The History Of Social Media

The term social media is used to describe a wide array of internet-based platforms, applications and technologies that allow the users to socially interact with each other online. The users of particular social media can utilize that platform in order to create, share or exchange information, ideas, and pictures/videos in virtual communities and networks. Social media is dependent on mobile and web-based technologies in order to develop platforms that are highly interactive and enable communities and individuals to share, co create, discuss and modify user generated content.

Social media can take up many different and distinct forms; each with its own unique purpose and design. Different forms of social media range from blogs, business networks, enterprise social networks, forums, micro blogs, photo sharing, product/services review, social bookmarking, social gaming, social networks, video sharing, and virtual worlds.

The development of social media began with simple platforms such as; which in 1997 was the first platform that allowed its users to create profiles, invite friends, organize groups and surf profiles of other users. However the first social networks such as six degrees and were short lived because users lost interest.

Social Networking really made its mark in 2002 with the launch of Friendster which used a more refined version of the degree of separation concept similar to Friendster quickly accumulated over 3 million registered users and a large investment interest. But the platform, through its share of technical difficulties and questionable management decisions saw the fall of this platform.

LinkedIn was introduced a year later in 2003 and this platform took a much more serious approach to the phenomenon of social networking. Unlike platforms introduced prior, which were essentially a mere playground for former classmates, teenagers and cyberspace. LinkedIn was and still remains a source of networking for professionals who want to connect with other professionals and this is highlighted in the fact that LinkedIn contacts are referred to as “connections”. LinkedIn has amassed over 297 million members today.

MySpace was also launched in the same year. Although MySpace isn’t the most widely used social networking tool today- that honour belongs to Facebook. However, it was once the ultimate favourite. MySpace enjoyed its popularity by luring in the key young adult demographic with music and music videos and a funky, feature filled environment. Friendster was the competition for MySpace but MySpace had its distinct image and hippie touch from the beginning and they conducted a sort of campaign which showed the users of Friendster what exactly they were missing out on. However, over the years; the number of MySpace users has declined and the site exists merely as a social networking site targeted towards bands and musicians.

Today Facebook is the leader in global social networking and like many social networking sites, it was founded by university students who initially peddled their product to other university students. Facebook was launched in Harvard university in 2004 as a Harvard-only, campus oriented site for two full years before it emerged upwards and was opened up to public in 2006. Even at this point in time. Facebook had been able to make its mark as a potentially huge business in the future and it had gathered millions of dollars of investment from Silicon Valley giants such as the co-founder of PayPal, Peter Thiel; who had invested millions of dollars in Facebook.

Other overly successful social media platforms include twitter and YouTube. Twitters allows users to send and read short 140-character long messages called tweets. The site was formed in 2006 and it rapidly gained popularity worldwide. Going as far as being declared the ‘SMS of the internet’ and it was also one of the ten most visited websites around the world. Twitter boasts over 300 million active users today. YouTube is a video-sharing website and it was created by 3 former PayPal employees in 2006. The company was bought by google for $1.65 billion later in 206 and it now operates as one of Google’s subsidiaries. The main function of the site is that it allows users to upload, view and share videos and it.

Smartphone technology has changed the shape and outlook of social media over the past few years. What used to sit on computer screens and desks now conveniently fits onto our palms and pockets, which allows us to effortlessly function social media wherever we go. The popularity of smartphones has meant that entrepreneurs and social media specialists have seen potential and have hinged on the capabilities of new technology. This has given rise to video-sharing applications such as snapchat and Instagram (the lattes has amassed over 20 billion images since its inception in 2010 and it exists almost entirely on mobile phone). The same goes with platforms such as foursquare, which is an application which allows users to utilize their smartphones to check in to various locations around the world. Tinder is another application which used the rise of the smartphone and the boast over 10 million daily users who use the approximate of other users for match making purposes.

People today exist on various different social media and all of them combine to form a comprehensive digital identity.


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About the Author: George Chambers

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