Across the world, social networking is one of the most popular digital activities, underpinned by expanding internet penetration and the availability of increasingly cheaper devices. Facebook, Youtube and Whatspp are the top three favoured platforms.
Figures from the latest Global Social Media Statistics report show that over 59% of the world’s total population relies on these sites. However, this figure is rising fast as people no longer confine usage just for personal matters.
Employers now examine the backgrounds of their prospective employees on social media. Virtual interviews and meetings are made easy with the different digital platforms in addition to surveys to monitor potential clients/ customers’ competence. This is a clear indicator that society has grown to become dependent on these sites.
Social media app developers are also constantly coming up with new features that offer more convenience and enjoyment for users. A situation that often means many users cannot keep up.
This year alone, Whatsapp, the world’s most popular instant messaging platform, has rolled out 18 new features. For instance, there is a wider range of emoji to provide quick responses to messages. The ‘communities’ feature brings together different groups, but allows for admins to delete unwanted group messages.
Meta’s Facebook, the world’s largest social media platform, although currently banned in Uganda, has had ‘engagement’ as one of its themes for this year. Its new features are focusing on increasing user activity with the latest Community Chats feature that is in for testing for Messenger and Facebook Groups.
Twitter’s latest announcement, especially for the Twitter blues, the ‘Delete button’, intends to create room for editing on Twitter, on top of the Tweet view button and the Twitter circles released recently.
Henry Lutaaya, an ICT Specialist, says social media has gone far beyond socializing. It is a platform to conduct everyday business. Most of the latest features, including an auto-reply for whatsapp business are meant to ease communication. He is however concerned that many users are not fully exploiting the various new options being made available to them.
“With the new features being rolled out, it is good time for the ICT technicians and social media managers. Companies have had to create these offices to have people run and monitor the different platforms for the business”.
Tiktok’s high growing usage has seen its ranking shoot to the 5th position with more than one billion active global users monthly. The platform is unbeatable when it comes to rolling out new features, with one of its latest releases, a ‘Downvote’ option that makes it simple for users to flag irrelevant or inappropriate comments.
On the other hand, Emmanuel Edeet, a social media analyst, says too much of anything is always bad. Although these features are created to increase convenience, when they become too many, users will either lose direction or become too dependent on social media.
“Most of these features are available for the premium users which in the end makes communication and networking costly,” Edeet says.
With over 20 new features this year, LinkedIn is continually making connection between employees and employers easier and more fulfilling. With the ‘creator mode’, one is able reach to out to other members with tools like ‘LinkedIn live’, ‘Newsletter’ and ‘creator analytics’, which facilitate content creation.
Sophie Namirimu, a Social Media manager says, “The owners of the different platforms are seeking for means of connecting people within one space. Learning, networking, entertainment and meeting have all been brought to a common place through social media. In the long run, time spent online will continually increase because of the many activities that take place within a single space.”
When not restricted by the powers-that-be, social media is now an essential factor in people’s daily routines. This means freedom of expression has become more realistic, creating more audience for the different platforms and actualizing the Use and Gratification theory.