The Social Media Obsessed World: How it all Started?

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In a world where people wake up and go to sleep with mobile phones in their hand, a life without internet and social media is very hard to imagine. Since the dawn of Social media, we’ve grown accustomed to the feeds. Social media platforms have now become a major source of news and information. Not only do they provide a platform for users to communicate beyond local and social boundaries, but they also offer countless possibilities to share user-generated content like photos and videos.  Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are just a few of the most famous social media platforms, with Facebook leading the list as the most used platform. 

As long as there are cell phones, tablets, computers, and an internet connection, people are able to connect with each other from around the world, making it easy to keep in touch with friends and family. But have you ever wondered how it all started and how it has evolved over the years?

The Beginning of Social Media

The roots of social media stretch far deeper than you might imagine. The first interactive media site was created in 1997 called SixDegrees.com with a tagline, ‘You’re only six degrees away from everyone’. This social networking site was similar to today’s sites like Facebook; it allowed users to upload a personal profile and make friends across a broad network. It encouraged the current members to invite more people to the site. Membership spike quickly. But many people began to complain that membership invitation were spammy. It was then sold in 2000 for $125 million but was completely shut down the year after.

The first modern social networking site that we define today started with Friendster. It also uses the degree of separation concept similar to SixDegrees, but dubbed it to ‘Circle of Friends’. You could create a profile, include ‘status updates’ and reveal your mood. In the first 3 months, Friendster was able to amass 3,000,000 users.

Soon MySpace followed suit cloning Friendster in 2003. MySpace gave users more freedom than Friendster when it came to customization; with music, videos, and a hipper online environment. Within a month, 1 million people had signed up for the site, where they could connect with friends and enjoy the company of default friend Tom Anderson. The site was the United States’ most-visited site as of July 2006 and was valued at tens of billions of dollars at its peak in 2007. However, an identity crisis at Myspace left the network to the same fate as many of its predecessors. 

LinkedIn even quietly gained traction during this time and took a more professional and business approach to social networking. Other sites focused on getting dates, having friends, and reuniting with old classmates, but LinkedIn focused on building business contacts and professionals. Today LinkedIn has 30 million registered members.

How the Big Social Media Giants Came About?

As the millennium changed, almost 100 million people had access to the internet. At that time, however, social media was looked upon as an unusual hobby. Nevertheless, people all across the world began to use chat rooms to make new friends, to date, and to discuss topics with other like-minded people. However, the huge boom of social media was yet to come.

In 2004, Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook, which went on to become a social media giant. Even after all these years, Facebook is the number one social networking site, boasting over a billion users. 

Inspired by the popularity of SMS and text messaging, Twitter was created in 2006. Today, Twitter has a staggering 500 million user-base. Instagram was launched in 2010 for iOS users and in 2012 for Android users. Today, it is one of the top-most social media sites for photo sharing. Snapchat was launched exactly almost exactly a year after Instagram. The app’s early success tapped into the ephemeral nature of life’s moments, allowing users to post content that would vanish after 24 hours. The disappearing snaps appealed to the teen demographic the app first attracted. Snapchat was also the perfect alternative for teens to find their friends—and flee family on Facebook.

The Secret to Social Media Success

As of 2019, there are thousands of social media platforms. Some platforms are more popular than others but each platform has a loyal audience. However, with 2.27 billion monthly active users, Facebook is leading the pack with a considerable margin. Meanwhile, the second-ranked video-sharing platform, YouTube has 1.9 billion monthly active accounts. It is followed by WhatsApp ranking 3rd, 4th Facebook Messenger and 5th Instagram in global popularity.

So, why has Facebook succeeded where others have failed? What does Facebook have that MySpace and Friendster did not? For starters, Facebook maintained its scale as waves of users signed on and created accounts. One aspect of Friendster’s downfall was that it was unable to keep up with how many members joined the site. As more people joined, the site grew slower and slower, so slow that people were forced to switch to Facebook or MySpace. While MySpace failed because it connected users to bands, celebrities, and strangers, rather than people you knew in real life. People wanted to interact with their friends and family to enhance and expand their existing social lives onto the internet. Also, iTunes Ping fell apart and Google+ remains stagnant because their services were/are redundant. Users already had Facebook to accomplish anything that Ping and Google+ offered.

Social media platforms often tend to fail if they don’t meet specific criteria. New networks don’t survive if they are a copy of an existing service. They must create innovative user fulfilling services and something entirely new that users did not even know they wanted.

As the social network grows, they must be able to accommodate the influxes of new users. When the platforms begin to slow down and falter due to increased use, users will leave due to frustration. As the user base grows larger, the needs and wants of the users also grow. When a platform fails to address the feedback of its members, they provide an opportunity for another platform to step in and fulfill that need.

The social media platforms that survive won’t be the ones with the most novel ideas, or the ones with the highest-functioning platforms; they’ll be the ones who have adapted best to new consumer trends and desires.

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