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Before We Were Digital Experts: First Experiences With Social Media

Before learning to build websites and craft campaigns in the studio, we were racing home from school to chat on AIM with friends and update our Myspace Top 8. Take a moment to reminisce as a few members of the AYC team recount their first social media experiences.   

Colleen Wilson, Email Marketing Specialist 

My very first interaction with social media was talking to my friends on AIM after school. We all know making our buddy profiles and away messages were the best! However, the first time I can remember social media directly affecting the lives of people around me was in high school when Formspring.me gained popularity.

Formspring.me was a question-and-answer based social network where you would register your name and people could anonymously ask you questions; very much like “Ask Me Anything” forums we still see today. It was launched in 2009 and it gained 1 million users in its first 45 days. It didn’t take long before it led to cyberbullying and harassment through anonymous questions; especially among teenagers. Over the course of just under 2 years, there were several suicide deaths links to the bullying on Formspring.me, and it gained a lot of media attention.

I was a senior in high school when this launched and it the first time that I remember hearing about cyberbullying. I could see how it harmed people around me. This is when I began to steer towards picture-based social media platforms that contained less drama like Instagram and Snapchat – and that is still where I am today!

 

Jacob Marcinek, Website Strategist

The first “social media” platform I used was ICQ messenger. The name comes from the phrase “I Seek You.” This makes me wonder if it was really designed to be a dating service. Anyway, in its prime ICQ had over 100 million users.  

This was before cellphones when it was common to ask someone for an ICQ or AIM handle rather than a cell number or snapchat username. My friends and I primarily used it to discuss when we would be meeting to play pool or go for a bike ride. 

 

Jamie Hessert, Account Manager

The first experience with social media I can remember was with AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). We didn’t have apps downloaded on our phones like FB messenger – I’m pretty sure I didn’t even have a phone. I would run home after school, sit at the computer in my parent’s room and chat for hours about nothing. And make up tons of away messages with lyrics probably by: Usher, Juvenile, or Nelly.

 

Michelle Burke, Project Manager 

The evolution of my social media usage is probably one of a similar timeline to most other people in my age group. I started out with AIM, of course (you could find me chatting it up under the screen name PrettyAngel328 in my early days), and moved through the popular sites as the internet grew and as I aged. As more social sites became available, more exciting content and capabilities also became available. There was something for every need. If I wanted to write a blog about how emo I was feeling, I’d log onto my Live Journal account. If I wanted to share some pictures with my friends, Photobucket. If I wanted to do all of those things in one place, log onto MySpace. The early internet was a fun place full of intrigue and mystery that allowed people to foster creativity and new friendships without the social pressures of “real life”, which was so appealing to my awkward teenage self.

These days the internet is really its own entity. Social sites are better tailored for our needs and especially well-suited for marketing of all kinds. Now you can find me scrolling through Instagram and Twitter mostly, and predominantly for things like politics, recipes or other general inspiration. I make sure to support brands that I care about and that I want to see succeed, since I know just how important proper social media promotion can be to a brand that is just taking off or a local brand that might not have the resources to promote at a higher level. Not only is social media still fun and entertaining, but it is also ever-changing and (if possible) even more interesting by the day, as user interactions continue to define better ways to use it. The evolution of social media has been an interesting one to watch and participate in, and I’m really quite curious to see what’s next and how we social media users shape its evolution even further!

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