Social media is a rapidly growing marketing medium that is on the verge of becoming more significant to the average consumer than search engines. While platforms such as Facebook are not in any imminent danger of putting search engines like Google out of business, it is interesting to note that more and more people do their informational searches on social media platforms these days. How did we get here? What is the condensed history of the social media medium?
In 1997, the first ever social media platform called Six Degrees was started. It lasted until 2001, and laid the foundation for social media platforms of the future. Users could register to have an account, but even people who did not register for accounts could see and interact with user posts. It is said that the rising popularity of chat platforms helped to bring an end to Six Degrees, but social media was only getting started.
The first massively popular social media platform was released in the early 2000s and it was called MySpace. Users seemed to love the idea of being able to communicate with each other and personalize their profiles with pictures and colors. At the same time that MySpace was getting underway, LinkedIn was created as a social network for business professionals. MySpace eventually lost its popularity and has since become a social network for musicians, but LinkedIn remains popular with its original format to this day.
In 2004, Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg released a social media platform he called Facebook, but it only existed on Harvard's university computer network. It did not take long for Zuckerberg to realize that he could increase the popularity of his website by making it available to the public, so he did. In 2006, Twitter was released with the idea that people could convey their ideas with either images or text messages that were only 140 characters long. Facebook brought the world together, and Twitter became an important source for the latest information for millions of people.
The popularity of images on Twitter helped to spur the creation of a series of new social media platforms around 2010. Flickr and Instagram got their start at the very earliest point of image-centric social media platforms, and both are still very popular today. The popularity of niche social media platforms such as the image-centric ones inspired other niches such as food reviews, music, and home improvement and crafts.
Today, there are many new social media platforms being introduced that all seem to be breaking down the idea of social media into endless small niches. Over the past few years, the growing number of social media options for users means that social media platforms are starting to develop dedicated target audiences that are making it easier for marketing experts to formulate social media marketing plans that work.