A Short History of Online Social Media

Most of us will remember the days of Bebo and MySpace, though most wouldn’t care to admit it. We get it, maybe that past is best left in the bottomless pit of internet past, and thankfully, social media networks have come a long way since those platforms were popular.  

Online meeting places like BBS and IRCs were some of the original social platforms where users could chat and transfer files or programs. However, at a time when dial-up restricted use to those in the same local area due to international calling rates, use was limited.

Fast forward to what is considered by most as the birth of true social media and the first modern social network: Six Degrees. This platform was basically an online version of the game ‘six degrees of Kevin Bacon’, but in internet form, and with you replacing Kevin Bacon. Sounds fun right?

The early 2000’s was boom time for social media with many of the well-known platforms launching. Friendster, probably best known to the masses through the movie ‘The Social Network’; LinkedIn, the first business centred platform, and Facebook and MySpace all launched around this time. We all know who the winners were out of that bunch. The rise of smartphone technology certainly helped. Smartphones and the ability to use the internet anywhere, anytime, likely had a lot to answer for with the demise or success of social media networks. If you moved with the times, you came out on top.

After 2010, businesses began to use social media channels to boost their visibility, even adding their profiles to TV advertisements. Nowadays, the majority of businesses have accounts on multiple channels, with each channel providing a different voice and reaching a different audience. They even have specialists in-house or outsource the work to agencies whose sole goal is to engage with customers and businesses online. Whichever way you do it, it’s something that a business sees as necessary if success and growth is expected.

We don’t know where social media is headed in the future, but we know that communication and sharing has been, and remains, a central theme. It’s safe to say then that it is likely to remain that way, it’s just the methods and form of delivery that will change.