MySpace and Friendster? Believe it or not, we are experiencing a second social media boom.
The advent of the Internet a few years ago spawned a “before” and an “after” in various civilizations, opening the way to a new way of communicating between users who did not have to be in the same room. For example, through e-mail, Web pages, or forums. Interaction between people began to gradually gain more and more power, eliminating, among other things, a large number of cultural or linguistic boundaries.
In those days, no one imagined the power they would gain and how many aspects of our lives would change: relationships, new experiences, bank accounts, studies and even flirting.
In 1997, SixDegrees was created, which can be considered the first social network in the world; a network that allowed you to find other network members and create lists of friends, and which was based on the Six Degrees of Separation theory, which states that you can connect with anyone in the world in just 6 steps. In 2001, SixDegrees disappeared, but it took a few more months before happy digital users started using new social networks such as Friendster, which was created in 2002 as a social network for video game enthusiasts, or MySpace and LinkedIn, which appeared in 2003 and were considered much more professional and business-oriented.
And until 2004, a young Harvard University student put the icing on the cake and created the most important social network in the world today: Facebook . Just a year later, in 2005, a new revolution emerged that remains one of the most important social networks today: YouTube . A network created by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Yaun Karim in San Bruno, California, and later, in 2006, the social microblogging network of Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Beez Stone and Evan Williams: Twitter, which was originally called twttr, to later evolve to its current name. And since then, the launch of new social networks has not stopped, with examples like Twitch, TikTok, Vine, Snapchat, not to be counted.
Times have changed a lot, and so have the needs of users, social networks have gradually become a means of communication between people, and today we are entering a new phase of the digital era, when in Mexico about 70% of the world population is connected to some social network.
Currently, there are 100 million people in Mexico who use different social networking platforms, which represents 77.2% of the Mexican population active on the Internet.
Of the total number of users who use social networks, 98.9% access them via mobile devices. YouTube comes first in terms of preference with 94%, followed by Facebook with 95% of visits, and then WhatsApp with 91%. Facebook Messenger was used by 79% of Mexicans, and Instagram is in fifth place with 77%.
By January 2021, social media use in Mexico had increased by 12%, an increase of 11 million new users. The crisis caused by COVID-19 has made the speed of “modern time” turn into an increasingly uncertain vertigo with each passing second, but with an updated future for social media, and in itself a promising future for anything that gives a more human touch to the dehumanized reality in which we live.
Clearly, the trend speaks to an evolution toward creating experiences and virtual worlds for communication, shopping, travel, entertainment and all the possibilities that virtual worlds will offer. Virtual and augmented reality are two development trends that will significantly change the social environment in the next decade. Companies like Facebook are making great strides by introducing Oculus (virtual reality glasses) into more and more services, and Facebook Spaces, a virtual reality social network that continues to expand, where you can connect with friends in a 3D environment where each person has their own avatar and you have to use voice messages to interact with others.
In the next five years our social environment will change dramatically, social media will become a world full of digital experiences. More and more tangible experiences. A prime example of this is the use of formats and devices in audiovisual consumption, as Epic Games, the aforementioned Facebook (Project Horizon), Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Sony, Magic Leap, Apple, Alibaba, for example. Valve, Improbable, Unity are creating new pieces, they will keep coming over the next decade. Singularity6, Novaquark, Niantic and Pinduoduo, to name a few.
But on the way to achieving these parallel virtual realities, there are several trends that are changing the format of social media so far. One is the idea of smaller and more closed networks, where activity is more secure, outside of public posting. At first, social networks wanted all activity to be public, but that has now changed. In the next decade, the big companies offering social media will be working to get intimate again. A great example of this trend is “audio-only” social networks, audio-based social networks, one of them being Clubhouse, where there are “audio-only” virtual chats where people can listen to others discuss a topic and join the conversation if you want. No photos, no video.
Another sign that audio could be the future of online communication is that tech giants Apple, Amazon and Google are constantly pouring money into their voice control apps. Although their dream of making Siri, Alexa and Google Home portals for quick online purchases has not come true, they are still investing heavily in audio-based communication technologies. Perhaps they also see the potential of audio as a new means of online interaction.
In addition to these trends, it is remarkable and very important to talk about the rapid growth of the economy in the technology industry, it will be even more significant in the next decade and will create more opportunities for more participants. The decentralization of online actions will allow small businesses to grow more. If social media allows someone to sell directly through Instagram, serve their customers through Messenger, or send money instantly through WhatsApp, that will be the beginning of Blockchain.
We can’t forget artificial intelligence and its increasingly important role in social media. AI can help analyze large amounts of data today to identify patterns of user behavior. Algorithms based on artificial intelligence allow for more efficient segmentation, showing the user highly personalized content tailored to their social network usage and interests. Social media platforms in general have already begun to adopt artificial intelligence technology, and marketing agencies are already exploring new ways to use this technology in the social media universe.
At BNN, we believe that this, in turn, is an environment in constant evolution, with platforms, user behavior, tools and formats changing. What we believe is that the future will be full of experiences with technology, virtual worlds and new technologies, we will have full lives in one or more virtual worlds where we will do everything we do today in everyday life, and our job is to explore all the possibilities to bring our clients and their consumers there.