Social media is unlike any other communication tool available today. In many respects it has redefined the nature of both interpersonal and corporate communications over the last decade, and it looks set to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

From humble beginnings among the technology community in the early 2000s, social media has matured to become a bone fide force in many fields.

The explosion in smartphones and tablets has helped social media to grow into a global phenomenon with almost universal appeal. Today, social media platforms from companies such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have a worldwide impact. In recent years, social media has helped to orchestrate political movements, as seen in the Arab Spring, has changed disclosure protocols for public companies, particularly as it pertains to viewership figures from streaming giant Netflix Inc, and has formed the backbone of numerous electoral and social justice campaigns around the world.

Companies like Facebook and Twitter have become ubiquitous across all walks of life. Social media users ranging from teenagers through to pensioners log into their accounts on a daily basis. According to data from social media agency We Are Social, 2014 was a notable year. The company’s report, ‘Digital, Social and Mobile in 2015’, recorded over two billion active social media accounts globally, with over 1.6 billion of those accounts active on smartphones. Furthermore, as the internet and social media use becomes more commonplace, users are spending longer online than ever before – four hours and 25 minutes per day on average.

However, it is not just the public which engages fully with social media. The uptake among corporations has meant that a meaningful social media presence among corporates has become the norm. Recent data suggest that 82 percent of the Fortune Global 100 firms have some form of Twitter account, 74 percent have a presence on Facebook and 79 percent of organisations have their own YouTube channel.

Apr-Jun 2015 Issue

Richard Summerfield