Karl Marx wrote in 1944 that “alienation” was a fundamental feature of capitalism. In this postmodern late capitalism age, is social media alienating or connecting us? Socialization, according to MacIver and Page (1950), “is the process by which social beings establish wider and profounder relationships with one another, in which they become more bound up with, and more perceptive of the personality of themselves and of others and build up the complex structure of nearer and wider association.”
Fast forward 68 years and to be ‘social’ has a whole new meaning, bound up in the digital platforms that have billions of subscribers/followers. According to the Global Digital Report 2018 by We Are Social there are 4.021 billion internet users, 3.196 billion active social media users, and 5.135 billion mobile phone users worldwide. Extraordinary statistics considering the current world population is 7.5 billion people and includes babies and children. With over 2.167 billion active users, Facebook easily holds the majority market share, with Google’s YouTube the second most popular platform with 1.5billion users. Again revealing Facebook’s dominance in the market, the Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Messenger come in next with 1.3billion users apiece, and Facebook-owned Instagram currently sits at 7th place with 800million users, and rapidly growing. (Source: Statista, most popular social networks worldwide) On almost every metric, Facebook clearly dominate:
- Facebook holds 90% of the share of combined minutes for the 4 major social media networking apps, with Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram sharing the remaining 10%. (Source: comScore 2018 Global Digital Future in Focus);
- Facebook leads in terms of active daily use also in the lead, with 76% of users logging in daily, compared with 51% for Instagram, and 42% for Twitter. (Source: Pew Internet);
- Incredibly, given its longevity and dominance, Facebook is still the fastest growing social network, with 527million increase in active monthly users over the past 2 years. The next fastest growing platforms are Instagram and WeChat with each showing a 400 million increase (Statista, 2018).
- Facebook’s engagement, a product of penetration (percentage of total demographic who access the app), frequency (average days accessed per month), and sessions (average times accessed per day), far outperforms its next ‘competitor’ which is also owned by Facebook, as the below diagram by Forrester reveals.