Celebrating 11 Years of Consumer Insights

A look at how social media — and the world — has changed since the birth of Crimson Hexagon

Eleven years ago, Crimson Hexagon was born with the mission of helping brands find meaning in online conversations. In the 11 years since, that objective hasn’t changed, but almost everything else has. Social networks, still in their infancy in 2007, are now among the most powerful and prevalent forces in the world. iPhones weren’t even available in 2007, but now hundreds of millions of consumers use them every day to share images online.

To celebrate our 11th birthday, we decided to look at how the online and social world has changed since 2007 — and a bit about where it’s headed. In this post, we’ll take stock of those 11 years by providing:

  • A recap of the top news and events from 2007
  • A brief history of social media and its major platforms
  • Top social moments of the decade
  • A look into the future of social media

What was happening back in 2007?

 

A brief history of social media

It may be hard to imagine now, but not long ago the world was devoid of social media giants Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Before 2000, forums like LiveJournal connected people online. Then came Friendster in 2002, a social gaming site. MySpace followed the next year, setting a precedent for the social media sites that followed. MySpace was significant in that it drew younger, tech-savvy users.

The industry really solidified in 2006, with the launch of Facebook and Twitter. Unlike countless social media sites like aSmallWorld that have come and gone, Facebook and Twitter have proven their staying power.

Social media sites may have existed since the Internet, but it entered a new, revolutionary phase starting in 2007. A year after two of the largest social media sites, Facebook and Twitter, launched, people were excited about this new way to interact with friends, family, peers, celebrities, strangers, and more. While MySpace would decline in later years, it was still popular among teens in 2007, and its popularity among minors ignited an early discussion about online privacy.

Some of the social media sites we lost along the way

 

Then came the rise of mobile devices, which radically changed how people used social media. It was revolutionary that people from around the world could access social media and the rest of the internet in the palm of their hand. They could post off-the-cuff, spur-of-the-moment content, making social media more accessible, and social sharing more instant.

The rise of connected mobile devices also made social media more visual as smartphones made it easier than ever for people to share photos of their experiences. Instagram, a photo-first social media site, launched in 2010. Then another image-first network, Snapchat followed the next year. Instagram and Snapchat’s enduring popularity proves that image is becoming increasingly important in social media. While Facebook’s lead held steady, other social media sites exhibited higher levels of growth, according to Pew Research Center.

In recent years, social media sites have started to offer users the ability to share or watch a wide range of events in real-time with live-streaming. Facebook launched live streaming capabilities in 2016, called Facebook Live. Facebook Live was widely used during the lead up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, broadcasting debates. Twitter unveiled live streaming in 2016.

More recently, influencers began to dominate social media, primarily fueled by Instagram. Sponsored by brands, influencers fundamentally changed how consumers interact with branded content.

In the long arc of social media development, there have been significant challenges. However, data from Pew shows that people are more engaged than ever; the percentage of U.S. adults social media has increased from 2012-2018. In particular, Instagram exhibited a significant amount of growth.

Social’s Top Moments

Since the beginning, social media has discussed the main topics and news stories of the moment. But what about the top moments for social networks and viral posts?  We compiled a timeline here.

Social media giants Facebook and Twitter launched, providing alternatives to Myspace. But almost immediately, Facebook and Twitter showed promise for staying power. By 2008, Facebook became the most-used social media site, reaching 200 million users. The next year, Twitter proved its usefulness in breaking news by enabling users to report events as they unfold in real time. The particular example was the U.S. Airways plane landing in the Hudson River. Using his iPhone, Twitter user Janis Krums tweeted a photo of the plane submerged in the river.

Recognizing the usefulness of photos and videos, the next era was marked by the launch of  visual-first social platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. During the same time of their rise, Facebook and Twitter filed for their IPOs, signifying that they are here to stay. In subsequent years, social media truly proved that it is an integral part of people’s lives, for both lighthearted news like Ellen’s Oscars selfie and more serious topics like the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Crimson’s Future is Limitless

Crimson Hexagon passed the milestone of collecting one trillion social media posts in 2017, and we’re already working towards a trillion more. To put in perspective, one trillion is 1,000,000 million. One million seconds is equal to about 11 days, but one trillion seconds is about 32,000 years. What can that volume of data do? Answer any question about consumer trends and preferences.

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