From Virtual Sheep to Sponsored Tweets: The Evolution of Social Media

In Social Media by MediaVision

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social media evolution

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Evolution of Social Media by MediaVision is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Remember the days you could throw a sheep at someone on Facebook, or mix them up some fruity cocktail as a virtual gift? Did you ever have a coveted MySpace profile, complete with glittery animated text and cringeworthy background music?

Social media has come a long way from its original concept of connecting real world friends. It’s branched out into a number of sophisticated platforms, transformed the way we communicate with strangers and friends alike, and provided a whole new marketing channel for brands to communicate with their audience.

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Let’s take a closer look at how social media has impacted the realm of digital marketing.

Building a Community

From official brand Facebook pages to Twitter profiles for real-time company updates, social media channels have provided brands the means to create a community of fans and advocates. Whether sharing exclusive behind the scenes footage, or soliciting opinions from followers, social media allows users to feel connected with their favourite brand on a more personal level.


Boosting Sales

Social media is a valuable ecommerce extension – it’s an excellent way to promote latest offerings, new products, discounts or flash sales. Furthermore, the real-time nature of social media creates a sense of immediacy  to purchase before the desired item is sold out. Social media platforms have in turn recognised this monetary potential for brands, and have developed additional features to facilitate social ecommerce – everything from Facebook’s ‘buy now’ button, to Pinterest’s rich pins and sponsored ads across the different networks are geared towards directing users through the purchase cycle.

Online Shopping


Let’s face it, social media is one big popularity contest, and some people just have that certain something that makes them a digital Queen Bee. Influencers have a wide reach, are respected by their followers, and carefully curate the brands, people and products they associate with – as a result, their opinions carry immense weight. These social media influencers can be a virtual goldmine for brands and their digital PR efforts.


Customer Service

Social media has also forced brands to up their game when it comes to customer service. No more the days of waiting for office hours on a Monday morning – if customers are upset, they now make sure the world knows about it on social media. This is the equivalent of putting up a giant billboard in public, so the brands on the ball are making sure all complaints and queries are addressed swiftly on Twitter and Facebook. Indeed, some companies now have dedicated Twitter accounts just for customer service.

Service rating


Contagious is cool, and social media is the number one method of transmission. Popular content is something most brands aspire to – of course, content will only go viral if it’s good, or so bad that it’s good – or really, depending on a number of factors like the phase of the moon and a user’s whims…Point is, social media has made it incredibly easy for users to simply click and share something that tickles their fancy – and if enough people find that content funny, horrifying or simply amazing – then BOOM. Your post goes viral thanks to social media marketing.

social media

Just looking at the 2014 stats on our timeline, we can see how diverse and ubiquitous social media has become. Which social media development has had the biggest impact on the digital marketing industry? Let us know in the comments below. Don’t forget to take a look at our previous posts in this series, detailing the evolution of Google, as well as the developments in SEO over the past years.

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