The History of Social Media
Social communities now play an important role in the lives of many people. It is easier than ever to connect with others online to share information, engage in discussions, and follow updates on relevant news and topics of interest. We have come a long way from where we started, and it is exciting to consider how these communities will continue to evolve as we move towards the future.
The Beginnings (1980s) of Social Communities
In essence, the beginnings of social communities started in the 1980s. At this point, people were connecting one computer to another with a modem over a telephone line. Eventually, the server was introduced to connect multiple people at a time.
Social Networks Take Shape (1990s)
Following the introduction of servers, bulletin boards became popular. Bulletin board systems allowed users to dial in and connect using a terminal program to share messages through email, public message boards, and direct chatting. By the mid-1990s, bulletin board systems began to decline in popularity, and forums began to take their place.
Forums were introduced following the decline of bulletin boards and continue to exist today. Some forums may be used anonymously, but most require users to register in order to participate in archived discussions relevant to organized topics and subtopics.
News networks were also created in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They facilitated the distribution of news releases to a wide online audience, but were not very sophisticated and did not provide a lot of security for users.
During the mid-1990s, the commercial industry took hold of the concept of chat rooms and community message boards and created social networks such as AOL, MSN, and CompuServe.
Around this time, email was also popular, almost to an extreme. Individuals and companies began searching for a way to organize email messages and list servers became common. These allowed subscribers to manage email by subscribing and unsubscribing to specific emails they wished to receive.
Modern Social Communities and Social Media Marketing (2000s)
With the advent of web publishing tools, blogs emerged in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Blogs enable individuals to publish content online about their own ideas and opinions which viewers may follow or subscribe to. Many blogs are interactive, allowing viewers to post comments and participate in discussions relevant to the blog content. As of 2011, there are over 156 million blogs on the internet.
Social communities such as Facebook and LinkedIn emerged at the turn of the century, and continue today. These communities permit members to register and create a profile from which they interact and network with other members. Social communities are an ideal place for companies to share pertinent information about their brand, products, services, and promotions to engage consumers and build brand loyalty.