If you were born post-1998 then social media has been around your whole life. The chances are we’ve all had a social media account with a company that doesn’t exist anymore. But what happened to these pages? Why did we stop? Facebook seems like it’s been around forever while it continues to grow stronger. I will be looking into the evolution of social media and find out what happened to our old friends.
Six Degrees 1997
I was only 5 when this social media launched so I can’t say I had an account but the first ever social media site needs a shout. It included many features which we see in social media today, allowing users to friend others, add connections and post bulletins on pages. The model was based on the 6 degrees of separation theory, which is that anyone or anything is 6 or fewer steps away. Users can connect to friends, or friends of friends on this site, but they had to know them to be connected. The model isn’t used today as social networks use a social circle model where users can connect to anyone, all you have to do is search. The sites downfall was mainly down to the model they used, as once one friend leaves the site, so might the next and so on, resulting in a large knock on effect, a reverse of how it grew. Another reason is timing, not everyone had internet then and if they did it was expensive and annoying dial-up, meaning their growth was limited.
I think it’s safe to say we’ve all heard of this site, or had an account at some point. The site allowed users to embed youtube videos, post on a bulletin board, add music and much, much more. The site was always regarded to be not that user-friendly, with the layout being quite messy and uninteresting. When a sexier, more user-friendly website came along (can you guess who) a large number of users left Myspace to join this new fresh site. Even though the company is still going today, it learned its lesson too late. Plus who actually liked Tom?
Around the same time as Myspace, there was Bebo. At its’s peak the site registered 10.7 million users, with young teens being it’s biggest market. Its main features were the video stream on your page, being able to design your page (skin), adding photos to your album, becoming a “fan” of a band/artist and creating a quiz for friends to get involved with. Its pages were more user-friendly than Myspace which helped it’s popularity. But where did it all go wrong for this once popular site? AOL bought the company for a massive $850 million dollars during its peak (not bad), the BBC later described the AOL purchase of Bebo as “one of the worst deals ever made in the dotcom era.” Since the buyout the lack of funding from AOL meant the site couldn’t compete with the newest, fastest growing social media sites, leaving the company to slowly decline until it eventually went bankrupt. The company is now a messaging app, but who’s heard of that?
The company who quashed Myspace, Bebo and other sites is here today and will be here for years to come. But why? It’s now sheer size is the main factor, with a worth of $245 billion it’s hard to see it going anywhere. The company has been around since 2004 and by continuing to evolve and keep up to date with customers needs has kept the page interesting. The main difference with Facebook’s former competitor Myspace is that Facebook made it easier to find friends, encouraging users to use real names so we can grow our friend list. Why do we use social websites? To see what other people are doing, with few friends on our wall our page becomes boring and uninteresting, meaning we won’t come back. This is why Facebook focuses on us to add more friends, growing our social circle so we keep coming back. Also, Facebook pages help connect thousands and sometimes millions of people together with similar interests, keeping us all updated with the newest information, giving us another reason to visit the site.
Obviously, there’re much more social media sites, with unique USPS which have changed social media. This is just a shortish timeline on the original to the present, taking a trip down memory lane.
Look out for the social media of the future blog….