The evolution of social media: how it all started

Social Media

Though no one has a crystal ball, it is clear that the growth of social media will continue rapidly.

Today, everyone knows what social media is. Even the most out-of-the-way parts of the world have access to Facebook and Twitter. In most countries these platforms are accessed as many as four times per person per day! However, it wasn’t like this a decade ago. Not only did not as many people have internet access at that time, but social media was just getting started.

This post explores the evolution of social media over the past decades.

Let’s take a look.

Six degrees of social media

In 1997, the first social media site with all of the elements we recognise today was launched. Six Degrees was one of the first to enable users to setup a profile and become friends with other users.

The first big wave

Many of you may remember that back in the early 2000’s, MySpace was the most popular place to set up a profile and interact with friends and family. But did you know LinkedIn also had its origins around this time? Geared specifically at professionals looking to network and connect, LinkedIn was the first social media platform established for business. Its basic functions have remained the same right up until today.

Enter Facebook and Twitter

In 2004, Facebook entered the social media scene and soon became the giant that would define the social media platform. Even after all these years, Facebook is the number one social networking site there is, boasting over a billion users.

Then in 2006, Twitter burst onto the scene, taking the idea of short texts from the mobile phone directly to the web. It wasn’t long after this that several other websites came into being.

Instagram was launched in 2010 for iOS users and in 2012 for Android users. Today, it is one of the most-used social media sites for photo sharing.

Snapchat followed in 2011 and is primarily used for creating multimedia messages referred to as “snaps”; snaps can consist of a photo or a short video, and can be edited to include filters and effects, text captions, and drawings

Social media meets business

Though LinkedIn first appeared in the early 2000’s, it was designed as a business specific platform. However, around 2010 the online landscape shifted and business began to find a voice on the other main social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram.
As early as 2009 websites were starting to list their social media addresses, businesses would include Facebook and Twitter addresses on their television commercials and many tools were being built to include social media on websites – for example: WordPress plugins that would allow users to include not only links to their social media websites, but also to include their latest social media posts directly on their websites.
Social media icons were seen everywhere and it became almost unusual to see businesses or brands without them.
Now, social media platforms cater for all kinds of users such as Pinterest for clipping inspirational images, Instagram for picture-sharing and SnapChat for sharing temporary clips of our daily lives.

The future of social

Though no one has a crystal ball, it is clear that the growth of social media will continue rapidly. As we look for new ways to connect with each other, technology will need to find different and exciting ways to keep us engaged. No matter what the future looks like, social media is set to remain a permanent part of our lives.

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