Where Was Social Media 5 Years Ago?

This week’s blog comes from Guest Blogger, Silvio Macchia. Silvio takes a look at what social media looked like five years ago and discusses what it may look like in another five years. Remember when being social meant leaving your house and interacting with actual human beings? The term “social” has greatly changed in the past five years with the explosion of social media. Using the internet as a place of interaction among people has arguably been around since the late 1970’s with the creation of the Usenet system where users posted articles to newsgroups. Fast forward 30 years and it’s almost impossible to find someone who isn’t connected and addicted to updating their lives via social media.

Let’s go back in time and see what social media was like 5 years ago… In 2005 Tom was the man and Myspace was quickly gaining on Friendster in the race for the most users. People were obsessed with customizing their pages and started fights over who was in your "Top 8". Myspacers were decorating their pages with embedded pictures from Imageshack and sharing their favorite videos from the then new YouTube. YouTube introduced the nation to viral videos and helped everyone find their inner filmmaker. People were sharing their favorite music videos, uploading clips of William Hung’s rendition of “She Bangs,”  and revealing embarrassing moments to the world. It was only a matter of days before the whole country was talking about that kid who perfectly lip synced the Numa Numa song.

The population on Myspace and YouTube became so large, 100 million users and 100 million videos in 2006 respectively, that businesses started taking advantage. Bands used it as an outlet to broadcast their new music and post tour dates, and film companies uploaded movie posters and created pages dedicated to promoting their upcoming film. By 2006, Myspace was the biggest social media site in the world and seemed unstoppable. That is, until word started spreading about this new website that originally started within the Harvard University network. It was for college students only and was much cleaner and easier to use than Myspace. It would eventually revolutionize the way people communicate and change social media forever.

TheFacebook was created in 2004 in Mark Zuckerberg’s college dorm room. Membership was restricted to Harvard University students only but its rapid growth within the campus led to a nationwide release. Students across the country, and eventually people all over the world, were connecting with old classmates and tagging each other in pictures from last night’s party. Facebook introduced the newsfeed which invited people to answer the question “What’s on your mind?” It transformed into a constant stream of consciousness where people voiced their opinions by leaving comments and decided if they “liked” it or not. In 2005, 85% of college students were members of Facebook. As of July 2010, almost 8% of the entire world connects with friends, families, and colleagues using Facebook and this mind boggling growth does not seem to be halting anytime soon.

The growth of social media in the past 5 years has been astronomical. We’ve gone from updating our friends on Xanga and Livejournal to now tweeting it in less than 140 characters. Instead of calling up your friends to tell them where to meet you, now we just have to check in on Facebook Places or Foursquare. Social Media has come a long way and continues to evolve, but one thing is for certain, it is in no way a fad and it is undoubtedly here to stay!

Where do you think social media will be in the NEXT 5 years? What were your favorite social networking sites from 5 years ago? Share your thoughts in the comments!