Once upon a time there was no such thing as social networking. It simply did not exist. I know it’s hard to imagine or even remember life with our Twitter and Facebook. Especially when every time I turn around there is a new social networking site emerging into this already overly populated space. In 1995, Geocities was created a website that aimed to bring people together through chatroom forums. People could share their ideas and thoughts based on their geographical locations. In 2002, Friendster was established, the site gained over 115 million registered users and over 61 million unique visitors a month globally. Myspace and LinkedIn were launched in 2003. While Facebook evolved in 2004 and is to date the largest social networking site with over 600 million users. Bebo and YouTube join the social media scene in 2005, Twitter in 2006, Foursquare in 2009 and Google Buzz in 2010. The social networking sites previously listed are only a few of the many social networking sites that have been created. Over the past 16 years, the trend has been to create something better than the last social networking site and we’ve come leaps and bounds from Geocities to Twitter and Friendster to Facebook. Not only has technology advanced these sites, but corporate America has played a huge hand in turning these small ideas into million dollar companies.
It seems that every time I turn around there is a new social networking site awaiting my username, email address and date of birth. When does it all become too much? When are consumers okay with just having a couple of email addresses, a Facebook page and a Twitter account. When do we start to block out all the new creations and just exist in social networks we are comfortable with and use to?
I think consumers and businesses alike are going to have to (if they haven’t already) begin choosing which networking site works best for their needs. It is almost impossible to remain connected on every site, and as a company you should not want to be involved in every social networking site. Small businesses and companies should strategically select the social networking site that provides them the greatest gain. Innovators will continue to create new sites, but if joining the new site does not benefit your company, then what is the point? I believe the same rules apply to consumers. There is no need to get overwhelmed or feel overloaded. Choose what works best for you. If you are by chance overwhelmed, check out this article, “How to Avoid Social Media Overload” from The Huffington Post and give four tips to consumers:
- Don’t be an early adopter.
- Sample widely.
- Focus narrowly.
- Schedule the time.