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Timeline: social media highs and lows

Social media is taking its next steps towards becoming a fundamental cog in retail’s machine, with the launch of sites such as Wanelo that enable a trackable return on investment. Here we take a look back at the mixed fortunes of some of the digital community.


The site aiming to reconnect old school friends was launched in Britain in 1999 and met with prominent success.  By December 2005, Friends Reunited had more than 15 million members and was bought by ITV for £120m.


Similar in concept to the American social networking site Friendstar which launched the year before, Myspace was created in 2003 and allowed users to create their own profiles, post bulletins and send messages to friends. It was acquired by News Corp in July 2005 for $580m (£371m). However the business since declined andiIn June 2011 was bought by Specific Media Group and Justin Timberlake  for around $35m (£22m).


The business-orientated social networking site aiming to connect professionals was a launched in 2003. As of June 2013, LinkedIn has more than 225 million acquired users in more than 200 countries and territories.


Mark Zuckerberg’s globally successful social media network began life in 2004 as a means for students at Harvard University to connect to each other on the internet. This year the business joined the Fortune 500 list for the first time (place 462) based on its 2012 income of $5.1bn (£3.3bn).


2004 also saw the launch of the prominent image hosting site, known for both its personal and professional photo sharing opportunities. It was acquired by Yahoo! in 2005 and two years ago reported 51 million registered members.


Predominantly used for blogging (as in the name “Blog Early, Blog Often) Bebo was launched in 2005. At its peak it overtook MySpace as the most widely used social networking site in the UK, but in May this year it declared bankruptcy and the site has since been closed “for maintenance” although it is not clear if it will re-open.  


Microblogging site Twitter saw its first 140 character tweet hit the internet in 2006 and in 2009 it was named the third biggest social media site and last year reported more than 500 million registered users.  In 2012 it was valued at $8.4bn (£5.4bn).  

Chat Roulette

This Russian network – created by a 17 year old high school student – randomly pairs strangers from around the world together for webcam-based conversation. Within a year of its launch in 2009, it came under fire for the ease with which people could transmit offensive content. It has around 8.5m monthly users, of which a third are underage.


The popular photo and video sharing site that allows users to edit and hastag their snaps to share with the world was launched in 2010. It gained rapid popularity and within two years had 100 million active users. In April 2012 Facebook bought the business for $1bn (£640m), with chief executive Kevin Systrom reportedly pocketing $400m (£256m) from the deal alone.


Allowing users to create and edit theme-based photo collections, Pinterest launched to a selected group of invitees in 2010 and has since grown to one of the top 10 used social media sites.  In January 2012,  the site had 11.7 million unique users, making it the fastest site in history to break through the 10 million unique visitor mark. In 2012 it was valued at $1.5bn (£960m).

Launched in Latvia 2010, this site allows anonymous users to ask other users questions. It has recently become controversial following the suicide of a 14-year-old girl who was “cyber-bullied” on the network.


Launched in September 2011 this app allows users to send photos or short videos to friends. The app’s popularity has arisen from the fact that once a snap is received and seen it will be completely deleted from the recipients’ phone and the SnapChat server within a maximum time of 10 seconds.  


The online shopping community that allows users to buy “almost everything” they can see on the site launched in 2011.

Facebook Collections

In 2012, Facebook added the option for users to “collect” or “want” product based images shared on the social network, as well as offering a link to buy the items.

Amazon Collections

Launched in 2013, Amazon collections allows customers to create and share different lists of their products.


Launched by Twitter in early 2013, the service offers users to create six-second snapshot videos.

See next week’s issue for more on the social media universe, and how its shift towards transactional sites can be beneficial for business.

Readers' comments (1)

  • What is the point of this article? Busy work for an intern?

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