Social media is one of the most popular and prevalent marketing strategies available today, and none of it would be possible without the invention of the Internet. The idea of the Internet has been around since 1969, but the ability for people to create their own websites was finally made a possibility in 1994. The first social media website, Friendster, was released to the public in 2002. The website allows users to create a profile page and connect with other users, and obtains three millions users in the first three months of its operation.
MySpace and LinkedIn followed in 2003, allowing millions of teenagers and professionals a place to connect globally with other like-minded individuals. The original social media websites were a way for people to connect online, without having to be face to face or in the same vicinity to carry on a conversation. Facebook is created in 2004, and although it originally was only available to college students, the website quickly gains millions of users within weeks of its first operation. Facebook later explains to high school students and then everyone with an email address.
Twitter joined the social media party in 2008, as the first micro blogging website that allow users to send information in one hundred and forty character messages. The following year, people tweet breaking news stories before major news outlets, and the future of journalism and real time information sharing is changed forever.
At this point, most people have social media accounts on MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, but the competition is stiff. Facebook has two hundred million users by 2009, while MySpace is drowning with just over fifty million users. By 2011, social media websites like Facebook have become a part of daily life, with over five hundred and fifty million users on Facebook and sixty-five million tweets each day. Social media expands with the existence of smart phones and mobile applications.
By 2014, social media is such an integrated part of life that privacy concerns are the biggest issue in the headlines each day as information about everyone and everything is available with a few clicks of a button. More and more social media websites are popping up all the time, although few manage to keep up with the ever-changing machine that is Facebook. The top ten social media websites by early 2014 are Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Wikipedia, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google +, WordPress and Blogger. More than half of individuals over the age of fifteen use social media for school, work and personal use, and that number is only expected to grow as the years go by.