This post is about the progress of social communication mediums in recent history. I’m going to walk through the different methods of personal media that have been popular over recent years.
Starting with Facebook. The purpose of Facebook in its beginnings was a social network for people to connect and share photos. I can remember at the beginning, people would upload photos in bulk after long trips. Very rarely would a single photo be uploaded because users just wanted to share their trips they had taken. People would never upload their photos during a trip, but it would happen once they were home. Anecdotally this upload almost became a race of everyone on the trip to see who could post their album first. Facebook pioneered photo-sharing in this way because instead of photos sitting in a shoe-box or in iPhoto, people could share them out to their networks.
After this success, Facebook started to branch out to cell phones and started allowing people to “mobile upload” from their portable devices. This fad really started to catch on with the birth of Instagram.
Instagram became popular for a bunch of reasons. The first was that people could easily upload photos because their phone-cameras had good quality and internet. People were “mobile uploading” photos on Facebook for a while, but the quality was never that great – partially because phone technology and a lack of filtering options. This would cause people to upload any kind of random photo with messed up lighting or saturation because there was no alternative. This is where Instagram really started to change the game. Instagram made it easy for people to add filters to their photos, which fixed the quality of how it came out. You can see the first ever posted Instagram photo below of a dog and foot. The photo was uploaded by one of Instagram’ founders, Kevin Systrom, while in Mexico (on spotty wifi) with his girlfriend.
The photo showed how easy it was to upload something and how the photo could turn out so well even if it was something simple. Over time this trend caught on and soon everyone was on the Instagram platform. Phone’s camera quality got better and people even started businesses based on photos from their platform.
Everything was going great for Instagram, however, a problem started to emerge overtime which is a decline in users engaging with photos. The reason for this is that there is such a flood of content that people have become selective with what they like. In addition brands has started to take over and there are less average people posting photos and it is now mostly tailored marketing.
The fix for this was snapchat.
Snapchat gave the world a way for the population to upload photos and videos without having to worry about quality. People were given a way to share what they were doing at that exact moment without the expectation of stunning visuals. Not surprisingly Snapchat has started to draw a crowd similar to the original Instagram user. Snapchat surged in popularity because people can share what they are doing the exact moment they were doing it. It was like texting a friend, but a little less formal.
The newest stage in this type of communication has come and it is Houseparty. This platform has made live-streaming normal. Previously it was kind of taboo to Facetime video a friend just to catch up, but Houseparty makes it easy. There is no longer any delay in being able to say what you are up to because its live, unfiltered and unedited.
The point of this post is to show you how far we have come:
- Facebook became a public storage facility for old photos whether they were weeks or months old. The photos would be partially edited in iPhoto and then uploaded in bulk at once.
- Instagram allowed people to upload photos the same day with a filter. It increased the quality of photos online because of phone-cameras and they were newer than anything on Facebook.
- Snapchat was next and this became the daily-log for millennials. People could easily upload whatever they want knowing it would disappear in 24 hours.
- Now we have Houseparty, which has the spontaneity of Snapchat with the urgency of everything happening live. Viewers can only see the content if they tune in as it is happening.
It’s also interesting to note that Facebook is the mother of this all. They started with their original platform and have expanded it using Instagram and Messenger. Instagram now has all of the functionality of Snapchat and Messenger now has the same features as Houseparty. However, Facebook has the benefit of already having everyone on their platform.
What is next? Is there anything else that will emerge, which is even more spur of the moment than Houseparty? And of course how will Facebook get involved with it.