If you take out a newer edition of the Oxford Dictionary and look up the term “Social Networking,” it’ll say:
Social Networking (noun): The use of dedicated websites and applications to communicate informally with other users, or to find people with similar interests to oneself.
It’s a term that’s become a part of our modern social culture. Technology helps integrate how and who we interact with— both socially and professionally. When we hear someone say “social media,” it’s instinctive to automatically think of just Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
But there are many more social media platforms that are continuing to develop and grow; meeting a variety of new social and mobile demands throughout the globe. These other platforms include: BlackPlanet, Cyworld, Friendster, MySpace, Ning, QQ, Windows Live Spaces, YouTube, etc.
Social media has come a long ways since its very limited beginnings. The last 10 years have greatly shaped our current communication methods; leading many to eagerly await how it will change and adapt in the future years.
Here’s how social networking has progressed since it first began in the late 1990s:
Early Days: A Time of Limitations
In the early days of social media, websites, such as Sixdegrees.com (founded in 1997), allowed people to link to their friends, invite friends and send messages to each other. At that time, this type of communication was essentially unheard of; however, by 2000, Sixdegrees.com was dismantled.
What has sense been said, was that sites, like Sixdegrees.com were far ahead of their time.
In the three years that Sixdegrees.com was in operation, many people still lacked Internet access, battled much slower Internet speeds and the notion of creating a web presence was still foreign.
The Present: Consisting of Revolutionary Outlets in Digital & Mobile Communication
These days, it’s completely normal to meet someone and later look them up online and send them a Facebook friend request; a LinkedIn connection request, or follow them on Twitter. It’s better than simply asking someone for their number. Social networking is a way to get to know and stay connected to that person.
Social networking has expanded from sites where a person can list and connect to friends to becoming an avenue for people to connect personally and professionally through one’s business and/or social contacts. It’s a revolutionary concept when you think about it.
It’s no longer only a personal objective: more people are connecting to other professionals; businesses are connecting to people, as well as other businesses— all in hopes of broadening their networks for personal and professional reasons.
- The very popular, LinkedIn, operates the world’s largest online professional network. To date, there are more than 238 million worldwide LinkedIn members, with 84 million members in the United States.
LinkedIn’s mission is to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.” The site allows members to not only connect with people but to share insights, jobs and other content that can be beneficial to their professional growth.
- Facebook’s mission is to: “give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” They offer “Company Pages”, where businesses can create their own Facebook presence and reach out to potential revenue sources that would otherwise not be easily attained. To date, there are over 18 million Facebook Company Pages.
- YouTube (founded in 2005), “allows billions of people to discover, watch and share originally-created videos [and] provides a forum for people to connect, inform, and inspire….”
Most people have turned to YouTube at some point to watch a cute puppy video, see an insane stunt, or watch a “how-to” guide. And while all of this is fine and dandy, more businesses are uploading videos to educate and increase their branded presence.
In a span of a decade, social networking has truly evolved from an almost meaningless social activity of adding friends; friends of friends, and strangers— simply to increase the number of connections. Now there’s real purpose behind connecting with people.
The Future: Social Media Outlets Partnering Together
The real question about the future of social networking is posed, “Which platforms will have a larger role and which ones will see a decline?”
The answer to that is still ever-changing. There are too many social networking players to evaluate; each of whom are remodeling their platforms to keep up with technology and various social demands.
At this very minute, there are partnerships underway between the various social networking sites and other companies. For example: Intagram partnered with SoundCloud this past October; Twitter’s partnered with ComCast and NBC Universal this past October as well; Facebook partnered with Shutterstock this past August…the list goes on and on).
Partnerships will strengthen the different companies and will help to create new social media features. The possibilities that will emerge within the coming years are endless. And if anything, social networking will continue to create revolutionary new ways to stay connected in different capacities.