Social media has become an intrinsic part of daily life, affecting both casual users and businesses alike. It has evolved over time and been highly prolific. It has met many needs from finding lost friends, keeping in touch with loved ones, finding jobs to exposure to businesses. Here is a view of social media in time.
The First social media site was called Six Degrees which lasted from 1997 to 2001. Six degrees allowed users to create profiles and friend other users.
From here the internet moved on to blogging and instant messaging. People were able to communicate with bloggers as well as other readers. The term “blog” is a form of the phrase “Weblog” which was coined by Jorn Barger, an early blogger that was the editor of the site “Robot Wisdom.” From here the ICQ was born which lead to AOL’s instant messenger.
By 2000 people started using chat rooms to engage socially online for making friends, dating or discussing topics.
2003 was a new era for social media where MySpace became a popular place to be. MySpace was an inspiration for todays platforms like Facebook. LinkedIn was also among the early ones using this time aimed for professionals.
2004 Mark Zuckerberg launched the Facebook which ultimately became a social media giant, was initially made for Havard students. In 2006 text messaging and SMS inspired the creation of Twitter which can be uniquely identified by its 140 character limit.
2007 onwards the rest of the innovative social media platforms came into existence. Among the earliest was Flickr which was most popular photo sharing. Others that were introduced were Photobucket and Instagram, with Instagram gaining more popularity today. Tumblr was introduced as a microblogging website now owned by Yahoo. Other social media platforms that got introduced where Foursquare, Pinterest, Spotify, Google Buzz, Loopt, Blippy and Groupon.
Around 2010 Social Media evolved from being widely used for personal use to being used in business. Websites started displaying links to their social media address. Companies started displaying their social media profiles in TV commercials. Social Media icons spread like wild fire.
Over the course of the past three years, “Fourth screen” technologies like smartphones, tablets, etc. have changed social networking and the way we communicate with one another entirely.
Businesses could easily connect the dots and it was suddenly very conspicuous that social media is where they must be. This is where everyone is. This is where their target audience is.
Today there are hundreds of social media platforms each one catering to a slightly different target audience. Each has a slightly different purpose which todays businesses can easily leverage to the best of their ability. There is always something for everyone.
A research showed that 80 percent of social media posts are announcements about a person’s experiences. This is used by marketers and many listening tools have been developed to understand target audiences. Sharing feature of social media has given great exposure to people and businesses alike. Harvard neuroscientists have discovered that being able to share our thoughts triggers the same pleasure sectors of our brain that food and money trigger. So businesses and individuals thrive to create sharable content to promote their cause.
The emergence of live video in social media representing both a challenge and an opportunity for marketers to really connect with people in ways that are intuitive and natural. Facebook and Twitter have bet big on video and live streaming.
Today the Social Media depends on the mobile technology. All the Social Media platforms have adapted the idea of ‘mobile first’.
Though it is not easy to predict the future but with the evolution of society and technology it will be interesting to see what shape social media will take. One thing is for certain that as more and more people start using the internet, they will seek out social media platforms. Existing users will keep a close watch on the changing trends in social media platforms and it is just a matter of time when they switch overnight. Businesses who want to survive need to watch how these trends are playing out over time. As Brian Solis said, “We have to be prepared; you will either disrupt or be disrupted."