain constant.

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