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 Businesses forgot the early days of social media, and they turned to outdated, stodgy means of communicating (and, in some cases, they started outright broadcasting their messages).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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When Did Social Media Lose Its Way? [Infographic]

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Veronica Jarski is managing editor at Agorapulse and a former editor and senior writer at MarketingProfs.

Twitter: @Veronica_Jarski

LinkedIn: Veronica Jarski