The Evolution of Social Media Marketing

evolution of social media

I do a lot of teaching and training. And while I can gather a group of small and local business people together and spend three hours teaching them the ins and outs of social media, it's painfully obvious that people don’t understand what social media means and how to utilize it.

They just don’t get it.

Timeline of the Evolution of Social Media Marketing

Back in the mid-2000s—before he even had his driver’s permit—my son was talking about something called BookFace and MySpace. Even though I’d been in the internet marketing sphere for years with websites, CD-ROMS and such, I’d never heard of either of these things.

I had to check it out.

My first day on Facebook garnered 100 friends beating down my door to friend me. I was amazed at how many people I knew who were already on Facebook and friending me.

Then the alerts started popping up on my phone. At the time, I didn’t realize every time someone friended you, it notified you via your phone. I had my first iPhone, and it was “pinging” off the hook. While it was overwhelming, I realized this was something to pay attention to.

As I mention before, I do a lot of teaching—in community colleges, universities—so I’m going to give you a brief art history lesson.

No, I’m not an art historian, and I did pull this information from Wikipedia, but there is a lesson that can be learned by looking at the three major milestones in art history: The Renaissance, Romanticism, and Modern Art and how those milestones mirror the evolution of social media.

The Renaissance

You’ve probably heard of the Renaissance – that time when art came in vogue and everyone took notice.

I believe that the period between 2004 up to 2010 is the Renaissance of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. As people took notice, they quickly jumped in and started engaging with the systems and their friends. I even discovered and connected with people I knew back when I was eight years old.


The next part of our art history lesson has a few missing pieces I’m bypassing. I’m aiming for the jugular.

After The Renaissance… came Romanticism. That time period where everybody fell in love with art.

Once everybody fell in love with social media, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms decided it was time to help you use them for your business.

Now you could not only have a personal Facebook page, but you could also have a business page which in turn evolved into brand pages. You could even have multiple brand pages.

Back then, your pages were connected to Bing which would take your business, create a page, and encourage you to claim it—all automatically. You could now have your business listed just like on Google Business.

Just think of the billions of people you could reach across the globe. It didn’t matter that most of them couldn't speak English or that they wouldn’t care about your hot dog stand – or you.

What mattered was that you could promote your business and everyone fell in love with the power of Facebook.

Then that power seeped over to LinkedIn after the Romanticism surrounding making millions on Facebook happened.

LinkedIn created their own tools, like Pulse, to help you get your message out. Now you could you post your content via blog posts and Pulse would categorize it and millions of people could see your message.

Social media was our new love.

Modern Art

But, we cannot live on love alone. We had to figure out how to make some money.

Gone are the days of reaching the masses for free. Instead, IPOs and stockholders call the shots. To make matters worse, you can have tons of followers but are seen by less than 1% of your audience.

What do you do when you have a better chance of getting a response by sending out a postcard via snail mail than posting to your Facebook business page?

You can utilize your personal page to share your business or buy advertising or boosts.

Not to be left out, LinkedIn did the same thing. Microsoft bought LinkedIn; Pulse disappeared. Free marketing was replaced with convenient monthly payment plans to connect you with the people you’re trying to reach.

The changes brought forth confusion as people tried to understand why they had to pay for something that was previously free.

Relationships Matter

What does this boil down to?

Relationships, content, and advertising.

First, focus on relationships. Start with your personal profile page and use it to engage with your friends by being you – even in the often-toxic environment contained in Facebook and even if they aren’t your ideal customer.

One way to bypass the systems is to take the time to post fun, engaging things. When the opportunity arises, post about your business using the share feature from your business profile to your personal profile.

How long will this work?

I can’t say. But I can tell you that relationships matter, so nurture them.

Second, don’t stop creating and posting great content. On my business page, I share the blogs and podcasts I create. My audience shares it with their friends, and their friends continue the sharing process. In the end, a lot of people see my content.

Third, consider advertising but cautiously. If the people you are trying to reach don’t know you, like you, or trust you, then you can waste a lot of money without a much to show for it.

Finally, don’t stop learning and growing.

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments on this subject. Comment below and share your experiences and suggestions on how social media has changed your business!

About Brian Basilico

Brian Basilico is an award winning and internationally recognized author, speaker and online strategist. He’s the founder and president of B2b Interactive Marketing Inc., an award winning marketing consulting and production company in Aurora Illinois. B2b helps companies and non-profits, market their products and services through the effective use of on-line tools including; websites, blogs, eMail, social networking, Google, S.E.O., YouTube, and more.

Brian’s career spans over 35 years. Since starting his first production company in 1979, he’s produced thousands of projects for companies ranging from solopreneurs to Fortune 100. Brian combines years of marketing experience, with technical expertise, to build on-line campaigns that produce measurable results. As a musician, technician, programmer, producer and consultant, he has built a reputation for creativity, innovation, and translating “geek” into English. Brian is also an adjunct professor, trainer, author of many social networking and marketing blogs, and an avid podcaster. He has been featured in articles at Inc. and Entrepreneur magazines.

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