It Wasn’t That Long Ago – By John Young
I received an email from a reputable online training source talking about an upcoming training program they are offering. In this email, the training company was hyping the presenter who has “12 years of social media marketing experience!”
This got me to thinking. In some ways, it seems that social media has been with us for a very long time, yet it wasn’t that long ago we weren’t connected virtually at all. I am constantly amazed at how quickly these social media platforms have become such a critical part of our businesses and daily lives.
So, today I wanted to take you back a bit to the beginning times of the internet and some popular social media platforms.
For many of us, social media and online chatting started with AOL. AOL for our local area was one of the first places you could dial in and connect for an inexpensive fee, except for the long-distance charge of course! The AOL world started on May 24, 1985, and was popular in the 90s before the local services started to come into their own.
While not social media methods, the timing of these two is of interest. Yahoo was the first real online search engine that received extensive usage as the internet started to become of age. Yahoo was founded in January of 1994 and was one of the early pioneers of the internet era.
On a side note, eBay was founded in September of 1995.
Yahoo was followed by Google in the search engine arena with their launch in September of 1998. Google took the best ideas from the Yahoo search engine and added many new aspects to take over the search engine world. One method of growth they used was connecting as the default search engine for some popular web browsers. People began googling without even knowing it!
The instant chat wasn’t the thing it is today, but early on, there was something called ICQ. ICQ had the quaint little ‘Oh Oh’ as a notification sound for the computer-based instant messaging system. ICQ was started in 1996 by the Israeli company Mirabilis.
The online payment method PayPal launched in December of 1998.
The first real main stream social media platform was Myspace. Myspace was founded in 2003 (14 years ago) and was the first to feature personal profiles and easy to set up pages as your blog. It became a big sharing platform for musicians and artists (which is still in use and by gosh, I still have a page there!)
The biggest one is Facebook. Facebook started in February of 2004 on the Harvard campus. It initially was a ‘hot or not’ website called Facemash which was to vote for which college gals and guys were, well, hot or not in fall of 2003. In time, it evolved into a collage sharing platform at Harvard, then to other colleges in the area, before finally going off campus for the first time in September of 2006. Note: 2006 was 11 years ago.
The next major platform to launch was Youtube. Youtube was started by some former PayPal employees in February of 2005. It was sold to Google in November of 2006 for 1.65 billion dollars.
The cute little blue bird of Twitter started to make an appearance in March of 2006. Initially, Twitter seemed like it would be a real competitor for Facebook over the years, but it didn’t become the profit machine needed to play in that world and has become a method to follow celebrities and connect to businesses.
Two former employees of Yahoo started something called WhatsApp in January of 2009. WhatsApp was similar to Snapchat and the new Facebook and Instagram Stories feature. It was purchased by Facebook in February of 2014 for 19.3 billion dollars and has over one billion users, most of which are outside the US.
Instagram was started in October of 2010 and featured more of a photo and video sharing platform where you could apply filters to change the look of your images. Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for one billion in cash and stock.
The very popular photo sharing platform Pinterest started in March of 2010. This social media channel is mainly a photo bulletin board and is heavily used by female users. No, it hasn’t been purchased by Facebook yet.
And finally, the last commonly used social media platform SnapChat started in September of 2011. The early attraction for SnapChat was the ability to take silly photos, apply filters, and send to friends who could see them for a very limited time before they were gone forever. This lead to a rash of inappropriate photos being shared and screen shots saved by their friends and causing many issues for the initial photo sharer. Facebook did make an attempt to buy SnapChat, but their offer was declined, and Facebook has since started implementing many SnapChat features into their Messenger platform.
So, as I went through this list, it seems the ‘social media expert’ from the beginning of the article must be an expert in AOL and Myspace. Those seem to be the only social media platforms available 12 years ago!
I am looking forward to learning more about ‘You’ve Got Mail’ and reliving those good times!
John Young is the founder of Small Town Business Do It Yourself (DIY). You can send questions on social media and website design to John at [email protected]