There are currently over 2.46 billion people that use some kind of social media platform, and of that 2.46 billion, over 2.06 billion use Facebook, 700 million use Instagram, 328 million use Twitter, and 255 million use SnapChat as of 2017*. Most people do not use all four of these social media platforms, so how do people choose which social media platforms they want to use? In an attempt to formulate an answer to this question, I looked at my family’s current social media usage.
My parents, who are both 53 years old, are hardly involved in social media at all. My dad had a Facebook for about four months that he made solely for the purpose of stalking my sister and I to make sure we weren’t posting anything inappropriate or talking to any ‘sketchy’ boys online (we still don’t bring our boyfriends home to this day). His Facebook only lasted four months on account of the fact that we refused to friend him back. My mom on the other hand, just got a Facebook three months ago because she claimed she was feeling “out of the loop.” Just last week I taught her how to write a post AND include an image so she’s making some definite progress.
My mom does have a SnapChat I made for her that she never uses because all she can manage to learn how to do on it is take the picture. She does not understand filters, nor how to add text to the image. When I first downloaded it for her I would snapchat her and all I would get back was a blurry selfie and no caption. She’s the kind of mom who still turns her iPhone sideways to text so I suppose trying to teach her how to use SnapChat may have been expecting a bit too much from her.
My two older brothers, 24 and 27 years old, mainly use Facebook and SnapChat. One of my brothers hardly ever posts on Facebook, and the other one only posts pictures to his albums. My little sister, 17, uses Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, and Twitter. She’s pretty active on all of these platforms. If I had a penny for every time my dad has told her to put her phone down in the last three years I could buy Snapchat.
I on the other hand, use Facebook, Instagram, and SnapChat, but currently do not, nor have I ever used Twitter. Although I don’t use Twitter, I have had a Twitter since freshman year of high school that I was never actually active on. I didn’t know it even existed until one of my college friends showed me an empty profile with just my name and a profile picture of me from high school. After finding it I was encouraged by another friend to start it up again and actually use the account. She wanted me to use it so she could send me memes. For those of you who don’t know what a “meme” is, I have included the Urban Dictionary definition below:
Meme: It’s not a word, it’s a lifestyle.**
Although I am personally a huge fan of this definition, it is not very telling so here is a more descriptive definition:
Meme: An image, video, or set of of text that becomes popular and spreads rapidly via the Internet.**
Anyways, although many people have shown me funny memes from Twitter, I can find funny memes on both Facebook and Instagram so I didn’t have much motivation to go on Twitter for memes too. Needless to say I used my account again for two days before forgetting about it again.
Are you a Mac & a PC?
So maybe this is the answer to our question: why do we use certain social media platforms and not others? Brings me back to the Apple commercials from 2007, are you a Mac or PC? Why do I like going on Instagram, Facebook, and SnapChat, but can’t bring myself to go on Twitter? It’s as simple as what you desire to get out of social media. For example I use Instagram because Instagram has gone from just posting pictures of people and places, to posting artsy and creative images using filters and photo editing apps. I also like using it for following my favorite celebrities and even looking at new clothes stores are selling, or food options at restaurants. I follow celebrities and clothing brands I like on Instagram and get ideas for shopping and even just for creative pictures I want to post of myself on my account.
Facebook I use for an entirely different purpose. I hardly ever actually post to Facebook unless I’m sharing a cute video of a puppy, a funny Ellen clip, or posting pictures to an album. I could, and have, spent over an hour on end just scrolling through Facebook watching X Factor auditions, funny videos of babies falling over, or Jimmy Fallon interview clips. Aside from entertainment from videos and memes, I also use Facebook to read news, get information on local businesses, as well as view posts from my friends on what they are currently up to. And of course the occasional upload of a new quality selfie for my profile picture is always fun too.
SnapChat is probably the platform I use most throughout the day. This is because it’s the easiest and fastest way to keep in touch with people. If I want to know what someone’s up to, or tell someone what I’m up to without texting or calling, I can simply snap them. Facebook or Instagram would require me to direct message them, which at that point, it would make more sense to just text them. In this way, SnapChat has almost become a replacement for texting, aside from urgent messages that I need a quick response to.
The Star of Snapchat
When I’m home my mom is basically the star of my SnapChat. Even friends she has never met before know her personality very well (probably too well) and refer to her as “Wendy.” My mom definitely does not enjoy my constant videos and pictures of her, but she has built up a bit of a fan group for herself over the years so she really shouldn’t complain. I think I use SnapChat the most because it requires the least amount of effort to interact on it as it just is a picture and a caption. Going on Instagram means I have to scroll through posts, and like all of my friends posts, and attempt to stop long enough to actually read the captions. Facebook is sometimes not too entertaining depending on what’s trending, but it is now where I go to find out information on local businesses as I depend on it to show me reviews, basic information and more!
I suppose there are a lot of variables that determine which social media platforms we use such as our interests and what social media platforms our friends use. Regardless of what social media platforms we choose to use, social media as a whole has become a major aspect of people’s lives today.