Social Media, Then and Now

Advertisers have access to the incredible reach and attention on social, and the opportunity will only grow in the future.

Social media is a daily habit for most. We wake up in the morning and Facebook. Waiting for morning coffee leads to a scroll through Instagram. A funny scene on the way to work turns into a Snapchat to a friend.

According to Activate, we spend more than 11 hours per day on tech and media, with social making up a significant portion of that time. Advertisers have access to the incredible reach and attention on social, and the opportunity will only grow in the future.

The last decade of social media can be summed up in two words: The Facebook. Of course now it’s just Facebook, but when it launched in 2004, it was a two-word moniker. Today, Facebook has almost six times the monthly active users of its nearest competitor in the space: Snapchat. The average time spent on Facebook is 10 times any other social network. And it owns Instagram, to boot–the next biggest player in the space.

Facebook’s growth can’t continue forever, but the competition on the platform has a long way to go. The most successful advertisers on the platform in the future will be experts at creative and targeting. They will always take advantage of the proliferation of new ad units, which will also only accelerate over time.

Facebook’s most recent new ad units focus on the power of video as the primary way to drive awareness and consideration. The platform has created some incredible technology to measure video performance against traditional TV measurement techniques. It’s also created the ability to target people who have seen the video, which allows brands to push people further down the consideration funnel. We see a significant shift in dollars from traditional video channels to the social advertising channels that figure out video, such as Facebook.

But Facebook isn’t the only shining social media light for advertisers and marketers. Snapchat has become so successful because of how different it is from Facebook. Add one part messaging with one part social broadcasting and mix it with a purposefully difficult interface/user interface and there’s your recipe for a massive success.

The successful “others” in the future of the social space will owe their achievements to how different they are from Facebook. Twitter still owns real-time when it comes to sports, TV shows and the debates despite Facebook’s attempts to enter the space (remember Facebook Sports Stadium, anyone?). Pinterest is the place to plan all the wonderful things in the world. Instagram is for vacation snapshots and food porn with filters–and is now a part of Facebook.

We’ve also learned that advertising on social media requires a different way of looking at the world. A good Facebook campaign is not necessarily going to work elsewhere. In the same regard, the right approach for Facebook isn’t the same as what you need for Snapchat or Twitter. Spending the time and resources to advertise well on social media channels will continue to be an integral part of successful advertising and marketing.

Brands are putting a considerable amount of thought into how social should be a part of their overall marketing mix. Marketing efforts aside, what companies are starting to find is that social media has become the glue that holds the advertiser and customer together. This is because the social advertising channels have given brands the ability to target across everything from upfront awareness to sophisticated retargeting, showing ads to existing customers. This provides a highly engaging, always-on approach to communication. As a result, brands can extract significantly more long-term value and return on investment.

Social media will continue to grow, and so will the opportunities with social advertising. If the past decade has taught us anything, it’s this: The next 10 years of social are going to be even bigger.

Ryan Pitylak is the co-founder and CEO of social and search advertising agency Unique Influence, part of MDC Media Partners.

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