How Has Social Media Changed Marketing?

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook" by Gary Vaynerchuk. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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How has social media changed marketing? What does the evolution of social media marketing look like?

Social media has changed marketing in four major ways. Social media marketing has a shorter campaign length, increased engagement, lower cost, and more independence. However, some aspects of marketing will never change.

Keep reading for the answer to the question: how has social media changed marketing?

The 4 Ways Social Media Has Changed Marketing

Social media has changed marketing in four major ways:

Change #1: Shorter campaign length. How has social media changed marketing when it comes to campaign length? Before social media, big businesses would create 6-month-long campaigns using the same images for outdoor signage, print, and TV. Regardless of whether the campaign was effective, the old one ended and the new one began. Today, every day is a new campaign and requires new content tailored to specific platforms.

Change #2: Increased customer interaction. Before social media, traditional marketing was a one-sided conversation. Businesses put ads in the media and customers viewed the ads. Today, however, customers have the opportunity to interact with businesses on social media. They can like posts, ask questions, and demand attention before agreeing to buy something.

Change #3: Increased affordability of advertising. Before social media, marketers relied on traditional media such as television ads to distribute their advertising. So, how has social media changed marketing in terms of affordability? Today, it’s free to set up a presence on social media and some platforms offer affordable advertising. 

  • For example, if you wanted to test out two ads aimed at different demographics on TV, you’d have to spend weeks creating two different ads, and then show them on different channels at different times, depending on when you think the target demographics are watching. You’d have to run them for two weeks so that your demographic would have seen them three times, and this would cost you between $7,000-$13,000. You’d have no way of knowing if people actually saw the ads. In contrast, if you wanted to test out two different ads on Facebook, all you’d have to do is create two targeted posts aimed at different demographics. Targeted posts are free and quick to set up, and you can watch people interact with your posts in real-time as they like or comment.

Change #4: Decreased reliance on traditional media companies. Before social media, companies rented their time with customers from traditional media companies. With the advance of social media, however, companies can access their customers on their own, and often for free—real people on social media will distribute your content for you if it’s good enough. Any brand can become its own media company, though it needs to be clear that its media arms aren’t objective—customers won’t put up with a lack of transparency, especially younger ones who have well-honed BS detectors.

  • For example, a sports equipment brand such as Nike could create its own sports programming and no longer rely on ESPN. 

What Hasn’t Changed in the Era of Social Media

How hasn’t social media changed marketing? There are six constants in marketing:

Constant #1: Good timing is critical. A goal of marketing has always been, and always will be, to connect with customers at the moment and place when they’re most likely to purchase. Today that place is social media, but no matter where it ends up being in the future, that’s where you need to be.

Constant #2: Storytelling is key. No matter where you’re telling your story, you need to write it in a way that creates enough emotion to make customers want to answer your calls to action. You can change your story often, but it should always include some of the following:

  • Your company’s history
  • Your competitor’s history
  • What your customers are interested in (Shortform example: One day your story might be “Our bathroom cleaner will halve the time you spend doing chores” to appeal to the customers who want more free time. Another day it might be, “Our cleaner is made of biodegradable materials” to appeal to the customers who are concerned about the environment.)
  • What’s going on in the world and how you could relate that to your brand

Constant #3: Long-form content continues to be relevant. Social media content is becoming shorter and shorter, but long-form content still has its place. Books, movies, and YouTube videos probably won’t disappear.

Constant #4: Marketing requires lifelong learning. No matter what platforms and technologies come into being in the future—or how their algorithms and features evolve—where, when, how you tell the story, and who does the telling will be continually changing. You’ll need to learn new skills on an ongoing basis. 

  • For example, just before the author submitted this book to his editor, Instagram put out a 15-second video product and everyone scrambled to figure out how to best use it.

Constant #5: You need heart, sincerity, engagement, commitment, and hustle. Marketing is hard and it takes work.

Constant #6: There are two types of content, “jabs” and “right hooks.” We’ll look at both in more detail in the next section.

How Has Social Media Changed Marketing?

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  • Why creating strong social media content is like boxing
  • How the rise of social media has brought many changes to marketing
  • How to build a connection and then convert a sale

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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