A History of Social Media Marketing & Future Expectations

Lauren Casgren-Tindall
2/1/2021

Despite the rich history of social media marketing, experts are throwing around the idea that the practice is dead. But it isn’t dying—it’s just shifting. The future of social media is organic attraction, and that requires showing up and building relationships.

Social media has long been both a gift and a burden for businesses. The world of social media has broadened opportunities for digital marketing agencies, allowing companies to target potential consumers in ways no other medium offers. 

But because social media is an ever-evolving world, social media marketing firms have to keep up with frequent algorithm and rule changes that affect their advertising and their marketing reach. 

Earlier this year, Facebook shook up traditional social media marketing strategies by announcing a major change—beginning in early 2021, they will place limits on the number of ads a page can run at once.

Coupled with new algorithm changes that emphasize “meaningful content” and affect brand visibility, this sent businesses and marketers into a panic, sparking headlines everywhere announcing the death of social media marketing.

So, the question is: Is social media marketing really dying?

The truth is that these changes are likely to impact businesses, but that doesn’t mean that social media strategies are no longer a viable marketing tool.

Companies can prepare for these new limits and algorithm changes in the following ways:

  • Shifting perspectives on social media best practices
  • Providing value for customers
  • Showing authenticity through honest content
  • Engaging followers with purpose
  • Creating the personality behind the brand
  • Sharing a mission that speaks to customers

By aligning their strategies and expectations with the new rules, businesses can still benefit from social media marketing. 

Shifting Perspectives on Social Media Best Practices

Between the new Facebook ad rules and the constant algorithm changes on social media platforms, it’s clear that businesses have to adopt a new perspective. 

The new algorithms have made one thing clear — businesses that want to thrive on social media have to put out truly engaging content. 

It’s not enough to just show up. Companies need to drive genuine interest and engagement with brand.  

In the last few years, plenty of brands have used strategies to boost social media exposure and build stronger relationships with their customers. But what was once a clever option is now a necessity. 

Businesses need to embrace the recent changes and adopt a perspective that focuses on the many benefits of successful social media marketing. 

Providing Value for Customers

There was a time when successful brands only needed to offer a great product or service. 

Today, consumers today want more. Companies hire the best branding agencies to identify ways to offer additional value to stand out from the crowd. 

Content marketing and thought leadership are more important than ever in promoting a business. Sharing valuable content on social media can:

  • Improve brand awareness
  • Increase brand recognition
  • Attracts leads

According to Demand Metric, 70% of consumers prefer learning about brands through content to learning through ads. Additionally, content marketing leads to more than three times as many leads as advertising. 

By putting out high-quality and meaningful content, such as articles, quizzes, courses, and e-books, businesses can position their brand as an authority and steadily attract organic leads. 

Showing Authenticity Through Honest Content

Standing out as a brand on social media requires authenticity. With an ever-growing consumer skepticism, it’s more important than ever to find ways relate with target customers.

Businesses can use social media as a platform for honesty and transparency by:

  • Building trust to break through skepticism
  • Being open about where products come from
  • Showcasing the manufacturing process
  • Facing criticism head on

Every company is going to stumble, but in the social media age, the response to questions or controversy is crucial. Owning your mistakes earns respect and can turn a bad situation into good press. 

KFC’s “where’s my chicken” debacle is a prime example of how to show up in an authentic way. 

In 2018, the restaurant made a huge error that resulted in hundreds of their stores closing down. Their social media was slammed with criticism. 

Instead of ignoring their customers or trying to smooth it over by placing blame elsewhere, they created a clever ad, poking fun at their mistake, and offering a sincere apology.  

KFC apologized for mistake that resulted in stores closing down with clever campagin.

Twitter blew up with people sharing and laughing at their clever campaign. Suddenly, KFC was on everyone’s mind. The public respected their authenticity and appreciated their humor, turning a potential controversy into some good old-fashioned free press. 

Engaging Followers With Purpose

With a shift toward organic marketing, companies are going to have to spend less time focused on ads and more time focused on engagement. 

According to a study by JD Power and Associates, 87% of respondents said positive social media interactions with a company made them more likely to purchase from them in the future. 

It’s important for businesses to remember that purpose needs to be pure—social media engagement is a long-term game. Successful campaigns focus on building relationships, rather than just selling product or services.

Posts can’t be just promotional, businesses should actively engage their customers by:

  • Offering giveaways
  • Sharing customer stories
  • Posting humorous content
  • Showing gratitude for positive comments
  • Responding to questions or jokes

These interactions help put a face to a company.

Now more than ever, consumers expect companies to actively be involved on social media. And unlike with email, they aren’t willing to wait. 

The Social Habit reports that 42% of people complaining on social media expect a response within an hour. Over half (57%) agreed that they held those expectations even on nights and weekends. 

That might sound unreasonable at first, but there’s potential profit in leaning into these trends. 

According to a Twitter study, when airlines responded to tweets within 6 minutes, those customers were willing to pay $20 more per ticket for that airline. 

Airlines that have good customer service on social media can charge $20 more for each ticket.

Most small and medium sized businesses are not offering round-the-clock social media support. But if businesses are looking to build an organic following, they’ll have to find ways to match those expectations.

Creating the Personality Behind the Brand

The last thing businesses want to do is come off as cold or robotic on social media. 

Brands can benefit from being playful, funny, or vulnerable. Showing personality can help consumers see the people behind the company. 

Wendy’s has been killing the social media game for years. In 2017, they started showing flair in their social media posts, from witty videos and engagements to snarky comebacks at other restaurants. 

Wendy's built a strong social media following by creating a personality behind the account.

The result? They gained 311,000 Facebook followers and ranked in the top ten tweets of the year. 

Consumers can’t get enough of the quirky personality Wendy’s has created online. If a huge corporate giant like Wendy’s can make customers feel like they’re just following a funny friend, smaller businesses have no excuse to not showcase their personalities. 

Sharing a Mission That Speaks to Customers

We all love a good laugh, but sometimes it’s important to show up on a more serious note. 

Businesses should share their mission and vision — the “why” behind the company. This inspires followers and helps builds trust in a brand.

Companies can do this a few different ways — like a simple post to showcase a mission statement. For example, here is one by Lyft:

Lyft shared its mission statement within a tweet.

Some companies choose to share their story over a series of posts, rather than all at once. 

Some experts may also recommend that businesses could also opt to share an inspirational video highlighting their mission and vision. 

The important part is to be honest, open, and authentic. The goal here isn’t to garner sympathy—it’s to resonate with consumers who share the same values.

Social Media Is Here to Stay

The social media marketing world isn’t dead — the trends are just changing. Between algorithm changes, new rules, and shifting consumer expectations, the future of social media lies in creating solid relationships.

Businesses should foster these relationships by showing up, being authentic, and actively engaging with their customers.

It takes work and patience, but builds a following that’s both committed and loyal.  
 

Lauren Casgren-Tindall

Principal & Creative Director, Crème de Mint

Lauren Casgren-Tindall, Principal & Creative Director of Crème de Mint design agency, has been creating powerful, innovative designs over the past 15 years for companies such as Avon, Victoria’s Secret, Bliss and Benihana. She launched the company Crème de Mint design agency, to specialize in her passion of designing logos and product packaging for food, beverage, supplements and cosmetics. Creme de Mint’s work has won numerous awards and has been featured in HOW, Print, ADDYs, Core 77, and GDUSA.