Social media has forever changed the way we interact, collaborate and share information. Logging onto your app of choice and reaching out to friends and family around the world has become a normal part of life. More than “normal,” it has become an expected part of life. The majority of websites even have shortcuts to tweet or Instagram a post to make sharing information as easy as possible. While this might feel natural to us — almost as though this is always how society has functioned — the truth is that this easy access to social media and its features is the result of a lot of hard work and effort. Software engineers, in particular, play a big role in integrating social media across the web.
This article will explore how software engineers support the integration of social media platforms and make it easier than ever to use social media.
What does a software engineer do?
You’ve probably heard of engineering, but are you familiar with software engineering, in particular? Many readers aren’t, but chances are good that you are enjoying their handiwork right now. Software engineers are the computer science experts responsible for developing, designing, upkeeping and installing software solutions. More specifically, software engineers:
- Conduct systems analysis to improve operations
- Develop, test and approve software
- Introduce platform changes and implement new procedures and policies
- Inspect user data to improve software function regularly
- Address any user concerns promptly
If you are wondering how any of that translates to real life, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered! To put it simply, software engineers develop software. This includes a wide range of things from video games to software integration. Not only do they develop the software, but they also test it and refine it to fit customer needs. This includes examining certain kinds of user data even after the software is released to make sure that it is meeting expectations and serving its intended purpose.
Software engineers also integrate aspects of other software into their own software. For example, software engineers might create a news app that allows you to quickly scroll through the biggest headlines of the day. If you see something you like, maybe you can click a button that says: “Tweet this!” or simply features the Twitter symbol. Clicking the button automatically opens up your Twitter app and allows you to post the news story. This is not native behavior to all apps. It is a decision software engineers must make when building or updating the software in question.
Let’s take a closer look at how software engineers are responsible for the integration of social media platforms around the world.
One of the biggest areas where software engineers support the integration of social media platforms is within operating systems. Windows users have easy access to a few different social media options when they log in. Chatting via “Teams” and “Skype”, for example, has long been an integral part of the user experience when working with Windows machines. The addition of Xbox messaging is another example of social media being an inherent part of an operating system. Software engineers are responsible for this. They build the social platforms directly into the system rather than merely tacking them on as an afterthought.
Mobile use is booming. In the US, smartphone use has shot up to 85%, up from 35% in 2011, according to Pew Research Center. Even more impressive is that 97% of Americans own a cellphone of some kind, with the number of people who spend time on their phones increasing proportionately.
With millions of mobile users around the country, and billions around the world, it makes sense that more resources are being focused specifically on developing software for mobile systems. Software engineers across the globe have come to the same conclusion, and the number of apps and games releasing on both Android and iOS devices, as well as a sundry of other providers, is increasing daily. As social media continues to be an important part of life, it should come as no surprise that software engineers are focused on integrating it into their builds.
From apps that allow users to post directly to Twitter, YouTube and Instagram with a single press of a button, to apps that show social media trends, engineers play a big role in integrating social media into mobile apps.
Finally, social engineers push social media adoption on the desktop too. This is often done in two ways. The first allows users to connect the website in question to their social media accounts and use that as their login. The second is by including social media buttons on websites to facilitate easy sharing. One common example is if a user has agreed to use their Facebook account to log into a website or app. This involves the software engineer integrating the social media account.
What does the future hold?
Within the software engineering industry, the landscape is always changing and adapting to the online world and consumer needs and trends. Technological advances such as AI also impact software engineering, and the integration of social media within software is developing further, including Meta’s rendition of the Metaverse. With the modern world relying so heavily on the online world, software engineering is in high demand. Universities such as Baylor University offer a variety of courses that prepare students for the fast-changing world of software development and provide the basic knowledge to fill this demand.
Software engineers are a key component of the way we consume modern life through the internet. By integrating social media within other software, such as operating systems, mobile apps and desktops, the integrated online world constructed by software engineers ensures we stay socially connected and well-informed. As technologies develop, the online world is only expected to become more connected, and social media integration is key to that.