The Evolution of Social Media
The Early Years
You wake up in the morning, yawn and stretch, grab your phone to turn off your alarm, and check your social media notifications. You’re not alone. Did you know that 3.96 billion people worldwide use social media? It hasn’t always been the ability to have 24 hours of a photo of your dinner, on an Instagram story that got people hooked. Social media has been around for quite some time- and is constantly evolving and adding more touches to make it’s users hooked!
It started in 1997- the first official social media platform, SixDegrees.com paved it’s groundbreaking path. SixDegrees gave users the ability to upload profile pictures, post bulletins, send messages and connect with friends and third party friends, building their connections. In 1998, MoveOn was created as a social engagement tool focused on email interactions. This platform became widely used to help spread the word on petitions, fundraisers and activism related topics and events.
In 1999, blogging became popular, being able to share your opinions, ideas and stories. The social platform LiveJournal was invented to help users do just that, share their blogs within their friend groups. Users were able to follow along with their blogs, to keep up, create new ideas from and experience life with their virtual relationships. As the millennium began, a new concept took center stage and really paved the way into how our social media platforms thrive today. LunarStorm was created as the first commercially advertised platform. This website was popular amongst teenagers and had a strong European following.
Shortly after, a Malaysian platform emerged, Friendster. This website had all of the great perks of the others, connecting with friends. Friendster, however, helped users find dating, discover bands and new hobbies. It was a way to virtually connect all the needs of the young users! Friendster eventually introduced social gaming, making it a one stop shop. In 2003, LinkedIn, one of the world’s largest social platforms was born. Users can combine the social networking of previous sites, with a business approach. LinkedIn users can connect with individuals in a professional setting, expanding their networking, searching for new career opportunities and showcasing their certifications and qualifications to their peers. LinkedIn is still widely used to this day, with more than 20,000 businesses and 146 million workers active on the site.(Linkedin.com)
In 2003, Tom became almost everyone’s friend, with Myspace. Myspace gave users the opportunity for complete customization. Users had the ability to embed videos, music, moving graphics and various options for a background image. Photos had folders to be able to save and publish organized memories. Bulletins were shared with ideas, surveys, and chain letters. Users had their top 8 friends ranked and publicized for the world to see. Myspace was a significant influence on the pop culture era of that time, allowing celebrities to interact with their fans like never before.
The need to engage and share more content, grew into the idea of YouTube. In 2005, one of the largest, most successful global platforms was created. YouTube allows users to post content in video form, and ranges from 80 different languages. Users share such a wide variety of content and pays upwards of $20,000.00 for successful posts from users with substantial followers. There are billions of hours of content to watch on YouTube, whatever you want to see, you will be able to find it.
Shortly after, the world’s largest and most successful social media platform was created, Facebook. According to studies, there are 20,000 users every second on Facebook, which accounts for 11 million people in just 18 minutes! (www.jeffbullas.com) Facebook allows users to connect with virtually almost anyone on earth. Businesses use this platform to connect with customers, reach new customers and showcase new inventory/specials in ways never done before. Tagging and sharing posts jumps your viewers instantly to hundreds of new eyes. 77% of users have made a purchase after seeing engagement from a brand on social media.
In the same timeframe, 2006- Twitter gained traction and became a global phenomenon, allowing big businesses and celebrities a chance to be reached on a personal level, which is something that’s never been done prior! Twitter puts connections directly in the hands of its users. Businesses with a stronger following tend to benefit the most from Twitter, which allows them to freely promote their brand, build their reputation and engage with their customers.
Social Media Today
In 2009, things began getting crowded, too many similar platforms are out there with more being created. Instagram, Pinterest and Google Buzz are created. Pinterest and Instagram, two of top apps currently out there, remained while smaller platforms like Myspace, dissolved. Facebook ended up buying Instagram and building connections like never before. Instagram, started out as a platform to share still photos and apply edits, has grown into a global app that allows users to create live videos in real time with their followers, create and share videos, allow businesses to teach their customers how to use their products or showcase their services. Businesses thrive on social media, giving consumers a “behind the stage” view of their company. Highlighting employees, unboxing new inventory, before and after, as well as tutorials are all helpful ways businesses have used Instagram to build their brand.
The evolution of social media is continuing, with talks of Facebook’s new reveal, MetaVerse being a virtual reality social media platform. Users will be able to connect with their friends, via VR. Headsets will take users off of their couch and bring them anywhere they wish to go. The advancement will continue, as it has, to be able to reach more and communicate constantly. Businesses will need to adapt, and learn the new platforms to reap the benefits and there will be more opportunity to stand out. As the industry grows and evolves, are you ready?
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Yakima Branding – February 2022
This blog was written by Farren Lange