Is Social Media Growing Still?

Social media has seen increased footfall over the past few years, but does that mean that social media is still growing?

In 2004, MySpace had 980,000 users, which jumped during the next 5 years to 19.5 million, but they petered off in the early 2010s.  This may have been due to the increased popularity of Facebook, which was just getting started and has subsequently climbed to 2.26 billion users.  Social media has become a way of staying connected around the world, while also giving a way to follow celebrities and aspire to their lifestyle.  As the definition of a celebrity has diversified from just film and music to now include TikTok and Instagram, the number of people being drawn to these platforms has increased and so assisted in social media’s growth over the past five years.

According to smartinsights.com, in 2015 these users had, on average, 6.2 social media accounts. This has subsequently increased to nearly 8 in 2020, in order to keep up with celebrities across all available platforms. This increase shows how social media is still growing, especially with more networks being introduced regularly.  In 2010, there were four main social media networks, by the end of 2020 there’s nine, each with its own unique selling point, as well as advantages and disadvantages.

This diversity across the platforms has allowed users to express themselves. This multi-networking is due to an expanded number of choices of platform, depending on the content users want to create and content they want to see. For example, Reddit is text based with questions and answers, while TikTok is short videos and Facebook has become a place to share memories with family and friends.  As people are becoming more encouraged to express themselves, it only makes sense to diversify social media in order to include everyone and be safe for everyone.

Although, the increased number of available platforms is very apparent, as of 2020 the global social penetration rate was only 49%, with North America having the highest rate of 71% and Middle Africa having the lowest with 7% (statista.com).  This difference shows how social media is a growing industry in first world countries, but for third world countries social media is not a necessity and so isn’t as popular.

However, in light of social media’s growing popularity over the last decade, it can also be argued that people are now making the conscious decision to not be on social media these include celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence, George and Amal Clooney, and Daniel Radcliffe. Some are for mental health reasons, such as when Daisy Ridley quit social media in 2019 and some are for privacy reasons, Scarlett Johannson has said she doesn’t want everyone knowing what she’s doing all the time.

On the other hand, there are positive online communities that people are a part of, and after the majority of the world being in lockdown at one point or another due to the Covid-19 pandemic, these communities have become more important, particularly for those struggling with mental health, or loneliness in particular.

In conclusion, social media is definitely still growing, but people are more likely to be active on the platforms that suit them, rather than all of them. For example, teenagers and young adults are likely to prefer TikTok over Facebook, while the older generation prefer Facebook.

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