In 2001, internet penetration ran at 10% or less, even in advanced markets, and online social networks barely existed.

Today, they are the most widely-used online services, with membership of the largest networks reaching well into the hundreds of millions.

Facebook has over 750 million members, and China’s Tencent QQ instant messaging network over 600 million–figures that are likely to be out of date if you read this more than a few weeks in the future.

In the US, Facebook alone accounted for almost 9% of all website use in 2010, overtaking Google as the most-visited site.

It’s been a dynamic decade for online social networking. It’s also been a disruptive one.

The rise of networking giants such as Facebook and Twitter can seem inevitable in hindsight, but there’s been a rapid turnover of winners and losers.

MySpace, which at its peak claimed membership by one in four Americans, was sold by News Corporation in June 2011 for a fraction of the price it paid, its active user base collapsing.

For those who look at Facebook in the 2010s and see nothing but runaway growth, MySpace should be a reminder that present scale is no guarantee of future success.

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