NEW DELHI: From being a platform for making friends to a melting pot of views and opinions, social media has transformed the way newsrooms and news makers interacted with the world in 2013.

And, with the exponential growth of affordable smart devices, this transition is set to expand further.

From the outrage following the December 2012 gang rape in India to the coronation of Pope Francis, paying tributes toNelson Mandela, to “selfies” of Barrack Obama and James Camaron, the year saw social media push the boundaries of protests, mourning and self-promotion.

Gone are the days when having a profile on Facebook was considered being socially active. The youth today is catching up with friends on Facebooks, Twitter, BBM, Whatsapp and a plethora of apps from their PCs, mobile phones and tablets.

As this seamless mix of sociology and technology morphed into a powerful platform for public’s engagement with the government, policy makers also logged on to gauge public views and looking for a stronger connect with the “aam aadmi”.

Analysts expect political parties in the country to make greater use of social media for their election campaigns to increase voter support, especially among the youth.

The new year will see further expansion of this medium as companies making salt to software use this platform to advertise their products, services and connect with customers.

Advertisers are taking an integrated cross-channel approach across social media and traditional channels, while brands are turning to it for providing customer service and support.

“In 2014, we expect more brands to recognise that digital is not a channel that is fitted into existing thinking, it needs a new way of thinking. Marketers are expected to invest more in data capabilities to understand the performance of their digital campaigns,” SapientNitro Co-Global Deliver Lead and Sapient India MD Rajdeep Endow said.

However, the ever increasing rhetoric around surveillance and snooping of Internet, which left its indelible mark on companies and users, in 2013 forced tech firms like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo and LinkedInto beef up encryption to secure users’ data.

The issue of cyber snooping, thanks to Edward Snowden’s revelations of surveillance of Internet users by governments, led to worldwide criticism and protests forcing tech firms to secure their web traffic in a bid to reassure their users.

It was a big year for social media, which saw Twitter going public, Snapchat rejecting a USD 3 billion offer from Facebook and hockey-stick type growth curve of messaging apps like Whatsapp and Line pushing advertisers to reach their target audiences via social networks on mobile devices.