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Social Media Evolution: The Ever Changing Landscape of Marketing

Social Media Evolution: The Ever Changing Landscape of Marketing

Once upon a time, in the era of Friendster, early internet forums, and budding social networking sites such as Tumblr, as well as the now historical platform, MySpace, marketers were quite skeptical about their power of social media marketing. Factoring in the concerns about privacy, misuse of personal data, security issues, and the impending need for regulation played a significant reason behind this skepticism. In fact, many employees thought it was just a passing fad, a fleeting phenomenon akin to a pyramid or networking scheme with more questions than answers. Nobody imagined the money to be made in this new digital space, let alone the database of likes and interests to be gathered for targeted ads.

The rise of new messaging apps and the evident involvement of recruiters, journalists, social media users, content creators, and employers signaled a change in consumer behavior. When Facebook burst onto the scene in 2004, emerging in the social media market along with other innovative websites like Reddit, it quickly became clear that social media was here to stay. From family circles to professional influencers, these platforms began to bridge various aspects of life. The blend of these activities on platforms and the clear understanding of the potential reach, coverage, and exposure led to fewer restrictions and wide adoption of this new form of communication. Its influence was further cemented with the advent of smartphones, allowing the power of fingertip information and increasing the ability to access these sites and their ads more conveniently.

With the entrancingly helpful services and platforms like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram, companies and employers could reach new audiences and engage with existing and potential customers in ways previously unimaginable. This advent of microblogging and mobile-based platforms - including photo-sharing sites like Instagram - revolutionized the branding strategies for businesses personnel of all sizes. What was once an uncharted frontier of the web, shaped by innovative website design, has now transformed into an indispensable service for all businesses from budding startups to multinational corporations.

A new database was built, with carefully curated likes and interests of millions of users to run targeted ads. Moreover, the platforms have evolved into a space where influencers can make substantial money through brand collaborations. It has become a vital tool for reaching journalists, social media users, and content creators alike, while also enhancing customer service parameters and coverage.

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The metrics and analytics used to measure the success of a social media campaign evolved over the years, adapting to the shifting algorithms of these platforms, decoding the restrictions and regulations, answering pertinent issues, and tapping into new trends in consumer behavior.

Initially, businesses focused their employee's attention on narrow Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as their ability to grow their network, obtain more followers, gain traction with recruiters and journalists, and other engagements. These metrics were once sarcastically referred to as "vanity metrics" because they didn't necessarily provide any tangible value for the businesses. As social media channels grew popular and their variety increased, attracting both the general public and influencers, content marketing became a popular way to attract potential customers back to a company's website. This led to social media campaigns having a focus on conversions, broader coverage, and viral reach as essential metrics for measuring success.

The Evolution of Social Media Marketing Metrics

In recent years, in a landscape bristling with social networking sites, messaging apps, and a deluge of user activities such as sharing favorite memes, a renewed approach to social media marketing has emerged. This approach, an alternative to solely focusing on the history of followers and assessments of overall conversions, businesses are now focusing on true engagement on social media – how many people are interacting with their shared content and messages. For this reason, businesses are not just sharing content, they are creating dedicated space for engagements with their family of users, customers, and influencers.

This often translates into actual conversations between the business and its customers or potential customers, sparking a social network of interactive communications. It's that digitized version of a radio chatter performed through the digital spectacles of social media that continues to revolutionize the ways businesses reach out to people.

This newfound focus, much like a thrilling introduction to an immersive story, has given rise to:

In 2021, an estimated 4.2 billion people used social media networks, making them the world's largest aggregators of activity and information. These platforms, accessible primarily on mobile devices like smartphones including the use of telephone for customer support, have become more than just tools for entertainment and connecting with friends, they have become crucial lifelines in our daily life. Many businesses and organizations have integrated their operations with these social media platforms. Facebook, Instagram, Flickr for photo sharing, and even messaging apps like Whatsapp, have become fertile grounds for customer acquisition and engagement, turning a simple click into insightful business relationships.

One of the key changes in the social media world over the past five years has been the increasing emphasis on image-rich content, including immersive spectacles, memes, and other social media content. This evolution of social media sites paints a vivid story, adopted by everyone right from journalists to recruiters to content creators spanning across several platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Google+, and even blogging sites like LiveJournal.

Ephemeral content, such as Instagram Stories and Snapchat, which allows companies to share temporary, behind-the-scenes content with their followers.The increasing popularity of live streaming which allows companies to connect with their customers in real time and provide them with an authentic, unfiltered look at their brand.The growing importance of video content which has proven to be more effective at engaging customers and driving sales than static images or text-based updates.

The Changing Landscape of Social Media Marketing

However, the landscape of social media marketing - this world of varied social networking sites - is always changing, similar to our ever-evolving life dynamics. The last five years, in particular, have offered unique insights into how businesses approach this potent marketing channel. Each new trend sets the stage for the refinement of marketing strategies while adding more complexity to social media communications, such as the increased use of telephone services for customer support and engagement.

Over the past few years, video has risen to the forefront of content marketing, much like the evolution of radio to television. Even though platforms like YouTube have been around since 2006, it's only recently that video content has woven itself into the social media site fabric with a level of engagement rivaling that of viral, music industry-type content.

To put it plainly, video content is a master at capturing viewer attention, making it an alternative to reading text-based posts, and securing their engagement for extended periods on social media sites.Platforms like Instagram and Twitter have fine-tuned their radio frequencies with the music industry trends, reminiscent of classic records, giving a nod to pop culture by prioritizing video content over other types. This shift in the digital landscape has incorporated elements of different sectors such as movies purchases from the app store, opening the door to a wide range of multimedia experiences.

To gain a foothold in social media and become a destination of choice, embracing video content is essential. This includes traditional videos, social videos, and even live streams. By consistently creating and sharing videos that distill a compelling narrative into every frame, you can broaden your reach on various social media profiles, much like the reach of a record store in different places. By focusing on significant subjects and establishing a robust follower base, your brand voice will only get amplified, as if in a tributary to pop culture and its influential power.

1. Social Media Video Marketing

The renowned SEO expert and marketing wizard, Neil Patel, candidly stated that, "62% of B2B marketers rated storytelling as an effective content marketing tactic in 2017”. Storytelling, a crucial ingredient in all great movies, retains its significance in social media marketing. With interest and advances in technology, incorporating this narrative element, combined with effective use of analytics and AI-driven algorithms, harnesses the power of computers to deliver phenomenal results at a grand scale for brands Using AI to analyze user records and preferences can help shape marketing policies, allowing you to launch compelling marketing efforts.

Social commerce retail earnings, reflecting the rapid advances and the increased number of online purchases, are predicted to reach nearly $80 billion by 2025. This timeline reflects a steady growth from when the digital landscape was dominated by computers and the innovative movements on social media sites were on the rise, much like the popularity of app stores.

Since then, social media platforms, including Reddit with its millions of diverse characters and communities, have become more integrated with eCommerce. This development has made it easier for businesses to sell their products directly to consumers through social media, using platforms ranging from Facebook to Google's shopping feature. Dedicated platforms like Facebook Shops were introduced, offering a revolutionary model for businesses to sell directly to their consumers, thus changing the face of eCommerce services and user purchasing policies.

This concept goes beyond just commercial interests - it's akin to the desire a student feels to engage their classmates in a spirited debate, hinging upon the speed of their responses and the sentiment behind their behaviors. This is separate from the casual chatter of Facebook Marketplace, which is primarily geared towards peer-to-peer sales. The theory behind this is not dissimilar to the curated articles that appear in a news feed, each with their own objective and target audience.

Instagram Checkout, birthed in March 2019, emulated the grand unveilings of government social welfare schemes. Introducing a feature that allows users to purchase products directly from shoppable posts within the app, it bridged the gap between curiosity and acquisition. Harnessing the importance of data privacy while enhancing user convenience, the feature grants users a seamless shopping experience, allowing them to view and purchase products without leaving the app, much like speed reading through a list of articles in a news feed.

2. Storytelling

Even platforms like TikTok and Pinterest witnessed an expansion in their functionalities, jumping on the social commerce train. Shopify merchants with a TikTok For Business account can add a shopping tab to their TikTok profiles, akin to writers publishing their masterpieces in digital format, and sync their product catalogs to create a mini-storefront linked directly to their online store for checkout. This innovative wave, underscored by a catchy hashtag, is reshaping human behaviors and consumer sentiment, reflecting societal advances. Pinterest, in its interest to stay relevant in this newfound digital theory, is now embarking on the innovation-filled era of e-commerce, introducing Shoppable Pins - items users can pin and purchase, reflecting the digital shift of brick-and-mortar ventures, given the changing times and consumers' needs.

For brands, creators, and experts in influencer marketing looking to generate revenue through social commerce, simply being present on social media platforms is not enough. As news feed updates and public sentiment constantly shift, there's a need for dynamic information exchange to stay ahead of competitors. Instead, they're encouraged to unlock the potential of this digital era, such as video-sharing opportunities and more, echoing Mark Zuckerberg's vision for Facebook Shops—to create an engaging and enjoyable shopping experience for customers.

It’s interesting to note that 79% of people affirm that user-generated content (UGC), from its origins in traditional reviews to its current viral meta version magnified on news feed, has more impact than the latest trending hashtags. This content highly influences their purchasing decisions. Inspired by the increasing accessibility and advancements in technology, its presence in users' lives and the creators who generate it has evolved to generate content as wide-ranging as governments' data archives. This article will further discuss this significant shift.

In the early days of social media, user-generated content was akin to classmates scribbling on a chalkboard-- confined to simple text-based comments and reviews. However, with the evolution of platforms like Reddit, users have a vast array of content types they can share, similar to a library adding more insightful articles to its collection. This speed at which content is shared and its variety make user-generated content an even more powerful tool for marketers, providing an advantage in understanding consumers' needs and preferences.

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3. Social Commerce

Live shopping is a growing trend that is radically changing the retail industry. It fuses technology, social media, chatbots, and a hint of nostalgia to craft a unique, holistic shopping experience. Its real-time information exchange, global reach, and capacity to cater to a large volume of customers offer numerous perks for both sellers and customers as well as potential job seekers eyeing opportunities in this booming sector.

Facebook and Instagram, both of which run on android systems, AOL, and other platforms, have adapted to the advancements driven by influencer marketing and UGC in their versions of live shopping. However, the origins of this trend lie not just in these platforms but also in the wider digital landscape. Here, companies continually seek ways to stay ahead of their competitors and adapt to the changing demands of the digital era.

Over the past few years, there has been a considerable surge in the number of new social media platforms. This trend is primarily due to increased popularity of social media, the growing demand for more diverse, specialized platforms, and the advent of chatbots. Many of these new platforms, like discord servers and burgeoning communities on Reddit, are centered on specific niches or interests which have spurred unforeseen career opportunities among professionals from students to celebrities.

4. User Generated Content

User-generated content, driven by the behaviors of loyal consumers and reflecting the sentiment of the wider audience, has gained the trust of consumers more than the content created by the brand itself. However, with the evolution of platforms like Reddit, users have a vast array of content types they can share, similar to a library adding more insightful articles to its collection. This speed at which content is shared and its variety make user-generated content an even more powerful tool for marketers, providing an advantage in understanding consumers' needs and preferences.

This trend reshapes advertising, aligning it more with authentic conversations consumers have with colleagues or classmates, and less with traditional marketing tactics. After all, about 92% of customers trust the reviews and recommendations shared by people rather than advertisements, reflecting the advantage of UGC in fostering trust. As experts suggest, this trend is an influential game-changer in the competitive social media landscape.

Overall, user-generated content, propelled by advancements in technology and artificial intelligence, stands crucial to social media marketing, playing a central role in the industry. It's also given rise to new careers for job seekers, much like the birth of writers from the era of transformation, favoring the consumer's voice and authenticity. The presence of this user-centric trend is evident with the rise of social media apps, streaming platforms, and intelligent chatbots like those seen on IBM Cloud Video, LinkedIn live, Reddit AMA's, AOL, and an onslaught of Google searches each day. This article aims to highlight this transformation in pursuing the digital version of marketing.

5. Live Stream Marketing

Over the past few years, there has been a significant rise in the number of new social media platforms. This trend is largely due to the increasing popularity of social media and the growing demand for more diverse and specialized platforms. Many of these new platforms, as seen with the burgeoning communities on Reddit, are focused on specific niches or interests which have created unprecedented career opportunities.

These platforms are designed to offer more privacy and control over user data, which has become a major focus of concern for many people in recent years. This awareness grows as individuals, students, and professionals navigate their personal and business accounts on various social networks.

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6. Live Shopping

Live shopping is a growing trend that is changing the retail industry. It combines technology, social media, and nostalgia to create a unique shopping experience. With its real-time interaction and global reach, live shopping offers numerous benefits for both sellers and customers.

Facebook and Instagram both have their own versions of live shopping. Overall, the future of live shopping looks promising. With its unique benefits for both customers and retailers, it's a retail trend that's here to stay. According to analysts, live shopping sales may make up 20% of all eCommerce sales by 2026.

7. The Rise Of New Social Media Platforms

Over the past few years, there has been a significant rise in the number of new social media platforms. This trend is largely due to the increasing popularity of social media and the growing demand for more diverse and specialized platforms. Many of these new platforms are focused on specific niches or interests. Additionally, some of these platforms are designed to offer more privacy and control over user data, which has become a major concern for many people in recent years.

BeReal, launched in the zenith of this digital trajectory in 2020, is a breath of fresh air in a world of overly curated content and filtered selfies. This platform, among other new entries into the social media sphere, represents the next generation of user experiences and opportunities, spurred by advancements in technology and artificial intelligence. The app prioritizes authenticity, allowing users to share unfiltered photos and videos on their social networking site accounts with their friends and followers, fostering sincerity and genuine interaction.

While the app currently doesn't offer pay-to-play advertising options, brands like Chipotle have found creative strategies to tweet their promotions and capture user attention. This unique approach encourages both individuals and professionals to explore various topics and engage in meaningful conversation, thus promoting widespread adoption of the platform. In this era of constant change and disruption, it is exciting to imagine the trajectory these new social media platforms will take and the additional capacity they'll provide for even more genuine, vibrant exchanges.

8. Immersive AR And VR Experiences Via Social Media

Immersive augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences through social media platforms are becoming more common as technology continues to advance. With AR, users can superimpose digital objects onto the real world, while VR allows users to experience fully-immersive digital environments.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat have all incorporated AR and VR features into their platforms, allowing users to create and share their own immersive experiences.

For example, Snapchat has introduced filters that use AR to add digital elements to a user's photos and videos. While Facebook's Spark AR studio tool allows people and brands to create their own augmented reality (AR) effects for Facebook and Instagram. These effects can then be published on social platforms, where creators can track metrics such as impressions, captures, and shares.

In the future, it is likely that we will see even more advanced AR and VR experiences on social media platforms, as technology continues to evolve and improve.

9. Audio-Based Social Networking

Clubhouse is an app that has revolutionized the world of social media. It allows users to connect and communicate with each other using their voices rather than text or visual media. This has led to the emergence of a new type of social networking known as "social audio" or "drop-in audio."

Audio-based social networking is a type of social networking that relies on audio communication rather than visual communication. 65% of social media marketers ranked live audio chat rooms among the top three most effective social media formats.

Audio has long been a powerful medium for communication, and the recent rise of social audio is no exception. According to Stephanie Morgan, social media expert and founder of the marketing agency Social Lock, "Audio-based social networking is a relatively new concept, but it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon."


Regardless of the changes social media platforms have undergone, social media marketing is an essential tool for businesses that want to grow and succeed in today's digital world.

In order to keep up with these changes, marketers must be willing to experiment with new trends and features on social media. This means staying on top of the latest developments in the world of social media and using them to connect with customers in a meaningful way.

While the best social media platform for your brand will depend on several factors, by staying on top of these trends and using them to connect with your customers, you can ensure that their social media efforts are effective and relevant in today's fast-paced digital world.

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