The need to brag socially – increasing online social media usage

We live in a world governed by trends and almost nobody can imagine going a day without having a peek at the social media platforms. Evident as it is, social media platforms have become an unavoidable and indispensable part of our lives that has changed the way we receive news, share what we are up to, socialize and basically the way we live altogether. It has now become a part of every moment of our lives, everywhere and nobody can deny that we have all become social media addicts. It has somehow proved itself as the most effective way of creating a good image in our social circle, accompanied by a little bragging once in a while. From getting all caught up on Instagram to clicking and sharing the picture of our food that is more like a ritual performed before eating it, social media is now inescapable.

Social media started growing exponentially since 2004– 7.7 billion people in the world and 3.5 billion are now online, and is still growing as we speak with “MySpace” is the first-ever social media site to reach a million active users mark in that year. The reason being the countless features, the improvement in optimized possibility of accessing them or simply mobile-friendly interfaces (91% of social media users access via their mobile phones) and diverse opportunities provided to the users like a platform to communicate with anybody, anywhere, anytime- no geographical or social boundaries whatsoever, remain updated about what people are up to and what is happening all around the world and most importantly a golden opportunity to reach out to the target audience for your content or business and one can always brag in every form and shape, because on social media, it is widely prevalent.

Social media marketing has also become a vital tool for building brands, driving audience engagement or traffic and increasing sales. It has become a transforming marketing strategy- catering to your audience in a way that helps your work in getting recognition or kicking off the business. Each one of them, wants to build durable brands, become influencers, want the work to go viral and reach as many people as possible to garner reposts, likes, sales and whatnot.

Let’s look at some top social media statistics, giving great insights into the evolving world of social media-

Number of people using social media

According to the 2020 Global Digital overview, published on January 30th, 2020, there are more than 4.5 billion Internet users and active social media users increased by more than 9% i.e. 321 million users as compared to January, 2019. In simpler figures, two-thirds of all internet users or every one-in-three people in the world, uses social media platforms. Around 60% of the total world population is online and due to the lockdown and the trends, it is estimated that more than half of the population of the world would be using social media by the middle of 2020. Surprisingly, around 49% of the total number of Internet users are active on social media users along with opportunities for further growth in the figures. And when we encounter strangers, connect and build our reputation from scratch, bragging is the easiest way to be strategically memorable for the audience on social media. Despite the downsides of bragging, we would be ignored and forgotten if we don’t brag and let people know about our capabilities and achievements.

According to the E-marketers, the result broken down into generations tells that active social media users include 90.4% of the Millenials, 48.2% of Baby Boomers and 77.5% of Generation X. As for social media marketing, 73% of marketers think that their efforts and marketing strategy adopted by them for the different social media platforms have turned out to be between somewhat to very effective for the business.(2019) People look for reviews, ratings and recommendations before making decisions therefore having an attractive presence on social media platforms that is popular among the target audience is the key to the success of business and brands.

A comparison between different social media platforms

The messenger applications have gained a place in the hearts of a lot of people with the growth of social media platforms like Facebook, Messenger, Whatsapp etc. and rapid gain of popularity by the Tiktok app that was launched in September 2016 and scored half a billion users by mid-2018. Some platforms may not be that famous or well-known for a layman yet the facts tell otherwise. For instance, Reddit is not discussed as much as Pinterest or Twitter but has more monthly active users as compared to them.

What are almost all these social media platforms about? What decides which user is doing better on these platforms than the others? The number of followers or subscribers that like their content or work. In the race to earn more likes and followers, bragging, when done humbly, goes the long run and is not a bad idea but the moment it turns into unabashed boasting, it forms a bad impression. After all, it is all about “sharing about our authentic selves”.

Facebook has been the most widely used platform for a decade now, shaping the social media landscape surpassing one billion active user mark in 2012 itself and becoming the first-ever social network to achieve that. It is popular among people of all age groups with huge global reach and over 2.32 billion active users. While Instagram has made quite a record in the stories section as the daily active Instagram Stories users increased from 160 million (January, 2017) to 500 million. (January, 2019) and keeps adding new features to make them interesting and interactive like polls, questions, music, stickers etc. On the other hand, Instagram, Wechat, Whatsapp and Youtube also have more than one billion users while Tiktok and Tumblr have over half a billion users. All the people on almost all these platforms, form a virtual image of people, who they do not know personally, on the basis of the content they produce and that lays the groundwork for their reputation introducing the concept of bragging.

“We want to be strategically memorable, in ways that benefit us.”- Kristi Hedges.

The reason behind social media platforms being such a hit is that they constantly update and add features to keep their users engaged and happy. For example- Twitter did not provide the feature of uploading images or videos until the year 2011 and now more than 50% of content on Twitter comprises of videos and images. Instagram keeps adding new features once in a while like IGTV as well as new layout feature for the stories in 2019 alone, to stay updated, relevant and interesting with changing time.

Moreover, call it bragging but when people share something worth appreciating, it gives them the sense of being successful and it inspires other people to do something great as well to share with people just the way they did. A person bragging about his good diet and workout results boost other people to pull up their socks and start working and there is absolutely no harm one can find If bragging is perceived with the right approach.

A report from Ofcom (UK) states that there is a decline in Facebook use by younger demographics (from 40% (2017) to 31% (2018) while it increased for Instagram (14% to 23%) and Snapchat remained fixed at 31%. Also, the steep “age gradient” tells that 73% of people under 25 years of age use Snapchat while only 3% of people over the age of 65 years use it. The major reason being, Snapchat is all about sharing what you are up to, bragging about your interesting lifestyle and maintaining streaks with your friends and thus stay connected to them on a daily basis as well. This is more popular among youngsters as compared to adults who are more likely to check social media platforms for news and other relevant updates going on in the world.

The possibility of growth of different platforms is uncertain and tricky because social behaviors change drastically and social media landscape keeps evolving. For a clearer perspective, we can take the example of the Global diffusion speed of Facebook surging from covering 1.5% (2008) of total population all around the globe, reaching 30% (2018) in a decade. This states that “what is today a part of the everyday life of one-third of the world, was unthinkable less than a generation ago.” Remember the idea of posting something on the Facebook wall of a user was once a norm and eventually it became outdated and almost obsolete.

A lot has changed with the outbreak of coronavirus and the worldwide pandemic in terms of surging and lacking social media platforms during this sensitive time. There is not much to brag about as long as a happy and adventurous lifestyle is concerned, yet usage of Twitter, Zoom, Tiktok, Twitch, LinkedIn and Instagram (especially for stories feature) has gone up for getting recent updates, checkup on colleagues, looking for work from home jobs, video calls/meetings, news or simply passing time. This is a proof concrete enough that as much as social media is linked to bagging, it is not just bragging that drives them. Apparently, there is more than meets the eye. When you are going for an awesome experience in your life be it career-wise or others, you keep people posted about it yet nobody can undermine the fact that it is not a judgment parameter of how well you’re doing in your life. Bragging is all about keeping people updated, get a little appreciation and support from the audience, motivation to do better and inspiring others. It is more about “sharing” and not “showing off” and challenges that allow you to do more. If a little humblebragging once in a while keeps people going, then there is no harm in it.

It’s your life, shine and spread your glitter like confetti!




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