Before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat there was MySpace. In my younger years MySpace was the only option when it came to social networks. If you didn’t have a MySpace you weren’t cool. In a time when there was not a “following” or “views” there were MySpace friends. Anyone that lived through the MySpace era can remember all the friends Tom had. MySpace laid the foundation for the social media sites Facebook and Twitter and he is how it started.
The Beginning of MySpace
In 2003, Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe wanted a way to upload share files with friends. At the time programs such as Kazaa, Napster and LimeWire were very popular amongst college students. The problem with these programs is they were not social. You didn’t even have a way to create a profile. You had a username but not a profile. This was probably a good thing as many college guys uploaded and shared quite a bit of “adult” content. That is another story for another time.
I can remember sitting in my NC State dorm room trying to find my favorite songs on LimeWire and Kazaa. If I was lucky I would bump into another college student that had similar tastes. I would grab their entire folder and drag it to my computer. Sometimes this contained pirated music that had the classic ereareskljaeraklsejrlkj sound in the middle of a song. The Dave Matthews Band concert songs were known for the erereerkaljsfdlkdasfuo.
After doing this for about a year I got tired of trying to find other users that had similar tastes. I simply searched on a per song or per video basis. This was very cumbersome and time consuming. Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe realized this so they came up with an alternative. They created MySpace as a way for fans of music to upload songs, create a profile and even share pictures. MySpace started as a way to share music you liked. The creators quickly realized that high school and college kids wanted to share much more than music.
MySpace encouraged users to accumulate and share songs/files with as many friends as possible. MySpace was one of the first web portals that showed, to the world, how many friends you had. It became a competition to see who could get the most friends. As you can imagine, teens and college students were willing to do anything to break the 1000 mark and then the 10,000. Heck, some MySpacers even amassed over 100,000 “friends” on their way to Internet stardom.
How Did MySpace Become Popular
There is always a tipping point when it comes to popularity of a product or service. MySpace didn’t launch with 10,000 users ready to go. Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe didn’t buy a Super Bowl ad that had everyone begging to be members of the site. MySpace became popular because of Tila Tequila. Tequila was the first Internet celebrity. She was ahead of Paris Hilton, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner. In fact, some would argue she created the mass hysteria for fans to follow celebrities online.
Tequila had been removed from social website Friendster multiple times for her inappropriate behavior. Tom Anderson saw an opportunity and contacted Tequila. She came to MySpace and was quoted as saying she felt like the loser at the wrong party because no one was on MySpace. She sent out between 40,000 and 50,000 emails asking all her Friendster “friends” and “fans” to follower her over to MySpace. Within a few days MySpace had a large group of people that were engaging and interactng.
Once these fans saw Tila Tequila sharing promiscuous photos on MySpace they were hooked. If she happened to accept your friend request you felt like you truly knew her. Remember, this was well before Twitter became the place for celebrities to gain a following.
At her peak, Tequila had around 1.5 million friends on MySpace. When someone asks you how Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat became so popular you can smirk and tell them it was all because of two horny guys looking for a way to share music and “other” files. Their reaching out to an outspoken drama queen is what started the social media frenzy we see today.
For more on Tila Tequila and her rise and fall check out this link.