There was a time when everything marketing had to be done by hand or on foot, from creating flyers and cards for direct mail to sending salesman door-to-door. Now, that’s all changed with the evolution of today’s social media platforms.

It all began with….


CompuServe, developed in the 1960s, was the first socializing platform that actually allowed true interaction between users. It was developed to bridge business communication barriers and then released for public use in the 80s.

Here, consumers could access events and news as well as share files and send and receive electronic messages to other users, and although marketers weren’t rushing to advertise via electronic mail, this level of communication was at least a start. Needless to say, email certainly gained marketing momentum in 1978 when Gary Thuerk of Digital Equipment Corporation sent the first-ever mass email to over 400 potential clients. Once it became mainstream, it didn’t take long to become a niche of online marketing all its own

So what brought social media marketing to the mainstream?

The World Wide Web

Ten years after CompuServe graced the online scene, the web as we’ve come to know it is born with the release of Mosaic, or what you probably remember as Netscape Navigator. Once this browser became available for download to the general public, the concept of eCommerce wasn’t far behind.

(Random note: we examined the ”then & now” of website design on our blog last year. If you’re interested, check it out. It’s crazy to see how far web design has come since the 90s!)

Google AdWords

In 2003, Google launched AdWords, and with its release, advertisers’ approach to online marketing really started to shift. Still reigning supreme, Google AdWords allows businesses to advertise to consumers’ needs and wants based on target market demographics and terms consumers use to search for certain products and services on the web.


2003 was a big year: LinkedIn was launched as an online community for employers and employees to mingle, post and seek out employment opportunities and share business trends and updates that will help promote their business on a colleague-to-colleague level.

Still thriving today, LinkedIn has followed suit with other social media platforms by allowing advertisers to run ads and generate leads through LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, marketing themselves as the world’s largest professional network.


Introduced in 2006, this socializing medium was created to encompass many features of previous social media platforms but with more emphasis on communicating via SMS (short message service).

So, what’s nice about Twitter is you can bank on not having to scroll through paragraph-long posts while you’re going through your feed. This is because Twitter posts, or tweets, are limited to 140 characters. With an average human attention span of 8.25 seconds, seems like a no-brainer, right?

Twitter has also jumped onboard the campaign wagon and has provided a way for users to run ads on Twitter through their accounts. From 20,000 tweets per day in 2006 to over 500 million tweets per day in 2016, Twitter clearly hosts a wide array of target markets for business to appeal to and remains one of the most popular social media platforms today.


What began as a way for Harvard students to compare classmate profile pictures side-by-side to see which was hotter has become an exceptionally useful tool for businesses to promote themselves.

Yeah, that was a huge leap wasn’t it? I never claimed Facebook had a humble beginning.

During the early years of its existence, Facebook was only open for use to college and high school students. Interestingly enough, it was prior to opening registration up to the general public that advertising capabilities became available on Facebook. According to The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick, Mark Zuckerberg was apparently looking to offset server costs and allowed a fellow cofounder to implement a couple of advertising campaigns, which began to appear on Facebook in April 2004. It wasn’t until September of 2006 that people 13 years of age and older could join the Facebook community.

Now, Facebook is flooded with users from all over the world and practically overrun with business pages, promotional posts and online ads. From its post-boosting capabilities to campaign creation to third-party app integration, it’s no surprise Facebook has become such a huge social media marketing platform.

Stats ‘n Facts came up with this amazing infographic displaying 115 facts that cover interesting social media user stats as well as social media’s influence on mainstream life and business practices since LinkedIn’s start in 2003.

This infographic does a fantastic job of combining useful online marketing information with fun and interesting social media facts to illustrate the evolution of social media, far better of a job than I could do, so go check it out.

Where do we go from here?

Augmented Reality

This type of technology incorporates digital interaction with ACTUAL reality rather than creating an audible and visual reality from scratch. With this technology, you can essentially browse through life the way you browse on the web, completely changing the way you travel, shop, and generally interact with the real world.

For example, looking to buy a new couch? An augmented reality app from Ikea will let you determine which one will look and fit best before actually buying it. Same goes for eyeglasses and lip gloss colors: see how they look before you spend the dough.

Still, with the public use of augmented reality in its infancy, marketers will have to learn to understand how users interact with it before knowing how to plan marketing strategies with it.

“In the year 3000…”

When you really think about how social media marketing began and where it is today, the possibilities of augmented reality seem endless, as completely cliche as that sounds.

Augmented reality could potentially revolutionize online marketing altogether. Having access to this kind of hands-on approach to researching products and services could make us more aware and educated consumers, which is certainly not a bad thing.

Regardless, it’s obvious that social media has definitely had a positive impact on online advertising. If you haven’t explored social media marketing yet, here’s a little something that can help you decide if it’s right for you.

More about the Author

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Katie Guinn

Katie is a Designer & Content Developer at MayeCreate Design. Her responsibilities and experience include content development for websites and online marketing, blogging, general website maintenance, graphic design, ad campaign management, project management, office management, bookkeeping, and customer service. As a wife, mom, twin, seasoned karaoke singer and amateur rock climber, she’s seen the world from many perspectives and thrives to bring an open mind and clear vision to her position here at MayeCreate.

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