Today is #WorldSocialMediaDay and we are commemorating it by looking back at how social media has shaped communication over the last two decades.
In 1997, the first documented social media site made it’s way to the screen, SixDegrees.com. The site served as a digital address book, where users could make a profile, create lists of connections and send messages directly to those connections. This platform grew to about 3.5 million registered users until 1999 when it was sold to YouthStream Media Networks. (source: Buffer.com)
In 2002, Friendster launched. Intended to be a dating site, users could create a profile, update their status and set their “mood.” Users could create friends lists and were given the capability to message “friends of friends.”
In 2003, Myspace was introduced. It quickly became a teen favorite. It offered the first customizable profile which allowed users to create a “space” entirely of their own, including music, a list of their top friends, a bio and selfies. Myspace was the trendy inspiration for the social media platforms we know today.
In 2005, YouTube launched and the first video ever uploaded was called “Me at the Zoo,” a video that now has more than 100 million views. In the last five years, YouTube has grown to 2 billion monthly users with an average of 500 hours of video being uploaded to the platform every minute and is currently the world’s second-largest search engine. (source: Hootsuite.com)
In 2006, Facebook firmly established the popular social media scene, becoming a global network where “grown up” Myspace users gravitated and ended the year with 12 million active users. Twitter launched in July 2006, initially intended to be a fix for hefty SMS bills and quickly became another “go-to” platform. (source: Yahoo News)
In 2007, micro-blogging jumped into the picture with the arrival of Tumblr. The site allowed users to upload pictures, videos and text, as well as “reblog” their friend’s posts. This same year hashtags came into play, birthed from the idea of organizing tweets. The first hashtag to become widely used was #SanDiegoFire a way of spreading live updates regarding the California wildfires. Today, almost every major social media outlet supports hashtag functionality. (source: Socialmediaweek.org)
In 2010, the first photo filter effects hit social sites with the launch of Instagram. Based upon photo sharing, this social media site had features other platforms didn’t, enabling users to edit images in-app. Instagram gained 100 million registered users in 28 short months and by June 2018, the platform had 1 billion registered users (source: Statista.com). That same year, emojis hopped on the scene as pictograms rather than the earlier text-based emoticons, built using keys on a keyboard.
In 2011, Pinterest launched, giving an entirely new definition to pinning on collage boards. Later that year, Snapchat became available with the CEO sharing this quote on his blog, “Snapchat isn’t about capturing the traditional Kodak moment. It’s about communicating with the full range of human emotion — not just what appears to be pretty or perfect.”
In 2019, an estimated 2.95 billion people worldwide were using some form of social media. By the year 2023, that number is projected to increase to almost 3.43 billion (source: Statista.com). In just the past six months, research has found that 50 percent of consumers have increased their social media usage (source: Sprout Social Index 2020).
During the past 23 years, Social media has evolved rapidly from a digital “fad” to an integral part of our daily personal and business lives. It has opened doors to deepen our connections and relationships, connect with long-lost friends, share knowledge and opportunities and even to amplify news to the forefront of everyone’s mind. So, what do you think is next to come in the realm of social media?