Social media began in 1997 with the Six Degrees website which took into account the six degrees of separation theory. The site lasted until 2001 and allowed people to connect with other by confirming friendships. Towards the end of the last millennium, more people got access to the internet. This ushered in the era of instant messaging and blogging. As more people got access to the internet, people started using chat rooms to communicate with like-minded individuals on various sites. However, the entrance of LinkedIn into the social media space in 2002 changed how people would relate to social media moving forward. LinkedIn specifically targeted professionals, giving them space to network and interact. Having identified a niche for itself, other social media sites followed suit.
Creation of a Social Media Giant
In 2003, MySpace came into the scene, allowing people to set up profiles and connect with friends. MySpace effectively introduced the age of social media profile website, inspiring the formation of websites such as Facebook. By the time Facebook entered the social media space in 2004 as TheFacebook.com, many people were now familiar with how social media sites work. Facebook was at first only available to Harvard students, but Mark Zuckerberg later opened up the site to other users. Since then, the social media site has overtaken the likes of MySpace (which currently enjoys very few users) growing into a social media giant that boasts over a billion users. With each new social media platform created comes a new generation of users.
More Players Enter the Social Media Space
In 2006, Twitter entered the social media space taking on the growing popularity of text messaging (SMS). The firm came with a twist that allowed users to send messages (tweets) using only 140 characters. The social media site has stuck with this form of messaging from inception and now boasts more than 500 million users worldwide. By 2007, Tumblr was created to serve as a microblogging site. The site now belongs to Yahoo. In the late 2000’s, other sites such as Foursquare, Pinterest, and Spotify, among others, were making an entry and building their popularity base, drawing inspiration from the success of Facebook and Twitter.
Social Media Niches
On social media, the catch for most players has always been to come up with a niche they can occupy. Around 2010, social media sites for photo sharing entered into the scene starting with Flickr and followed by Photobucket and Instagram. Instagram has since gained global popularity as the biggest photo sharing site and can be seen included on business cards and other media.Instagram was first launched for iOS users in 2010 followed by a launch for Android users in 2012. The late 2000’s also saw the popularity of social media sites such as Loopt, Groupon, Google Buzz, and Blippy grow. However, these sites have not grown in popularity like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Snapchat joined the scene in 2011.
Social Media and Branding
At the advent of social media, people viewed it as a weird hobby. By the time Instagram was joining the social media scene in 2010, the world was treating social media differently. Businesses have taken notice of the shift in the mode of communication by their clients. With billions of users on different social media platforms, businesses are now creating and branding their own social media pages to connect with their customer bases where they are spending most of their time. It is now considered business suicide to not have a strong social media presence, especially for the sake of marketing your brand. World influencers are also branding themselves using social media pages solely created for marketing their brands.
Future of Social Media
In 2017, there are thousands of social media platforms available in the world today. Some are specifically tailor-made to meet the needs of specific regions, such as individual countries, while others like Facebook have a global presence. No matter how small an audience a social media platform has, it is still catering to a need and creating loyalty to its brand. The world is, therefore, closely watching the social media space to see which direction it will take next. Advances in technology, which is rapidly evolving with exciting innovations being launched every day, also make the social media space one to watch.