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User feedback remains key to social media evolution

 

Social media has come a long way, not only in revolutionizing the way people communicate but also the way the work is accomplished, from the time the very first bulletin board system (BBS) was created in 1978,.

Its evolution has progressed for the better following the introduction of the World Wide Web in 1995. In 2002, Friendster became the first of many social networking sites that allowed people to create their own profiles and communicate with each other wherever they were — a concept later fine-tuned by sites like MySpace, LinkedIn and ultimately, Facebook.

YouTube quickly became the de facto standard for sharing videos while Instagram became its counterpart for photos. With over 2 billion active users monthly, meanwhile, Facebook remains the king of social networks. Originally created in 2004 as a networking platform for college students, it has continued evolving with the times with one innovation after another.

“People have always come to Facebook to connect with friends and family, and communities. But over time it’s become more than that — it’s also a place to connect with people who share interests and passions in the digital equivalent of a town square,” said John Rubio, country manager of Facebook Philippines, in an interview with The Manila Times.

“We recognize that people also want to connect privately in the digital equivalent of a living room. People also now send around 100 billion messages each day using Facebook messaging platforms. On Facebook Messenger alone, people and businesses around the world now exchange over 20 billion messages each month. Today, we are seeing that the fastest growing areas of online communication are private messaging, ephemeral Stories, and Groups [on Facebook],” Rubio added.


Twitter, which began in 2006, took a different approach as it focused more on providing breaking news concerning politics, sports, entertainment and more. It also allowed instant reactions from its over 335 million monthly active users as its bite-size, “microblogging” posts are limited to only 140 characters. Because of these features, Twitter has become the go-to social media site for “trending” topics and the use of hashtags — pioneered in 2007.

In response to questions sent by The Manila Times, Twitter noted that “social media has evolved from being an avenue for people to conveniently revisit or find new connections to becoming an almost staple in our daily lives.”

“It is now the place where communities, businesses and even advocacies come together. In the same way, Twitter also evolved by becoming a platform that doesn’t just connect people to the world but also allows them to express views, showcase creativity, and all the while still be the preferred platform for real-time updates and trends.”

The social media network added that trending topics remained widely popular in the Philippines.

“A teleserye has different hashtags everyday and fans never fail to tweet in massive volumes just for it to get the much-coveted top spot. Terms such as ‘Hashtag of the Day’ have become a daily habit of Filipinos and we think that this will continue to grow and go on for more years to come,” Twitter Philippines elaborated.

“Twelve years since [its introduction], hashtags remain one of the most used features on Twitter that even brands have recognized its power to drive their digital efforts. It has also become some sort of an expression. People nowadays put a hashtag on whatever they are doing.”

For Kumu, an emerging livestreaming platform that boasts of over 100,000 weekly active users and takes pride in being the fastest social media network in the Philippines, the current social media evolution/revolution has become “a mad rush for attention span.”

“From text-based content, to image, and now videos, the formats continue to require more technology and data while further sucking the user into an attention span vortex,” Kumu co-founder Rexy Dorado noted

All three platforms are one in saying that they need to evolve with the changing times in order to sustain online traffic and user engagement.

Rubio said the fresh, new design of Facebook rolled out this year was “simpler, faster, more immersive and puts communities at the center.”

“This redesign makes it easy for people to go from public spaces to more private ones, like Groups. There are tens of millions of active groups on Facebook. When people find the right one, it often becomes the most meaningful part of how they use Facebook,” Rubio stressed.

Twitter, which pioneered the integration of livestreaming in its platform, has also evolved in such a way that Filipinos now use it for varying purposes. Most of the features added through the years is due to feedback from its users.

“Nowadays, Filipinos use Twitter to establish online communities aka fandoms, to bring light into topics or issues, and provide entertainment and an avenue for creativity just like the Twitterserye, which is popular these days. Just by those activities, you can already see a reflection of how social media and Twitter has really evolved throughout the years,” the company pointed out.

Kumu, meanwhile, has opted to further enhance its livestreaming features that “leverages Gen Z & Millennial communities at its core” and even allow users to earn income.

“Other platforms have chat, text, and image at the foundation of their platform, but for us those are just supplementary form of content. Our true focus is on long-form, 30-60 minute, real time, unfiltered and authentic conversations where people can be their real selves and create bonds with other Filipinos around the world,” Dorado said.

“Whereas [other networks like] Facebook and TikTok push for 15-second views, our users watch livestreams for 60 minutes at a time; whereas Instagram and Snapchat push you to take the perfect shot, we strive for an environment that is real and hard to fake. And people are making a living from it. Our virtual gifts platform has paid out thousands of creators, several of whom are making a full time income,” he added.

Rubio, meanwhile, said Facebook would focus on keeping the platform as “a place where people feel safe and empowered to express themselves and connect with the people they care about.”

“We recognize that bringing people together is not without its challenges [so] we take our role in keeping abuse off our services seriously. We will continue to invest in people and technology to detect, prevent and remove bad actors, and continue to build on our vision of a privacy-focused platform,” Rubio added.

Like Facebook, Twitter will continue to evolve with its audience, which the platform refers to as its “superpower.” Kumu, on the other hand, intends to focus on localization and “listen to the rich cultural creativity of the young Filipino [that] provides examples for other emerging market countries to deal with the disruption of media in their home countries.”

“As global players from China and the US like TikTok and Instagram continue to grow in emerging market countries with at least 50 million internet users and a global diaspora of 1 million people, Kumu’s success will be a case study that can be replicated to other countries that have a total population footprint of 1 billion people,” Dorado said.

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