October 28, 2015
Since the turn of the millennium, there have been many big players within the social media industry, with millions of users and aspirations to match.
Some have gone missing though – never talked about online or off. I think it’s about time someone took a look at those early social sites, to see what has happened to them.
One of the first social networks to attract 1 million users and the world’s leading social site (page views) between 2002-2004. The functionality was very simple – adding friends, sending messages and sharing media were all popular activities.
Such was its success and position at the time, a $30million offer from Google was declined in 2003. This was seen as an epic fail. Myspace soon built a larger user base, Facebook and Twitter followed shortly after, and Friendster soon had to change direction.
The focus switched to Asia, before completely repositioning itself again as a gaming and entertainment platform, before finally shutting down as recently as June 2015.
Everyone remembers Myspace, and founder Tom who was, by default, everyone’s first connection. The platform famed for music and personalisation was the world’s most popular social networking site until 2008.
Even with a takeover from Rupert Murdoch’s News International, Myspace struggled to prevent its users from migrating to Facebook and Twitter. Buggy user-experience and critical mass elsewhere left Myspace in big trouble.
Several re-designs later, and a shift away from social media to purely music, and the site is still nowhere near its former glories.
In 2007, Bebo was the UK’s most popular social network, overtaking Myspace with 10.7 million users. The site was often used by users to express themselves in the forms of poems, notes, music and art, with teenagers being their primary audience.
In 2008, the founders sold the site to AOL, with their shares being worth $595million. In 2013, after seeing the site lose its position in the industry, they bought it back for $1million. What a story.
It has since been transformed it into a cartoon-themed instant messaging service.
That’s right. Do you remember the other “face” in the UK social media industry? It had 6 million members in 2006. In fact, in 2003, to celebrate its millionth user, they flew the ‘lucky’ person to a celebrity party hosted by Katie Price.
Known for being more adult themed than its competitors, using slang across the site and featuring risqué images on the homepage, trouble loomed in 2008. 3 males were sent to jail for sexual abuse of an underage user they met through the site. This was reported in the national press, with Faceparty deciding to delete all user profiles over the age of 35.
Although this wasn’t received well, and with a big drop in active users, the platform still retains an active community today.
Frequently reported as being one of the world’s top social networks between 2006-2008, Hi5 offered simple functionality which proved extremely popular. In 2009 though, possibly due to Facebook’s growth, the company switched direction and focused on becoming a social gaming platform.
It then took another change in direction to that of a dating site, with meeting new users and rating their pictures becoming key focuses. 3 identities later, Hi5 still operates quietly today and is owned by IF(WE), formerly known as Tagged.
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this nostalgia trip, as these networks have played a key role within the story of the social media industry. Who knows, in 10 years’ time, some of the most popular social platforms at the moment could find themselves in a similar blog.