We’ve all lived to experience the most wanted culprit that drives the Smartphone addiction era. I am talking about the social media. We are all in one way or the other addicted to social media, the epic feeling that comes with the dopamine secretion when somebody likes, retweets or comments on your picture or on a status you just updated.
If you are among all of us that spend a tremendous amount of time frolicking away on social media, let’s take a break and also take few steps back through the path social media have passed through to get to what it’s today.
Before social networking became a thing on the internet, several people were already into something that looks like it, they’ve been using this “something” to share contents online. The platforms that make this possible is in form of forums, chatrooms and Tripod pages.
But the credit of the first site to use the modern form of social media we all know today will go to sixdegrees.
The Era of Sixdegrees
This site was the first to use the modern paradigms we all know and use today on sites like Facebook. This includes the idea of creating profiles and sharing different kinds of information with some of that site’s users that you are connected with somehow.
Sixdegrees was created in the year 1997. It has so many elements that have now being re-iterated and used on our modern day social media platforms, these include friend’s list and instant messaging.
On 2001, the Abraham of social media closed down because of some internal issues, but the main issue was that sixdegrees was so ahead of its time and people weren’t just ready for such a platform. There wasn’t just a lot of people on the internet back then to power this platform because just less than 2% of the whole world was using the internet.
Five years after the birth of sixdegrees, that was when the world of social networks will hit a million users.
That brings us to Friendster. This platform launched in 2002 and it quickly became widely popular by showing users how they were connected to others but featuring a sleeker and more enticing presentation. It was so similar to online dating sites.
The Era of Friendster
Immediately Friendster boosted a huge user base of 3 million users, the competition started sprouting from all angles.
Among the competition stirred by Friendster’s success lies the popular Myspace. The famous myspace took a great deal of its inspiration from Friendster but what made it stand out was the individuals behind myspace. These guys were already running a company called eUniverse.
eUniverse operated a lot a lot of sub-websites that are involved in gaming and dating amongst others. They already had a large user base and they leveraged the benefits to get the words about myspace out fast and very wide to their user base who joined myspace and also shared the information.
Doing this, myspace rapidly became more popular than Friendster, making them a huge competition.
Also, myspace was able to innovate faster and develop new and amazing features faster than Friendster.
The Era of MySpace
Myspace workers took the battle for user’s signup further by venturing into Friendster to tell Friendster users to leave the platform and join theirs’. Friendster died a miserable death, *Sad face*
Myspace took to the throne, but its reign lasted for a short period of time when Mark Zuckerberg developed Facebook in 2004.
At first, it seemed the new social media platform isn’t going to expand past the shores of its main purpose to be a campus-wide student directory which is to serve as a place for Harvard students to show off their recent pictures to other students. After a thousand students signed up from Harvard, Facebook started expanding to other schools.
The Era of Facebook and the present Age
By 2005, Facebook has exploded, with the presence in almost all the universities in the US. Students could see who else they are connected to and they were all classmates that they all knew. These earlier versions of Facebook lacks all the new features you are enjoying today on Facebook, features like Newsfeed, timelines, like button and instant messaging. It was just acting as an advanced University digital directory with so much emphasis on displaying background information on students through user profiles.
Facebook initially didn’t enjoy the smooth start myspace enjoyed, instead, the starting and management were filled with thorns and pain but all those changed in 2006 when Facebook opened itself up to the public. By doing this, Facebook quickly gave myspace that stab that decapitated the one’s popular social network. Today, although myspace is still available, it exists just as a music-centric platform that’s not trying to compete with Facebook or any other social media platform.
Facebook was able to topple Myspace because of three (3) major things.
While Facebook focused and improved on giving users more of the networking aspect of social media by dishing out pages, groups and easier ways for content sharing, Myspace spread itself too thin by implementing strenuous features like karaoke which didn’t go down properly on people. They also started using a clunky and old design and they bombarded users with ads and also became a breeding ground for spammers.
Facebook maintained a clean design that has a very friendly user interface. It even went ahead to be a source of inspiration for other social media platforms like VK in Russia and the Chinese social network RIn Rin.
It was in 2009 that Myspace’s downfall became known to the public when they laid off 600 workers and they settled down for music and ceased trying to compete as a social media.
While Facebook and Myspace were battling for social media dominance, another platform came up in late 2006, and that was Twitter. Although the entire internet was becoming crowded with different social media services popping up here and there. Twitter stood out because of its unique nature and not the copycat nature other networks are just re-iterating, the usual profile picture structure, newsfeed and other paradigms.
Twitter was based on a rather simpler and unique idea which is a 140 character non-editable micro-blogging posts that they call tweets which are used to reach everybody on the site instantly with the help of tags.
This approach by twitter opened a new front in the social media world and made it ply through a different terrain that created little or competition between Facebook and Twitter; instead, they co-existed together in harmony.
Now, Facebook is the king of social media, with others like Google plus, Linkedin, Instagram (A subsidiary of Facebook) following behind. And most of the competitors are pursuing a targeted interest of people rather than focusing on the broad meaning of social networking, for example, LinkedIn is focusing on connecting career and business-minded individuals with each other. Pinterest and Instagram, focusing on photos.
Facebook now has over 2 billion registered users and the number keeps increasing. Whether another Social media platform will come up and take away the crown from Mark Zuckerberg‘s head, nobody knows, but the world of social media is still heavily open to competition. Because competition breeds innovation and innovation is the only thing that will keep the world of social media and technology at large forging forward.
That said, do you have any feature in mind that you think should be implemented on a social media platform and you’ve not seen it existing in any of the present platforms available today, use the comment box to let us know about it.