As humans, it’s in our nature to communicate with people around us, so much so that we’ve always been searching for new ways to communicate.
From grunting and cave drawings to text messages and email, we’ve come a long way with our communication methods.
Then, in the late 90s, along came social media.
In just a few short years, social media has introduced new, fast ways of communicating with one another.
So, what are the different social media platforms, what do they do, and how can they be used to market your business?
What is Social Media?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines social media as forms of electronic communication through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos).
The success and evolution of social media is evident in the statistics. In 2005, research showed only 0.3 million social media users. Skip forward 18 years, in 2023, there are 4.89 billion social media users.
Rise of Social Media Platforms
In 1997, SixDegrees was one of the first social media sites to be established.
The premise of SixDegrees was based on the idea of the six degrees of connection. Users of this platform could list their contacts and invite nonmembers to join, with the ability to message first, second and third-degree connections.
However, the site was short-lived as it was bought out after a year for $125 million and shut down in 2000.
Less of a traditional social media platform we all know and love today, LiveJournal paved the way for the self-documenting side of social media.
LiveJournal was launched in 1999 by American programmer Brad Fitzpatrick as a way of keeping his high school friends updated on his activities.
Today, LiveJournal allows you to create a personal blog, journal or diary and share your thoughts, activities and other personal details with your friends and community. The posts have a comment section, encouraging engagement between friends and community members.
While LiveJournal isn’t as popular as it once was, it still has 15 million monthly users.
Friendster was launched in 2002 and was one of the sites most directly comparable to modern-day social media platforms.
Friendster supported photo and video sharing as well as traditional text and link posts. It was also used as a platform for people to discover new events and media. Users on the platform could search for each other and communicate directly or within larger networks.
This platform was so successful that it had over 100 million users at its peak. However, the flood of traffic took a toll on Friendster’s servers, impacting users who started looking to connect with friends elsewhere.
After failing to compete with social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, that launched a few years later, Friendster rebranded as a social gaming platform in 2011 and eventually shut down in 2018.
Launched in 2003, LinkedIn is a business networking tool that allows people to strengthen their network connections for better career opportunities.
LinkedIn allows its users to connect with people in various industries, message connections, showcase their work history, comment on posts and apply for jobs through the interactive job board.
Today, LinkedIn has over 900 million active users worldwide.
Myspace (originally MySpace) was the rival platform of Friendster and quickly became a popular site for millions of teenagers worldwide.
Myspace was originally a social media platform where users could create customisable profiles, highlight their top favourite friends, publish blogs, share photos, discover music, play games and more.
One of the most popular features on Myspace was the ability to embed music and YouTube videos into a user’s profile, a precursor for what Myspace would develop into.
In 2011, Specific Media Group and Justin Timberlake bought Myspace for $35 million.
Launched in 2004 by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook is the largest (and perhaps most well-known) social networking site globally, with over three billion monthly users, which equates to 37% of the global population.
Mark Zuckerberg initially launched Facebook (originally TheFacebook) as a social networking site available only to Harvard students and those with an American college address. However, due to its popularity (over one million users by the end of 2004), he made it available to everyone.
Facebook allows users to “friend” each other, share pictures and videos, comment and engage on each other's posts, message friends and create events. Business and community pages are also popular as they allow users to create small networks within the larger Facebook network.
When you think of video platforms, YouTube is usually the first to come to mind.
However, YouTube was initially created to be a video dating platform. Would it have become one of the most popular social media platforms if the creators had gone in their original direction? Probably not.
Today, YouTube is the go-to platform for video content. You can watch anything from music videos to movies and vlogs. However, YouTube’s comment section, live streams and “Community” features enable the engagement of traditional social media. Advertisements at the beginning, during and end of videos make it a popular revenue stream for individuals and businesses, with some of the most famous influencers originating on YouTube.
YouTube was launched in 2005 and bought by Google for $1.65 billion a year later.
Today, YouTube is the second-most visited website in the world after Google.
Launched in 2005, Reddit is an online forum platform where users can share content, discuss topics of interest and up-vote the most popular stories and comments.
Reddit is most popular for its up-vote and down-vote features, which dictate how visible a post is on the platform. Users can also create “subreddits” within the community and share videos, pictures, posts and links.
Reddit is also popular for being a “safer” community to voice opinions and topics than other social media platforms.
Today, Reddit has over 50 million daily users.
Twitter (X) 2006
Twitter, now known as X, was launched in 2006 with the idea for users to send short messages, “tweets”, of up to 140 characters to friends and acquaintances.
Elon Musk purchased the platform in 2022, changed the name to X, and replaced the legacy “blue check” verification system with a new paid subscriber system.
While anyone on X can share videos, links and images, the primary focus has always been text captions. Today, tweets can be up to 280 characters long.
X currently has over 350 million active monthly users.
Pinterest was launched in 2010 and is a site that lets users “pin” images from the internet and put them into different boards and themes.
Essentially, Pinterest is a digital version of a traditional pinboard where you can create different boards for different topics of interest. Pinterest also has a “re-pin” feature that allows users to re-pin other’s posts and follow each other’s boards.
Users can create and upload their own pins that include images or videos that can also link to other websites. They can also browse existing images that others have uploaded by searching in the search bar.
Pinterest has 465 million active monthly users.
Founded in 2010, Instagram is one of the most popular photo-sharing sites in the world.
While Instagram was originally the domain of photographers and artists, it quickly became a platform for everyone.
Facebook purchased Instagram in 2012. Since then, Instagram has focused on sharing photos and videos, “Reels”. Users can like, comment, save and share each post. Similar to Snapchat, Instagram also has a “Stories” feature, which allows its users to post temporary content that disappears after 24 hours.
Today, Instagram has over 1.35 billion active monthly users.
Snapchat was launched in 2011 as a short-form photo and video platform.
Snapchat allows users to send “Snaps”, which can be photos or videos with text, visual effects or drawings added.
Originally, Snaps only lasted 10 seconds and disappeared forever. However, today, they last much longer. While Snapchats do disappear after you’ve viewed them, you do have the ability to screenshot; however, it does notify the sender.
One of Snapchat’s latest features is an AI chatbot called My AI, which can respond to queries and is powered by ChatGPT.
Snapchat has over 750 million active monthly users.
Launched in 2016, TikTok is one of the newest and most popular social media platforms in the world.
Founded by Chinese tech company ByteDance and merged with U.S.-based mobile app Musical.ly, TikTok reached over 800 million users worldwide as early as 2020.
TikTok is a social media platform that appeals to teenagers and young adults due to its short-form video content and the ability to duet with other accounts on the platform.
Each video post allows users to like, comment, save and share (just like Instagram). TikTok is famous for its trends and dances, which allows users from all over the world to jump on the bandwagon and produce content showcasing their take on the trend or dance.
An AI algorithm also delivers suggested content to members’ “For You” page, leading to a highly curated viewing experience.
Today, TikTok has over 830 million users worldwide.
How to Use Social Media to Market Your Business
With more than half of the world on social media, people expect all businesses to have at least one social media profile. So, there is no better time to jump on social media and market your business.
Social media marketing involves using platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok to reach a wider audience, communicate with customers and drive sales.
Social media marketing includes
- Humanising your business by posting pictures, videos and stories that represent your brand
- Responding to comments and messages, monitoring your reputation
- Following and engaging with followers, customers and influencers to build a community around your brand
- Driving traffic to your website through links in your profile, posts and stories
Social media marketing also has a paid aspect, social media advertising, where you can utilise platforms such as Facebook Ads and Instagram Ads to have your brand appear in front of large volumes of targeted users.
Social Media Marketing Services at Anchor
If you have a business and want to do well on social media but don’t know where to start, look no further than Anchor Digital.
At Anchor, our social media marketing services will take care of everything, from posting on your social media platforms to organising and running paid campaigns.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can utilise social media to drive traffic, build brand awareness and increase your revenue, contact the team today.