Today more than half of the world’s population uses social media sites for everything from communicating with friends and family, to shopping, to getting news and information.

On a grander scale, social media has changed the course of history. Movements that started and grew on social media platforms have influenced elections, government policies, and cultural attitudes towards a variety of issues.

In honor of World Social Media Day on June 30th, we’ve put together a visual representation of how social media has changed the world. Check it out below as well as commentary from digital marketing expert, Dennis Consorte.

A Snapshot of Social Media Usage Across the Globe

socially connected infographic

Chat Rooms to Clubhouse

Social media has become such an ingrained part of everyday life that it can be easy to forget that 20 years ago, the term had barely entered the cultural lexicon and apps were still just something one ate before dinner.

“Social media has shaped culture, governance, and commerce in ways that were unimaginable a few decades ago,” Consorte says. “They’ve shortened our attention spans, which sparked the creation of low-attention, instant-gratification platforms like Snapchat and TikTok. But now we’re seeing some social media users turn a complete 180 with the return of live-conversation style platforms like Clubhouse and Greenroom, reminiscent of party phone lines and dial-up chat rooms from the 1990s. Social media continues to evolve. Who knows what’s next?”

While we’re figuring out what the future holds for social media, let’s take a look back at where it started.

social media timeline

”I saw it on Insta”

Social media hasn’t just changed the way we communicate, it’s also changed the way we shop. It didn’t take long for social media platforms to realize they had enormous advertising potential.

By 2019, Facebook generated nearly $70 billion in advertising revenue. Instagram influencers can command over $1 million per post to hawk everything from beauty products to beverages to their millions of followers. Social media platforms also realized they could keep users around longer by allowing them to purchase products directly from their sites.

All of this is known as “social commerce,” a segment of e-commerce in which a consumer’s shopping experience occurs directly on a social media platform, or they are connected to a retailer’s product page through a social network.

As one of the fastest-growing economic sectors, social commerce is worth a closer look.

social commerce infographic

Social media and world events

Social media’s greatest impact has arguably been allowing people from all over the world to share ideas and opinions, influencing elections, spurring social justice movements, and even inciting revolutions.

“There is no question that people, organizations, and nations have utilized social media to shape public opinion on impactful topics,” Consorte says. “Regulations may slow down this transformation of the way we interact, but one thing is certain—the digital frameworks that connect us online will soon supersede geographical limitations entirely.”

Below is a look at some recent world events in which social media played a critical role.

What’s next for social media?

When we look at social media’s vast influence it’s easy to forget that, historically speaking, all of these sites are still in their infancy. Developers are still hard at work on the next trendy app, advertisers are finding new ways to use them and regulatory bodies around the world are trying their best to maintain at least the illusion of a regulatory grasp on them.

Over the last two decades we’ve watched in real-time as communication underwent an unprecedented transformation. There’s no doubt we’ll be remembering this impactful era of technological evolution for years to come on World Social Media Day—but what it will be remembered for, is yet to be seen.

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