Social Media and its Impact on Business
This paper examines the history of social media. The plan was to approach this work
from it historical development to its modern day perspective. The authors also looked at the
definition of social media, its concept and application in the 21st century. In the decade of
information systems, social media has played a vital role in transforming business and
communications. We believe that the fastest way to grow a business entity is through social
media and networking. In 2000, many social networking sites emerged to ease interaction with
people that share common interest in music, education, movies and so on. This also affected how
businesses conducted their transactions and advertisements, and also their products.
It is difficult to study social media without encountering the phrase social networking.
Therefore, both concepts are discussed in this article. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines
social media as “forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and
blogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal
messages, and other content (as videos).” The same source defines networking as “the exchange
of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation
of productive relationships for employment or business.”
Social media was further developed during the 1970s. MUD, originally known as Multi-
User Dungeon, Multi-User Dimension, or Multi-User Domain, was a real-time virtual world with
role-playing games, interactive fiction, and online chat. MUD is primarily text based which
requires users to type commands using a natural language. BBS was created in 1978, the same
year as MUD. BBS is a synonym for bulletin board system. Users log in to the system to upload
and download software, read news, or exchange messages with others. In the early years, bulletin
boards were accessed via a modem through a telephone line by one person at a time. Early on,
bulletin boards did not have color or graphics.
social networking sites were created in the 1990s. Some examples include Six
Degrees, BlackPlanet, Asian Avenue, and MoveOn. These are, or have been, online niche social
sites where people can interact, including sites for public policy advocacy and a social network
based on a web of contacts model. In addition, blogging services such as Blogger and Epinions
were created. Epinions is a site where consumers can read or create reviews of products.
ThirdVoice and Napster were two software applications created in the 90s that have since been
removed from the market. ThirdVoice was a free plug-in that allowed users to post comments on
webpages. Opponents of the software argued that comments were often vulgar or slanderous.
Napster was a software application that allowed peer-to-peer file sharing. Users were allowed to
share music files bypassing normal distribution methods, which in the end was determined to be
a violation of copyright laws (Ritholz, 2010).
In 2000 social media received a great boost with the witnessing of many social
networking sites springing up. This highly boosted and transformed the interaction of individuals
and organizations who share common interest in music, education, movies, and friendship, based
on social networking. Among those that were launched included LunarStorm, six degrees,
cyworld, ryze, and Wikipedia. In 2001, fotolog, sky blog and Friendster were launched, and in
2003, MySpace, LinkedIn, lastFM, tribe.net, Hi5 etc. In 2004, popular names like Facebook
Harvard, Dogster and Mixi evolved. During 2005, big names like Yahoo!360, YouTube, cyword,
and Black planet all emerged (Junco, Heibergert, & Loken, 2011).