The first social media platform was called Six Degrees and launched in 1997. It was an online networking site that allowed users to sign up with their email addresses and create individual profiles. People could also add their friends to their personal networks. It was popular and reached a peak of 3.5 million users. However, its infrastructure lacked the sophistication required for a modern social network. As a result, Six Degrees was bought by a new company called YouthStream Media Networks for $125 million and eventually closed down.
While the first social media platform had limited functionality, it helped usher in the age of social media. Blogging became popular in the 1990s, and users were able to post information online and receive comments from other users. Some of the first social media sites were Six Degrees and Friendster.
As social media exploded in popularity, the social networks quickly followed. One of the most influential and popular was MySpace, which debuted in August 2003. MySpace initially started as a file storage website, but quickly evolved into an online social network. It paved the way for the current social media giants, including Twitter and Facebook.
While Facebook and MySpace are among the most popular platforms today, the first social networking website was Friendster. This social network was a hybrid of social networking and gaming. Developed by Jonathan Abrams, it linked real world people to interconnected virtual communities. In a matter of months, Friendster grew to over three million users.
The next big thing to hit social media was micro-blogging. LiveJournal, for example, became a popular blogging platform and had over 10 million users at its peak. Its users could write about whatever they wanted and other users could comment on them. By the time Twitter rolled out real-time updates, almost all the major social networks were able to follow.
While Hi5 is not a huge hit in the United States, it has a large user base in Central and South America. It was also one of the first social networking platforms that focused on a professional niche, as its name suggests. Its growth has led to more than 550 million registered users and is ranked 285th in the Alexa ranking of the most popular sites.
In the early days of social networking, the web was dominated by computer games. However, the development of the web allowed non-technical users to create social networks with ease. Most social networking platforms require technical knowledge, but Ning has simplified the setup process. Its design and ease of use have made Ning a popular choice among non-technical users.
Today, social media has become an integral part of society, with general social networks outpacing the population of most countries. In addition, niche sites have arisen catering to virtually any special interest. Today, social media has become increasingly sophisticated, and the number of platforms has risen to accommodate every need. Interestingly, social media originated in the early 1980s as the concept of "usenet systems," which allowed users to post articles in newsgroups.