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Friday marked the end of AOL Instant Messenger. It had previously been announced that the early example of social media would end its life in 2017, but hangers-on were given time to say goodbye. The final shutdown was probably a noteworthy milestone for any social media company that has been in the industry for a particularly long time.

AIM was thoroughly outmoded by the time it was laid to rest, having reached its peak in 2001 with 36 million active users before ending its life with less than 500,000. But for a long span of time in between those two moments, it is for certain that few people would have predicted its demise.

There’s a lesson in this for any who works for a social media company or employs the services of one. Nothing lasts forever, especially in the internet’s landscape of lightning-fast change. For a social media company that cut its teeth on AIM, there was a necessary, gradual process of transitioning from that to platforms like Facebook and Twitter. And in times to come, it will almost certainly be necessary to supplement or even replace those platforms with the next big thing.

An online marketing professional or a social media company must always be looking to the future in this way. And this is a characteristic that site owners must be sure to look for when hiring someone to reach an audience that is as large as possible, and little-inclined to remain stuck in the past.

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