It is fair to say that the role of marketing has changed forever due to the on-demand nature of our society. Back in the day, you would advertise your business in a local newspaper, wait for people to come to you (rather than you trying to go to them)
However, the way businesses operate has changed drastically, too. To keep up with the times, you need to re-evaluate your approach to marketing and to figureheads like Sherpa and Reddit. Below, we analyse the evolution of online marketing and how you can make the most of social media to promote your business.
The Evolution Of Online Marketing
The first iteration of online marketing was simply putting up a website. However, as time passed, entrepreneurs realised that they could use the web to reach a significantly wider audience than they could through traditional methods of marketing.
Here are some of the earliest examples of online marketing:
- Virtual Mall – This was the era of CD-ROMs and online shopping was in its infancy. To entice potential customers to visit their websites, entrepreneurs would display realistic, 3D images of the products featured on their websites.
- E-commerce – Before the rise of online shopping, most people went to stores to buy what they needed. However, with e-commerce, businesses could enter a digital realm and let customers browse their offerings online.
- Offline To Online – In the early days of the digital age, it was difficult for brick-and-mortar businesses to transition to online modes of operation. However, with the rise of smartphones and tablets, businesses have been able to bring their offline operations online.
- Penny Pinchers – These were early examples of online marketing that relied on affiliate marketing. Essentially, when a person visits a merchant’s website and makes a purchase, the merchant pays that person a commission. In return, the person promotes the product (or service) of the merchant by sharing that content on social media platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter.
- The Click-Through – In the early days of online marketing, it was difficult to gain the attention of potential customers on a web page. So, to get the ball rolling, entrepreneurial web developers would include interactive elements on their websites, such as social media sharing buttons, polls, and GIFs.
- The Buy Button – The buy button has been around longer than you might think. However, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that businesses began to see the benefits of offering customers the option to purchase products directly from a web page.
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – Before the existence of search engines, like Google, entrepreneurs had to rely on SEO to get their websites seen by potential customers. Essentially, a search engine will look at a website’s content and the overall structure of the site itself to determine how relevant that content is for a potential customer.
- Content Marketing – While SEO helped businesses get their content out there for the world to see, content marketing is about much more than just publishing high-quality content on a regular basis. Essentially, content marketers strive to provide value to their audience by creating relevant and unique content that inspires, educates, or entertains their readers.
- Social Media Marketing – The term “social media” wasn’t even around in the early days of the internet. However, as time passed and the world realised the benefits of social media, entrepreneurs began to see the power of social media to grow their businesses.
- Video Marketing – Video marketing has been around for longer than you might think. However, it was the advent of YouTube, followed by Twitter, that really put video on the map. Today, video content doesn’t get created solely for internet audiences. Companies like Jeeves and Vidyard have made it extremely simple to create video content that will appeal to a wider audience.
- Mobile Marketing – Much like the rest of the digital sphere, the role of marketing on mobile phones changed dramatically as well. To begin with, instead of just placing a web page on a phone’s browser, marketers began creating apps that would perform specific tasks for the customer (e.g. a restaurant finder).
- Retailers Vs Consumers – In the early days of online marketing, Entrepreneurs would often sell their products directly to consumers, without the involvement of a third party (e.g. Amazon). However, as time went on, merchants realised that they could increase their sales by partnering with online retailers.
- The rise of Affiliate Marketing – As previously mentioned, the evolution of online marketing was heavily influenced by the rise of online shopping in the 1990s. Essentially, to encourage people to visit their websites, the businesses that were part of the first wave of online marketing would implement affiliate marketing. When a person lands on a merchant’s website and makes a purchase, the merchant pays that person a commission. In return, the person promotes the product (or service) of the merchant by sharing that content on social media platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter.
- The rise of Blogging – One of the earliest examples of an online marketing blog is The Accidental Creative, which was started in 1999. Since then, the practice of blogging has exploded as an effective tool for online marketers. Blogs can be highly effective tools for businesses to establish a platform for their content. Moreover, they can also be used to engage with and retain customers by providing them with valuable information that they can use to further their own life or career.
- The Role Of Reddit – Reddit is one of the more prominent social media platforms among millennials. In fact, according to HubSpot Blogs research, 66% of consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 visit Reddit regularly.
- Why Marketing On Reddit? – Since its inception in 2005, Reddit has built an extensive community of passionate consumers who are extremely savvy about their niche. To appeal to this audience, you could create useful content that will interest and provide value to readers. Moreover, one of the primary goals of marketing on Reddit is to gain “karma”. Essentially, as you gain more karma, your posts will become more valuable and boost your content’s reach on Reddit. In short, the more you participate on Reddit, the more you will grow your business.
Making The Most Of Social Media To Market Your Business
So, how can you use social media to market your business? The answer is quite simply – you can’t. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook evolved as a way for users to keep in touch with their friends and family on the go. Essentially, these were mobile first platforms with limited use on desktop computers (at the time). So, back in the day, if you wanted to market your business on social media, you would have had to rely on text messaging and calls to action via email.
Therefore, when thinking about how to utilize social media to market your business, you need to bear in mind that this is a mobile-first platform. In other words, your content will largely consist of short-form text, like tweets and status updates.
Moreover, since these are mobile first platforms, you can’t just throw up a website and call it good.
So, what is the solution? As previously mentioned, social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook evolved as a way for users to keep in touch with their friends and family on the go. Therefore, if your target audience is largely made up of consumers who use these platforms frequently, you could try and adapt your marketing approach to fit within their sphere of influence. Here are some of the ways in which you can use social media to market your brand: