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The History of Social Networking

social_mediaThe late Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens once famously stated that the “internet is not something that you can just dump something on. It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes.” This infamous statement was made at a time of exponential growth of the internet. Little did he know that only a handful of years later, the internet would develop into that big truck where virtually anything could be dumped.

One of the aspects of the 21st century internet has been the explosion of cloud-based applications known as social media. Within the realm of these vast social media offerings are a mass of social networking sites that allow users to share information freely. While most people use social networking for personal use, businesses can benefit from these services as well.

Social networking as a practice is nothing new. At the TechEd event in Las Vegas SAP executive, Vishal Sikka, delivered a speech that mentioned Thomas Paine’s revolutionary war-era pamphlet Common Sense. Vishal made that claim that Paine’s pamphlet was the first example of social media in the Americas. The pamphlet was published in January of 1776, and was read, by 900,000 of the 1,500,000 colonists that lived in the colonies at the time. That kind of incredible penetration percentage is what every marketing coordinator and company executive dreams of.

The early social networking sites were less involved than they are today. Websites such as Friendster, Facebook and MySpace were already making a splash with young people, but their services were limited to that relatively small demographic. Then other sites started popping up such as: Friendster, LinkedIn, Jaiku, and Netlog.

In 2007, Facebook started developing and allowing third-party developers access to their application programming interface (API), then the usefulness and popularity of social media really began to take off. Since going with API interface and moving away from the invite-only model, Facebook pulled ahead from the competition and has not looked back–surpassing 1,000,000,000+ users in 2012.

The development of this API technology has moved quickly; fueled by the exponential growth of the capabilities of mobile devices. The first true smartphone, Apple’s iPhone, launched in July of 2007 and was a seminal event in the mobile utilization of not only social networking, but social media as a whole. Now, almost six years later, many of the billions of people that use social media access it solely from their mobile device. According to Nielsen, the use of mobile web and mobile apps is up over 80% in the past 18 months, while PC use has actually dropped by nearly 5%.

So what’s this history lesson mean for your business? Social media is an important communication and networking tool that continues to expand and add new users by the millions. Like it or not, using social media for your business is becoming a mandatory way to communicate with customers and market your company. To learn more about social media and how it can bring value to your company, contact TMS at 1 (626) 737-2960.