Social media, a “historical” perspective

Just to give you some perspective on what I’ve seen.

When I started in the online marketing biz 5 years ago, Friendster was all the rage. Lots of people were finding old friends and I even reconnected with one of my oldest friends. We’re still close today. Absolutely everyone was on Friendster. Still, no one talked about it as an online marketing media. Well, at least not to me. Pay Per Click was the big talk back then and SEO wasn’t really all that popular yet.
I think I got my linked-in account around this time. I also got accounts on inwyk.com (It’s Not What You Know) and orkut.com (google’s Friendster).

Then came MySpace. For a while there, Myspace was getting a million signups every Monday (that fact is from late 05 or early 06) and a few million more throughout the rest of the week. Myspace was the hot thing. These days, I hear a lot less about Myspace. Still, they have millions and millions of users and the music industry loves myspace. I think that myspace grew, in part, because you could customize the page extensively. Also, it offered free photo sharing at a time when other sites where charging or limiting your storage. At least, they were the first popular site providing this for free!

Social bookmarking sites…I think I learned about those next. Digg, Reddit, etc. I remember them really starting to have a measurable impact in 06. I knew they were around before that, but they hadn’t gained critical mass yet. These days there are hundreds of social bookmarking sites.

Along came Facebook. Facebook was moderately popular. Then they started letting folks write their own applications and opened the system to anyone, not just folks with a .edu email address. That’s when it exploded, they turned down a $1.6 B offer from Yahoo and that was a good decision since the site’s worth a whole lot more than that now, just a few years later. Still, I think the Facebook hype is calming down now. The users are very active, but it’s been around for a while and what’s hot is elsewhere.

All the while, Linked-In was around. Sometime in 07-08 they really kicked into gear. They now have over 30 million users and they’re making money. Since Linked-In is known as a professional networking website, rather than just social networking, they charge a LOT to post a job. As much as monster. So, they’re making money in a way that the other sites aren’t.

Twitter is all the rage as I type this. I heard a 70 year old guy talking about twitter a couple of months ago. He was a millionaire and he was eying twitter as the next big thing. I’ve yet to see real value from Twitter in my life. I’m a pretty connected guy and I’m still waiting to see the benefit. Rebecca, on the other had, thinks twitter is the best thing since sliced bread and has come up with a list of business benefits. Check out what she had to say about Twitter.

What’s next? Let us know what you think?

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