Social media platforms of the new future will be very different from what we have today, that is if the current trends are to sustain. Social networking is not an old phenomenon. It has picked up in the last two decades. At the dawn of the internet, as it started to gain mainstream adoption in the early 90s, the only thing we could do was view information and send messages via email. Later on, as the decade progressed, online search started to become a big thing, and later microblogging caught on, albeit at a small scale.
Instead of just viewing information, the idea of sharing and forming platforms started to grow. America Online (AOL) could be viewed as heralding this era when it enabled the creation of member profiles that were searchable. Nonetheless, major strides in social networking were not made until after the dot com bubble burst in 2000. The new era of social networking sites began. Friendster was launched in 2002, then Myspace in 2003, LinkedIn also in 2003, and Facebook in 2004. Even Google launched Orkut, a social networking site, in 2004. It has since shut it down.
Facebook and Myspace became the two leading social networking sites until Facebook dominated. Facebook specifically did a few things differently from Myspace that worked—starting by targeting university students, understanding its core product value, etc.—and these things eventually allowed it to increase engagement and capitalize on ads.
Later came Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat—all with one core idea—giving a platform for people to share their daily life experiences. User-generated content became the main thing. To monetize the platforms, the only viable model was through allowing companies to place ads while people used the service for free. As people generated more content, engagement grew.