An ode to the social media platforms of times gone by
31st August 2018
Today, there are 4 social media sites that dominate our everyday lives: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.* Each platform prides itself in providing a unique social networking experience: Twitter is the home of personal opinion; LinkedIn is your professional network; Facebook is your modern day contact book; and Instagram is your public photo album.
However, these networking sites haven’t always been at the forefront of industry. Over the years many other entrepreneurs have tried and failed to become our preferred platform, or else been knocked off the top spot by a new kid on the block.
In this blog, I’ll be reminiscing over social media past, asking why these sites ‘‘failed’, who replaced them and discussing what we can learn from their mistakes.
Soon after their launch in 2003, MySpace became the undisputed king of social media. During their peak, they were largest social networking site in the world, offering an interactive, user-submitted network of friends, personal profiles, blogs, groups, music and photos. However, after 4 years of success, the place for friends saw a plummet in active users, failing to impress against their new competitor: Facebook.
As Facebook captured the attention (and wallets!) of companies such as Yahoo! and Microsoft, their platform became sleeker, more efficient and quite simply better than MySpace.They placed greater emphasis on connecting users with real people – friends and family – rather than bands and celebrities. MySpace seemingly prioritised the development of its advertising platforms as opposed to its social platform, which ultimately left them outdated and unpopular.
Even though the site stumbled in 2009, they’ve managed to stay alive. They’ve admittedly had to compromise their core goal and are now barely considered a social media platform, but at least they didn’t become defunct!
One of the original platforms aimed specifically towards teens, Piczo sprung to the social media scene in 2003. The site was particularly popular amongst European countries, seeing around 10 million visitors a month. The platform encouraged users to express their creative sides, giving users access to design tools as well as networking tools.
However, their success was sadly short lived. With the rise of sites like MySpace, Bebo and Facebook, Piczo soon fell behind in terms of innovation, efficiency and popularity. Unlike MySpace, the demise of Piczo ended with a full stop as the site was closed in 2012.
Since then, sites such as Tumblr have gone on to occupy Piczo’s space in the teenage blogging sphere. Providing an enhanced, easy-to-use and (most importantly) safe platform for adolescent expression, Tumblr has arguably become the ultimate beginner’s blogging platform.
As Google enviously watched the success of Facebook unfold, they (somewhat rashly) attempted to follow in their footsteps. In 2011, Google+ burst onto the social media scene, bravely taking on Zuckerberg’s empire as the ‘new Facebook’. They hoped to streamline Google’s services, allowing users to connect with one another in a similar fashion to the social networking giants at the time.
While they experienced strong growth in their initial years, Google+’s demise soon came about as they failed to retain active users. Instead of successfully providing a social networking platform, they appeared to specialise solely in Photos and Streams. What they hoped would succeed as a competitor to Facebook seemed to only catch the attention of business owners new to social media. Unfortunately, as more businesses became tech-savvy they realised the irrelevance of Google+, making the platform one of Google’s biggest fails.
Nowadays, Google+ is still live and running even if only to serve as yearbook of companies attempting to understand social media. LinkedIn and Facebook are the sites of choice for businesses and individuals alike.
At the end of 2012 the world became obsessed with a new short-form video hosting platform: Vine. The site allowed users to upload six-second-long looping video clips, which were then shared amongst the community, much like Instagram’s sharing of photos (and now videos).
It soon became the mecca of memes, acting as a positive creative platform. The world turned to Vine for quickfire comedy and even an insight into the lifestyle of the rich and famous, with celeb-users such as Snoop Dogg, Zach Braff, Kylie Jenner and so on.
Bought by Twitter, the mobile app was a fresh, unique addition to the social media industry, becoming one of the most popular apps at the time. However, after just 4 years of existence Twitter made the executive decision to shut down Vine at the beginning of 2017.
While the app died, Vine did live on in a new half-form as ‘Vine Camera’ was launched. Now users can still create their short looping videos, but they can only upload them to Twitter as Vine’s own network was made defunct.
If you’re wondering why this decision was made, you’re not alone. It’s always unusual to actively shut down something successful, but with Instagram’s recent video capabilities and the existence of Vine Camera, we’ll just have to accept that Vine will exist now only as a fond memory. Thank you Vine for the good times.
*If you’re wondering why Snapchat has failed make the cut, just ask yourself: ‘How often do I really use Snapchat anymore?’. Not much right? 2018 has been a tough time for Snapchat. With poorly received updates and Instagram stealing stories, they’ve struggled to maintain a loyal fanbase. (Even celebs have stopped snapping!). We’ll have to wait and see what the future holds for the once popular social media site.
by Courtney Grover, Account Executive, Crest Comms