Social networking through digital media has been evolved drastically in a single generation period. From Orkut to Instagram the evolution of social networking sites diverse its features and the way it engages users.
Communication + Media + Instant Messaging + Entertainment + Engagement
As a medium of the internet social networking sites, not just a mere communication or messaging tool, it’s always a step ahead for people of different age groups. Let’s walk through the evolution.
Social Networking as Communication Tool
The world’s first electronic communication happened two centuries earlier on May 24, 1844, when Samuel F.B. Morse, sent a message from Washington to Baltimore. The message is full of dots and dashes and it is called Morse code.
As per the Unknown History of Social Networking Sites the first digital message was sent in the year 1971 between two adjacent computers.
The Bulletin Board System (BBS) was introduced in 1978 as an official social networking communication tool to inform friends about meetings, make announcements, and share information.
Friendster, MySpace and Orkut Era
Though social networking sites like classmates.com, Ryze was invented in the late ’90s and it failed to get a worldwide userbase.
In 2002, Friendster, the first modern social networking site was invented. It also acted like a dating site too and gained popularity in a short span.
In 2003, MySpace was invented and it becomes the No 1 social networking site in 2006. It has a huge user base during the period 2005 to 2008. It influences people on technology, pop culture and music.
In 2004, Orkut was introduced, though it failed to cover up the user base like MySpace and Friendster, it has the higher user engagement worldwide especially from Brazil and India.
Facebook and Twitter Era
In 2004, Facebook was launched and in 2006 it opened for everyone around the world. Facebook created a revolution in the social networking domain and in 2007 Facebook gained No 1 position with large number of user base worldwide.
In 2006, Twiter was launched as a micro-blogging platform, it was so popular for it’s 140 character limit messages and it is used by country leaders, popular personalities.
1n 2021, Facebook and Twitter both are in the top list with legal and privacy issues.
Instagram and Snapchat Era: Era of new Millenials
In the era of millennials, the way of social network took it’s turn. As the usage of smartphones increases, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter also integrated app-based services.
In 2012, Instagram, a photo-sharing social networking app was released. In the same year, Facebook acquired Instagram and now it has the world’s largest userbase.
In 2011, Snapchat was launched as a mobile app that sends disappearing messages and photos. It gained popularity among young smartphone users.
In 2017, TikTok was launched worldwide as a mobile app. This app allows users to share videos with various filter and dubbing options. In 2018 it was the most downloaded app in the world.
Following the footsteps of TikTok, Instagram and Youtube integrated their app with video features.
How Big Companies Failed in Social Networking Venture
Google has a big history with social network ventures. Google offered $30 million to buy out Friendster in 2003, but the offer was turned down. Google then internally commissioned Orkut Büyükkökten, a Turkish software engineer, to work on a competing independent project. The result was Orkut. The product launched on January 24, 2004. In 2014, exactly after 10 years, Google closed the operations of Orkut.
Google Buzz was a social networking, microblogging and messaging tool that was developed by Google in 2010. In 2011 Google shut down Buzz in order to focus on Google+.
Google Plus was launched in 2011 by Google as their next social network venture, but it couldn’t able to overtake Facebook and Twitter. Due to lesser user engagements, they shut down their operations in 2019.
Google tried to acquire Facebook and Twitter in its early days. In 2019 Google announced about its plans to launch a new Social Networking app called “SHOELACE”
So.cl (pronounced “social”) was a social network service and social search engine launched in 2011 and operated by Microsoft FUSE Labs. So.cl appeared similar to Google+ and borrows concepts from Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. While it was in beta stage Microsoft closed the operation in 2017.
Yammer is a social networking platform designed for communication and collaboration within organizations. Originally launched in 2008 and purchased by Microsoft in 2012, Yammer is now a part of the Microsoft 365 enterprise suite.
LinkedIn was a professional networking platform founded in 2002. In 2011 it went public and evolved as the best professional networking platform to date. In 2016 Microsoft acquired LinkedIn $26.2-billion.
In the current pandemic situation, social media has evolved from direct electronic information exchange to virtual gathering place, to retail platform, to vital 21st-century marketing tool. The quest for social networking never ends, we are yet to see featured ideas of social networking platforms in the future to bring people together.
“Technology is best when it brings people together.” — Matt Mullenweg, Social Media Entrepreneur