Social media platforms have caught a lot of flak in recent years. The trifecta of fake news, privacy concerns, and plain old user fatigue have really taken a toll. But if you came here expecting a list of exciting new names in the running to become the best social media platforms of the future, prepare for some disappointment.
Despite all the recent turmoil, all the big names have managed to hold their own in recent years, with the notable exception of Google+ (RIP).
Many of them, like Facebook and Youtube, are simply too big to fail at the moment. And since nearly half the humans on earth still don’t have access to the internet in 2018, there is still plenty of room for future growth.
So the real challenge has been in keeping existing users happy and engaged. Most social media platforms are constantly tweaking their interfaces and algorithms in an attempt to fight attrition, but with mixed results. Let’s take a look at the top dogs in the business as we prepare for a new year in 2019, and try to figure which social media accounts you should keep (or drop!):
We have to start with the blue whale in the room, we simply have to. Especially since Cambridge Analytica seems to be a gift that keeps on giving if you like a steady stream of gaffes and scandals.
The latest one involves a NYT bombshell that exposes how Facebook hired PR firms to attack critics and downplay the Russian hacking news.
But raging controversies aside, it is still the biggest social media platform by a country mile, with over 2 billion active users per month.
And since it owns several other top social media platforms like Instagram, Whatsapp, and the Messenger (many of which feature prominently on this list) it is easy to see why Facebook is still such a big deal in social media.
2018 saw several key changes in the way Facebook presents content to its users. The biggest of these was the change to Newsfeeds. Persistent ads were a nuisance on the platform for many users.
With the 2018 algorithm changes, business has taken a back seat in favor of more personal interactions between users.
Other planned changes include improved user control over their data history, stricter control over targeted ads, and improved transparency on the ads business. And this is just the beginning.
The controversies and scandals have eroded a lot of trust in the Facebook brand and the network is trying hard to claw it back. Only time will tell if they will succeed.
The video sharing platform is the shining jewel for Google in the social media arena, with a fast-growing user base that threatens to overtake Facebook in the near future. It currently has more than 1.8 billion active monthly users. It is also the world’s second largest search engine, right behind its parent Google.
And YouTube has a really fearsome edge over Facebook as well: it is incredibly popular among young users. And it helps that the service has been relatively less affected by controversies. It has been growing its user base nearly twice as fast as Facebook.
YouTube has also seen a heavy migration to TV since it is all about videos. Services like YouTube Red, YouTube Live and YouTube TV have also added to the growth of the biggest video-based social media platform in the world.
And the recently launched Dark Mode and other features have added to the overall positive user experience.
This is one investment that seems to have really paid off for Facebook, and in double time too!
When they paid 1 billion dollars for the visual platform in 2012, eyebrows were raised. But fast forward to 2018 and Instagram has answered all those doubts, with a fast-growing user base just north of 1 billion.
In many ways, the platform has been like an insurance policy for Facebook. While the latter is seeing a decline in the number of young users, Instagram has been sponging them up like crazy over the last couple of years.
It has done its job admirably, acting as a buffer between Facebook and more hip social media platforms like Snapchat.
With a heavy concentration of millennials, Instagram is also becoming the premier location for social media marketing. As a visual-heavy platform, it also has the advantage of better engagement with the users.
Instagram has just the right mix of features to keep the trendy generation hooked: Stories, Live video, Private messaging, Cool filters, and the Explore tab.
Just like Facebook, Twitter has been going through its own Time of the Troubles in recent years. Fake news, toxic content, spam, and bots have all taken their toll on the platform.
But it still ranks among the best social media platforms with around 330 million active monthly users.
The company has made a slew of upgrades to its features in recent years.
The inclusion of live video, night mode, quotes, Explore, upgraded Moments, new notifications, and above all, increase in the number of max characters to 280 have certainly made a difference.
But the platform still has a lot of work cut out for it in tackling abuse and harassment.
The company has closed millions of fake accounts in 2018 in a desperate bid to contain misinformation on its platform. And it seems to be working, as the platform showed a healthy growth of its user base in 2018.
Contrary to claims, this social media platform is far from dead!
The instant messaging app has proven to be yet another smart acquisition by Facebook, even when you factor in the eye-watering price tag of $19 billion.
It currently boasts of an international user base of close to 1.5 billion, who exchange 60 billion messages daily. Along with the Messenger, WhatsApp gives Facebook nearly 600 million active daily users in the instant messaging space.
With the group chats, video and audio calls, image and content sharing all through the web, WhatsApp has proven to be a big hit, especially in international markets.
But concerns regarding fake news remain, and the company has had to make public efforts to curb them.
The self-proclaimed “Frontpage of the Internet” is a very popular social media platform, especially for North American users.
It is essentially a massive collection on online forums on all subjects and topics under the sun. Each forum or Subreddit covers a different topic and has extremely dedicated communities of users.
User engagement is extremely high and you can use the site to share videos, images, and all kinds of content. Anybody can start a Subreddit or topic, subject to community guidelines.
Things usually stay very civil and friendly in Reddit and it is famous for celebrity participation in the form of AMAs. The site crossed the 1 billion views mark recently with the launch of its video feature.
The “Social Network for Professionals” is not as big as Facebook or Youtube, and boasts of a relatively modest active user base of around 100,000 per month.
Despite its smaller size, this is the best platform for serious professional networking. It is a great place to connect with folks in your business field and further your career goals.
Social Media Platforms Today
Looking at the big picture, nothing much has changed as far as the top 5-10 best social media platforms in the world are concerned.
Some platforms have grown at a faster pace than others. But most of the big names are still in the game, and constantly trying to improve their features to keep their flock together.
Facebook still leads the game with not one, but three different platforms boasting of users in excess of one billion. And with more and more humans getting online every day, there is still a long way to go before we hit peak saturation.