Having grown up during the age of the Internet, I’ve witnessed firsthand the rise of the social networking website. And while Facebook currently dominates the Web, it wasn’t always so. Here’s a quick list of the sites I remember that set the standard in their own time.
- Makeoutclub—Calling itself the “original underground community,” Makeoutclub arguably started the craze 10 years ago this Summer. Splitting users into two categories, girls and guys, the site was geared mainly towards allowing hipster teens and young twenty-somethings to flirt online. I never got into this, but I definitely stood on the outskirts and watched what was going on. The concept was fascinating. Of course, I was a teenager.
- Friendster—In 2003, Friendster hit the Internet and blew up. It quickly gained worldwide media attention and was featured in magazines such as Spin and Time. The one thing I remember most about Friendster is how slow it ran. Once it took off, so many users flooded in that the site was Hell to use.
- Livejournal—Although Livejournal was created before Friendster, it started gaining popularity around the same time. Personally, my friends and I rejected Friendster in order to network and blog about our lives on “LJ” as it was called. As lame as it sounds now, I even made a couple of lifelong friends at an “LJ Luncheon.” Anyway, kids everywhere got to journal their lives and deepest emotions for everyone to see. But at this point, the whole social networking thing remained pretty much underground.
- MySpace—Friendster and Livejournal didn’t enjoy success for long. Enter MySpace. MySpace took Friendster’s formula, combined it with the blogging of Livejournal, and quickly dominated the market. By 2007, MySpace was the undisputed champion. MySpace also became the go-to method for bands to get their music out to the masses. This tool became useful to small and big bands alike. As far as I’m concerned, MySpace also helped social networking websites break into the mainstream.
- Facebook– Facebook started out as a social networking website for college kids. In fact, you had to enter the name of the college you attended to even sign up. So at the onset, MySpace was killing Facebook. However, FaceBook eventually decided to go public and make the site available to everyone, while adding new features. The result? Bye-bye, MySpace. And by doing so, Facebook has successfully thrust social networking into the mainstream. Kids, adults, seniors, corporations—everyone has a Facebook account. And the thing is, it shows no signs of slowing down.
- Twitter– Twitter started getting big around the time Facebook took over. And while Facebook is in the lead, Twitter fulfills a different niche. Twitter creators capitalized on the same notion as fast food providers. People want something quick and easy. So they limited “tweets” to a small word count and now it’s one of the best ways to share news with the world. Athletes tweet from games. Reporters tweet breaking news before TV and newspapers can pick it up. It’s not only fun—it’s a viable means of sharing information.
So right now, I’d say Twitter and Facebook are the guys on top. And sure, I didn’t mention everyone. There’s LinkedIn among others. The question is, how long will these sites enjoy top rankings before someone else comes along and takes the title?