This column originally appeared in Philly Ad News.

“The variety of stand-alone and built-in social media services currently available introduces challenges of definition…” Wikipedia

Social media as applied to our industry practices has become challenging to define because it represents a profound shift in how consumers view and interact with the world. Today, social media success requires multiple layers of expertise and disciplines—such as media targeting, one to one communications, content strategy and creative.

Could you have imagined 10 years ago that social media, particularly Facebook, would become one of the most broad-reaching advertising and communications systems in the world with more 2.8 billion active users?

Marketers recognize that they need to figure this out.

The early days of social media starting around 2008, were all about earned media and organic sharing. There was little to no paid advertising, scale nor hefty use of video and other images that we have today. There was no “shop now”, media targeting and other commerce focused applications that have been introduced and advanced over the years. Social media however clearly had engaged the consumer and forward leaning brands were tiptoeing into testing. In 2008 while presenting at the NRF/ Summit on social media the packed room was curious but saw social media mostly as added value and wanted to know how not to #fail more than anything.

For advertisers and marketers, the responsibility and value for this new territory was unclear. Net+ experienced firsthand the internal battles between PR, media and digital marketing departments as to who owned this promising, emerging media channel.

Fast forward to the present and social media has emerged as an expansive, ecosystem fueled by accelerating mass adoption. The incredible growth of this social media universe can be largely attributed to the success of Facebook. But, of course, there are many other platforms that have helped to build the foundation as well—names like YouTube, Messenger, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Reddit, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram have all contributed and offered varying audience types and opportunities.

Some still default to defining the required expertise broadly as social media, or they apply their legacy skills to the practice both of which can lead to less than optimal outcomes. However, it is vital to recognize, cultivate and apply the relevant skills and expertise to the appropriate social media discipline that map to determined goals.


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