Friday, July 23, 2010

Collective Conversation Feed: Social Media in the Past Five Years

Facebook reached a milestone 500 million users this week. Both YouTube and Mashable turned 5 this year and FourSquare announced they’ve had 100 million checkins. It’s clear that social media is growing rapidly, and it is even more impressive how this new phenomenon has changed the way we communicate with our friends, family, and colleagues. To honor their five-year anniversary, Mashable posted a very interesting reflection on the past five years in social media. Check out “A Look Back at the Last 5 Years in Social Media” as well as my insights into social media trends below.

Facebook is still relatively young, and it’s hard to determine whether or not it will have this level of success and popularity years from now. I believe there are a variety of reasons why Facebook has a emerged as a leader in the social media world. Mashable attributes much of the success of Facebook with the introduction of the Newsfeed. While the introduction of the Newsfeed may have increased Facebook’s popularity, I think establishing themselves first with a college audience helped to start a word-of-mouth campaign about Facebook’s capabilities. It would not have been able to do this successfully without the exclusivity Facebook had in the beginning, as a network only college students could join. Another factor that helped was simply good timing. MySpace was the only similar forum at the time, which introduced the public to the idea of social media. Facebook was positioned as a different medium exposed to a controlled audience and had easier tools to navigate others’ pages. Additionally, the timing of the emergence of other social media outlets was perfect for establishing Facebook as a leader.

In July 2006, YouTube was at 100 million video views a day. Today, 100 million YouTube videos are viewed on smartphones. Mashable’s article notes the social media trend that YouTube really exemplifies, how anyone with an internet connection can claim their “15 minutes” of fame. With the growth of reality TV and the rise of the celebrity, this was just the next way to make sure everyone has an opportunity in the spotlight. Facebook and Twitter serve some of the same function, and it is undeniable that this is part of what makes social media work.

Who would have predicted that social media tools that were used for recreational use would now be key tools for business professionals? What do you think are the most likely next steps in the social media world? Why do you think Facebook, YouTube and the rest of the social media universe have become such a large part of our everyday lives?

By Sara Hiller (Tech Intern) - Collective Conversation Feed


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