Social Media Marketing. A Brief History

Social media is one of those phrases that many people think they should know because it involves the word “social”. After all, people are social beings and can’t survive without interaction.

Today’s kids spend most of their time indoors, playing video games or lying around. This is why mothers encourage kids to go outside and be social. Being social is human nature and a desirable thing.

The next important word in social media is “Media” and it refers to the methods of communication information. From news channels to newspapers, these mediums have a huge influence on society and help people stay up-to-date with the latest information. These organizations capture the attention through compelling storytelling and captivating images.

There has always been a strong relationship between businesses and traditional media. Media has always been good at gathering people to read, watch, or listen to something of interest. From young kids to retired people, they have something for everyone. Knowing this, businesses run ads on print and digital media to cash in on this interest and convince people to buy their products. This is a norm in the business world and it’s normal for a business to attempt to influence consumer behavior through lucrative advertisement.

Back in the day, neighbors would meet each other in the street and co-worker would meet and chat at the water cooler to discuss the latest news and trends. Sometimes the conversation was about life and death and sometimes it was simply about a discount at a local store. Regardless of the discussion topic, people would communicate. Modern technology hasn’t eliminated the need to meet at the water cooler. Instead, technology made it easier to share information with family, friends, and colleagues.

It has turned every person into a market maven. For example, you can capture a robbery at a local auto dealer on your smartphone camera and send it to your local TV station within seconds, or you can snap a few shots of a new hybrid vehicle at the showroom and send it to your brother who’s trying to reduce his carbon footprint.

Social Marketing Is Not New

The reason why many marketers struggle with gaining expertise in social media marketing is that they consider it a new and foreign method of marketing. However, social networking isn’t something new. It has always been present in society in one way or another. The only difference between modern and traditional social marketing is technology.

Back in the day, people used to throw parties on New Year Eve or other special occasions. Such events are still held today, but none of them can match parties arranged by Malcolm Forbes, the well-known entrepreneur and the publisher of Forbes Magazine. His 70th birthday party, held in August 1989 created a buzz with its exotic theme, extraordinary arrangements, and the list of famous guests who joined him on his birthday.

The purpose of social gatherings is to celebrate accomplishments as well as meet new people and make friends. You can meet people you may or may not know, get to know them, share thoughts with each other, and make lasting relationships that can come handy in the future. Now compare this with modern social media platforms. Don’t they serve the same purpose?

Networking events don’t only revolve around business meetings. These conferences have always been family events where business people attended meetings and then enjoyed dinners and games of golf with their spouses. These activities make conferences enjoyable and give entrepreneurs a chance to meet like-minded people in an informal setting.

By critically analyzing social platforms, we can reach the conclusion that social media is like a cocktail party. At these parties, people enjoy themselves, make connections, and often discuss business ideas. It’s not uncommon to find people who are interested in your idea and set up a partnership startup with their help.

Social Marketing: Modern Times

In the book Social Network Analysis: Methods and Examples, Song Yang and two other co-authors verified the claim that the concept of social marketing is not new in the following words:

“Social networks have been a defining feature of society.”

In the modern times, brands such as Mary Kay and Avon are known for promoting networking. With their multi-level marketing schemes, they encourage customers to refer new customers and earn a commission on every sale. These people then held events and invited over people they knew. This way, they could get in touch with their network to promote these products. These strategies work on the principles of networking and social marketing around the community. These days, people mostly use digital platforms to find referrals.

This concept has always been a part of business marketing. Many of you must be familiar with conferences held at huge Conference Centers. I remember when distributors in the automotive industry used to have full house dealer conferences in Las Vegas, Nashville, Chicago, and other big cities. At these conferences, automotive dealers and enthusiasts can preview the latest models. These days, car shows like Back to the 50’s Car Show, Goodwill Festival of Speed, and SEMA Show are all the rage.

Another modern example is the annual TechCrunch Disrupt conference held in cities across North America and Europe. At these technology events, IT startups and professionals can meet new faces, learn from experiences of others, and build business connections. These events support marketing activities and promote brands like nothing else.

Social Media for Business

Not many people realize that social channels can offer unprecedented business opportunities. People prefer to conduct business with people they trust and with whom they share a social experience.

For instance, when a person skydives, the memory stays with them and they enjoy sharing it in social gatherings. If another person accompanied them to the activity, they would excitedly recall the skydiving experience whenever they meet them. This creates a bonding between strangers. Similarly, it’s normal for a person to reminisce about the memories of shared experiences with people they know.

The gist of this discussion isn’t a new concept. It’s rather a new source of sharing experiences. Take the example of a conversation on a Facebook group. The group members share social experiences by sharing posts and posting comments on content. They may later discuss that particular conversation in an online or in-person setting. This conversation is likely to lead to a discussion about potential business opportunities.

Regardless of the platform you use, social marketing thrives on shared experiences. Social media users share experiences in several ways. They may follow each other on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok or subscribe to YouTube channels to become a part of their experiences.

While many social websites can be found in the digital world, the following 10 sites are extremely useful for businesses:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • TikTok
  • Pinterest
  • Yelp
  • LinkedIn
  • WhatsApp
  • Snapchat

On Facebook, businesses can set up pages or groups to stay in touch with followers. Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat are also trending because visual content usually attracts internet users the most. The same goes for YouTube where more than 5 billion videos are watched per day. LinkedIn is mainly a professional platform and it works best for attracting corporate audiences.

One of the major benefits of social media is that businesses can build global followership. They can interact with followers through posts, live videos, and messages. Moreover, they can also target the right market segment on the basis of their interests or geographical location. For instance, Instagram and Snapchat are more popular among teenagers and youngsters. Businesses that intend to reach the younger audience can get active on these platforms to get desired results.

Social media aids businesses in raising brand awareness at a fraction of the cost as compared to other marketing methods. Engaging content can be posted such as text posts, videos, images, and polls to gain attention. If the content is valuable and attracts followers, they would share it on their social profiles and become brand promoters. Therefore, it’s a must for businesses to build a social media strategy.

Despite the various benefits of social media, not many business owners are able to fully utilize these platforms. However, the following tips can help them stand out:

Shortlist the Most Suitable Platforms

It doesn’t make sense to set up a profile on every popular social media platform. Not only does it waste time, but also tampers with the efficiency and makes it difficult to stay connected with the audience.

It is rather a better idea to choose platforms where the target audience is present. By staying active on social sites where the ideal audience is present, companies can build a community and become a well-known name in the industry.

Visual Content Is Important

The more engaging the social media posts, the better will be the performance. To attract followers, a brand ought to add visual content in social media posts. This may include video clips, images, and GIFS. Moreover, brands can also ask questions from followers to encourage interaction.

Social Media Contests

Another effective way to drive engagement is to host competitions on social sites. A brand may ask followers to share a post with as many people as they can. The person who invites the most social users to the page can be offered a gift hamper or discount vouchers.

Try Social Media Ads

Social media sites enable businesspeople to promote their brand and products through unpaid posts. But they can also turn to paid advertisement to attract targeted followers and increase engagement in a shorter span of time. Aside from regularly posting updates, brands must also run ads on Facebook and other social sites to generate leads and boost revenue.



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Intro to Social Media by Cheryl Lawson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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