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Twenty years may seem a long time to our younger readers, but for many of us, the years have flown by and it doesn’t seem possible that Y2k was almost 20 years ago.

During that time the marketing landscape has changed dramatically, catching many business owners off guard. In 2000 the advertising was largely done on network television, radio, print newspapers and magazines. Not every company believed they needed a Website.

In 2018 media consumption is on platforms that didn’t exist in 2000, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Some people have not only stopped watching network TV, but some have also eschewed cable to spend their time on YouTube, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. While Yellow Pages were alive and well at the turn of the last century, most people now search for businesses on digital media. Furthermore, visits to stores are being replaced by online shopping. Smart phones are often where purchases are made.

Although media consumption has changed, especially for the 18-54 demographic, many marketing departments have trouble keeping up with the rapidly changing ways in which people find companies and decide where and on what to spend their money.

Google seems to change its algorithm faster than some people change their socks. SEO strategies that put companies on Page 1 of search results before are not necessarily working now – and most likely will not work again. Add to that that many people are not looking to Google and websites for information. They are finding their information on social media sites. Facebook has grown so quickly that it must curate content to decide which posts appear on members’ pages. Twitter has moved from a 140-character text-only platform to one that not only allows 280-character tweets, but also encourages images, gifs and video. With its 1 billion monthly active visitors, Instagram has become a “player” in the marketing wars, but many marketing departments have no idea how or why they should bother with it. Most sites now offer ways for companies to advertise on their platforms. As other platforms rise, marketers will have to figure out whether they will become important or are simply “flashes in the pan.”

While the behemoth companies like Wendy’s, Coke and GE have marketing departments large enough to keep up with their social media networks, many smaller companies find it difficult to allocate the resources needed to research the way platforms work, figure out where their customers are spending their time, design posts that spark engagement and answer questions posed on the sites. They often don’t have time or expertise to monitor the analytics to figure out what is working and adjust content that isn’t. Finally, they must decide how much, where and when to spend their time and advertising dollars.

The answer is to find a marketing company with the ability to research the platforms and apply the knowledge to their customers. However, the “canned” content offered by many firms lacks the “personal touch” that savvy consumers crave.

It will always be more effective to find a marketing company that will work with clients to assure that the right information reaches the right platforms with the right images and content to attract and engage as many potential customers of that company as possible.