Messages has been an essential part of everyday human life, from conversations to academic-related subjects. It’s been going on since humans were able to build a proper lifestyle. This article shows the stages of social media through time.
The roots of Social Media stretch farther than one can imagine. Although it seems like a recent trend, today’s social media is a development of centuries of communicative and information-sharing evolution that has shaped what it is today.
Early days of social media
The earliest method of communication across distances was written letters or postcards. The primitive delivery system of postal services dates back to 550 B.C. In 1792, the Telegraph was invented. Although telegraph messages were short, they could carry messages over long distances in a shorter time compared to postal services and thus became popular. Two of the most important discoveries happened during the 1800s – the invention of the Telephone in 1890 and the Radio in 1891. Both these traditional methods helped people communicate instantaneously as it was an invention that mankind had never experienced before. The invention of computer networks and the internet was a larger tide that impacted and contributed to the evolution of social media and what it is today.
The first email was sent in 1971 by a computer engineer named Ray Tomlinson. The email was a test message to himself and was sent from one computer to another, right beside it in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1986, Eric Thomas developed the concept of an automated mailing list manager – Listserv. It allowed joining or leaving a list without the need for human administration. The list owner could also add or remove subscribers and create templates for messages. This is probably the basis on which today’s most common form of communication – WhatsApp is developed.
Six Degrees is considered to be the first social networking site and was founded by Andrew Weinreich in 1996. The site was launched in the following year and combined popular features such as profiles, friend lists, and school affiliations in one service.
Social Media in the 20th century
Until the 20th century, Social Media communication only meant sharing and transmission of information from one person to another or from one group to another. This soon transformed into not only sharing information but also images, videos, and audio messages to people across the globe.
After the invention of blogging, social media began to explode in popularity. Sites like MySpace and LinkedIn gained prominence in the early 2000s, and sites like Photobucket and Flickr facilitated online photo sharing. YouTube came out in 2005, creating an entirely new way for people to communicate and share across great distances.
Friendster was once the hottest in social networking and was founded in 2002. Google wanted to buy it for $30 million back in 2003. The Malaysian-built platform, although now defunct, was regarded as the pioneer of Social Media. LinkedIn (founded in 2003) emerged as the world’s most popular social media site, mainly catering to business and business and management professionals have more than 500 million users worldwide. Facebook, the once king in social media, was founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and now has more than 3 billion users around the world.
The online video streaming website YouTube was founded in 2005 by a former PayPal employee, and it allows users to view, upload, download, and save content online. Twitter (founded in 2006) was unique when compared to other social media platforms. It allows interactions with celebrities and high-profile persons on a common platform and shares your message in only 140 words. WhatsApp’s introduction in 2009 brought about a new change in social media. It was the only social media platform with no advertisements and facilitated the easiest, quickest, and most comfortable platform for communication through texts. Recent developments in WhatsApp facilitate the exchange of images, videos, voice messages, and voice and video phone calls that connect people all around the world in the cheapest way.
The beginning of the social media revolution
New social media websites such as Instagram (2010), Snapchat (2011), Spotify, Ping, Foursquare and many others began to emerge. Instagram was one of the very few apps that gave a very tough competition to the Social Media giant Facebook. In the age of selfies, this platform became very popular among GenY and has grown users over time. The new concept of disappearing messages, videos and photos in Snapchat was liked by users and this distinguished it from the rest. The selfie craze was at this peak in 2013 which contributed greatly to the growth of the new social media platforms. 2015 saw the introduction of filters from dog and puppy filters to shades and thus posting images on social media became more creative. 2017 welcomed the introduction of TikTok – a video sharing platform where users can edit their videos and share them.
Advancements in Social Media
The next generation of social media platforms will be based on Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. Google’s Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri techniques may be used in the development of new social media.
Why is social media so popular?
Human beings are social creatures; we thrive on, and need, social interactions to maintain a healthy life and mind. Social media taps into these primal needs of human beings and it should come as no surprise that social media sites and social media apps are so popular today.
Social media sites/apps offer users some valuable opportunities. They provide a platform to meet new people and make friends often cross international borders and allow users to join groups of others who share their passions and interests. Specialized forums or platforms provide a large network to potentially find a new job. Other networks like Twitter have become a valuable way to get fast and real-time news on a situation. Often this information can be seen ‘raw’ without any traditional media bias or opinion mixed in.
Savvy entrepreneurs quickly jumped on the wagon to promote themselves and products eventually evolving into the mass social media marketing industry we are all familiar with today. Businesses and private individuals have seen the importance and reach social media has. Some have even managed to use it to make a pretty decent living.
Buying on social media platforms is another trend to watch is the ability to sell directly from social media platforms. These are now available on Pinterest and Instagram, with Facebook and other sites experimenting with this technology. Although still in the early stages, it’s the logical next step, making it possible to sell to consumers on social media sites without the intermediary step of sending them to a website.
What will social media look like in the future?
In the last ten years, social media has exploded. This is partly due to the increase in popularity of mobile devices. People carry their smartphones and tablets everywhere, and can easily access their social media accounts this way. In other words, more and more people are logging into social media sites constantly during waking hours.
- More privacy and security
In the current climate of social media, it’s more important than ever for brands to find and implement methods of building consumer trust. This begins with how they connect with audiences. Privacy concerns are on the rise as social media users are becoming much more aware of how their data is being used. Because of this, the future of social media will see an increase in users opting for what’s known as “Dark Social”. This involves any online social interaction that happens privately, for example, messaging apps, email, and other outlets for private sharing. 84% of consumers’ outbound sharing from websites now occurs via private, Dark Social channels such as these, and we will expect to see this increase in the next few years.
- Less personal contact but more memes
Facebook claims that they recorded a 21% drop in original, personal updates in 2016 as users are now communicating in shared articles and memes alone. Social media users, in general, are sharing less personal information on major networks and prefer to showcase external content such as an interesting video or a funny meme they came across to their friends.
- Less typing
With the ever-increasing popularity of voice and image search as well as audio snippet messages, social media could see the act of typing become obsolete in the future.