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A brief history & evolution of social media marketing

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When Did Social Media Marketing Start? It might surprise you as it did to many!

Social media marketing started with social media, and it developed with every coming platform.


A D V E R T I S E M E N T

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If you’re like me, and you’ve been in the digital marketing space since before social media appeared in the online sea. It’s hard to believe that Facebook and Twitter have been around for over 14 years now!

Many marketers and business owners didn’t really use social media until about 2012, when it finally became clear how big of an impact it could have on their businesses and marketing efforts. Of course, people have been using social media since its inception in 2003.

One website which started social media was Myspace. It was launched on August 1, 2003 [2].

Myspace facts:

  • It had 15 million monthly visitors in 2016
  • It had 150 employees in 2018
  • MySpace had 14.2 million active users in 2019
  • In 2014 it had 300 million video views
  • MySpace was purchased in 2005 for $580 million

When Did Social Media Marketing Start?

Social media marketing has exploded in popularity over the last few years. It has become one of the most sought-after skills in the modern job market. In addition, it’s one of the most popular ways to connect with customers and expand your business reach online.

Related: Complete Job Profile of a content marketer

So when did social media marketing start?

It turns out that SMM is a relatively new type of marketing and it has been around almost as long as the Internet itself!

Marketers have so many options for reaching their target audience because nearly 2 billion people use social media every month.

Website NameMonthly Active Users
Facebook2.9 billion
YouTube2.2
WhatsApp2
Instagram2
WeChat1.26
TikTok1
MSUs in millions
Sina Weibo573
QQ538.91
Telegram550
Traffic of social media sites (2022 figures)

At first, companies used social media to reach out to friends and family. Over time, it has grown into an important tool that businesses use to market their products and services.

Introduced in 1994, IRC was the medium to communicate in those days. I started using mIRC in 2000. I used to go to a nearby internet cafe to use mIRC.

Was IRC a social network

Before we move any further, let’s answer this question. Was the famous IRC (Internet Relay Chat) a social network?

Internet Relay Chat (IRC)
IRC, Sourse: Aaron Pafrecki Blog

Internet was slow and expensive—PKR 30/hour—in Pakistan. But it was all available, then.

IRC had some features of a social network, but it also lacked a few. One had to be ‘available’ or ‘online’ on the network to receive a reply to any message [1].

social media marketing & Evolution of social media

evolution of social media
evolution of social media

See Also:

What you didn’t know about start, evolution & marketing of social media


Social media started in 1995 as an idea

People thought it was a good idea, but no one really understood what social media would eventually look like or have on our society.

A global forum where people could share information and communicate with each other.

It wasn’t until 1998 that later caused three major events to occur that gave social media its face and paved a clear path for how it’s used today:

  1. Introducing Friendster in 2003(closed as a company on June 30, 2018) [2] and
  2. The birth of Myspace in 2003 [3].
  3. The birth of Facebook in 2004
social media platforms
social media platforms

AOL chat rooms in 1998

AOL offered chat rooms with their program called AOL Instant Messenger, more commonly known as AIM.

AOL Chat Rooms
Source: Time

This was at a time when most people didn’t have access to computers, and those who did had dial-up modems that connected them to AOL via telephone lines.

The AIM feature allowed users to connect in real time over these phone lines, offering instant communication between friends and family members for free.

Facebook: launched in 2004 and became the leading site by 2006

There are 1.59 billion monthly active users, or MAUs, on Facebook.

Another 240 million use WhatsApp, while 170 million use Messenger each month.

There were 800 million daily active users (DAUs) on average in June 2015.

PlatformMillions Monthly Active Users (MAUs)
Facebook1,590
Whatapp240
Messenger170
Average800

YouTube was launched in 2005

On Fevruary 2005 [4], Kevin Systrom and his Stanford roommate, Mike Krieger, began to think of a way they could document their daily lives and share them with friends.

They created a video sharing site where users can upload their own videos. In 2006, YouTube was launched as a private beta.

The following year YouTube officially rolled out their video sharing platform for public use.

Twitter started in 2006

While people have been connecting online for years through forums and chat rooms, it wasn’t until 2006 that social media took off. On March 21, 2006,

Twitter was born when co-founder Jack Dorsey sent out his first tweet.

Snapchat came on board from 2011 to 2012

As one of the newest social media platforms on our list, Snapchat is also a popular marketing platform for B2C and B2B brands alike.

You can post your video or image for a set period or until viewers take a screenshot.

This is perfect for real-time marketing and taking advantage of current events. For example, if you’re launching a new product and want users to know about it immediately, Snapchat is an ideal platform to use.

Pinterest started operations in 2011:

Pinterest debuted on July 2011 and surpassed 20 million monthly users by November 2013.

The platform showed a growth rate of 150% in less than two years. In contrast, Twitter hit 10 million users by October 2009 and 100 million by May 2012: a growth rate of 1,000% in five years. Facebook didn’t reach 50 million users until three years after it was launched.

Instagram milestones

Instagram hit 150 million monthly active users by May 2012 and 400 million by August 2016. This is an incredible milestone for the social media platform and shows the popularity of Instagram among its users.

Instagram has continued to grow in popularity because of its unique features and the ability to share photos and videos with friends and family.

Instagram has become a go-to platform for sharing photos and videos with friends and family, and its popularity is only continuing to grow.

  1. Lehmann, A. (2019, May 5). Is IRC considered a social network, and is it still used? – Quora. Retrieved May 27, 2022, from https://www.quora.com/Is-IRC-considered-a-social-network-and-is-it-still-used
  2. Friendster. (2022). Retrieved May 27, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friendster
  3. MySpace. (2022). Retrieved May 27, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myspace
  4. YouTube ((2022), Retrieved May 28, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YouTube

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