Even a smaller site like Pinterest sees 10 new users, 4,820 new pins and generates 4,620 MB of data in the same 20 seconds, according to the Social Media in Real Time Counter
Did you know that Adele’s new single Hello will have received nearly 5,000 views on YouTube in the time it took to write this sentence (roughly 20 seconds)? For the average content producer, who uses the video sharing site that’s a huge number, but when the total view count of a music video is at nearly 500 million like Hello’s is, 5,000 is just a drop in the ocean.
Likewise, some of us are lucky to get a few hundred followers on Twitter, whereas music icons and other celebrities have managed to get millions. As of publication, Adele has 24.6 million, while fellow pop queen Katy Perry has surpassed 80.2 million.
Over on rival platform Facebook, soccer legend Cristiano Ronaldo has an unfathomable 108.6 million fans. That’s more than the whole population of Germany and most other European countries!
Yet while we can stand back in amazement at such figures, the total reach of all social media activity is even more mind-boggling.
How popular is social media?
In 2014, the PEW Research Center revealed that 74 per cent of adults with Internet access use social networking sites. Seventy per cent of those adults are on Facebook, which is still the most-used social media platform on the web with over 1 billion users. On August 24, 2015, one in seven people in the entire world logged on to the Mark Zuckerberg creation.
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To make some kind of comparison, that’s roughly the same number of people in the world who live with a disability. It’s also closing in on the number of people in the world who drive cars.
It’s difficult to wrap one’s head around the exponential growth of this modern communication method, but one attempt has been made with the Social Media In Real Time counter. This allows the user to see the ongoing growth of the top nine social media platforms before their own eyes. Sites covered include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google Plus, Tumblr, Instagram and Reddit.
All you have to do is open the counter page, and as each second on the clock goes up, so do all of the key growth metrics of each site. In just 20 seconds even smaller social platforms like Pinterest saw 10 new users, 4,820 new pins and generated 4,620 MB of data. Industry leader Facebook saw 120 new regular users, 40 new mobile users, and a whopping 97,660 status updates. That’s more than your average sports stadium full of people, each projecting their own little thoughts out into the world.
There were also 50,000 private messages, 16,660 shared links, 45,340 uploaded images, and 33,340 friend requests. I wonder how many of those will get accepted?
Likewise, in just three minutes of the counter running, YouTube generated over eight million views, all of which was intensive streaming video. And you blog owners out there thought your web hosting bills were high!
If there is this much growth in just 20 seconds to a few minutes, imagine what the stats would look like in 24 hours, a week, month or even an entire year?
It’s also hard to quantify the raw data usage and storage needed to keep the social sphere running. The last time Facebook publicly revealed the number of servers in its data centre was June 2010, and the number was 60,000. It will have definitely grown a lot more since then.
Effects of social media
Seeing the growth of such data visually really helps to put things in perspective. Social media is a huge part of our global society, and as more and more people in the poorest of regions begin adopting smart mobile devices, humanity as a whole is beginning to change the way it communicates. But while we can accept that the growth is huge, what does it all mean?
A study by the University of California at Los Angeles’s Higher Education Research Institute revealed that students are spending less time having face-to-face contact with their friends, trading it for interactions on the social networks.
In 1987, nearly 40 per cent of those surveyed said they spent 16 or more hours with friends. In 2014, this was less than 20 per cent.
For some, this conjures up a creepy sci-fi dystopia where humans are slaves to machines, part of a hive mind living outside of nature that rarely make face to face contact — everyone tracked, traced and data mined.
Others see the growth and global interconnectedness of social media as a positive way for different cultures to learn, understand and respect each other as we move forward. For every zombie bot locked in their room watching cat videos, there’s somebody else organising and publicising a protest against a repressive regime.
Indeed, the way that information about the world is shared is becoming much different than the days where you had to get the morning paper or watch the evening news. Long before any reporter from a mainstream news network gets to the scene of a story, a local citizen has already Tweeted the details, shared photos on Instagram, uploaded a video to Youtube, or even streamed everything live through an app.
Everyone is becoming a journalist, and journalists are becoming aggregators and commentators rather than the ones breaking the news.
Quite where this is going to take us is not known, but one thing’s for sure, there’s no sign of social media slowing down. Check this animated preview of the counter for yourself!
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Interesting observations at one hour
– More of Facebook and Twitter’s users access the platform through a mobile device than Google plus users.
– The number of photos uploaded on Facebook at any given time is usually close to the number of private messages sent.
– Users on Tumblr create more posts per person than people post status updates on Facebook.
– The most common activity on Instagram is liking.
– Although there are more active users on Facebook, Twitter users create more Tweets than Facebook users write status updates.
The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, please send us an email at writers[at]e27[dot]co
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