A Short Timeline on Social Media-Part 1

When the whole social media craze started heating up, it was shouted from the rooftops that businesses should be on every social media platform they could. That takes a lot of time and can be a full-time job. There were a lot of businesses that tried to keep up, which is then why a bunch of social media positions came about. 

But let’s take a look at the beginning. Since my ad career started in the 90’s, the world-wide web was just becoming a thing and we all dialed up the modems to connect for our jobs. We were primarily using the connections like we use email today.

According to Phrasee.co, Six Degrees was the first social media site to launch in 1997. Around that time, at the ad agencies, none of us really knew what to do with the sales reps that were coming in to sell online packages. They usually wrapped it with “traditional media”  dollars which then made it more palatable to buyers. Traditional media is primarily Television, Radio, Outdoor, Magazines and Newspapers. Our clients at that time, didn’t even have a category for online ad dollars. I should clarify that at that time, online ads were usually banner-type ads on traditional news platforms and since social media hadn’t sprouted up completely those were the offerings.

For the clients with bigger budgets, I would agree to some of these combined packages although we never really knew how effective the online media was. We were fine tooth-combing the TV buys through Nielsen numbers and making sure what the sellers said the rating would be, actually was the rating, if not we’d go back to them. But, no one was measuring online. 

Then, all of 1999 we were told of the doom that might take place when the computers switched over. As we know now, nothing happened but they made a big hoopla about it. There was no wide-spread social platform at the end of the 90’s and I think it sort-of held a taboo around it, like you never knew who was on the other end of a phone chat line when that’s what kids were doing. And, they probably wouldn’t have admitted to being on there in the first place if someone asked.

By 2004, MySpace came out and seemed to be more palatable to the general population (ourworldindata.org). It is believed that this was the start of social media as we know it. Wikipedia lists LinkedIn as starting in 2003 at the same time as MySpace in 2003. Some sites came and went but the most notable ones that have stuck around are Facebook 2004, YouTube 2005, Pinterest 2010, Instagram 2010, Google+ 2011 (no longer in use), Twitter (X) 2006, and TikTok 2017. There were a few others that popped up but generally these were the main sites.

It is believed that advertisers embraced social media ads starting with Facebook’s banner ads in 2006. According to Ambercreative.sg, Facebook was the first social platform to offer ads.

To be continued…