How has social media changed marketing?

social media

Before social media | Impact of social media | Drawbacks of social media

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, you’ll know the immense influence social media has had on marketing campaigns and branding. Yet how many people can say that they know just how social media has changed marketing?

Sure, it allows companies to access an international audience at the press of a button, but there’s much more to it than that. Social media has changed the landscape of marketing entirely, forcing business owners to rethink their strategies to build awareness. These days, if you own a business and you don’t have a social media presence, then you’re doing yourself a massive disservice. Read on to find out what the secrets of social media marketing are and how social media changed marketing strategies.

social media platforms

What was marketing like before the widespread use of social media? 

Social media is so ingrained in the fabric of modern society, that it’s hard to imagine a world without it. Especially for those who were born in the past 20 or so years, who’ve only known a world with mobile phones, tablets, and social media.

To find out how social media has changed marketing, we need to go back to a world in which it didn’t exist. This poses an interesting question: what was marketing like for businesses before social media came around at the end of the 20th century?

Well, for a start, it was much harder to spread the word about a new business. 

The main medium for building brand awareness before social media was the printed word. You know, the one which is written on a piece of paper and printed out. A foreign concept these days, but one which was at the forefront of marketing strategies 20+ years ago. 

Companies would use flyers, banners, billboards, and more to spread the message about their business and reach more customers. Back then it was much harder to ‘go viral’ with a single message, so companies would have to innovate by creating impactful TV ads or give out promotional items at in-person events.

It wasn’t all flyers and promotional mouse pads though, as digital marketing pre-dated social media marketing. The difference is, before social media, email or inbound marketing was the medium of choice for delivering a marketing campaign direct to the consumers.

Companies would also try to rank highly on Google using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques, which they still do today. However, back then the most popular approach to SEO was to stuff keywords into articles and add a link to every other sentence. These became referred to as ‘black hat techniques’ over time, and Google’s algorithm is wise to this tactic in the modern era.

What impact has social media had on marketing? 

Social media has had a huge impact on marketing, revolutionizing the way many companies go about their brand-building business.

data analysis

 Here are some of the ways that the rise of social media has influenced marketing in recent years:

1. Access to big data

One of the biggest things social media has done to enhance marketing is allow companies access to big data. Marketing works best when influenced by customer information, since businesses can strike a chord with the humans behind the credit card and get a grasp of the various buyer personas interested in their products or services.

Have you ever seen a personalized ad pop up on your Facebook or Instagram feed?

We’re willing to bet that you have. For better or worse, the access to data allows for a more tailored marketing approach that directly appeals to the customers’ likes and interests.

2. Customers have a direct feed to companies

These days, if you have something to say about a company, you can write 280 characters on a popular social media platform and potentially have your message seen by hundreds or thousands of others.

This power that each one of us has as customers to positively or negatively impact a company’s reputation is both a good and bad thing for business owners. On the plus side, companies can get real-time feedback on their services to improve them, but this direct connection can also lead to sharp declines in sales in a worst-case scenario.

3. More reviews

Just as customers have a more direct connection to companies, they also have a much easier way to leave reviews. Leaving a customer review in this day and age is as simple as tagging a business on a social media platform and saying what you have to say.

In as few as a couple of minutes, your review is out there. For companies, reviews can provide great traction and lead to more sales in the long run. They’re one of the best forms of free marketing out there, so business owners can use this to their advantage by soliciting reviews on popular social media sites.

4. Reputation matters more

A company’s reputation can make or break it, and this has always been the case, but it’s even more true in social media times.


Because when a single person can bring down your reputation with an image or a scathing review, then you have to manage your reputation more effectively. Many companies hire social media managers to put out flames before they burn the brand image, since customers now have the ability to respond and air their gripes and complaints in a public forum.

5. Even small businesses can access the global market

Before social media, it was challenging for small businesses to reach a global audience. With a limited budget and no free and convenient means to communicate internationally, small business owners would have a hard time expanding operations.

Now, a small donut shop can make a post that goes viral in the local or international news and earn an international following off the back of it.

E-commerce is huge these days, as more and more customers are looking to do their shopping online.

Social media can be a powerful tool in driving traffic to your company’s e-commerce store, and for highlighting positive reviews of your products from satisfied customers.

7. Reach New Customers

Whereas before, business owners may have targeted a very specific demographic and not wasted resources to convince those outside it to buy their product, social media has changed that.

Now, with clever marketing and social media, businesses can appeal to a wider audience and draw in new customers.

If you like the humorous persona of a social media account, like a pizza restaurant for example, you may just get the idea to eat there someday even if you don’t usually eat pizza.

Social media and marketing: what are the drawbacks? 

While social media is generally a useful tool for marketing, it can also make it more challenging. If you’re wondering how social media has changed marketing for the worse, read on. 


1. It’s harder to stand out 

Though it has always been hard for businesses to stand out, social media may have made it even more difficult.

This may seem like a contradiction given that we just explored how social media can boost a company’s reputation and brand awareness, but social media can greatly diminish the volume of a company’s voice.

While you could make one post and go viral, you’re competing against hundreds if not thousands of other businesses in your industry doing the same thing. If anyone can get lucky on social media, it makes it difficult for each business.

You really have to nail your company voice and tone on social media if you want to capture and maintain consumers’ attention.

2. Negative feedback spreads like wildfire 

It’s interesting to see how social media has changed marketing with regards to reviews and feedback.

On the one hand, it’s easier to collect a bunch of positive reviews which boost your brand. On the other, it’s easier to see your company’s value plummet with a few negative reviews that tarnish your brand image.

On social media, anonymity gives many people confidence to post negative comments, so you can imagine that many customers don’t hold back when giving honest feedback about a company.

3. The Content Mill Never Ends

In a world with social media, content is king.

Companies have had to adapt and put out content at an astonishingly fast rate in order to keep pace with competitors and stay relevant.

If you simply abandon your social media account for a week, or even a few days, you could lose hundreds of followers and undo the hard work you’d done to get them in the first place.

The world of social media moves incredibly quickly, so even if you do have success with your posts, nothing guarantees that you’ll achieve the same level of success in the weeks and months to come.

As such, you need to constantly be at the top of your game and put out quality content regularly.