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How social media born and changed the world

We have been with social media for a few years and sometimes it is surprising that there are people who still think that social networks are to meet people when it is obvious that today it is no longer so. A social network is a website where people connect with friends, those they meet in real life and those they know online.

Social media is a hot topic for marketers, as it presents several opportunities to engage with customers, including through apps, groups, and fan pages. Each social network presents its own possibilities and challenges. This article talks about how they came about.

The birth of social networks

The roots of online social media can be traced back to the bulletin board systems or BBS  (see Fig. 1) of the 1980s. These systems allowed users to log in, over very slow connections, to share software and data, as well as send private messages and post to public message boards. Due to the high cost of long-distance calls that would be needed to access BBS in other parts of the world, most of these systems were for local communities.

redes sociales social networks
Figura 1. Bulletin Board System o BBS

In the late ’80s and early ’90s desktop applications like CompuServe,  Prodigy,  and  AOLemerged. These applications had more functions than BBS, since these systems allowed users to connect to the Internet and create personal profiles, publish events, chat, and send public and private messages.

As the World Wide Web grew in popularity, social media moved to web-based applications. The first wave of social apps was built for specific functions or audiences. In 1995, Classmates.com and Match.com were created. Both are still quite popular sites in their niche. In 1999, more targeted networks were launched, such as BlackPlanet.com, MiGente.com and AsianAvenue.com.

redes sociales social networks
Figura 2. Portada de migente.com en 1999, fuente archive.org

The coming of age of social networks

The modern era of social media began in 2002, when Jonathan Abrams launched Friendster. Inspired by Match.com, Abrams wanted Friendster to be like a dating site, but not. In what many consider one of the biggest financial blurs in recent history, Friendster turned down a $30 million purchase offer from search giant  Google.

In 2003, several employees of a marketing company duplicated Friendster’s core functionality and launched MySpace. Initially driven by the large mailing list that the mareting list had,  MySpace  quickly became a leader among social media sites. Thanks to being able to create a customizable user and its focus on music,  MySpace  had a cooler image than its rival Friendster. In July 2005, News Corporation bought MySpace and its parent company for $580 million.

The arrival of Facebook

In October 2003, a Harvard sophomore named Mark Zuckerberg hacked into the university’s private dorm ID database and created Facemash, a site that allowed students to compare two ID photos to select the most attractive one.

Narrowly avoiding legal action against his project, Zuckerberg went on to create “The Facebook,” a social network that began as an exclusive site for Harvard students. Slowly, the site allowed other universities to join and finally, in 2006, anyone with an email address could sign up. In 2008 Facebook overtook the former king, MySpace, as the world’s most popular social network.

Parts of a social media

Pages that are social networks vary greatly depending on their sets of functions and reasons for being, but there are some common elements in most of them. They usually have these common elements:

Profiles

The heart of a social network is always the user pages, known as profiles. That’s where a person defines what it is for others to see their profile. The profile page may include information about the user including employment information, educational history, marital status, contact information, and interests and hobbies.

In addition, photos and profiles of friends can be linked, and allow visitors to communicate with that profile, often through public and private messages. Profiles can be of real people, but also organizations can create their profile to make themselves known.

Connections

The most important action of a social network is the act of two people connecting. Social media was conceived to emphasize the strong connections between people you meet in real life, but also people you meet online. Some users follow this maxim to the letter and will only accept connection requests from people they know well. Other users will connect with anyone.

In any case, if you are sending a connection request to someone and it is not obvious how they are known, a short introductory sentence or two should be included along with their request explaining why they should be friends.

Employment

Some social networks have a utility to find work. Linkedin is the reason for its existence, but for example Facebook also has the option to contact people who offer or give work.

Games

All social networks usually have an area where their users play. The Facebook API was very important for the company to grow since you could play many games and you could also compete with your friends.

References

  • https://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/15/business/yourmoney/15friend.html?_r=4
  • https://web.archive.org/web/20000611125451/http://migente.com/
  • https://blackplanet.com/
  • https://facebook.com/
  • https://linkedin.com/

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