Social networks have completely transformed the capabilities of the Internet by enabling and encouraging users to share content. Just as email, chat, and instant messaging defined digital communication in the 1990’s, social networks redefined digital communication in the 2000’s. MySpace was arguably the first major social media network to experience breakthrough success in the early 2000’s. The platform benefited from being one of the early pioneers, but also having the benefit of timing as the early 2000’s saw the mass adoption of high-speed, broadband internet. This enabled network’s like MySpace to allow users to post videos, high resolution photos, and content to their MySpace page. Users were able to search for friends on MySpace, connect, and share content with each other.
While MySpace was the largest and most successful of the early generation of social media companies, it wasn’t until Facebook came along that companies actually learned how to build powerful social media platforms that not only connect hundreds of millions of people, but made the process of sharing user generated content simple and intuitive. On top of the social capabilities of Facebook, the company built a tremendously powerful advertising platform that allows advertisers to get deep demographic and psychographic data from the company’s global user base. From a marketing perspective this means you can drill down and market to, for example, users who live in the New York market ages 27-35 and who have specific interests that meet the target customer profile. As a result, Facebook was able to scale beyond what many thought possible and is now a company worth $334 billion. To put the company’s success into perspective, it’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg became the worlds youngest self-made billionaire at the age of 23.
Current Social Media Market
In the wake of Facebook’s massive success has been a series of social networks including: Twitter, Instagram (which was purchased by Facebook), Snapchat, Vine, and numerous blogs. Each of these platforms offers unique features and new avenues for users to generate content. Perhaps the most interesting of these are Instagram and Snapchat, which appeal to Millennials due to their focus on photos and video rather than text. These platforms collect billions of pieces of anonymous data, which advertisers are increasingly looking for in order to develop marketing that is more compelling and has a higher chance to draw a potential customer in to the top line funnel. In this way, social media shares a commonality with Internet of Things. IoT companies, just like Facebook or Instagram, are looking for ways to monetize the data they collect. I foresee that companies in IoT will increasingly find themselves integrating with social networks in order to have access to their data to provide a complete big data analysis on a potential buyer. The social media network will tell the advertiser the user’s demographic and psychographics, and IoT can give data on things like driver behavior, home temperature preferences, location, etc.