by Brittany McSorley
Our Cape Cod social media marketing work involves all the major platforms. In addition to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (considered by many to be social media’s big three), there’s LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google My Business, and more. No matter who you’re trying to reach with your marketing content, there’s a platform out there that will help you do it. But with so many players on the social media scene these days, it’s easy to forget about the greats that came before them: our social media ancestors, to whom we owe the interconnected digital world we live in today. We thought we’d take a moment to reflect on the past and remember a few of our social media forefathers.
MySpace actually still exists, but the form it took in its heyday is long gone. Launched in August 2003, MySpace basically ushered in the social media era. Between 2005 and 2008, it was the world’s largest social networking site. It gave users customizable online profiles where they could list their interests, embed YouTube videos, and most importantly, rank their friends by choosing a “Top 8” list of other profiles that would be displayed for all to see. It was a cutthroat affair.
MySpace was, of course, a huge influence on Facebook, as well as many other platforms. In 2006, it was the most visited website in the world, but it lost relevance over the years as more platforms gained popularity. Today, MySpace is largely focused on music, and its founder, Tom Anderson, has an estimated net worth of around $60 million. All’s well that ends well.
Vine is a much more recent social media platform. It was launched in the iOS App Store in 2013, but met its end in late 2016. Though Vine didn’t live very long, it really made those three years count. The video hosting platform, which was purchased by Twitter even before it officially launched, allowed users to upload six-second videos, and the idea caught on like wildfire. Vine made several amateur video-takers into huge stars, racking up more than 200 million active users, and at its peak in 2013, it was the App Store’s most downloaded app.
Vine influenced TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram… essentially any platform that incorporates video. But it had trouble adapting as more platforms made their debuts, and Twitter’s own struggles contributed to Vine’s eventual shutdown. People miss it. A lot.
AOL Instant Messenger
Guess when AOL Instant Messenger officially shut down? Guess. You’ll never guess. December 15th, 2017. AIM lived for twenty years! Debuting in 1997, the first big messaging platform made a splash with the Buddy List, group messaging capabilities, and the absolutely life-changing concept of away messages. Plus, the emoticon selection was nothing short of perfect.
Along with its contemporary, MSN Messenger, AIM influenced Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and iMessage, to name just a few. And it lasted twenty years! Truly impressive. RIP to a legend.
Speaking of long lifespans, LiveJournal is still around, sort of, and it was launched in 1999. This blogging site provided countless moody teens with an online diary, complete with an easily customizable format, and everyone suddenly found they had something to say. Each journal entry had its own webpage, and a friends lists component made LiveJournal more social than other blogging sites at the time. In its prime, the platform had more than 10 million accounts… all with so many feelings.
LiveJournal had a huge influence on Tumblr, WordPress, and all the other streamlined, sleek-looking blogging spaces on today’s internet. You can still sign up for a LiveJournal account, but as of April 4, 2017, control of the platform was transferred to a Russian legal entity named SUP Media LLC. I don’t know, man. I just don’t know.
There are plenty of other social media ancestors we should remember fondly, but these four truly built the modern online landscape. Thanks to them, we can post and blog and film and chat to our hearts’ content… all while wondering which social platform will falter next.