Friday, August 29, 2014

The History of Social Media

By Erin Quinlan

We’re all familiar with social media today, but do you remember the early days of it?

Who remembers

Early users couldn’t create profiles, but they could locate long-lost grade schoolmates. It was a hit almost immediately, and even today the service boasts some 57 million registered accounts.

In 2002, social networking hit really its stride with the launch of Friendster. Friendster used a degree of separation concept similar to that of the now-defunct, refined it into a routine dubbed the “Circle of Friends,” and promoted the idea that a rich online community can exist only between people who truly have common bonds.

Within a year after its launch, Friendster boasted more than three million registered users and a ton of investment interest.

Introduced in 2003, LinkedIn took a more serious, sober approach to social networking. Rather than being a mere playground for former classmates and teenagers, LinkedIn was, and still is, a networking resource for business people who want to connect with other professionals. Today, LinkedIn boasts more than 297 million members.

MySpace also launched in 2003. Though it no longer the top social media platform in many English-speaking countries, MySpace was once the perennial favorite. It did so by tempting the key young adult demographic with music, music videos, and a fun, feature-filled environment.

Facebook now leads the global social networking pack. Facebook launched in 2004 as a Harvard-only exercise and remained a campus-oriented site for two years before finally opening to the general public in 2006. The site currently boasts more than 1.3 billion active users.

One key to Facebook’s success was the “Like” button. Now you can “like” or “tweet” just about everything even when you’re not on Facebook or Twitter.

Realizing the power of social networking, Google decided to launch its own social network (Google+) in 2007. It differed from Facebook and Twitter in that it wasn’t necessarily a full-featured networking site, but rather a social “layer” of the overall Google experience. Within just four weeks, Google+ had garnered 25 million unique visitors, with as much as 540 million active monthly users as of June 2014.

Over the course of the past two years, smartphones, tablets, etc. have changed social networking and the way we communicate with one another entirely. Given the abrupt rise in mobile computing, it’s not surprising the most popular social media platforms of the past several years hinge on the capabilities of smartphones.
Photo and video-sharing applications such as Snapchat and Instagram, the latter of which has now garnered 20 billion images since the app’s initial inception in October 2010, exist almost entirely on mobile.

The same goes with platforms such as Foursquare, an application in which users use their smartphones to check in to various locations around the globe, and various matchmaking services.

Tinder currently boasts more than 10 million daily users, each of which swipes for potential partners based on their approximately in relation to their smartphone.

Mobile-based platforms also approach social networking in an entirely different fashion than their web-based counterparts. Rather than offering a comprehensive social networking experience like Myspace and Google+, they instead specialize in a specific kind of interaction service that involves the sharing of public images (Instagram), the private sharing of images sharing (Snapchat), augmented reality (Foursquare), and location-based matchmaking (Tinder).

People now exist on multiple platforms, and instead of fighting against this trend, companies are tapping into this new environment.

It appears that many people have high hopes that virtual reality will become the next blockbuster computing platform. The technology already exists, and with the consumer version of the Oculus Rift VR headset slated to go on sale in late 2014 for under $300, the potential for widespread adoption of virtual reality has never been greater.

Need help wrapping your head around all the social media trends?

Give The SilentPartner Marketing a call at 866-432-6456 or e-mail Kyle Reyes at and we can help you out.


Erin Quinlan is the Content Marketing Manager of The Silent Partner Marketing, a boutique marketing firm focused on helping businesses grow in an age of exploding technology. You can find The Silent Partner Marketing on Google+Facebook, and Twitter