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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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Demographics

Interactive: How Do Americans Differ by Age?

This interactive infographic allows you sort data on the U.S. population using a variety of topics, to see how Americans differ by age.

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Interactive: How Do Americans Differ by Age?

The human experience changes dramatically over the course of a lifetime.

While we each intrinsically know that our days as teenagers will be vastly different from those as senior citizens, it is interesting to see how this looks from a 10,000-foot perspective.

Using demographic data on the American populace, we can spot key differences between age groups, including some aspects that make each generation of Americans unique.

The U.S. Population, by Age

Today’s interactive data visualization comes to us from Overflow Data, and it charts out the entire U.S. population by age group.

The graphic allows you to sort demographics based on data pertaining to specific topics—such as whether people own or rent their house—to see how age affects answers to these different questions. The interactive visualization also allows you to filter results by geographic region, sex, marital status, or employment status.

Data here comes from the 2017 Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) via the American Community Survey, which is published by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Gauging Differences

Let’s dive into how American differ by age, by looking at some specific charts:

Employment Status, by Age

This is a simple one to start with, but it makes it easy to see how the data works. In the below chart, it’s evident that most younger and older Americans are not in the labor force, while the majority of working age Americans are employed or seeking work (unemployed).

Employment Status of Americans, by Age

Own or Rent, by Age

How about looking at whether Americans own or rent, or even if they live in a group quarters?

Own or Rent, by Age

Race, by Age

The below chart is sorted by percentile, and it shows the percentage of individuals by race according to their age group. As the population skews younger, so does its racial diversity.

Race, by Age

Marital Status, by Age

The below chart is sorted by percentile, and it shows the marital status (married, divorced, etc.) of different age groups.

Marital Status, by Age

The Generational Effect

For more on how Americans differ by age, learn about how different generations approach the workplace, as well as how they think about investing.

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Culture

How Different Generations Approach Work

Summing up the differences in how generations approach work, including on topics such as communication, motivation, and employer loyalty.

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How Different Generations Approach Work

View the full-size version of the infographic by clicking here

The first representatives of Generation Z have started to trickle into the workplace – and like generations before them, they are bringing a different perspective to things.

Did you know that there are now up to five generations now working under any given roof, ranging all the way from the Silent Generation (born Pre-WWII) to the aforementioned Gen Z?

Let’s see how these generational groups differ in their approaches to communication, career priorities, and company loyalty.

Generational Differences at Work

Today’s infographic comes to us from Raconteur, and it breaks down some key differences in how generational groups are thinking about the workplace.

Let’s dive deeper into the data for each category.

Communication

How people prefer to communicate is one major and obvious difference that manifests itself between generations.

While many in older generations have dabbled in new technologies and trends around communications, it’s less likely that they will internalize those methods as habits. Meanwhile, for younger folks, these newer methods (chat, texting, etc.) are what they grew up with.

Top three communication methods by generation:

  • Baby Boomers:
    40% of communication is in person, 35% by email, and 13% by phone
  • Gen X:
    34% of communication is in person, 34% by email, and 13% by phone
  • Millennials:
    33% of communication is by email, 31% is in person, and 12% by chat
  • Gen Z:
    31% of communication is by chat, 26% is in person, and 16% by emails

Motivators

Meanwhile, the generations are divided on what motivates them in the workplace. Boomers place health insurance as an important decision factor, while younger groups view salary and pursuing a passion as being key elements to a successful career.

Three most important work motivators by generation (in order):

  • Baby Boomers:
    Health insurance, a boss worthy of respect, and salary
  • Gen X:
    Salary, job security, and job challenges/excitement
  • Millennials:
    Salary, job challenges/excitement, and ability to pursue passion
  • Gen Z:
    Salary, ability to pursue passion, and job security

Loyalty

Finally, generational groups have varying perspectives on how long they would be willing to stay in any one role.

  • Baby Boomers: 8 years
  • Gen X: 7 years
  • Millennials: 5 years
  • Gen Z: 3 years

Given the above differences, employers will have to think clearly about how to attract and retain talent across a wide scope of generations. Further, employers will have to learn what motivates each group, as well as what makes them each feel the most comfortable in the workplace.

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