Social Media: A Look at the Past & Present

by Jaimie Knowles

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Where It All Began

Many people believe social media started with the widespread obsession with Facebook. But, you might be surprised to know that the evolution of social media started much earlier than the early 2000s. The effects of these early social media platforms are still seen today. They impact the everyday lives of individuals and businesses large and small on a daily basis.

The inception of social networking as we know it actually got its start when the internet itself was being explored and developed in the 1960s. It was then that researchers realized how far of a reach each individual could have using the web. It wasn’t actually until 1991 that the World Wide Web was introduced to the public. This is when we saw the first introduction of social networking.

The First Social Network

In 1997, we were presented with the first form of tangible social media that we are used to seeing today in the form of a website called Six Degrees. It was the first of its kind allowing users to create profiles and friend other users (sound familiar?).

From there, we saw the boom in blogging and instant messaging take over. This gave internet users’ access to constant communication as well as a plethora of information at their fingertips.

From blogging we shift into the era of ICQ and AOL – further promoting constant connectivity among users. By the year 2000, 100 million people were using the internet, many to socially engaged online.

It is from this point we start hearing the names of platforms we are used to hearing about today.

Social Media Timeline

Let’s take a look at the 2000’s in a nutshell:

  • 2003: MySpace makes its first appearance in the social sphere. It allows users to set up unique profiles including photos and music, connecting with peers from around the world for the first time. MySpace was the first of its kind, inspiring other platforms like Facebook and Twitter which came shortly after.
  • 2004: Our first introduction to social media superstar, Mark Zuckerberg, who brought us Facebook. Originally started for Harvard students, Facebook has been constantly evolving since its inception in 2004. It has since become a hot spot for people of all ages to connect and share.
  • 2006: The 140 character Twitter post becomes one of the most popular ways to create, share, and promote thoughts, feelings, and ideas across the social media sphere. Twitter has proven to be useful for individuals and businesses to create an identity for themselves online. It has grown to over 500 million users today.
  • 2007: Tumblr jumped onto the scene as a microblogging website. It gives users access to thousands of posts based on their interests.
  • 2010s: Society’s obsession with photo sharing sprouts and sites like Flickr, Photobucket, and Instagram emerge as popular outlets for individuals and businesses alike.

Many of these platforms mentioned, and more, are still around today. They’re constantly changing to suit the needs to consumers everywhere. Whether you communicate through photos, short bursts of information or want to connect with peers online, social media is the way of the past and the future.

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