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Four Ways Social Media has Changed in Five Years

Five years ago, social media was just beginning its meteoric rise. As a business owner, you were probably on social media personally, but perhaps there was little ROI you could see in creating a presence for your business. As a user, social media was a way for you to connect with old classmates, friends, and family.

Fast forward, and now your business’ social media page is the epicenter of engagement with your customers, prospects, and partners. For the everyday user, it is has become your information hub and communication vehicle.

According to Netpop Research, since 2006, social media usage has grown 93 percent. And Facebook™ alone has over 800 million active users. That is just the tip of the iceberg with social media growth stats. Below are the top four ways social media has changed.

1.       Customization Evolved to Personalization: In the early ages of social media, users were hell bent on designing their own pages. Adding colorful elements, glitz, and imagery was all the rage – think about those Myspace pages that were on Flash steroids and froze your computer. Now, customization has evolved to focus on personalized content. Social media allows you to not only “create” a page, but to optimize it with feeds so you can view what you want, when you want it.

Social media has gotten down to the nitty gritty of what users want – control. Implementing choices has been a phenomenal boon for social networks. The ability to make lists and choose who and what you want to follow is essential to the user experience on social media. In addition, ad targeting based on your choices is what makes social media so amazing.

2.       Big Brands are your BFFs: Who would have thought that your favorite brand or celebrity would be so close? Now people tell stories of how Ashton Kutcher or Kanye West answered their tweet. Social media has made the inaccessible accessible. We see celebrities as people, and we engage with big name brands like Zappos as if it is the mom-and-pop shop down the street.

Companies see the value in this one-on-one interaction with their customers who, in turn, become their biggest brand advocates.  Not only does this allow you to resolve issues quickly and effectively with a single customer, but you set a precedent with other “listeners” that you care. This can go a long way in cultivating your brand. 

3.       Status Updates EVERYWHERE: I remember hearing people say “I’m going to Myspace® that when I get home” after taking a photo. Today, instead of hearing that, you see the photo uploaded in real-time to your Facebook™ stream via smartphone. Mobile has not hurt social media—it has enhanced it. With a smartphone, you can update your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn® accounts in seconds.

According to Socialnomics, 80 percent of Twitter usage is outside of Twitter. This means that people are updating their statuses everywhere, every day, at any time. This is huge for businesses – mentions of your brand will become more widespread than ever.

Plus, location-based social networks like Foursquare have made a splash with companies. Users are not only telling friends their location, they are endorsing your brand.

4.       Engagement, not Advertising, Rules the World:  These days, users visit social media platforms to socialize, not receive advertising. While ad spending on social media advertising has jumped, not every user clicks on social ads. Rather, users respond to engagement opportunities. Both consumers and businesses are visiting Facebook and Twitter for ways they can share, interact, and win.

Contests and giveaways are a staple of social media platforms, and users are constantly looking for these opportunities. Where previously you may be using Facebook to stalk your ex-boyfriend, you now visit to see the latest coupon you can download and share with friends. The advent of contests on social media has changed the way big brands market to their consumers – resulting in a major push to their advertising.

CVS recently ran a great promotion targeted at their ExtraCare Card users, giving away free ExtraBucks for anyone pledging not to be a Money Trasher. The social integration allowed users to tweet and share via Facebook the giveaway with their friends.

It is this kind of engagement that has changed the way people think about and use Facebook. It is no longer just your digital address book, but your vehicle for sharing your thoughts and interests with others.

About the Author: This article was written by Dana Delapi Haesmeyer, Social Media Manager for Rasmussen College. In her role, Dana works to provide excellent student support through accessible social media practices to prospective and current college degree-seeking students.

 

Twitter is a registered trademark of Twitter, Inc.

Facebook is a registered trademark of Facebook, Inc.

Join The Conversation

  • Nov 2 Posted 5 years ago CoupSmart

    "Where previously you may be using Facebook to stalk your ex-boyfriend, you now visit to see the latest coupon you can download and share with friends.'

    Absolutely right. On. Of course, having a coupon on your Facebook Page doesn't do you much good if you can't relate it to sales, which is what we do at CoupSmart.

    As for engagement vs. ads - I hope this trend continues. I do not need to see yet another ad trying to tell me how I should feel about XYZ brand. I'll let XYZ brand know how I feel.

    Great article! 

  • Nov 2 Posted 5 years ago Nick Sweeney (not verified)

    "Where previously you may be using Facebook to stalk your ex-boyfriend, you now visit to see the latest coupon you can download and share with friends.'

    Absolutely right. On. Of course, having a coupon on your Facebook Page doesn't do you much good if you can't relate it to sales, which is what we do at CoupSmart.

    As for engagement vs. ads - I hope this trend continues. I do not need to see yet another ad trying to tell me how I should feel about XYZ brand. I'll let XYZ brand know how I feel.

    Great article! 

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