As we promised, here is the first installment of the ten part Appy New Year series.
The world is changing fastly but over the years internet has become the most important part of our lives. Even those in the remotest of the villages in the world are getting connected.
And being connected has a new definition in the age of social networks. Earlier internet just used to a medium and a source of unlimited knowledge and free information. Today, people, specially the young generation spends hours daily wading through endless posts, tweets, videos and images and have a totally new meaning of social life, it is more like digital life!
These social networks have become so powerful that people who have a considerable(read millions) following command such an influence that they can change views, beliefs and even actions of their followers. Now, even businesses understand the impact of social media in the making or breaking of their entire existence.
Following is the list* of 10 greatest, most popular social networks. They have millions(some even billions) of app installs across Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store. These are the apps that you are bound to find in almost every smart device. Imagine billions of people having your app 24×7, in their pockets!
Facebook, started by a teenager in his college dorm room along with a friend and a roommate has now grown into a multi-billion dollar business and is listed on the stock exchange. It is the posterchild of everything social, you can not end a conversation about social media(hell, you can’t even start one) without talking about Facebook. It has been the unmoved leader among social media apps and has been topping the charts on both App Store and Play Store.
All this in just a little over a decade, most companies take decades to even get listed, leave alone becoming one of the biggest corporate behemoths. If that’s not enough it owns and runs other top social networks, a few in this top 10 list too and may as well buy out the remaining networks in this list in future.
If Facebook has been a constant number one, then Twitter has also been the constant number two in the social media space. Though many people consider it better than Facebook but actually both are different and difficult to compare(though if they keep copying features from each other, then maybe one will die or get merged). Twitter limits its posts aka tweets to a certain number of characters and only allows you to express yourself within that limit. So, you can not spam out and just have to stick to the matter and be creative. This helps the fast, uber-busy generation of ours with a limited attention span to consume more information, faster without missing out on the latest trends.
If we have digital networks for social life then why not a network for work life? After all, we all lead a digital life. LinkedIn is the answer to the question. It is a network of working professionals, job aspirants, students, academicians, and just about anybody who wants to connect with people in the same industry or just display his resume/CV to the world. If you want to be taken seriously among office colleagues, show them your LinkedIn followers and connections. You want your potential employer to know more about you than a conventional interview allows, add him/her on LinkedIn(Of-course, you can not connect with them on Facebook, letting them wade through those NSFW comments, pictures 😛 ).
Google+ is the kind of social network that is there just because it can! It is the second(not so successful) attempt by Google(now Alphabet) after Orkut to capture the social media market. But, that does not mean, you can ignore the dominance it has in the social media space, specially if you are a brand or business trying to befriend google(the search engine) as it gives preference to the brands having more followers/activity on their Google+ page. It may command more respect in future(seems impossible, but who knows what wonders those millions of advertising dollars Google invests in Google+ can do.). How can you forget that most Android phones are shipped with Google+ pre-installed along with a host of other Google Apps(For those of you who have been living under a rock all these years, Google owns Android operating system).
Pinterest is internet’s own bulletin board! You like it, you pin, simple as that. A picture says a thousand words, Pinterest seems to have understood the fact and has created a platform where you can share your thoughts through Pins. It also allows to share, save/pin article links from your favorite websites which you can view later. You can also share your pins or a group of them with your friends and followers on the network.
Tumbr is more of a short form blogging platform than a proper social network. It has elements from both Facebook and Twitter. It even allows you to create a tumblr blog (somewhat like WordPress). It was launched by a teenage David Karp who later sold it to Yahoo. Tumblr popularity rose just after the sale but now all that interest has faded and Yahoo has failed to reap the full potential Tumblr once possessed. Still, Tumblr makes an awesome choice as a blog-cum-social-network and is a must have app if you like share long articles or even images(not as album but as a single page).
Reddit is like a big, universal forum where you can always find a subreddit(term for topic) on almost any imaginable topic. Unlike other social networks, it is not a walled garden accessible to only logged in users(even for reading/viewing). It is more like Wikipedia in this aspect. It is internet’s hotpan for most of the original memes and jokes. It has a threaded comments like interface. It has approximately 1,000,000 – 5,000,000 installs on Android (as per Google Play Store data) but still it has a place in this list because of the originality and the active community it boasts.
The latest fad among the teenagers(Yes, social networks are built to target teenagers) is Snapchat(Facebook tried to buy it out for $3 Billions). It is the single App only social network in this whole list! Snapchat is a play around privacy and materialization of the YOLO mentality of youngsters. It allows its users to post images, or short videos(called stories) to all their followers(or individual friends) that are viewable only for a limited number of times or for a limited amount of time(usually a day). It is more like a chat app( as evident from it’s name) that too with ephemerality of the messages and information(just like youth) keeping it fresh and exciting.
Instagram took the saying, “A picture says a thousand words” a little more seriously than Pinterest, threw away all the text elements and created the world’s most popular photo social network. You choose or click a photo/selfie of yours, crop it to accommodate in a square shape and post it with or without available filter effects for your friends and followers to see. It also allows sharing short videos(copied from Vine), and now also has instagram stories(akin Snapchat Stories). Most, international celebrities(some even became a celebrity due to their Instagram following) document their daily life in pictures by sharing them with their fans and followers on Instagram.
You may not consider YouTube a social network but there is saying in the tech community that “Video is the future”. Video is the closest to replicate the real-world social network(think, video calls). So, believe it or not, YouTube is as much a social network as it is a video sharing platform. It’s potential is majorly limited by the slow/stagnant internet speeds across the globe(mostly in developing countries).It also supplements other social networks by allowing users to embed YouTube videos in their posts on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Like, Google+, it mostly comes pre-installed in Android devices but unlike Google+, it actually gets used instead of getting deleted.
We consume information through our eyes or ears. While all other social networks focus on the visual/audio-visual aspect, SoundCloud focusses on the audio aspect only. It allows users to upload voice memos, podcasts, original(unpirated) music, and all kinds of sounds and share them with the world. It is a heaven for music lovers, podcast listeners and audiophiles.
Who? What? Why? How? Quora is a social network based around questions. It allows it’s users to ask and answer questions publicly or anonymously. It is similar to Yahoo answers, but is more active and popular. Moreover, it has the social network element of followers and following to motivate people to answer more questions to be more authoritative in their domain of expertise and get more views and followers.
This post turned out to be longer than I thought. I can still include atleast 10 other social networks that are important and had a fair chance to get featured in the list but let’s save them for some other time.
You can find all the posts in the Appy New Year series here.
Note: * = Not in any particular order