While many argue the origins of social media, one of the first pioneers of the idea traces back to Friendster in 2002. The name may not ring a bell but following its creation came MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine and TikTok. As time goes on, each platform’s success can be credited to the unique additions from previous programs.
Facebook amassed more than 2.4 billion users to its profile-centered page. YouTube allowed people to upload and watch content online. Twitter created 140-character message “tweets” to interact with all types of people. Instagram branded the era of selfies and Snapchat revolutionized the concept of a photo archive with self-destructing stories, messages, photos, and “snaps”. Each innovation brought interesting aspects to the modern online media world we know today. So where did this diverse universe go wrong?
These brands began to borrow a lot of trademark qualities from each in hopes of creating an all-in-one experience. There are now four main features across social media apps. News feed, live broadcasting, stories/disappearing posts, and private messaging. Fellow platforms used to be defined by one distinct feature but now combines several. Filters, another recurring element, seems to be an overused feature on multiple apps too. Snapchat’s signature stories are now featured on Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp and Messenger. These competing platforms copied the others to entice people to spend more time on their apps. Sadly, the result is an uninspiring world of the same experience repeatedly.
“Platforms used to be distinctive. But it seems that where the platforms once innovated anticipating consumers’ needs and desires – simply copy the latest competitor innovation in order to capitalise on new revenue opportunities,” Suzie Shaw, a writer for AdNews, said.
In order to prevent the continuation of this copycat culture, platforms should innovate to excite like they did in the early 2000s. There have been several attempts at thinking out of the box in a uniform world of social media. While apps like Vine sparked hope of bringing new things to the table, it only became the predecessor to similar video apps like Musical.ly and TikTok.
This resulting bland social media can be attributed to the lack of new ideas. At this point, without a new addition to the social media world, online communication no longer holds its appeal. The new decade holds hope for innovations in this static system, with new technology developing every day.