My Introduction to Social Media
As a person who has been on social media since I made an AOL Instant Messenger in 2002 when I was in 1st grade, my age group is really the first generation of people to have been on social media since they have been able to read or write. I felt that for my first blog post I wanted to highlight what I believe to be some of the most critical advances in social media throughout my own lifetime in hopes of getting a better understanding of why these things happened the way they did by the end of this class.
AOL Instant Messenger
For those that are reading this and have no idea what AOL Instant Messenger is, I’ll elaborate. You signed into your account on your computer, you could see who was online out of your friend group, you could type messages to those people, and you could set up an “Away message” stating why you were away from your computer. It was a really simple concept but from what I can remember in my lifetime, it was the first social media to really captivate the youth which has proven to be the best way to gain popularity for a form of social media. However, once cell phones became more common, texting quickly replaced AIM.
A few years later, MySpace began gaining a lot of popularity. It was really the first big-name social media site where users could create and customize their own profiles, upload pictures of themselves, comment on other users’ pictures, follow their favorite celebrities, and many other features. This site was really revolutionary and influential on the present day state of social media because up until this point, there hadn’t really been a standard site where you could create your own profile for other people to look at with minimal knowledge of computers. It was essentially the bare bones of what Facebook is now.
Here’s a photo of Tom’s (MySpace Founder) profile, the first profile to ever be on the site.
A few years after this, Facebook finally came around. People quickly discarded Myspace and moved over to Facebook. It was initially just for college students, you needed to be a college student to make an account, then they allowed high school students, and after a little while it was just available to the general public as a whole. It was originally just a niche site with primarily only young adults as users but obviously has expanded since then
June 29, 2007. People didn’t know it at the time but this day was arguably the most influential day in the history of mankind. This is the day the first ever iPhone was released to the public by Apple. Up until this point, the internet was not something that was portable. iPhone users now had access to all of their social media accounts at any given time and the device quickly conquered the world.
Here’s a picture of Steve Jobs unveiling the first ever iPhone.
The Growth of Facebook and Social Media as A Whole
Around 2010 was when twitter started to gain notoriety, a lot of the younger social media users quickly discarded Facebook and began using this as their primary social media outlet. While most people would think that Facebook would be worried about getting all these users back, they weren’t. I have a cousin who has worked for Facebook for about 8 years now, he recalls that during this time period the company was more focused on how rapidly they were gaining users from all different ages as well as how rapidly they were expanding internationally, particularly to all of the undeveloped countries that were just beginning to have access to the internet. As time went on, the age group of their users continued to broaden into what it is today. According to a study done in 2015, only 2% of the 65+ age group was on social media in 2005, it grew to 11% in 2010, and 35% by 2015. Facebook is now the most used social media platform in the world.
In July of 2011, Snapchat (formerly know as Pictaboo) was launched but by the end of the summer it only had 127 users. It was another simple concept for an app, you send a picture to your friend and after 10 seconds or less, the picture would disappear. During the following Fall, Snapchat began picking up speed, once again the pioneering demographic of users being teenagers. By April of 2012, the app had over 100,000 users. It was a free app and to accommodate the necessities to keep this app operating properly, they had to begin taking capital from outside investors. In December of 2012, the app added the feature to send videos as well. October of 2013 was when Snapchat added snap stories, a feature that would allow users to post pictures and videos for their friends to see as many times as they would like for up to 24 hours. This would become one of their most important features of the app in time. A month later, Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook founder and CEO) offered Evan Spiegel (Snapchat Founder and CEO) $3 billion for the app, the offer was declined. Amongst all of the upgrades, the “Discover” feature launched in January of 2015 was arguably the most important of them all because up until this point the only source of income was selling equity to investors. This feature was the first step towards what is now Snapchat’s primary source of revenue: advertisements. Snapchat is estimated to generate $366 million in advertisement revenue in 2016 and $935 million in 2017.
These companies that I’ve mentioned in this blog post are the titans of social media and communication in 2016. The world has never been more connected than it is right now. I don’t know what’s going to be the next big advancement in communications or social media but I know enough to understand that these companies have changed the world immensely just in my own short lifetime. I know enough to know that it’s critical to understand how this new market works because it’s going to continue to expand and I look forward to getting a better understanding of this in the following 12 weeks.