Social media has become an integral part of our modern lives. We use it to stay connected with friends and family, share news, and even for business purposes.

But have you ever wondered about the origins of social media theory? Who came up with the idea of social media, and how did it evolve over time? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the history of social media theory.

The Birth of Social Media Theory

The concept of social media dates back to the early days of the internet. In the 1990s, online forums and bulletin boards emerged as a way for people to connect and share information on various topics. However, it wasn’t until the mid-2000s that social media as we know it today began to take shape.

Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook

One of the most well-known figures in social media theory is Mark Zuckerberg. In 2004, he launched Facebook from his college dorm room at Harvard University. Initially, Facebook was only available to Harvard students but quickly expanded to other universities and eventually became open to anyone with an email address.

Facebook’s success was due in large part to its ability to create a sense of community among its users. By allowing people to connect with friends and family members online, Facebook tapped into a fundamental human need for social interaction.

The Four Pillars of Social Media

In 2006, Erik Qualman outlined what he called “The Four Pillars of Social Media” in his book “Socialnomics.” These pillars include:

Qualman argued that these pillars were essential for businesses looking to succeed in the age of social media. By listening to their customers, engaging with them, being transparent about their practices, and staying true to their brand values, businesses could create a loyal following online.

Other Key Figures in Social Media Theory

While Zuckerberg and Qualman are two of the most well-known figures in social media theory, there are many others who have contributed to its development over the years. Some of these include:

Each of these individuals has brought a unique perspective to the study of social media. Anderson’s concept of the long tail, for example, highlights the power of niche communities online.

Shirky’s work explores how technology is changing the way we communicate and collaborate. Boyd’s research focuses on how young people use social media to navigate complex social dynamics.


As we’ve seen, social media theory has a rich history that spans several decades. From online forums to Facebook and beyond, it has evolved into a powerful tool for communication and community-building.

While there are many key figures who have contributed to its development over the years, one thing is clear: social media is here to stay. Whether you’re a business looking to connect with customers or an individual seeking to build relationships online, understanding social media theory is essential in today’s digital age.