Since its inception, social media has come a long way. We take a look at how it’s evolved over the past two decades!
In the year that Anne-Marie sings about so fondly in her smash-hit single 2002, LinkedIn was launched. The platform began life 20 years ago as tool for connecting the world’s professionals, with the aim of helping them to be more productive and successful.
Since then, it has continuously diversified and is one of the few social media platforms that is still growing today – kudos!
Oh the good old days! Who doesn’t love reminiscing on the times we spent as teens chatting with friends and sharing our favourite tunes on MySpace? The nostalgic platform peaked in 2008 with 115 million users but shortly after, Facebook began to rise in popularity, taking market share and regrettably, MySpace users rapidly declined.
Since then, MySpace has shifted its focus to lifestyle news, mostly covering music and pop culture. Although it may not be what it once was, MySpace still has an avid following and definitely paved the way for social platforms yet to come along.
Another new kid on the block came around in 2003 with social network, Friendster. In the first few months of launching, the platform soared to success and hit 3 million users in just 3 months. Much like MySpace, growth began to decline thanks to the sudden domination of Facebook.
However, Friendster did have a trick up its sleeve. The network pioneered many patented technologies (such as content management online and storing social data relationships). Facebook later acquired these technologies and propelled itself even further, but at least Friendster could feel some sense of success as they contributed important tech to such a successful platform!
These days, you can’t go more than a day without interacting or engaging with Facebook to some degree. But back in 2004, the platform was solely open to Ivy League College students, opening to the rest of the world in September 2006.
Incredibly, by the end of 2009 the platform had raced ahead of its competition and became the most popular online social network with a whopping 350 million worldwide users. The platform has experienced consistent growth since then and only in 2022 has Facebook reported a decline in users for the first time.
Oh the trials and tribulations of the once groundbreaking social media hub, Bebo. In 2005, the platform launched with the acronym ‘Blog Early, Blog Often’ and had tremendous initial success.
However, as time went on and competition grew strong, the platform became a fading memory of youthful indiscretions and teenage conversations and only managed to peak at 40 million users.
Bebo first shut it doors in 2013 but came back with a post-pandemic vengeance in 2021 as founder, Michael Birch tried to resurrect the platform. Ultimately, Bebo didn’t have what it takes and shutdown again just a year later.
Twitter is synonymous with the #hashtag which is now ubiquitous across most social platforms, but when it first launched, there were no hashtags in sight! With free speech at its core, Twitter focusses on written word and acts as an outlet for users to explore their train of thought.
Twitter has long been one of the most popular resources for revelling in celebrity gossip but in recent years has become more popular as a news source. With 70% of users saying that they use the app to keep up with live news events. Twitter has had steady growth since inception and shows no sign of slowing down!
Oh Instagram. The platform that gave rise to the modern world of influencers, bloggers and vloggers.
From humble beginnings in 2010 (when the platform was considered a space to share pixelated photographs of friends taken on your iPhone 4), the platform has evolved to promote both business and creativity. Instagram substitutes the traditional blog with visual posts, stories, Q&A buttons and live videos.
Instagram has adapted in terms of features and benefits, from integrating shopping tools within the app to offering ‘reels’ in order to compete with rival platform, TikTok. In 2018, Instagram hit a huge 1 billion users and growth is still increasing for the visually-focused app.
However, its also faced its fair share of scrutiny over promoting ideal notions of beauty and perfect lifestyles.
SnapChat first saw the light in 2011 and shot to fame with its unique feature that allows users to send photos that expire within a matter of seconds. Interestingly, this method of communication almost mimics the way we interact face to face, with fleeting moments and impulsive reactions.
As Snaps will be deleted in seconds, the platform has created a safe space for people to be funny, honest and downright awkward!
Once an extremely popular platform for pop-culture, where users could share 6-second long looping video clips, Vine is also one of the shortest lived social media platforms. The platform was so focussed on creating a great experience for its users, it forgot to prioritise monetisation and eventually was shutdown by its owner, Twitter in 2017. Sad times!
In 2016, TikTok came into the market with its lip-syncing music video making tools that were soon to become an overnight sensation. In the global lockdown of 2020, the platform reached 2 billion downloads as people sought entertainment whilst bored at home 24/7.
Since then, growth has continued to increase rapidly and shows no sign of stopping!
It’s apparent that social media has grown, evolved and transformed since the early noughties, but what will happen next?