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It’s pretty clear by now that social media has become an intrinsic part of the Web. It isn’t going anywhere any time soon, if ever. And that’s just as well because, in truth, social media has always been a part of the Web.

The early usenets of the 1980s are a precursor to the technology that is used for many social media sites today. Users subscribed to newsgroups related to a particular topic and posted comments in a forum-like succession. However, in those days, design was nowhere near as sophisticated as it is today.

Before that, BBSs, or online bulletin boards, served a social function.

In the 1990s when the World Wide Web first started taking off, forums and dating sites were some of the earliest social media sites. Many people spent a lot of time in forums, chatting it up with their friends on a variety of topics.

By 2000, it was clear that social websites were going to be a big part of the Web. MySpace pioneered the modern social media website as early as 2003. By 2006 it became the largest social media website online. In 2008, Facebook surpassed it. And today there is a social network for almost every niche under the sun. But I think there is still room to grow.

Social media communities develop in a number of ways. They are not always designed to be social networks in the sense of Facebook and MySpace. They can come together in any number of fashions.

  • Blogs
  • Forums
  • Online chats
  • Video sharing
  • Online gaming

These are just a few ways to build a social media community.

It’s important to keep in mind that you build your social media community around the needs of your website users. What do they want and what do they expect from a community? Have you asked?

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