The development of social media: from networking to network
From Friendster and MySpace to Facebook to TikTok, the development of popular social media websites has developed rapidly and continuously in the past 20 years. What started out as a fun new way for younger people to connect online has become an everyday staple for users across generations – including a way to make money. Today, an estimated 3.6 billion users worldwide regularly sign in to some form of social media or network site.
"Social media has enabled me to connect with people from all walks of life," said social media thought leader and bestselling author Ed Latimore. "I made friends with an interesting number of like-minded people that I admire and admire."
While social media started as a networking site, it has evolved into something much more robust.
"Social media originally started as a free dating site," says RJ Garbowicz, CEO and founder of the social networking site Webtalk. "It evolved into a social network that then evolved into the social media we know today as companies focused on engagement and monetization."
For many – both individuals and businesses – social media are critical to both audience engagement and advertising. Many individuals and brands have chosen social media to build a dedicated fan base and make money.
"To make money, you have to have two things: to sell something and people to sell it to," said Latimore. “Most people are able to put together an informative digital product that solves a problem or teaches a skill. The real problem is presenting the product to an audience. Social media shines here. In this way, you can build a dedicated and committed audience that not only buys your products but also praises their friends. "
Wayne Steidle, CEO of ScanIt, describes this evolution from social networking to "network orthing" and explains: "Social media platforms have turned into advertising giants that track a user's viewing habits to push ads that are relevant and user-specific apply to products and services. & # 39; "
The monetization of social media has changed the use of these platforms significantly. It is impossible to log on to a social media website and not come across any advertising, a brand that is trying to connect with its consumers, or an influencer who is promoting their latest partnership.
This is especially true in our current climate. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced more people online to work, shop and get in touch with loved ones. Large and small businesses have had to increase their online presence, and video chats have replaced conversations over coffee.
"In the current economic climate, online networking is really the best and often the only way to do professional networking and business expansion," said Garbowicz of Webtalk. “However, it has become increasingly difficult to generate revenue on social media without having to invest in targeted advertising to sell products and services. This is by design because social media apps will increase their sales and profits. "
Fortunately for large companies and influencers, new technologies are constantly being developed to improve marketing opportunities.
Webtalk, for example, is working to be the Rolodex for millennials and offers users a personal and professional 2-in-1 platform to organize contacts and the content that is shared with them.
"The biggest problems with online networking are both segmenting relationships so that personal and professional life doesn't overlap, and organizing relationships to maintain their value," explains Garbowicz. "Webtalk is the only network platform that helps users cultivate and develop relationships, and even repays 50% of all advertising revenue to its members while providing long-term professional value."
On the other hand, technology like Scanit brands offers the possibility to link their non-social media advertising such as TV, digital signs and billboards with their presence in social media.
"Companies can use conventional QR codes for static print media or use something like ScanIt's dynamic codes to embed them in a television, digital sign or display," explains Steidle. "A QR reader is already installed in most social media apps, which makes technologies such as ScanIt's Dynamic Code Reader a simple addition."
Despite the massive changes we've seen in such a short space of time, social media is far from over. Experts expect branded advertising to use more visual-based content and even move into the realm of virtual and augmented reality to engage users.
"The fastest growing traditional media in America is" Out of Home Digital Advertising ". These digital displays, as small as an iPad and as large as an advertising board, are everywhere you go," emphasizes Steidle. He expects companies to leverage the technology already in place by connecting their social media to these digital ads and opening up the opportunity to connect with millions of other viewers.
While social media has certainly come a long way, one thing is clear: it won't go anywhere in the foreseeable future.