Last summer, it was predicted that social media would see another wave of considerable growth, and so it did. As of April 2021, the total number of active social media users reached 4.33 billion, an increase of 9.6% in 9 months. In fact, it is now commonplace for people and businesses alike to use computer-based technology to facilitate the sharing of ideas, thoughts and information to a virtual network. However, in real terms, social networking is a lot younger than we think.

The first of the online social networks, Geocities, was launched as recently as 1994. Then in early 2002, Myspace and LinkedIn were introduced and both quickly grew to become the social networks of the time. In 2004, the first iteration of Facebook was launched – originally as a college social site. Its popularity rapidly saw it become the social site of choice and the platform’s reach has spread far and wide. Twitter was hot on its heels, being released in 2006.

Today, there are 1000s of social networking sites, which are used by 28% of the planet’s population. As we celebrate World Social Media Day today, we have taken a look at how social networks have altered the communications landscape, from how we speak to the speed of communication.

The language of social media

With the advent of social media, we learned to communicate with people in a new way, sharing our ‘news’ via a computer-based platform to contacts far and wide. Social networks also created a new pseudo-language, with terms like LOL, FOMO and YOLO and phrases like Facebook stalk, going viral and throwing shade. Ultimately, social media has changed how we communicate as a society and this pseudo-language can be harnessed to give your brand a social “personality”.

Localisation of place names

A place name refers to a geographical object, although many towns and cities have developed social nicknames, from Bton (Brighton) to Ldn (London), NY (New York) to JoBurg (Johannesburg).

Place names are an important linguistic tool that people use many times a day. However, in an increasingly complex society, communities expect place names to be used in certain ways and in context depending on the media/platform used. For local people, these place names become a part of their linguistic and local identity. When building your brand in new communities, it is vital to have this degree of local knowledge.

Evolution of the social logo

Social media has evolved to become one of the fastest and easiest ways to interact with your target audience. This means your logo needs to be instantly recognisable as a social media icon. In real terms, the designer thus has to come up with an impactful and effective logo that can appear in an 8x8mm square.

Designing for small sizes is nothing new as good designers often needed to devise versatile logos. In the pre-smartphone, pre-social media era, though, no logo needed to be below 50mm. With the arrival of social media, however, logos needed to be instantly recognisable at very small sizes.

social media logo

An example of a brand identity that has been significantly affected by social media is The Premier League. The above image illustrates how the requirements of the social platforms influenced the development of the new logo completed in February 2016. Logos are designed to adapt and change but social media has become a real influencer.

Most brands utilise social media as a promotional and awareness tool. If you are working across borders, it can be especially useful to have an instant and direct presence in new markets. However, there is a fine line to walk to ensure that your brand maintains a local feel and appreciates the nuances of the target community. To speak to one of our language experts about your social strategy and how to make it truly international, please get in touch.