It's hard to imagine a world without social media. Even in the most obscure places on Earth, inhabitants will often have a Facebook account. Social media is literally changing the way in which we live our lives; from how we interact with friends to how we learn about social issues.
The industry is constantly evolving and has come a long way since the Bebo and Myspace days of the early 2000's. For example, nowadays over 70% of businesses have a social media marketing team; political parties use Facebook to gain new followers; and people are more likely to use a messenger service than make a phonecall.
But the viral nature of social media doesn't just stop at the Western boarders. As time goes on and technology advances, even those living in poverty have access to an account on their favourite platform.
In collaboration with the team at Distinctly Digital
, this article will explore industry evolution in South America, South Africa and Asia, and make predictions on how the world of social media will change in the coming years.
With almost one billion active users (as of May 2014), social media is very much a part of Asian culture; however, it's vastly different to the West. Facebook and Twitter are virtually unheard of, yet the industry is more powerful than ever. China's Renren network has over 178 million users and is growing at a rate of 20% each month.
Youku and Mixi are trailing behind Renren in second and third place. Youku is essentially the Asian version of YouTube and gets over 14.2 million searches per day. The primary difference is that international IP addresses are banned.
Mixi has been losing momentum in recent years and is mainly geared towards the younger generation. It resembles the now outdated Myspace in that users and businesses can create their own backgrounds and "brand" their page.
The largest social network in South Africa is called Mxit. While reports in early 2014 state that it has an average of 9 million users in comparison to Facebook's 9.4, figures only account for active users who have logged in during the last month.
Over the past year the popularity of Facebook has been increasing among residents in their early twenties, mainly due to the "check in" feature; therefore, almost 90% of all Facebook users only use the platform when they're on their mobiles.
With over 78 million natives with a social media presence, Brazil is emerging as one of the most social media savvy countries in South America. Even in the remote state of Para, which is situated deep in the Amazon rainforest, villagers have Facebook. In addition, with 41.2 million accounts, it has the world's second largest amount of Twitter users.
According to Cisco
, the youth are heavily driving South America's social media growth. Those between 15 and 24 take up 33% of the market, in comparison the worldwide figure of 26%. In some countries, however, such as Columbia and Venezuela, this increases to over 50%.
Instagram has grown tremendously over the past two years and popularity is expected to increase in South America, Asia and South Africa as they latch on to photo sharing trends such as selfies, food pics and hashtags.
Linkedin is the silent danger. While it's more of a professional network, rather than a social network, it's been steadily increasing in popularity and has experienced slow, but steady growth for many years. As of May 2014 the number of registered users stands at 296 million.
In the business world, more companies will start to focus on viral marketing techniques to gain new leads and customers. For example, The Pink Group
designed a social media cheat sheet with this purpose in mind, and with over 4,000 Twitter shares and 2,900 Facebook likes (as of May 2014), it proves just how powerful social media can be.