How Social Media Evolved as a Marketing Power Tool

Dale Rensing, Porter Consulting Senior Market Analyst

In the early 2000s, the internet facilitated an advancement in social communications aptly dubbed ‘social media’. Sites like MySpace and LinkedIn helped members to connect and network with friends and colleagues while other sites like Photobucket, YouTube, and Flickr provided opportunities to share visuals. When Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook in 2004, it was simply designed to help college students:

  • Search for people at their school
  • Find out who was in their classes
  • Look up friends of friends
  • Visualize their social network

A lot has changed in the social media world since then, and much of it is exemplified by the evolution of Facebook itself. In an age where free access to information was the norm, new ways to generate revenue were required. Developers, like Zuckerberg, needed ways to profit from their products. Given how quickly and far the network spread, advertising was the most obvious answer. Although the first Facebook ads were placed by students looking to promote campus events, major corporations recognized the revenue potential early on and started placing banner ads and sponsored links within the first two years.

Zuckerberg recognized another business promotional opportunity during the recession. With many out of work needing to find ways to generate income, online storefronts were a great answer. But not everyone had the technical know-how nor the cash to create one. Zuckerberg decided to allow any commercial entity the ability to create their own Facebook business page for free. By providing users with an easy to create online storefront accompanied by a readily accessible audience, he knew page owners would pay advertising dollars as they sought to promote their businesses.

By 2009, online advertising through Facebook was a huge money maker. Zuckerberg provided more advanced ad targeting options, introducing language and geographically-based parameters to entice more advertisers. The addition of mobile ads a few years later expanded his advertisers’ reach.

Perhaps one of the most important advances was the 2012 introduction of the Social Graph. Taking advantage of Big Data and analytics, the Social Graph is a compilation of data Facebook provides to its advertisers. When a member friends another user, Likes a page, comments or plays a game, the connection is written to the Social Graph. This data is then used by advertisers for highly targeted marketing opportunities.

Once Big Data analytics entered the picture, social media platforms, like Facebook, distinguished themselves as highly effective online marketing tools. Advertisers benefit from the information provided through back-end analytics that helps them identify prospects who share similar characteristics with their current customers. Additionally, system automation helps advertisers improve productivity. Platforms like Facebook automatically place ads on member’s newsfeeds who match the target requirements. The advertiser’s potential lead list grows organically and exponentially from there.

Facebook isn’t the only one using this strategy. Other social media platforms, like Twitter, quickly recognized the revenue potential of targeted advertising and adopted similar tactics, augmenting their systems with back-end analytics. LinkedIn is one of the largest users of analytics, offering its customers multiple avenues to grow their network. They also gather information from members and sell it to other customers. The use of analytics in social media has substantially increased the power of it to be used as a highly effective marketing tool.

At Porter Consulting, we recognize the value of a strong social media presence

Marketing continues to evolve, especially in the digital space, as more opportunities are found to gather and analyze data. At Porter Consulting, we understand that it can be extremely difficult to keep up with an ever-changing business environment. If you need help in figuring out your next steps, or are considering expanding your social media strategy but aren’t sure where or how to apply your resources, we can help. Our SocialMediaBuilder Service is a great tool that helps you evaluate where you are today and provides guidance on how to improve your situation. Give us a call to set up an appointment to discuss how we can assist.


Dale Rensing has been helping customers envision the benefits of technology, from local area networks to cloud technologies and IoT for over 25 years.  You can find more blogs and content from Dale at www.porterconsulting.net.  Porter Consulting is a marketing services consulting company who can you help you grow revenue.

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