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When Did Social Media Lose Its Way? [Infographic]

by Verónica Jarski  |  
May 14, 2013

The early days of social media were a more innocent time. Most early adopters who showed up on a social network were just happy to have found a new online scene that wasn't ruled by time and place. Advice, stories, and experiences abounded.

Savvy business noticed the online hot spots, and they began to meet their consumers and potential customers on social networks. "They recognized the possibility of interacting with their consumers in a more personalized way (as people, not ad impressions), leading to an increase in time and budget spent by companies across social media channels," according to HubSpot.

But, in time, the one-on-one friendliness of social media began to erode. Companies using social media lost their way. Businesses forgot the early days of social media, and they turned to outdated, stodgy means of communicating (and, in some cases, they started outright broadcasting their messages). And consumers and potential clients stopped listening to those brands online.

"You cannot underestimate people's ability to spot a soulless bureaucratic tactic a million miles away," warns social media expert Gary Vayernchuk. "It's a big reason why so many companies that have dipped a toe in social media waters have failed miserably."

Just what happened over time is detailed in the following infographic by HubSpot, including...

  • 81% of consumers have either unliked or removed a company's posts from their Facebook NewsFeed.
  • 71% of consumers report being more selective about liking a company on Facebook than they were last year.
  • 41% of consumers have unfollowed a company on Twitter.

However, social media can find its more personable roots again. Businesses can stop flooding social networks with their pitches, promotions, and ads; companies can instead start focusing on one-on-one interactions again and use tools to help scale those conversations.

To find out how companies can begin doing that, check out the following infographic.

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Veronica Jarski is the Opinions editor and a senior writer at MarketingProfs. She can be reached at

Twitter: @Veronica_Jarski

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  • by Joe Wozny Tue May 14, 2013 via web

    This article, or should I call it an Infomercial, seems to be exactly what the article say's social media has resorted to.

  • by Carolin Geissler Wed May 15, 2013 via web

    I can't say I agree, Joe. Just because the graphic was sponsored by HubSpot doesn't mean that the content isn't valuable.

    The graphic didn't say 'WE TEACH YOU WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO WIN AT SOCIAL MEDIA", but instead shows a timeline of the way social media was treated. It is targeted, informative and has a call to action that is not purchase-related (make social media personal again). So I really don't know what you see wrong with it?

  • by Joel Clark Thu May 16, 2013 via web

    As a digital native and young, budding marketer, I see the value in this. Facebook is no stranger to me. I suppose I would consider myself an early adopter of the social media platform. I must say this information couldn't be more true. On a regular basis I (and many of my friends) do a Facebook clean-up whereby we delete friends we don't talk to, un-like companies that broadcast their messages (as mentioned), and elect to no longer receive updates from these people and/or companies. For that reason alone, the personal approach is much more valuable. It seems as though social media has become a fad for businesses rather than a tool. Facebook stopped being 'cool' as soon as all the old people started showing up and saturating it with capitalist garbage.
    I recall a time where a friend had purchased Sweeney's pep'n'ched and it was grossly past its spoil date. Though this was more than likely the fault of the convenience store it was purchased at, Sweeney's made a prompt reply to the issue (within the hour) and all negative perceptions of the company were alleviated. The affected consumer could have been an opinion leader and spread the bad word like the plague has Sweeney's not stepped in on a personal level. Just another reason why going personal is so valuable.

  • by Gracious Store Thu May 16, 2013 via web

    As you rightly said the early days of social media were those of innocence and serenity. People simply wanted to interact with others without the bombardment of advertising. If people remove businesses from their facebook pages, they are simply saying that they want some peace and no disturbance from marketers in their social networks

  • by Teri Ross Sat May 18, 2013 via web

    From my experience, one of the biggest reasons for social media losing its way is that there wasn't a "way" to begin with. Like all forms of marketing, there needs to be a strategy that is in keeping with other marketing channels and business objectives. I continue to be fascinated by the number of companies engaging in social media without a social media marketing strategy, key performance indicators and defined goals. I equate it to flying an airplane without a flight plan. How do you know where you are going, and how will you know when you get there?

    While all companies say they want more leads or revenue via, there needs to be a cohesive social media marketing plan to make this happen. Just because a company has LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook accounts doesn't mean they are using them effectively. I am convinced that a high percentage of the lost "way" is a manifestation of poor execution.

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