Remember the early days of social media, when you not only had to worry about getting the right mirror selfie but choosing the right song to go with the vibe of your page, the perfect glittery quote that captures your individualism, your ‘Top 8’’ friend list, and a cool background that nobody else had? Man, looking back, that was a lot of work. But what we lacked in those days were the quality of photos and content we were posting.
Flash forward to today and it’s all about keeping it simple on Instagram. Following the unspoken rule of not posting more than one photo a day, choosing the right filter and spending way too much time writing a unique caption.
I’m here to actually speak about the unspoken so we can take a step back to realize that 1) It’s really become a marketing art form and 2) It’s a LITTLE ridiculous.
Let’s begin with Myspace, because that was a fun little blast from the past writing the intro for this and I want to dig a little deeper here.
The year was 2003 and it was a time when creating an online profile was new and exciting to us all. Now, I think it’s safe to say, we’re instantly exhausted when we see the words “Tell me about yourself” while creating a new social media account.
(Sidenote: In 2003, I was 14 so the PRIME age for a totally embarrassing MySpace page. Oh, how I wish I didn’t make it private or could remember my password so I could look/laugh at it today.)
MySpace was not only used to learn how to build your personal image online, it was a great tool for musicians to post their work in hopes of being discovered. I know personally, I had a knack for finding up-and-coming artists and was totally that kid that pulled the “I knew of him/her before she was famous ‘cuz of MySpace”. For example, ‘LDN’’ by Lily Allen was my background song on my page in 2006. Appropriate for a teen? Absolutely not. Brag worthy when Lily Allen become somewhat popular a few years later? Totally.
The etiquette for Myspace was as followed: Post as much as you possibly can, comment on every single one of your friend’s pictures, take quizzes about your favorite food/classes/pets and make sure your Top 8 Friend List is always, ALWAYS up to date with your current besties.
Little did we know how much it would change in 14 years.
Around the same time Myspace took off, Youtube was gaining momentum and everyone and their mother started up their own vlog channels. Whether it was a teen playing the guitar in her bedroom or a courageous skateboarder showing off his new tricks, people all over the world were hooked to filming and sharing.
At the beginning, it was an unknown phenomenon to actually make money from posting videos but years later, people like Jenna Marbles were gaining some serious online followers and fame.
Pretty much any topic you can think of has been made into a YouTube video. As of February 2017, there are more than 400 hours of content uploaded to YouTube each minute. How are we supposed to keep up?
Back when YouTube was new and shiny, we were commenting on videos and going back and forth with the people who created them. Now, with the sheer volume of comments coming in on popular accounts, we have the ability to use hashtags, ‘like’, ‘dislike’, reply to a comment and mention someone else.
Today, people can be incredibly successful through their YouTube accounts and many have used it as a platform to speak to large audiences. Whether it’s used for music, fitness, beauty, comedy… YouTube always has been the place to go for video bloggers.
Curious what the very first video on YouTube was? I was too. Check it out.
The year was 2006 and the little blue bird seemed to come out of nowhere but was suddenly everywhere. People weren’t too sure what to use Twitter for. Micro-blogging? Pointless thoughts? Whatever it was, it was fun and quickly became addictive to create tweets in 140 characters or less.
Twitter was the first to use the hashtag, which is now used in all social media platforms. At first, I don’t think people quite knew what the point of hashtagging was, but now it’s used as a tool for organizing, promoting and joining in on conversations. The trick is to avoid overdoing it and looking #spammy.
Put your hand up if you had a Vine account for a hot minute (insert girl with hand up emoji here). Vine, a 6-second looping video app, was used mostly for slapstick comedy so I’m sure that fans of America’s Funniest Home Videos and Ridiculousness absolutely loved it. The “I want to be famous” kid has to be the most iconic (or, maybe just MY favorite) Vine.
It was fun while it lasted in 2013 but phased out pretty quickly so it didn’t really last long enough to go through any major changes.
Yes, LinkedIn was discovered in 2002, but it only REALLY took off in 2011 when it filed for an initial public offering. To date, LinkedIn has over 500 million users but it took a while to get there.
It has been a consistent tool to find employment and share business related articles for 15 years. Nothing too drastic has changed over the years of use. Good job, LinkedIn.
Oh, how Facebook has evolved over the years. I remember being in high school (2004) and hearing about this cool new site that was strictly for college students. My friends and I quickly found out, however, all you had to do was choose from a list of colleges and universities on a scroll down bar and POOF, you had an account. Naturally, I was a Harvard student. Completely believable.
In the early days of Facebook (or, ‘The Facebook’), it was all about keeping in touch with friends and creating photo albums where you would dump hundreds of OK quality pictures. People didn’t care about ‘likes’ because they were only introduced in 2009.
Nowadays, Facebook is used as a major tool in marketing, branding, creating awareness, advertising, event planning… The possibilities are endless.
With more than 1.28 billion users worldwide, Facebook really is the dominating social media beast. It has bought out massive app companies like Instagram and WhatsApp, who were smart enough to sell their rights for a major profit.
Playing games has also blown up massively on Facebook. You can link up your favorite apps with your account and challenge your network of friends to whatever game you happen to be addicted to at the time.
We (Millennials) use Facebook now to organize social gatherings, keep in touch with family members who may be older and not into Instagram and keep tags on old high school friends to see if they’re getting married, having babies, traveling the world, etc.
It seems like now though, the younger generations are slowly phasing out Facebook and replacing it with Instagram. Or, linking their Instagram posts to directly post to Facebook.
Instagram has to have the most dramatic visual change since it started in 2010. People really take their Insta accounts seriously these days and it’s common for people to go back and delete old photos they posted years ago with those oversaturated filters and flashy frames. How embarrassing, right?
When Instagram launched, it was all about posting pictures of animals, designs on lattes and selfies. Thankfully, we have become a little more creative.
Now, it’s all about keeping with the theme of the rest of your pictures. Whether that’s by using the same filter consistently or having strategically placed white space, your page as a whole should have a certain tone or feel to it.
Some people take their Instagram accounts so seriously, they hire photographers to take pictures of them for the accounts. For real! This isn’t that uncommon in South East Asian countries. (I make fun of it, but I’m mostly just jealous that people actually have the kind of disposable income to be able to do this.)
The year was 2011 and clearly, the world didn’t have enough social media platforms to communicate with their friends. This one was different though; pictures that you could send that would disappear forever after a few seconds? Scandalous!
Before dog-ear filters, Snapchat stories, stickers, Geofilters, the Discover page, the ability to chat and take videos, it was really just as simple as that.
Since then, it has evolved into a hugely popular app that has 166 million daily active users.
So, looking at the trends over the years and seeing how social media’s evolved, what’s going to be the next big platform? I’ve heard that eventually it will all be combined into one combo-plate which will be a Facebook-Instagram-Twitter-LinkedIn-Snapchat hybrid/love-child, which sounds great and will be a lot less work to stay on top of everything.
Or, will artificial intelligence play a role in the future of social media? Will we start wearing more of our technology, like the Apple Watch? Will glasses with built-in cameras in them become the norm?
What do you think is in our future for social media? Are we going to look back at Instagram 5 years from now and laugh at how we used it?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section!