We are social animals at heart. As soon as the Internet was readily available to the masses, it was obvious that it would be used for us to try and make connections with other people. It is amazing after all that we can reach out and make friends in the digital world from all over the planet. It has broadened our collective horizons and given us the means to chat with people in Sydney or Seattle and have instant conversations at any time of the day. Social media platforms have taken this idea to the next level, and we see every generation get involved in the social media platform of the time. We all know how big Facebook is and the everyday crazes and trends on TikTok and Instagram that keep people entertained.
The early pioneers of social media
The very first social networking website was founded way back in 1997. SixDegrees.com had around 3.5million registered users at one point and it was an incredibly simple platform to use. Users had the functionality to send messages, share content and connect with other users via bulletin boards. Despite the simple functionality and the high number of users, it was shut down by 2001. Another early social networking site was Orkut. It was an idea by Google employee and Turkish software engineer Orkut Büyükkökten but again, it didn’t last too long, running from 2004 until 2014.
There has been a string of failed social media platforms throughout the years.
Launched in 2003 and with more than 2 million active users within a year, Friendster is known as the grandfather of social media. A Friendster member could send messages to their friends, upload photos and videos and leave comments on their friend’s posts. It was the first social media site that had a similar framework and functionality to what we are familiar with through Facebook and modern social platforms. Friendster lost popularity once MySpace, Facebook and Twitter had launched and gained users, and it relaunched in 2011 with a different slant, focusing on Asian countries and marketing as a social gaming platform. It suspended its services completely in 2015.
MySpace was the first big gun of the social media world. It was the most visited website in June 2006, with more visitors than even Google. Between 2005 and 2008 it was untouchable, building off the Friendster framework by offering profiles that could be personalised. You could add individual songs on your profile page to show off your taste, add photos, videos, write blog posts and more. The one thing old MySpace users miss the most is the list of ‘Top friends’ that was also pinned to your profile page. As soon as Facebook came on the scene and started to take users off MySpace in 2008 the end was in sight though, and it was eventually acquired by Specific Media Group and Justin Timberlake to try and turn it into a music-specific website. It steadily declined in popularity and influence though and could never catch up with the competition.
Back in 2011, Google+ was the search engine’s answer to Facebook, Twitter and every other social media platform rolled into one. It wanted to not only compete with these other popular companies, but it also wanted to dominate like it was used to doing in its own backyard. The thing is with Google, is that once you sign up to an account you have access to Gmail, Google Drive, Google Hangouts, and every other ‘free’ application that they have on offer, so Google+ was a way into social media through the backdoor, but this might have actually hindered them in becoming a realistic alternative for Facebook users. At the time, it felt like Google just wouldn’t allow it to fail, but it never took hold and quickly fell away.
Most of you might not even remember this social platform at all. iTunes Ping was very short-lived, launching in 2010 and closing down completely in just 2012. It was described as a cross between Facebook and Twitter, with a meeting in the middle with iTunes. Users could follow their favourite musicians, bands, as well as friends, share posts with each other and focus on music. It just wasn’t to be though, and it failed relatively quickly considering how successful Apple usually is with its projects.
Now, the team here at Candy is still partial to a night in front of YouTube watching compilations of classic Vine posts, so this one hurts us a lot. The concept behind Vine was for users to make and share short, six-second video clips that would be on a loop. It was the most downloaded free app on the iOS App Store in 2013 and was a huge success after it had been launched in 2012 and acquired by Twitter the same year. It was such a creative platform, the TikTok of its day, and some Vine stars ended up with commercial success, documentary series on Netflix and even landing some film and TV roles. In 2016, Twitter announced that you could no longer upload to Vine, but existing content could still be viewed.
The best social networks are those that could cope with the scalability required when they become successful, they can adapt with the times and have an original concept, rather than piggybacking on the ideas of another, already successful social platform. The best companies constantly evolve, look for innovation and new ways to draw in users.
The same can be said about digital marketing and making sure that a business is successful and has the space to grow effectively. At Candy, we work with a wide range of companies within many different sectors, and we know that the best way to survive and thrive is to keep pushing forward, keep looking for new ways to attract customers and be innovative in our web design and functionality. You can speak to Candy about what we do by calling 0161 826 0123 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.