What is social media?

Well, before we answer the question in our title, it is wise to first have a look at what social media actually is. On a social media platform you virtually meet other people and interact, in other words: it is a place to be social. It is a little bit like sitting in a large room with all your friends and family. If you want to tell something to the gathering, you can step on the stage and have your minute of fame. Your friends can then choose to ignore you or to like what you just said. It is advisable to think twice about what you want to say on stage because your mum, dad and auntie are also present. You can also message one of your friends, which is more like a private conversation. Also old friends and people from different countries can be found on a social network site and there is also room for advertising your own company, if you have one of course.

 Who isn’t using the world wide web nowadays? Even grandmas send their grandchildren emails. It has been there for such a long time, to be used by everyone at any time and the web is serious business because it reaches out to so many people. Webmasters want their website to be the best in their category. You can find webmasters competing against each other in categories like photo sharing, offering solutions for how to send large files, online office for documents, search engines and the biggest division at the moment is social media. We can even state that the internet is being taken over by social media.

 The social media avalanche

During the 1990s many new social network sites began to develop, a trend which has carried on to this day. One of the first was Epinions.com. They used a web of trust in which you could add people to your social group, but only if you trusted them. The social network idea really kicked off with Friendster, which went online globally for the first time in 2002. A year later it was followed by Linked In and MySpace. In 2005 Bebo also entered the market.

In that year MySpace was the biggest and the website even had more page views than Google at that time. Facebook had been around for a year, as it entered the market in 2004. The site opened up to the non US college community and became the fastest growing site in the world because it was not limited by geographical boundaries any more. Nowadays there are numerous sites competing for their crown. Facebook is sitting on the thrown comfortably, but sites like Google+, Linked In and Twitter are hot on their tail. Also Flixter, Tumblr and Flickr are competing for a piece of the pie.

Are there many social media sites?

It is a simple question and there is a simple answer: yes, a whole lot. There are almost 1,000 different social media sites! From this heap of sites only about ten of them are known to the regular internet user. Of course Facebook is the best known site because it has been dominating the social media category for almost ten years in a row and is still growing daily.

What will this New Year bring?

The internet first was primarily a place where most people would conduct research, however it is now also very much a place for socialising with family and friends. Also in 2013 we will be able to see our neighbour in her bikini on a holiday in Turkey, our narcissistic ‘friend’ posting what he had for breakfast this morning and how your younger brother gets drunk with his mates. Nothing much will change in that sense as people don’t change with the same speed as the world wide web…