750 Word Annotation of The Evolution of Social Media from 1969 to 2013: A Change in Competition and Trend Toward Complementary, Niche Sites

social-media-evolutionIn The Evolution of Social Media from 1969 to 2013: A Change in Competition and Trend Toward Complementary, Niche Sites (2014) Karen McIntyre explores the changes in social media from the beginning to the current day and in order to do so McIntyre researched a number of questions of importance.

How did social media begin, and where is it going? In my opinion, I believe that social media didn’t necessarily have a defined start date due to the fact that it has always been around in some form or another. Social media networking sites obviously only occurred after the revolution of the internet and the computer, therefore they specifically have a general start date, being the early 70s. However, prior to the internet, social media still took place in the form of traditional media; newspapers and television for example. Despite my opinion, McIntyre suggests that “the term social media is used more loosely to account for the earliest forms of online communication.” (McIntyre 2014: 6)

All social media platforms have evolved themselves though, due to the fact that television and print are constantly changing in order to compete with the convenience and accessibility of online media. However, due to the rise of the internet and social media networking sites, the traditional media outlets have faced a deep decline in readership and production. In addition to this, many traditional media outlets have been using the power of the internet to their advantage and doing so by promoting their brands online or by publishing their work online, for example NME Magazine publishes a physical magazine copy on a weekly basis, yet also provides an online version of the magazine in order to access a wider audience range. As well as this, NME use social media networking sites to their benefit, and promote their brand via the use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.

McIntyre asks “Will a new social network conquer Facebook?” (McIntyre 2014: 1). In short, no. Facebook has dominated the internet since its conception in 2004, having 21 million registered members by 2007 (Ellison, Steinfield, and Lampe, 2007: 1). Now, in 2015, 1.23 billion people are registered to Facebook (Kiss, 2014), that equates to less than one in seven of us. In a modern, developed city, you could go to a high street, ask everyone who walks past if they are users of Facebook and receive at least 95% ‘Yes’ answers.

However, opposing this, many suggest that Facebook’s reign of the internet and its popularity must be fading. McIntyre (2014) sites the work of Rainie, Smith and Duggan (2013) “61 % of the dominant social network’s users reported voluntarily taking a break from the site for several weeks or more, and more than a quarter said they planned to spend less time on the site in the coming year”.

In the modern day, if you were to ask a British teenager, they would more than likely argue that Facebook isn’t deemed as “cool” anymore and that everyone uses Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat instead, and they would probably be true. Due to the fact that a lot of the younger generation see Facebook as a boring social media site that they only use to message each other via the Facebook Messenger app. But in addition to this, the younger generation probably don’t realise the amount that they actually use Facebook, even if it is just scrolling through the site reading other people’s news and not physically posting anything themselves.

Social media competition no longer comes from the fact that sites are competing in order to replace older sites, for example MySpace and/or Facebook but infact they are competing in order to gain time and experience from the audience themselves. Newer sites like Twitter and Instagram are competing specifically in order to gain the audience that are so familiar with Facebook and engage with them in new and exciting ways; for example Twitter’s selling point is the fact that it is highly similar to Facebook yet every post is restricted to 140 characters, therefore creating more of an engaging task with the targeted audience, and Instagram on the other hand is a photography based site that requires the audiences to take and select specific images that they would like to provide and upload in order to represent themselves online. These specific and creative alternatives to social media are creating an obstacle for Facebook, however I do not believe that they will overcome the power of Facebook any time soon.

Bibliography

McIntyre, K. (2014) ‘The Evolution of Social Media from 1969 to 2013: A Change in Competition and a Trend Toward Complementary, Niche Sites’, The Journal of Social Media in Society 3(2)

Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C. and Lampe, C. (2007) ‘The benefits of Facebook “Friends:” social capital and college Students’ use of online social network sites’, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(4)

Kiss, J. (2014) Facebook’s 10th birthday: From college dorm to 1.23 billion users. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/feb/04/facebook-10-years-mark-zuckerberg (Accessed: 6 November 2015).

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