Viewing, Shaping and Spreading Messages Through Social Media
How we view social media platforms and the role they play in our everyday lives has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. From the emergence of sites such as GeoCities in 1994 to the present day, social media networks have come to mean something more than just a way to connect and communicate with others. In truth, they represent a part of our personal identity — a component of the personas we wish to project to others. Just as our perception of the role of social media networks has changed over time, so too has our expectations of both the features they should offer and the kind of messages we receive on each platform.
Our means to express our personal brand
The social media tools you use, the profiles you maintain and the content you share all contribute to others’ perception of you as an individual. Today, the reality is that the people you know — acquaintances, colleagues, family and friends — are more likely to come in regular contact with your online personas then they are to meet you in person.
In this way, the social networks we use represent key elements of our personal or professional identities when interacting with others within public or private contexts. From sharing experiences from our lives and connecting with those close to us through Facebook and WhatsApp to exhibiting our creativity on Vine and Instagram, social media platforms help to define and express our personal and professional brand, or, in a word, ourselves.
More features means higher expectations
The arrival of new social media tools and additional features on existing platforms has a direct influence on people's expectations. The advent of Twitter and specifically the introduction of hashtags is a good case in point. The organic emergence of hashtags as a means to add — albeit limited — context to social interactions on Twitter had a defining impact on the platform. It also proved to be a catalyst for change across social media, as users’ desire to add context to their exchanges on other social networks has seen the incorporation of hashtags on Facebook, Google+ and Instagram.