Top 10 Powerful Moments That Shaped Social Media History Over the Last 20 Years

Do you remember your first social media profile? Or, how about your first social media post?

My first profile was on Myspace, my first friend was Tom from Myspace, and my first post was something like, Myspace is awesome!

The rest is history.

Social media has changed and evolved so much since the early days, it’s almost hard to believe how far we’ve come.How people use social media has changed as well. Gen Zs (now beginning to enter the workforce) only know a world with social media, compared to their counterparts Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers who can still fondly remember back to the days of snail mail and dial-up modems!

In light of#SMDay (6/30/2017), we’re teaming up with Bitlyto share stories and celebrate the positive impact that social media has had on individuals, businesses, and the globe over the last 20 glorious years all using the hashtag #impactofsocial. Check out the details at the bottom of this post about how you can join in on the fun!

Here’s a look at 10 powerfulmoments that shaped the social media history.

Let’s dive in!

10 Powerful Moments That Shaped Social Media Over the Last 20 Years

Top 10 powerfulmoments that shaped social media history

There have been so many wonderful moments over the last 20 years on social media that it was quite a challenge to boil them down to just 10! But since we’re celebrating thepositive impact of social mediaon people’s lives and on the world for this campaign, these are all particularly meaningful and important moments in the social media history.

Feel free to jump to a certain moment(s) in the social media history!

Let’s count down to the top moment in the social media history!

10. The Birth of Facebook

Facebook, the social media network that has an incredible two billion monthly active users (nearly a third of the earth’s population), is the only network that I’ll mention in this post for moments-sake. Given its sheer size, the impact it has made on families, friends, businesses, and world events, I felt as though I might be remiss without a mention of Facebook somewhere!

It’s amazing to imagine what the world might be like if Facebook had never captured the hearts and minds of so many people the way it did. One of my favorite Facebook moments, in particular, is during an early 2004 interview on CNBC with Mark Zuckerberg:

The anchor asks: Now there’s a new form of cyber match-making, college networking websites. Is this perhaps thenext big thing? The Facebook. Mark, if someone was to put the question to you about the magnitude of what you’ve launched; how big do you think your product or service is?

We all know the rest!

A short six years after this interview (2010), Zuckerberg would go on to become Time’s Person of the Year along with many other accolades along the way. Facebook has changed the way we interact and communicate on all levels and only time will tell if another network will come along and take its place in social media history.

9. Miracle on the Hudson

It was January 15, 2009 when U.S. Airways Flight 1549 took off from LaGuardia Airport in New York and struck a flock of birds on the way up. Moments later, both engines were lost and Captain Chesley Sully Sullenberger, along with his co-pilot, Jeff Skiles, were asked to pull off the miraculous landing.

When the plane finally landed safely in the frigid Hudson River waters, all 155 passengers on board were safe. The Miracle on the Hudson has been called the most successful ditching in aviation history.

But something else happened that day Jeff Krums tweeted:


Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey told CNBCin 2013 how that changed Twitter and the way people get news.

It changed everything. Suddenly the world turned its attention because we were the source of news-and it wasn’t us, it was this person in the boat using the service, which is even more amazing.

One small tweet began the Twitter revolution. Hundreds of millions of people now turn to Twitter as a source of news, a place to build a following, a place to share your stories and connect with others.

Twitter is also the platform that our co-founder, Joel Gascoigne, successfullybuilt Buffer on back in 2010! This powerful moment in social media history has a special place in our hearts.

8. Going Viral

How many of you have sat around with friends or family and binge-watched several classicYouTubevideos in a row? I know I have!

What is now one of the largest social media networkson the planet (more than 1.5 billion peoplelog in every month), started with a few viral hits and began a trend that today we might call, going viral. This launchedYouTube into a massive entertainment hub complete with TV streaming, movies, music videos, tutorials, celebrities, vloggers, and of course, viral videos.

Let’s take a look at three early videos that helped to shape the viral side of social media history:

Charlie Bit My Finger (Published: 5/22/2007 851,140,074 views)

Chocolate Rain (Published: 4/22/2007 113,787,749 views)

Numa Numa (Published: 12/11/2006 26,800,130 views)

Honorable Mention: Lazy Sunday

In December of 2005, the first viral video appeared online under the name Lazy Sunday. It was the second-ever SNL Digital Short aired and featured cast members, Chris Parnell and Andy Samberg. Following its appearance on SNL, the video appeared on YouTube and was viewed more than five million times until February 2006 when NBC Universal asked the site to remove it.

7.Ellen’s Selfie (and #NuggsForCarter)

Ellen DeGeneres’ selfie that took the social media world by storm is the epitome of everything that is awesome about social media.


First, it is the fact that this photo is in selfie form which has come to be a staple of how photos are taken and shared across social media platforms. Two, it shows just how light-hearted, yet powerful social media can be. A smiling group of beloved actors, actresses, and performers has the ability to touch the lives of the more than 3,400,000 people who retweeted it and the millions more that saw it. For more than three years, Ellen’s selfie held the title of themost retweeted tweet of all time.

That was until Nevada teenager Carter Wilkerson’s plea for free chicken nuggets from Wendy’s went viral.


The world watched as #NuggsForCarter swept Twitter like wildfire eventually passing Ellen’s selfie as the most retweeted tweet of all time. And although the #NuggsForCarter tweet never quite reached 18 million, Wendy’s still awarded Carter free nuggets for a year anyways. A win-win!

In my experience, we as social media managers tend to take social media very seriously. But if we can learn anything from Ellen’s selfie and #NuggsForCarter, it’s that social media is meant to be a fun and sprightly place for people to share stories, connect, and be themselves.

If you’d like to hear more about the Nuggs Guy and how entrepreneurs and small businesses use social media, check out episode #47 of The Science of Social Media where we chat with Paul Jarvis.

6.NASA’s #YearInSpace

Named one of the most influential social media campaigns of 2016 (and maybe of all time), NASA’s #AYearInSpace demonstrates the wildly powerful ability of social media to document the human condition.


What made the mission so unique is that NASAAstronaut Scott Kellyhas an identical twin brother he was to be compared with (physically) upon his return in hopes to uncover what happens to the human body after long exposures in space.

Astronaut Kelly tweeted continuously using the hashtag #YearInSpace, which was followed closely by millions of intrigued spectators. While tumbling around in zero gravity aboard the ISS, he even hosted an AMA session on Reddit!

This was a powerful moment in the social media history because we were able to experience space first-hand from the comfort of our own homes. People from all over the world chimed in using #YearInSpace to express their support, marvel in the wonder of the cosmos, and share an interconnectedness of human activity.

5.ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was a wonderful testament to the power of social media to make a charitable impact on an important cause. Since 2014, largely due to social media, the ALS Association has raised more than $115 millionfor research towards Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

It drew the attention of hundreds of thousands of people, including celebrities like President Obama, LeBron James, Lady Gaga, Sergey Brin, Sheryl Sandberg, and Bill Gates. Within the first 15 days of the campaign taking off, the ALS Association had received $15 million in donations from 307,600 new, first-time donors.

What followed was an interesting study into viral content and how organizations might be able to repeat this virality in the future. And while no definite conclusion was made from Facebook’s study and visualization, many attribute the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge success to former Boston College baseball player, Pete Frates, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012 (helping to explain the concentration).

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Graph

The Ice Bucket Challenge can help to act as a guide or blueprint for achieving viral success via social media. As TechCrunch author, Sarah Perez writes, Simply ask the selfie generation to once again turn their cameras on themselves, but infuse that act with a higher purpose and you have a recipe for success.


Over the past several years, social media has become an important communication tool for political groups and social movements to organize and take action. One of those social movements, #BlackLivesMatter, has become one of the largest in the social media history. Used more than 12 million times, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter is the third most-used Twitter hashtag around a social cause.

Analysis of #BlackLivesMatter Hashtag

#BlackLivesMatter is an incredibly powerful example of how a social media hashtag can ignite action in the real world and be tied directly to a major movement. The implications for something like this are huge considering that we are all only becoming more digitally connected by the day.

Aquote from Bijan Stephen in WIREDhelps to sum it up perfectly:

In the 1960s, if you were a civil rights worker and you needed to get some urgent news out to the rest of the world, you would likely head straight for a telephone. If you’re a civil rights activist in 2015 and you need to get some news out, your first move is to choose a social media platform.

3. Arab Spring

I’ll never forget the digital marketing course I took in college that examined social media’s impact on the Arab Spring. It was then, back in 2011 as a student, that I realized the true power and potential implications of social media. Up until that point, I thought social media was only for sharing pictures with friends and family!

There has since been a strong debate over the role and influence that social media played in the Arab Spring. Researchers at the University of Washingtonexamined more than three million tweets, gigabytes of YouTube content, and thousands of blog posts and found that social media played a central role in shaping political debates in the Arab Spring.

Arab Spring Map Overview

Our evidence suggests that social media carried a cascade of messages about freedom and democracy across North Africa and the Middle East, and helped raise expectations for the success of political uprising, said Philip Howard, project lead and professor at the University of Washington. People who shared interest in democracy built extensive social networks and organized political action. Social media became a critical part of the toolkit for greater freedom.

2. Community Support during World Tragedies

Social media can mean the difference between a few minutes or even a few seconds, and in unforeseen often-desperate situations, a few seconds can mean the world.

Moments after the tragic events in Brussels, friends and family members turned to Facebook and Twitter for information regarding anyone they might have known to be involved.

Following the Boston Marathon bombings, one-quarter of Americans looked to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites for information, according to The Pew Research Center. Boston community membersoffered complete strangers a warm bed, food, and a shower when roads and hotels were closed (via a simpleGoogle Doc).

Boston Marathon Google Doc

Social media also provides essential communication channelsafterthese tragic events. Thinking back to Paris in 2015, social media helped to give many people a feeling of comfort, of solidarity, and of solace knowing that they would not have to face this alone. It acted as a support system even though we were all thousands of miles apart.

1. Natural Disaster Relief

One of the biggest strengths of social media is the speed at which it can disseminate important information to a large number of people in a very short amount of time. For example, after a 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, non-profits and relief groups used social media to mobilize rescue efforts and support the community in various ways.

According to a CNN report, social media Twitter specifically became a pivotal tool in the fundraising efforts that raised millions of dollars in aid for the country. By the end of the week, the use of social media helped to raise more than $8 million in relief.

Haiti Earthquake 2010

Photo: Yale Economic Review

Haiti is just one of many cases where social media played an integral role in disaster relief. The earthquake and tsunami in Japan (2011), Hurricane Irene (2011), Superstorm Sandy (2012), and the earthquake in Nepal (2015) are examples of the power of instant communication. During Sandy, 10,000 Instagram photos (#sandy) were uploaded per second, many complete with geo-tagged locations!

Social media provides real-time, first-person information so that people and organizations can make informed decisions about where to focus their efforts. A critical piece in ensuring that relief is provided where and when it is needed most.

Over to you

It’s quite hard to fathom that social media is only 20 years youngand that the majority of growth and innovation has happened over the last few years.It’s even harder to believe that we’ve likely only just begun! As theworld population continues to increase, communities become more connected, and theinternet becomes available for more and more cities around the world, we will undoubtedly witness a deeper integration of social media into our everyday lives.

This list doesn’t even begin to cover the hundreds of amazing moments throughout social media history. And so it’s up to all of us to celebrate its positive impact on our lives whenever we can. Let’s encourage each other to not take this incredible tool for granted!

Here’s to 20 more years of powerful, wonderful, and world-changing social media history (and beyond!)

Feeling inspired? We’d love for you to share your story!

How has social media positively impacted you? On June 30th (#SMDay) and throughout the weekend, share your social media story with us using the hashtag #impactofsocial! We’ll be retweeting some of our favorites and picking a few winners to receive some special Buffer swag. We’re also hosting five exclusiveFacebook Live chats throughout the day, check out the awesome schedule we have planned below!

Facebook Live #impactofsocial schedule (Tune in Here!)

China’s president sees ‘new challenges’ as Hong Kong increasingly veers towards democracy

Hong KongBobby Yip (Reuters)

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping, visiting Hong Kong for the 20th anniversary of its return to Chinese rule, said on Friday the city’s “one country, two systems” formula faces “new challenges” as pro-democracy campaigners ramped up their protests.

Xi’s visit comes amid heightened tension between China and the former British colony, where many are concerned at increasing interference by Beijing in the city’s affairs, despite the promise of wide-ranging autonomy under the “two systems” agreement.

The battle for full democracy, vividly illustrated by 79 days of “Occupy” street protests in 2014, has been a defining issue for the city of 7.3 million. It has sown distrust, polarized politics and hampered governance.

“In the 20 years since Hong Kong was returned to the motherland, the success of ‘one country, two systems’ is recognized by the whole world,” Xi said in a speech.

“Of course, during the implementation, we’ve met some new situations, new issues and new challenges. On these issues, they need to be regarded correctly and analyzed rationally… Issues are not scary. The key is to think of ways to solve these issues.”

Hong Kong ProtestsReuters/Liau Chung-ren

Without giving specifics, Xi said these needed to be corrected and not handled with an “emotional attitude”.

But in a stark and surprising announcement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong, which laid the blueprint over how the city would be ruled after 1997, no longer had any practical significance.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Thursday had said Britain’s commitment to HongKong, enshrined in the “treaty”, was “just as strong today” as it was 20 years ago.

“Now Hong Kong has returned to the motherland’s embrace for 20 years, the Sino-British Joint Declaration, as a historical document, no longer has any practical significance, and it is not at all binding for the central government’s management over Hong Kong,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.

“The UK has no sovereignty, no power to rule and no power to supervise Hong Kong after the handover.”

Hong Kong ProtestsReuters/Liau Chung-ren

It wasn’t immediately clear if Lu was attacking just the idea of continued British involvement inHong Kong, or the principles in the document itself.

Some lawyers said China‘s disregard for the bilateral treaty was worrying.

“It is a really grave matter for the Chinese to now say the effect of the Joint Declaration was spent. So the carpet, so to speak, has been pulled from under Hong Kongers’ feet,” said barrister and former democratic lawmaker Alan Leong.

Xi earlier inspected more than 3,000 People’s Liberation Army troops on the second day of his first trip as president to the financial hub ahead of Saturday’s anniversary. The PLA said it was the largest military parade in the city since the 1997 handover, though it was similar in style and tone to the one given by his predecessor, Hu Jintao, in 2012.

“Low-Key Presence”

Xi praised the Hong Kong government under Beijing-backed leader Leung Chun-ying, saying it had “effectively tackled Hong Kong independence forces and maintained social stability”.

The presence of the PLA in the city has long been one of the most sensitive parts of the city’s reversion to Chinese rule, but the garrison, thought to number between 8,000 and 10,000, has kept a noticeably low-key presence.

xi jinping china presidentMatt Mills McKnight-Pool/Getty Images

Security has been tight ahead of the July 1 anniversary, with some 9,000 police reportedly deployed to maintain order. Protesters have been kept well away from Xi and his entourage, his hotel, and the venue for Saturday’s ceremony.

Banners critical of China have been largely absent from the streets, though a rally on Saturday could draw tens of thousands of people in an annual demand for full democracy.

Few expect anywhere near the scale of protest seen during the 2014 Occupy movement during Xi’s visit, but activists and civil society groups are planning a number of demonstrations.

Hundreds of protesters demanded the release of Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo and justice for victims of the Tiananmen crackdown in Beijing in 1989.

But the organizers of a pro-independence rally claiming that Hong Kong had now in effect become a repressed Chinese colony called off their plans at the last minute because of what they said was heavy police pressure.

Hong Kong authorities released 26 pro-democracy protesters on Friday who were arrested before Xi’s arrival.

“Democracy Now! Now!” they shouted on being released, including young Occupy protest leader Joshua Wong.

(Additional reporting by Donny Kwok, Susan Gao, William Ho and Jasper Ng, Doris Huang; Editing by James Pomfret and Nick Macfie)

NOW WATCH: JIM ROGERS: The worst crash in our lifetime is coming

PayPal Doesn’t Have to be Hard, Read This Overview

How to Get Started with PayPal

When it comes to turning your website into a money-making business, PayPal is a popular choice for handling transactions. The service is known for being secure, convenient and fast – payments can show up in your account within minutes of a sale. But there are costs associated with using PayPal to process payments, so you’ll have to weigh the options to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

How to Get Started with PayPal

Here’s a breakdown of the company’s offerings to help you decide.

PayPal’s Options for Online Businesses

First you’ll have to choose between a business and a premier account. Both carry a standard fee for online payments and invoicing: 2.9 percent plus 30 cents per transaction within the U.S.

PayPal recommends a premier account for casual sellers – those who don’t rely on their site for a steady source of income and plan on purchasing as well as selling. To access this account type, you first have to get a business account and then downgrade to the premier account. The business account, on the other hand, requires you to operate under a company or group name.

Keep in mind that there are additional fees for each account type for things like chargebacks and refunds. And extras, like recurring billing, have costs associated with them as well.

After you’ve decided on an account type, you’ll need to compare PayPal’s payment and checkout products.

Key feature(s) Additional costs (beyond the standard 2.9 percent plus 30 cents per transaction) Best for
Payments Standard Quick setup, lets you accept credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, and PayPal Credit. From there you can add a link and invoices to your payment options, at no additional cost None General billing
Payments Pro Works with credit cards, PayPal Credit, and PayPal; has a virtual terminal option (to accept phone, fax and mail orders online); it’s also compatible with many existing checkout systems $30 per month Keeping the checkout process on your site (rather than directing buyers to PayPal’s site) and customizing the checkout experience
Payments Advanced Works with many popular checkout systems $5 per month Housing the checkout process on your site, as long as you don’t need a virtual terminal (like the one offered in the Pro account)
Express Checkout Works with many popular checkout systems None Quick checkouts for sites that already accept credit cards

PayPal also has a partner service called Braintreethatdelivers a similar checkout experience to Payments Pro. It offers a standard checkout at no extra cost beyond PayPal’s basic transaction fees, with the option to upgrade to a higher-priced, but more customizable checkout service. If your customers prefer paying with virtual cash and accounts – think Apple Pay and Bitcoin – it’s your best bet.

Adding PayPal to Your Site

Once you have a PayPal business or premier account, you’ll need to give customers access to your products. Depending on which service you select, you may need to insert a link to your PayPal account, add a contact form, insert a bit of code onto your website or create a button through PayPal’s site.

Read more about adding PayPal to your site here.

Alternatives to PayPal

If you dislike the idea of paying fees or don’t want to use PayPal, there are alternatives that can get the job done.

If you already have a Google account,Google Wallet could be a solid option. There are no fees to send or receive money, but it’s only available for businesses that are sole proprietorships (rather than registered corporations). Otherwise, sites like Amazon Pay (which carries the same standard rate as PayPal for domestic transactions) and TransferWise (for international payments) are worth looking into.

PayPal Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “PayPal Doesn’t Have to be Hard, Read This Overview” was first published on Small Business Trends

Kate Edwards resigns from top post at the International Game Developers Association

Kate Edwards carved out a role as a fearless advocate for game developers in the past four-and-a-half years. Now, she is resigning her role as executive director of the International Game Developers Association, the advocacy and networking group for the world’s game developers.

Edwards stood up for developers on issues including Gamergate, diversity, and unpaid crunch time. She was one of the most outspoken advocates on feminist and labor issues for game developers, and she was frequently criticized for taking strong stands.

In a message, Edwards told GamesBeat, I felt it’s time for me to move on. When I first took the IGDA role, I told the board that this is likely a three- to five-year mission for me, and here I am nearly at five years. My top goals were to reinvigorate the IGDA’s relevance, reinstate the IGDA’s core mission as an advocacy org and voice for game developers (not companies), and to emphasize the ‘I’ part of the IGDA and strengthen our international presence.

She added, I feel I’ve accomplished all of those things, while enduring a lot of challenges (including weathering GamerGate), and now it’s time for someone with a different skill set to carry the IGDA forward.

Edwards said the departure is amicable.

Above: Kate Edwards of the IGDA and Dean Takahashi of GamesBeat at GamesBeat 2015.

Image Credit: Michael O’Donnell/VentureBeat

I think it’s good for both the IGDA and for me, she wrote. For some it likely seems pretty sudden or abrupt, but the reality is that it’s something I’ve been mulling over for a while as this five-year timeframe started to come into view. The reality is that there’s never a perfect stopping point for a job like this, with so very many issues, activities, connections, and responsibilities in play. But now with GDC and E3 completed this year, it’s probably a better time than ever.

She doesn’t have another job lined up yet.

I’m entertaining a variety of options, from another leadership role, other forms of advocacy, and of course my core consulting expertise in content culturalization, she said.

Edwards is trained as a geographer, and for 23 years, she has advised companies about how their content would fit different territories around the world.

I enjoyed having Edwards as a speaker at our GamesBeat events. She was brave enough to show up in cosplay, and it reflected her fearless spirit in leading the IGDA.

Above: The International Game Developers Association chief Kate Edwards talks game-design job satisfaction with USGamer senior editor Kat Bailey at GamesBeat 2015.

Image Credit: Michael O’Donnell/GamesBeat

Everyone can extend the shelf life of their fruits and vegetables with this simple kitchen tool

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30541641024195p__2Bed Bath & BeyondSpringtime means that those delicious perishables like strawberries, carrots, bananas, lettuce, pineapple, and more are all in-season, and therefore less expensive and likely more tasty than they are at any other time.

But many of us skip buying an avocado or blueberries because we know that unless we definitely eat all of it within the next few days, we’ll be wasting our money.

I buy groceries for myself alone, and it’s not an easy task where perishables are concerned.

Lately, I’ve been skipping the healthier options that I actually like to eat, but not because I’d prefer to have something more packed with sodium, fat, and sugar, but because I hate to come home and literally see my money rotting away in the form of spinach leaves.

Bluapple was scientifically engineered to slow the spoilage of fruits and vegetables, and it’s actually a pretty simple mechanism.

Your produce ripens because your veggies and fruits naturally give off ethylene gas to coordinate uniform ripening. So once you put them in a confined space, like a drawer in your refrigerator, the trapped ethylene gas only continues to speed up the ripening process. What Bluapple does is absorb that ethylene gas and slow the process down. It’ll be effective for about three months in a typical home refrigerator or storage container. It won’t ever “wear out” – instead, it’ll just continue to absorb the ethylene until it has reached its capacity. Simply throw it in with the rest of the produce and letthe ethylene absorption work for you.

Perishables like avocados and salad mix are hard to justify buying when their shelf life is so short, but Bluapple will help keep them fresh for longer so you can eat healthy whenever you want.

For under $15, it’s a great investment. If it doesn’t work for you, which would be at odds with the majority of users, then you haven’t really lost much. But if it works, by Bluapple’s calculations, it can save the average household up to $600 a year. Not to mention that being able to hold onto produce for potentially as long as more processed options might mean that more families and single individuals can truly afford to eat healthily.Plus, it’s never fun to feel like your meals are dictated by the rapid decline of what you’ve bought to enjoy – if it’s possible to have more control over your choices, that should extend ideally to being able to eat what you like exactly when you want it.

If you think you’d like using a Bluapple, the company makes a one-year refill kit that’s meant to round out the Bluapple Ethylene gas-management line, which basically just means customers can reuse their Bluapples and cut down on how many they send to the landfill. Of the 183 customer reviews left, it has a solid 4.5 stars.

Bluapple One-Year Combo Pack, $13.40