The decade began with 1.11 billion users across four social networking sites — Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Twitter. But as the decade drew to a close, Facebook alone boasted of 2.38 billion users.
This exponential growth in social media users shows that even though many sites started in the 2000s, social media only effectively embedded itself into our daily lives in the past 10 years.
In the Philippines, 76 million Filipinos, or 71% of the country’s total population, were regarded as active Facebook users as of January 2019 with an annual growth of 13%. This makes Facebook the most widely used social networking site in the country.
According to We Are Social 2019 Digital Report, Filipinos spend the most time on social media worldwide at more than 4 hours every day.
“Based on the research I’ve seen, the Philippines is definitely an engaged community. The statistics we have indicates that people are interested in being part of the community,” said Clair Deevy, Facebook’s director for community affairs in Asia Pacific and Latin America.
Facebook's appeal comes from being the freer platform, with a (not so) restricted character limit of 63,206, where users can express what's on their minds in various forms such as status updates, photos, and videos. Facebook became the leading platform for users to share their thoughts, activities, meals of the day, favorite songs and movies.
Instagram also saw a meteoric rise in the 2010s. Right from its launch, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom already knew that the photo-sharing app would enjoy massive success.
"I think that communicating via images is one of these mediums that you’re going to see take off over the next few years because of a fundamental shift in the enabling technology," Systrom said.
Starting out with 1 million users in its debut in 2010, Instagram closed the decade with a billion active users. With this many users, Instagram inspired some of the biggest lifestyle changes. It has diversified the idea of beauty and design, changed travel habits, and sparked new trends in food, fitness, fashion and makeup.
Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger uploaded the first-ever photo on the app in 2010
Meanwhile, microblogging site Twitter, despite attracting comparatively fewer users, established itself as a powerful tool for information dissemination and raising awareness in the past decade. A few times, its hashtag function proved effective in rousing people into action.
“When something is happening in the world, Twitter saves me time. And when nothing is happening, Twitter wastes my time," Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey quoted a reporter in an interview in 2016.
YouTube and other video-sharing sites democratized content creation and access. The platform holds thousands of hours of videos ranging from viral raw moments to slickly edited vlogs, from dance crazes to cooking tutorials, anything that could be documented. YouTube has also changed the way people consume media. Once a largely shared experience, viewing videos became a personal experience where users can decide what and when to watch.
Short-video sharing app Tiktok, founded in 2012 but launched outside China in 2017, found new fame after merging with musical.ly. The platform has been a rich source of new memes and entertainment as it allows users to create short lip-sync, comedy, and talent videos.
Social media has grown so much over the years through the subculture that emerged from and were cultivated in those platforms.
THE SELFIE PHENOMENON
It's definitely not a flash in the pan. It's a phenomenon that has dominated the social media sphere in the past decade and there's no sign that it will fade any time soon.
Enter the selfie culture.
Defined as a self-portrait photograph intended for social media posting, selfie's popularity began in 2012. By 2013, the term finally earned a nod as "word of the year" by Oxford Dictionaries and other dictionaries.
That same year, a photo of Pope Francis posing for a selfie with young pilgrims in the Vatican went viral and was even dubbed as the "first papal selfie." And although the pontiff repeatedly warned that the selfie culture can lead to alienation, he continuously indulges his followers for some snapshots with him.
But it was in 2014 when a selfie would eventually break the internet. The subject: a celebrity-packed photo taken during the Oscars.
The said photo, posted by host Ellen DeGeneres on Twitter, garnered more than 3 million retweets and was the most retweeted post for several years. The selfie was also included in Time magazines' most influential images of all time.
Since then, it was a visual fest of selfies all over the internet.
There was the controversial selfie of former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt with then US President Barack Obama, and former British Prime Minister David Cameron during the memorial service for Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
There was Kylie Jenner's bathroom selfie with other A-listers at the 2017 Met Gala, which earned 3.4 million likes on Instagram. There was Kim Kardashian's nude selfie with almost 2 million likes. And the first astronaut selfie that went viral on the internet, which was taken by Japanese Akihiko Hoshide.
And Filipinos will not be left out. In 2014, Makati was dubbed by Time as the "selfie capital of the world", saying that the country's financial center produces more selfies per capita than any other city in the world. Pasig and Cebu cities were also included in the magazine's top 10 list.
Google estimated that 24 billion selfies were uploaded to Google Photos in 2015.
But there are serious concerns. Extreme selfies killed 259 people between 2011 and 2017, according to researchers at the US National Library of Medicine as cited by a BBC report.
THE RISE OF INFLUENCERS
As social media evolved, so did the meaning of the word "influencer." From being the personalities behind podiums, influencers have become the new rock stars of social media.
People follow them and watch out religiously for every bit of content they produce. Armed with their camera, they film almost about everything of interest — from fitness journeys to travel, beauty interests, food, fashion, gadgets, parenting, and even comedy skits.
And as they gain millions of followings through their social media platforms, brands started noticing. Since then, endorsements no longer land exclusively on the lap of TV and movie stars.
In 2018, 7-year-old Ryan of Ryan of Toysreview became the highest-paid YouTube star earning $22 million, according to Forbes. With his 17.3 million followers, he does what any child of his age loves to do — play with toys. Except he does this in front of a camera and uploads it online to cater to his 17.3 million followers.
There are no available records on who may be the highest-paid Filipino influencer. But if high following, views, and subscribers translate to high income then Filipino Youtuber Ranz Kyle would be a frontrunner in the local influencer business with 10.1 million subscribers and millions of views per video. Since uploading his first YouTube video in 2011, Ranz and her sister, Niana, who also has her own YouTube channel, have landed various endorsements and even a TV commercial.
The local scene has also seen several traditional media making a name and fortune as social media influencers. In an interview, celebrity vlogger Alex Gonzaga revealed that she earns hundreds of thousands of pesos. That is just off her YouTube videos, not including revenue she could earn from her other social media platforms.
Author Deborah Weinswig, in a Forbes article, described influencers as "the golden children of marketing strategies" and "the new celebrity endorsements." She showed the power influencers hold as economic drivers citing a Bloomberg report stating that a whopping $255 million is being spent on influencer marketing.
According to Business Insider, influencer marketing is forecast to become a $15 billion industry by 2022.
There is no telling when exactly the idea of being an "influencer," as people know it, first came to be. Google analytics, however, noted that interest in the term significantly rose beginning in 2016 with all of its top related searches and topics linked to social media or its platforms.
In 2010, social media platforms were just digital directory for family and friends. By the end of the decade, the world has seen social media evolve into one of the most effective tools for marketing, creating a new career path for the tech-savvy generations.
Social media changed people's daily routines, and in turn, they changed it, too. Failing to adapt to the needs of its users could ultimately result in the closure of sites.
With the entry of many social networking sites at the start of the decade, competition became tough. Facebook dominated and some sites just could not keep up.
MySpace, the leading social networking site from 2005 to 2008, lost millions of users in 2011, forcing it to reduce its employee. Facing a declining number, CEO Mike Jones could only say the site is no longer a social network and is instead an "entertainment destination."
In 2011, Friendster shut down its social networking services after 9 years, admitting that “it’s a Facebook world.” It re-launched a year later as a social entertainment site where users will be able to play games and listen to music. But in 2015, it announced that it will take a “break and pause” its services citing the “evolving landscape in our challenging industry.”
In 2012, Multiply discontinued its social networking and content sharing services to shift its focus to online shopping.
And just before the decade ends, Google+ bid goodbye. Launched in 2011 to rival Facebook, Google+ stopped its services “due to low usage and challenges involved in maintaining a successful product that meets consumers’ expectations.”
Social media is still evolving and it has not shown signs of slowing down. As a new decade starts, it is expected that social media will keep influencing users in ways that are still unimaginable today. — Reports from Angela Baylon, April Benjamin, Kevin Alabaso, Erik Tenedero, ABS-CBN News