Social media: websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.
Internet: a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardised communication protocols.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but does the definition of the internet sound more like social media in 2016?
With over 3.4 billion people worldwide accessing the internet, 2.3 billion are using it to access social media sites. This figure is growing annually by 10%. So here’s my question:
Why don’t we stop calling it social media and just call it the internet?
There are many views about when exactly social media began. Some contend it started in the 1800s, while others say that social started with email back in 1966. From our perspective, the start of the (r)evolution began in 1996 when Six Degrees was launched as the first ‘modern’ social network.
Six Degrees was, at the time, unique of its kind. It allowed users to create a profile and become friends with other users. Its sole purpose was to encourage people to be ‘social’, and, therefore, it was labelled a social network.
The evolution since 1996 has been prolific; we’ve been introduced to Wikipedia, Friendster, MySpace, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, Pinterest and Vine. The list goes on. Some of these platforms have crashed, but the ones that have evolved have claimed the internet.
Social media in 2016 allows you do almost everything you need. Yes, we still use it to ‘social network’, but consider all of the other things you use social media for. To clarify our point, the below image paints a picture of what sites are currently defined as ‘social media’.
How often do you start your online browsing outside of a social media platform? I’d suggest a lot of us start the day on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram and find ourselves navigating elsewhere from there.
Facebook is changing every day to ensure they are continuing to deliver their users what they go on the internet for: the introduction of stores on Facebook allows us to shop; instant articles allow us to read the news faster than ever before; and video uploads allow us to watch and share the news as it happens.
Photographers and film producers no longer need websites because they have platforms like Instagram, Tumbler and Flickr that make their images look better than any website ever could. What’s more is that they can reach their target market in that exact spot. You don’t have to leave.
Major retailers are using social platforms as another avenue of service, with customers able to talk to a staff member in real time.
Sports teams are using social media to livestream their training sessions and media events, giving their fans opportunities like never before.
Politicians are using social media to gain support and showcase their policies, or using it to highlight the holes in their opponents’ policies.
Yes, there are still things that we cannot do on social media, like banking, insurance claims and grocery shopping … yet. But there will come a time when this is a reality. Other than Google, social media sites are more popular than any other site on the internet and one day we’ll stop referring to them as ‘social media’ and just call it the internet.