The History of Social Media and Impact on Society

I stumbled upon the graphic, the “History of Social Media.” The image comes from Jump Media. Be sure to click the image to explore the infographic in depth. As you can see, people have been using social media for centuries. The desire to connect, share and collaborate is something that is innately human. Many of us have a desire to share information, learn new insights, and be exposed to knowledge. This has occurred for centuries, with new and emerging technology, we have been able to expedite the sharing of knowledge and information.

I’ve mentioned this in previous blog posts, but the concept of losing touch, to me, seems archaic. In today’s world, Facebook and Twitter dominate our digital social interactions, how this will look in in 10-20 years, who knows. Too often we are using social media to replace in person meetings. Personally, my greatest experiences in social media has been using social media to facilitate an in person meeting, whether this be by sending a quick note on LinkedIn, on Twitter, Facebook or through GovLoop. No tool or technology will ever replace human interaction (and if one is ever developed, I cannot wait to see it!), that’s why social media is a powerful tool to connect and network with an infinite amount of people.

I found the History of Social Media Chart chart interesting to look at, and decided to write out four reasons social media has moved far away from a fad, and institutionalized into our society. There are dozens of examples, so would love to hear some of your insights, please feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email with some ideas, always great to connect ([email protected]).

Social Media Facilitates Storytelling

Storytelling a powerful skill to have, some people are gifted orators, others gifted writers. To tell a story in a captivating and meaningful way is an important trait. I remember sitting around the dinner table, listening carefully to my grandfather tell a story, he may have told the same story twenty times, but everytime I heard something new, and saw from a new perspective. Now, I’ve written about some of those stories, shared some experiences, and through social media, been able to work on my storytelling.

But storytelling is not just an important personal skill to obtain, it is critical for organizations. Citizens need to know, and must know, the good work that government is doing, the story of successful programs, the impact government programs have on families and in our communities. Social media is a fantastic mechanism for government to tell their story.


On any given day, I can connect with dozens of people and I can learn from their experiences. I love learning about random topics, exploring new ideas, and finding connections between seemingly disparate concepts. Social media facilitates this kind of hyperconnectivity in our society.

Wisdom of the Crowds

Knowledge is everywhere with social media – the core question many agencies are grappling with is: how do we extract knowledge from social media? How do we use this data to make a positive impact on our decision making? Well, through new data collection methods, predictive analytics, and more robust social media analysis tools, value is become more and more apparent, and knowledge is become easier to extract.

Sharing Knowledge

GovLoop is a perfect example, think of all the knowledge stored here. GovLoop is a knowledge hub and repository of information for the government community. This trend can be replicated across dozens of websites. So not only is there a dozens of people searching for knowledge and trying to gain wisdom, they are also sharing their passions and knowledge across the web.

Although social media does have numerous benefits in our society, there are still challenges to fully leveraging value. I always like to see when organizations post their terms of use for a social network, comment policy and moderation policy. These are all great and important standards for any social media initiative. Although these are important, the greatest is when the community speaks up and tells people they are out of line, self policing on social networks shows that people value the given community, and want to keep discussions constructive.

I’d love to hear your reasons why you think social media has revolutionized our society, what have maybe been the pitfalls?

The Federal Consulting Group (FCG) is a franchise within the U.S. Department of the Interior. As the successor to the Federal Quality Institute, FCG has been advising and assisting federal agencies for more than 20 years with many of their senior consultants achieving results in large, high-profile government programs and projects. Check out their “Citizen Engagement & Customer Service” group on GovLoop as well as the Communications & Citizen Engagement Sub-Community of which they are a council member.

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Faye Newsham


I’m interested in why online students are still prety far from the on-campus “college experience” – especially since the on-campus students use social media as much as the online ones. I’m excited to see the depth of the infographic since I frequently hear from posters who claim that “social media” didn’t start until the 90s or 2000s… and I have to turn around and say, “gosh, I used THAT in the 80s, I think social media is a lot older than that, don’t you?”

Thanks for the post!

Lauren Modeen

A tool is just a tool. How we use the tool is social media to me. My grandfather, a ham radio operator, was expert in social media 🙂

Crystal Gottfried

Loved the historical review of something my group of Millenials take for granted. Watching as social networks were evolving, I sometimes thought “the craze” wouldn’t last; but social networking has lasted, it’s grown, it’s improved and people who use technology can’t get enough of new ways to communicate and share.

Pat Fiorenza

Thanks for all the comments!

@Lauren – Exactly! Your grandfather absolutely was an expert in social media, probably taught you a thing or two as well.

@Crystal: Thanks for the comment – we do take all this great technology for granted a lot of time. My Great Uncle always reminds me what an awesome time we live in for information. He is absolutely right, it’s crazy to think about how much knowledge/information we have at our fingertips.