Fifteen years may not seem like a lot, but it’s like a billion years in the evolutionary timeline of social media. Platforms that evolved and adapted to the ever-changing climate and environment survived. Those that didn’t…we have nothing left to remind us of their existence except a few fossils and relics we nostalgically look up on the web and read about on Wikipedia.
TNW has an awesome animated bar chart that shows most (but not all) of social media platforms and their popularity starting with Friendster and their 3 million users in 2003.
See the video below and check out TNW’s entire article here.
Survival of the fittest in Social Media
2003 was a much more innocent time when connecting with people meant we had to actually…connect with people. Yes, face to face, on the phone. We didn’t know what our friends (let alone people we didn’t really consider friends) were doing. Now, we know what everyone’s doing and eating and reading and thinking…all the time. Thank you, Social Media!
In addition to Friendster, the other extinct creatures on the chart (or platforms that we don’t really use for social media anymore) are Orkut, Google Buzz, Hi5 and, of course, MySpace.
YouTube was number one for several years. LinkedIn was there from the beginning and number two to Friendster until disappearing from the list completely. I wouldn’t consider either YouTube or LinkedIn a straight social media platform like Facebook, so it’s clear why they are both thriving and surviving unlike the other platforms (and why they will continue to do so).
The chart has the Chinese platform Weibo, but not another Asian big player, Daum/KakaoTalk, or the once ubiquitous in South Korea, Cyworld, which actually launched in the twentieth century.
Another interesting note is that despite all the dramatic changes in the 2000s, the main competition this decade was for the #3 spot. Facebook and YouTube had the secure 1 and 2, but then it’s been a free for all for the remaining 3 through 10.
What the data mainly shows us is that anything can happen in a very short period of time.
What role will video play in the Social Media “Hunger Games?”
Huge. Social media continues to be a content platform, and will be even more so in the 2020s. This of course means video will be much more prominent and a platform that is able to innovate video content creation and distribution will have an edge.
As we’ve seen in the chart, any platform is just a meteor away from total extinction. Or even a slight climate change or a new predator in the jungle may lead to decline. Better tools and technology will help.
This is a very opportunistic and important time for firms to partner with video production companies and content creators to augment existing social media platforms or develop new ones that can enable the optimization of video.
We don’t know what platforms we’ll be using fifteen years from now, but it will be packed with content, including video. And not just bad low-quality homemade stuff, but high quality productions that will compete for audience engagement.