Once upon a time, there was no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube. Our lives did not revolve around a stream of status updates, tweets, videos and filtered photos. That was just 10 years ago.
Since Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook in his Harvard dorm room on Feb. 4, 2004, we've seen social media evolve from a fad to a phenomenon that has triggered a paradigm shift in the way the world communicates. It has empowered individuals to voice their opinions and concerns and share content on their mobile devices in ways no one could have imagined. Along the way, geopolitics and the world of business has been radically transformed.
We saw the dramatic impact social media wielded four years ago. It was a tool that helped spark the Arab Spring—a democratic civil uprising in the Middle East that began in Tunisia in December 2010 that helped force rulers from power in such countries as Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Thanks to Twitter and other social media, people were able to protest and raise awareness in the face of repression. The revolution continues.
No doubt, the power of social media is exponential. Numbers tell the story. Today there are 1.3 billion active Facebook users, with 82 percent of them coming from outside the U.S. and Canada. Twitter boasts 270 million active users that send 500 million tweets per day. And each day, 4 billion videos are viewed on YouTube (that's 46,296 per second) and 60 million photos are uploaded on Instagram.
The trend has helped these tech disruptors go public at hefty valuations. Facebook, for example, went public in 2012. At the time, it was the biggest in technology and Internet history, with a peak market capitalization of more than $104 million. At press time it had reached a whopping $206.4 billion.