There’s no turning back now. Social media for better and/or worse has become embedded into our collective consciousness. Barring a scenario where suddenly the world loses its ability to generate power that keeps perhaps billions of servers from delivering content onto every device imaginable, this is likely what we’ll see at least in the short-to-medium term.

Around the world, billions of us use social media every day, and that number just keeps growing. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2018, 2.44 billion people will be using social networks, up from 970,000 in 2010.

Our growing love of social media is not just changing the way we communicate – it’s changing the way we do business, the way we are governed, and the way we live in society. And it’s doing so at breakneck speed. Here are six observations and predictions for the way social media is changing the world from experts from the Global Agenda Council.

1. Across industries, social media is going from a “nice to have” to an essential component of any business strategy

It started in the newsroom, as Claire Wardle of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism explains: “In just seven years, newsrooms have been completely disrupted by social media. Social media skills are no longer considered niche, and solely the responsibility of a small team in the newsroom. Instead social media affects the way the whole organization runs.”