Before the social media boom, marketers thought social media marketing was just another fad that would soon likely pass, something in the vein of pyramid and networking scams. But when Facebook started attracting attention from the year 2004, more and more social media marketing strategies were developed. Today, this marketing tool has allowed start-ups and established companies to gain attention without having to spend millions of dollars on advertisements.

A Brief History

Before there was social media, netizens in the 1970s and 1980s spent most of their time on social networks like dating sites and online forums. Six Degrees, Livejournal, and Friendster were the earliest form of social medias.

The dot-com bubble of 1995 – 2002 was a critical event that allowed the internet to become a viable marketing tool. It began with search marketing, prompting brands to create websites to establish an online presence. As Google, Yahoo and MSN’s search engines evolved, companies turned to SEO strategies to remain at the top of search results.

When web 2.0 sites – blogs in particular – increased in popularity, marketers began to recognize the potential of content marketing. Inbound marketing, where more value is added for the customer and business is earned, starts replacing age-old “buy, beg or bug” outbound marketing strategies.

In 2003 – 2004, the arrival social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and My Space initiates the shift of internet users from multiplayer online games into social networking sites. Eventually, businesses picked up on the positive effects of a social media site presence on e-commerce and started creating their own profiles on the popular networking sites.

In the years that followed, customer’s favorable attitude towards social media marketing slowly changed business marketing preference from the more aggressively-proactive outbound marketing to the more reactive inbound marketing.

Nowadays, over 90% of marketing executives utilize social media as part of their marketing strategies, and successful businesses utilize social media marketing for branding, lead generation, customer retention, research and e-commerce. Not only does social media manage to significantly reduce marketing expenses and the time needed to market products and services, it also increased the effectiveness of marketing and overall customer satisfaction. 83% of customers who post complaints on a brand’s social site like Twitter and get a reply state that they are satisfied. This helped companies retain more of their customers, resulting to increased existing customer transactions.


Capitalizing on free Internet

There are over 2 billion people online at any given time. Around 23% of the total time spent on the internet is spent on browsing or interacting within social media sites. At least 53% of individuals who are active on social media sites such as Facebook are following a brand. With the help of global internet, more and more customers (if not all) are expecting their brands to have an online presence.

This year’s tablets, iPads, and Android-operated phones will only make internet browsing all the more accessible for consumers, and social media marketing will allow companies to reach out to more target markets. As long as the internet exists, social media will remain an important part of marketing strategies.

This post originally appeared at Business Marketing Strategies