title. social media sites are based around the social aspect of interacting and sharing with other people, and its unlikely that people would start using it when theres only a handful of other people. so how exactly do they start up a user base?
Watch The Social Network for a good idea of how Facebook started. But that was a different time.
Facebook is everywhere now. It’s easily integrated with everything through APIs. I honestly think it would be incredibly difficult for a new, competing network to be started today. Maybe if it had some really unique and appealing feature or something… One that couldn’t be copied…
A lot of big companies start for one or more reasons.
Usually there’s a need that isn’t being met. In Twitter’s case, it was “text messages, but on the web” (back in 2006, text messages still cost 0.25c AUD in Australia and you could send WAY more tweets for the same cost). Sometimes it’s because it’s an improvement on an existing idea. In Facebook’s case, it was “MySpace, but less annoying”, while Reddit’s was no doubt “a bunch of different forums, but on one site”
Sometimes people are drawn to the novelty of a site. YouTube has been around since 2005, and TikTok since 2016, but while YouTube nailed the “here’s one central spot to upload and watch videos” thing, especially with its related videos algorithm, TikTok really nailed the “here’s some short videos, just scroll down to waste an hour of your life” thing.
So basically social media sites start because people are unhappy with what’s already out there, or there’s nothing out there. Also money. Lots of money. You don’t get anywhere without funding.
Money and marketing decisions! Just like any other business. Where does the first customer come from? It depends!
It depends on the specific social media site. Some focus on a particular niche first — for example, Facebook partnered with colleges and universities.
Others pour money into advertising to help find new users.
Others focus on a feature or functionality at first — for example, Twitter differentiated itself with the character limit. Instagram started as a photo editing/sharing platform.
You start with an idea that targets a certain niche that noone else has targeted, or at least not dominated the market yet. So like Instagram, they weren’ t the first photo sharing site, but they targeted the niche by making a quick and very convenient photo sharing platform where you can easily see what you friends and celebs are posting.
In recent times, the strategy has then been to create demand for the platform among the population. Main way is to artificially limit the supply so people are clamouring for it. Back in the early days you needed an invite from an existing user to set up Facebook, heck or even Gmail. Creating that FOMO gets people eager to join the platform. You can also create demand by just making the platform ‘cool’ in general. I’ve seen modern platforms do this by targeting influencers and celebs first. Get them on board and posting stuff, and fans will want to get on board as well.
Thereafter its about ensuring your platform continues to serve the niche it was intended for and hope people.dont jump ship to another platform.
Usually by focusing on a specific niche that’s easier to target and has a specific interest in interacting with other people in that niche, like students for example. In that way, I don’t care if my Grandma is on the new social media Friend-Book, since all my close friends at the school all heard about it at approximately the same time and joined together. From the initial core of users it’s possible to expand outside that initial niche.