Social media isn’t going anywhere; it’s going to keep changing, and so will the way we market with it
Social media might be slightly older than two decades, with the first social networking platform, Six Degrees, being uneventfully introduced in 1997. However, it’s evolved tremendouslyin a short time – changing the marketing landscape for decades to come. From Six Degrees in the late 90s, to Myspace, Twitter, and LinkedIn coming onto the scene in the early 2000s and TikTok bopping its way into popularity today, countless social platforms with countless offerings have emerged and become obsolete all within the past two decades alone. Thereare countless social platforms out there, and an endless number of ways brands are using those platforms.
My prediction: Social networking may not look the way it does now in 2025, but it’s not going anywhere, and neither is the power of social media marketing.
New Media, Same Challenges
Social media has grown in importance to brands over the years.When Myspace launched in 2003, I recall having brands I worked with come to me to figure out how to include “social media” in their marketing efforts. That was a chore. I was barely figuring out how to enjoy them as an end user, without really seeing how any brands were joining the platforms successfully. Most were failing in my opinion, so it was difficult to develop ideas for brands, knowing most people on social networks just wanted to connect with friends and not feel sold to.
Needless to say: working on Myspace projects in the early 2000sfelt like the wild west of marketing– there was no rulebook, and most executives didn’t even understand what social media was, let alone know how to use it. Now, social media marketing is a staple of any integrated campaign, with a complex network of branding professionals, agencies, and influencers working together. I’ve even seen entire fellowship programs dedicated to teaching social media marketing.
The logistics of the platforms were new, and so was the jargon – it took me a minute to learn that you can “follow” someone on Instagram but you “add friends” on Snapchat – but the principles were the same as my many other PR campaigns. You figure out what people are doing, what they’re interested in, how best to reach them, and go from there.
There’s no reason to think social media marketing is going to do anything but continue to grow over the next five years; the only question is how? Not every platform we’re familiar with now will still be operating in five years, and the networks we see as essential now might be completely obsolete come 2025. That’s where the excitement lies.
Predicting the Unpredictable
Understanding which platforms are the most popular among users right now, and why they’re the most popular platforms right now, will help us understand what people are looking to enjoy from their social networks and predict what they’ll be interested in in the future.
We’ve seen the social media landscape shift its focus from text-based content to images; Instagram posts and stories have emerged as more popular content for consumers over image-less Facebook statuses.
In my opinion, video is the next logical step. Video can give consumers a feeling of authenticity that can’t be achieved through any other medium – there’s no true photoshop equivalent for video, and a person’s statements can’t be edited on camera the way they can be in a written format. Platforms are already noticing the possibilities here – Reddit recently released new video ad options, and Google continues to add more video advertising options through YouTube and its network.
I believe the platforms that utilize video offerings in the most strategic, and easily consumable way will be the ones that ultimately emerge as the strongest social networks – both for consumers and marketers. Instagram, for example, has created opportunities its post and story formats for viewers to look at videos with text overlay and other customizations. As users becomemore savvy on how to create better content, so do brands. While I’m seeing an increase in video on social media, it hasn’t quite plateaued the way photos and text-based content seem to have – there’s still room for growth in video content for social marketers.
The way emerging and established social networks evolve is going to drive the way people connect on social media, which will naturally drivesocial marketing methodologies as it adapts to meet their audiences wherever they are.
It will ultimately be up to social platforms to educate their users how to utilize their video offerings as they roll them out – and it’ll be up to brands and agencies to learn how they can use these new mediums to communicate with their audiences.
My strongest advice to anyone out there learning social media marketing – the online marketing world isn’t the wild west it used to be, but we should never lose sight of that feeling I had in the early 2000s, figuring out Myspace. Social media isn’t going to stop changing, so we’re not going to stop learning.
By Nicole Rodrigues, founder & CEO of NRPR Group