Social Media Marketing: How Its Changed & Why Social Media Companies Exist

We’ve said it before - advanced social media companies don’t “just post.” There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that the client isn’t (and doesn’t need to be) involved in. This is true for ALL social media companies. The question we’re addressing today is, “What am I paying for?”

The short answer is, you’re paying for strategy towards a still-new method of brand awareness and sales (for this blog, we’re going to assume you're a company or individual that offers a product or service).

To skip the history of the internet & social media, click here.

The Beginnings of Social Media

Keep in mind that the internet wasn’t available to the general public until 1991 - that’s only 30 years ago! And social media first came on the scene in 1997 with Six Degrees, followed closely by the well-known-by-Millenials AOL Instant Messenger.

While these milestones happened within just the last 3 decades, the most notable social media platforms arrived in the early 2000’s - 18 years ago. But only 2 of the platforms that popped up were a place to network or be discovered: LinkedIn (for professionals) and Myspace (for artists).

Myspace was all the rage. If you were probably 11-18+ years old, you probably had an account and miraculously learned code to customize your profile to your liking. And just a year later, Facebook showed up.

We all know Mark Zuckerberg and his story. This is where the future of social media changed as we knew it. Facebook began as a private social media site, and is now arguably the most popular social media platform in the world.

Perhaps the biggest buy was when Facebook bought Instagram. From there, platforms that couldn’t live up to the competition of others and started shutting down, reinventing themselves, or selling to the highest bidder.

Major milestones in consumable social media (yellow-highlighted dates are significant dates):

When Online Marketing Began

Contrary to popular belief, digital marketing didn’t become a dog-eat-dog, target-market-focused tool with the introduction of the internet or even social began with unlimited data plans and smartphones.

Digital marketing (strictly speaking on social media platforms) involves extremely detailed audience-targeting to reach a desired group of people. This can include the following parameters, based on the result you’d like to see (drive audience to a site, increase sales, brand awareness, more followers, more messages. etc.):

  • Geo-location

  • Age range

  • Gender

  • Online activity

  • Purchase habits

  • Income

  • Relationship status

  • Career

  • Interests

...and SO much more.

Digital advertising originally began through email and website ads, but the dawn of social media and the direction it’s gone in, changed everything. Facebook was a new way to connect with friends and family that you don’t get the opportunity to see often, make new friends, update those friends in your life ON your life, possibly connect with someone quicker than calling their landline, and more.

With such an innovative platform, it made it impossible to live your life without having this new technology. And because of the high-demand, users were, and still are, willing to “accept all cookies” and share required and not-required information with a platform in order to be a part of something that everyone’s doing… that’s all a platform has to do; make it enticing enough for everyone to want it

Social Media Today

Arguably, the most popular platforms as of August 23rd, 2021 are Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.

Just a matter of years ago, “growth hacking” was something people would attempt in order to increase their Instagram followers and engagement. And it worked! Quite honestly, you could guarantee a certain number of followers and engagements and it made social media services worth paying for (However, due to growth hacking, many people now have ghost followers, 5 impenetrable Instagram algorithms, and no way to cheat the system - although I’m sure someone’s working on it).

Definitions & Information:

  • Ghost Followers: people who follow you but don’t engage with your content for one reason or another; fake or non-active followers who never have and never will engage with your content.

  • Growth Hacking: any system that is an automatic, computerized tool to increase followers and engagement.

These days, you’re paying for strategy and a team of creatives, intellectuals, marketers, branding experts, and tech nerds to create and implement strategy, work alongside social media algorithms, study tools and information that are beneficial to your brand, analyze data to optimize your social media presence and content, and do everything within their knowledge and power to make sure YOU stand out.

The Infamous Algorithm

Yes, Instagram has 5 Instagrams! One for each type of post:

  • Feed posts

  • Stories

  • IGTV

  • Reels

  • IG Live

People talk about how “the algorithm changed again,” and sure, there was probably a new tool or huge update. But the algorithm changes every day, every minute, every second that you’re interacting with Instagram. It’s evolving to learn your activity and behaviors, and likes and dislikes.

And this is why companies like us, Social Light, exist: you can’t do it all in an ever-changing digital world. We dedicate our time and energy to learning about this 2-decade-old, necessary technology because people who want to, at the very least, create a name for their brand don’t have the time to do it, and it changes too much for them to learn it once and be set for years to come, much less weeks.

Social media is still so new that it’s still learning how to be a safe, ethical, yet enticing and engaging system. So many people claim to “hate” social media, and I believe it’s because it’s still growing. The adult brain doesn’t mature until you’re 25 years old. Social media’s only been around for 20 years, and it’s a completely computerized, intelligent system.

Social media marketing is a long game. We initially sign up clients for 3 months because that’s how long it takes to build momentum. Here’s a peek into what we do in the first 3 months:

  • Discuss and agree-upon strategy

  • Brand all social media pages

  • Make sure all usernames are consistent across platforms

  • Connect to our scheduler & set up growth reports

  • Create an aesthetically pleasing and branded 30+ day social media layout

  • Create graphic content

  • Create Reels

  • Set up photo/video shoots if necessary

  • Input content into a Content Calendar and create captions

  • Hashtag research for your brand

  • Analyze hashtags and top posts

  • Discuss advertising strategy if that service is requested

  • Learn about upcoming events, releases, launches, etc that should be included on social media

Oh, and this is just for month 1.

To give you deeper insight into what strategies we implement and things we think about for our clients, here’s a step into our world:

  • What days & times are best for scheduling out content?

  • How often should content go out?

  • Should we post more graphics? Are they being received well?

  • Should we post for Reels or videos?

  • Should they go live more often?

  • Should we show more of our clients' faces?

  • What call-to-action goes with this image?

  • Does the photographer's style match their brand?

  • Are the edits to their photos on brand?

  • What types of content should be going out on stories?

  • What topics does their audience respond to the most?

  • How can we keep their content fresh & exciting?

  • What graphic elements would be engaging but also on brand?

  • Is there enough information being provided in their captions?

  • Is their account easy to navigate?

  • What platforms would be most beneficial for them, and does their content need to be modified for each to receive maximum engagement?

And this is JUST for planning a client’s layout and content calendar.


If you’re a brand or business, you’ve probably attempted to manage your own online presence. Sometimes it definitely works! Most of the time, to reach your highest potential, you’ll need a social media company behind you.

Just like you'd hire an accountant to do your taxes, it's now becoming the norm for brands and businesses to hire social media managers and marketers!

And at Social Light, we do it all! The landscape of social media is constantly changing and it's important to stay alert. We ensure that your brand is keeping up with the times and apply our research and insights along the way. As we help you enhance your brand, we provide consistent reporting so you know exactly going on, step-by-step.

Ready for a discovery call? Contact us!

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