As the creation of new social networks and the consumption of social media remain integral to the 21st-century lifestyle, many may be left wondering which platform is the most powerful tool within the media arsenal. With the popularity of numerous social media sites such as Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook and TikTok — all of which advertise different approaches to mass communication — it can be hard to delineate which app wields the most influence on users today.
Although many would guess that popular photo-sharing app Instagram is the most-used social media platform, they may be shocked to hear that Facebook actually holds the title, according to statista.com.
According to dreamgrow.com, Facebook has amassed just north of two billion active users per month, while Instagram averages just half that number. Instagram is wildly popular among today’s teens and young adults, who regularly post highlights of their personal lives. Facebook, on the other hand, while seeing fewer posts from teens and young adults, is often used to connect family members, students at universities and employees with their colleagues. Many JMU students can attest that Facebook is an extremely useful tool used by clubs, rideshares, sororities and fraternities, and even JMU’s administration to send messages to large audiences.
One of Facebook’s most useful features is users’ ability to create private groups. This means that administrators can restrict access to who sees their posts while targeting a niche audience. For example, JMU has Facebook pages dedicated to each graduating class of students, with each group consisting of between 4,000 and 7,000 members. Students can then use these groups to post about anything from roommate searches to selling books and asking about classes. Entrepreneur.com points out that Facebook groups have the option of using polls— which give immediate feedback to those who take them, an especially important tool to gauge student opinions — as well as the ability to pin posts to the top of the group’s page to announce important information.
Facebook also allows users to friend other users and subsequently post messages to each other’s timelines. Many families value the opportunity to write congratulatory messages on their relatives’ pages on special occasions. On top of this, members can see all the pictures their friends are tagged in. For example, if a person posts a picture of herself and her aunt, their extended family could view the image on her timeline and comment on it, a feature that’s greatly appreciated by families who aren’t able to see each other in person regularly.
These features are what contribute to Facebook’s years-long success story despite its multiple widely-publicized scandals and controversies. Additionally, perhaps Facebook’s most intelligent decision was its idea to buy Instagram in 2012. Facebook now owns four of the most downloaded and used social media platforms in the world: Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. So, even if Instagram begins to become more influential than Facebook in the future, Facebook Co. is still earning the same amount of money and exposure.
Liz Riccio is a freshman media arts and design major. Contact Liz at email@example.com.