Social networking is an integral part of modern life; it’s common practice to check Facebook when we wake up, tweet our plans for the day and Instagram our outfits all before we leave the house. With this in mind, it’s hard to imagine that the first networking site only started fourteen years ago. So how did we get from occasional blogging to updating the world on our every move? This is what my blog seeks to explore.
The year is 1999, Ricky Martin is currently number one with Living La Vida Loca, there are talks of a single currency being ntroduced in mainland Europe and the world is about to embark on a new technological era. Social networking started life with LiveJournal, launched as a place to store and share an online journal; blogging was the rudimentary wave of Social networking. In the same year Friends Reunited, remembered as the first real social networking site, launched to help locate past school, university and work friends. The wheels were then in motion for the social networking revolution
By 2004 MySpace and Friendster were battling it out for the most popular social networking sites, MySpace surpassed Friendster, but nobody anticipated the impact of a website created as a form of Yearbook at Harvard University, the little known Facebook. In 2006 MySpace was the most popular American social networking website, thought Facebook, which had just widened the membership to everyone over 13 was quickly gaining more monthly views. In 2006 the micro blogging site Twitter was launched, the premise of the site was interacting with succinct statuses (or tweets) in 140 characters or less. In 2007 Facebook was expanding so much that Microsoft had bought a stake in it. This allowed them to launch Facebook Platform meaning third party developers could create applications (apps). It also launched Beacon Advertising systems, it was targeted by protesters as it allowed advertisers to access users purchasing data to personalise marketing campaigns. In the same year Apple launched the first ever Smartphone, the iPhone.
By 2009 Facebook had become the most popular social networking site with double the amount of users as MySpace. However citizen journalism was about to explode via twitter with the breaking of a plane crash on the Hudson River before American news teams, starting with a single tweet from a ferry passenger. It is estimate that a quarter of the worlds population are internet users. As we entered a new decade, social networking had become the third most popular news source with users looking for unique takes and opinions on the latest news stories. In 2011 the Internet had become part of everyday life with 550 million people on Facebook, 65 million tweets sent through Twitter each day, and 2 billion video views every day on YouTube. LinkedIn has 90 million professional users, expanded by the popularity of Smartphones. However with us sharing so much online was our privacy at risk?
And back up to today; around 2 billion people use the Internet on everything from computers to game consoles, however by 2015 it is estimated that this will have doubled. The top ten social networks are Facebook, Blogger, Twitter, WordPress, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, MySpace and Wikia. To prove how much social media is accepted it is reported that almost a third of young adults 18-24 use social media in the bathroom.
So who is the core demographic of social networking sites? The following was found from the Pingdom US Demographics study
Although social networking is often seen as the playground of the young, the average user of a social networking site is between 25 and 44 years old. This is because although the age range for users of the social networking giants such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn maybe large, that of smaller, much newer, or more niche communities such as DeviantART and Reddit is quite narrow, with the average user being 35 years old. LinkedIn, with its focus more on the business networking side rather than general social networking unsurprisingly has the highest average age, that of 44.
Since the last study the average age of Facebook users has gone up 2 years whilst that of Twiter users have come down 2 years, thus indicating that either the latter is attracting more of a younger user group or that the users had simply aged 2 years in the normal course of time and the study simply has not taken that into account. It has also been seen that whilse technology based sites appeal to men, women are more drawn towards more creative and sharing sites such as Pinterest. Although that may be the case, statistics prove that Twitter and Facebook happen to have the ratio of male to female users with women taking the lead on both sites.
The one thing that can be ascertained from this research is that Social Networking is definitely here to stay and can only get bigger.
‘The Brief History of Social Media’, UNCP. [Available at: http://www.uncp.edu/home/acurtis/NewMedia/SocialMedia/SocialMediaHistory.html] (Date Accessed January 2013).
‘Report: Social network demographics in 2012’, Pingdom.com [Available at:
http://royal.pingdom.com/2012/08/21/report-social-network-demographics-in-2012/] (Date Accessed February 2013).
‘Social media statistics 2012[Infographic]’ The Wall. [Available at: http://wallblog.co.uk/2012/11/05/social-media-statistics-2012-from-facebook-and-twitter-to-instagram-and-pinterest-infographic/ (Date Accessed February 2013).
‘Social Media Statistics and Facts 2012 [Infographic]’ Go Globe [Available at: http://www.go-globe.com/blog/social-media-facts/] (Date Accessed: March 2013).