From Instagram to TikTok: How social media evolved this decade

Shortly after midnight Pacific time on October 6, 2010, a new app built by a small team went live on Apple’s App Store. Right away, they noticed people abroad signing up for the app, called Instagram; by 6 a.m. the startup was so overwhelmed with traffic that its servers reportedly melted down.

Instagram racked up over 100,000 users in less than a week, making it one of the fastest growing apps ever at the time. By December, it had hit 1 million sign-ups. Instagram cofounder Kevin Systrom predicted at the time that “communicating via images” would “take off” in the years to come.
By the end of the decade, Instagram had more than 1 billion users and was part of one of the most valuable tech companies in the world. But it’s also working to beat back a newer rival — TikTok — which is growing fast and looks as novel as Instagram did in the early 2010s.
Instagram cofounders Mike Krieger (left) and Kevin Systrom at their office in San Francisco in 2011.
Instagram cofounders Mike Krieger (left) and Kevin Systrom at their office in San Francisco in 2011.
Instagram’s evolution throughout the decade mirrors the evolution of the broader social media landscape over that time. It started out as a runaway success in the App Store at a time when small startups still appeared to have a fighting chance to compete with more established companies. In 2012, it got acquired by Facebook (FB) for a then-astounding $1 billion in a sign of the consolidation to come across the tech industry. In recent years, Instagram has been copying features from rival networks such as Snapchat (SNAP) and TikTok to adapt to shifting user habits. Like its parent company, Instagram has also had to confront the dark sides of its platform, from misinformation to online bullying.
“When Instagram started, it was primarily about following people without their approval, it was about sharing permanent photos with a wide group of people, and it was about sharing relatively frequently,” said Josh Miller, a former product lead at Facebook.
Now, Instagram — like so much of the social media industry — is focusing on ephemeral posts, experimenting with 15-second music videos and offering options to share privately rather than just publicly.

How the social media landscape evolved in the 2010s: A Timeline

  • 2010: Instagram launches in October of this year and quickly tops one million users.

  • 2011: Snapchat and Google Plus launch. Only one of them would survive the decade.

  • 2012:
    • On the eve of its IPO, Facebook agrees to acquire Instagram for $1 billion, a staggering sum at the time.
    • Facebook hits one billion monthly active users, a milestone figure that highlights its staggering reach. By the end of the decade, it would have well over 2 billion active users.
  • 2013:
    • Twitter goes public but hits a rough patch on Wall Street as investors realize the size of its audience will never compare to Facebook.
    • The Wall Street Journal reports Snapchat turned down a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook.
  • 2014: Facebook buys WhatsApp for a staggering $22 billion, consolidating its power over the social media market.

  • 2015: Social network Friendster shuts down citing “the evolving landscape in our challenging industry” and the online community not “engaging” as much as it had hoped.

  • 2016: Facebook, Twitter and Google come under fire for the role that their platforms played in spreading misinformation during the 2016 presidential election.

  • 2017:
    • Twitter shuts down Vine, a beloved app for sharing six second video clips.
    • Bytedance, a Chinese startup, buys, a lip sync platform and later moves its users to TikTok.
  • 2018: Facebook, Twitter and Google face mounting privacy scrutiny in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

  • 2019: Elizabeth Warren calls for breaking up Facebook by unraveling its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp.

A time before Facebook was the only game in town

At the time of Instagram’s launch, Facebook was a major player in social media, but nowhere near as dominant as it is today.

Other tech giants, including Google and Apple, were also trying to make their own social networks. Snapchat launched in 2011, and Twitter went public in 2013. It felt like a lot of social networks could coexist. But with just 24 hours in a day, users only had so much attention to go around and Facebook proved to be very masterful at garnering it.

Google has since shut down Google+, and Apple’s music-focused social network Ping never took off. Twitter’s audience stalled around 300 million monthly users, a far cry from Facebook’s 2.45 billion monthly users. Snapchat — which arguably set the tone for the decade by pioneering disappearing content — has proved to be more niche than mainstream.
“When Snapchat launched, it presented a totally different way of communicating,” said eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson. “What ended up happening, is Snapchat has to a great extent changed the way young people communicate, but it hasn’t taken off with the older groups the way Facebook ended up taking off.”
By the end of the decade, the industry has consolidated quite a bit. Following its acquisition of Instagram, Facebook bought messaging platform WhatsApp for $22 billion in 2014. Facebook also reportedly tried to buy Snapchat for $3 billion in 2013, but founder and CEO Evan Spiegel declined.
In the second half of the decade, a number of social media applications did launch, but unlike Instagram and Snapchat, they never were seen as true competitors to Facebook. Their names — Ello, Peach, Meerkat, Mastodon, Vero — are little more than footnotes now.
The Instagram logo in 2012.
The Instagram logo in 2012
For a time, it looked like Instagram would still maintain its independent spirit even after it was acquired. “Facebook let Instagram be this little island that was pumping out standalone apps and doing things a bit differently than Facebook,” said John Barnett, who joined Instagram in 2014 as a product manager when it employed fewer than 75 people.
But that wouldn’t last. In 2018, Instagram cofounders Systrom and Mike Krieger left the company reportedly because of tensions with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over the direction of Instagram. Facebook recently added the words “from Facebook” to the Instagram app and now refers to Instagram’s public relations staff as “Facebook Company” spokespeople.
With Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and its eponymous app, Facebook boasts four platforms that each have more than 1 billion users. It is so dominant that a growing chorus of politicians are now calling for Facebook to be broken up. Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has suggested Facebook should spin off Instagram in particular. Facebook’s reputation also took a major hit after revelations that Cambridge Analytica obtained the personal data of as many as 87 million Facebook users, sparking a major privacy awakening across tech.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaking at the company's F8 developer conference in 2010.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaking at the company’s F8 developer conference in 2010.

The rise of TikTok

As the decade came to an end, social media companies found themselves on the defensive. Once seen as useful and playful ways to keep in touch with friends and family, social networks faced a wave of criticisms for spreading misinformation, enabling election meddling and failing to protect user privacy — not to mention concerns about screen-time addiction and online bullying. As a result, Instagram and Facebook are rethinking “likes” and their impact on mental health, Twitter is working on improving well-being, and YouTube has started abbreviating subscriber counts on the platform to help address concerns from its star creators about stress.
The belief that connecting people and building platforms to share information are fundamentally good was challenged again and again.
It was against this backdrop that TikTok began to take off. Launched in 2016, TikTok is all about viral content and racking up lots of views and likes. It’s reminiscent of Vine — a popular six-second video service acquired by Twitter that was shut down in 2017.
TikTok has been downloaded almost 1.6 billion times globally.
TikTok has been downloaded almost 1.6 billion times globally.
Users share videos of themselves doing things like cooking, dancing and lip-syncing. They often feature music in the background. Like Instagram, users can follow other people and “heart” or comment on videos. But the similarities stop there.
Natalie Bazarova, an associate professor at Cornell University who studies social media, said TikTok is “totally different” from Facebook and Instagram. “There is nothing there about building social connections,” she said. “It’s about using algorithms to find content that will hold your attention. It’s an entertainment-based platform.”
That differentiation has made it a hit: TikTok has been installed nearly 1.6 billion times globally to date, according to data from Sensor Tower.
(Ironically enough, it’s partly because of Instagram that TikTok gained traction. The startup flooded its competitors with ads.)
Facebook — and Instagram — have taken notice of TikTok’s success and have released their own copycats of the app. In 2018, Facebook launched an app called Lasso, which lets users create and share short videos with music and camera effects. Earlier this year, Instagram launched a new tool called “Reels” in Brazil, for sharing 15-second videos with music.

How social media will evolve in the decade to come

For ABI Research analyst Eleftheria Kouri, advancements in technology this decade drove the biggest changes in social media, from better smartphone cameras and augmented reality to faster connectivity that allows people to upload Stories or TikTok videos in seconds.
Looking ahead, she believes 5G technology has the power to advance social media even further, and make way for more interactive content and immersive games.
Miller, the former Facebook product lead, believes the next decade will get people closer to feeling like they’re in the same room as people far away.
“Many of our social media experiences are an imperfect replacement for being with someone in person,” he said. “It’s hard to predict what hardware advances will bring, but I’m hopeful that one day I’ll sit down in my apartment in Brooklyn, and I’ll look across my dining room table, and I’ll be able to have dinner with my mom in Los Angeles, sitting across from me.”



Social Commerce Market Report: How social media is driving ecommerce sales in 2020

Social media’s immense popularity and influence have built a huge potential audience for shopping through social platforms. Global internet users spent an average of 142 minutes per day on social media in 2018, up from 90 minutes in 2012, according to a report from GlobalWebIndex cited by Digital Information World.

This has made social media a major influence on consumers’ purchasing habits, with 36% of US internet users saying social networks have become as important as other information sources for making product choices, up from 27% in 2015, according to a survey from GfK cited by eMarketer.

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As social media’s influence grows, social commerce is becoming an increasingly important channel in online shopping. Consumers have used social media to learn about products and brands and find inspiration for over a decade; the term “social commerce” was introduced by Yahoo! in 2005. But in the past few years, platforms have been working to eliminate the friction of buying a product elsewhere after discovering it on social media by adding buy buttons and digital wallets, for instance, so users can make direct purchases.

In The Social Commerce Report, Business Insider Intelligence estimates the current size of the social commerce market, forecasts its future growth, and examines why its growth has been stagnant so far — as well as why that’s set to change. We also look at the top social media platforms’ social commerce offerings and analyze the future of each company in the space.

The companies mentioned in this report are: Amazon, BHADgoods, BigCommerce, Calibra, Depop, Facebook, Instagram, Kylie Cosmetics, L’Oréal, Pinterest, Poshmark, Nike, Samsung, SeatGeek,  Snap, Venmo, and Walmart.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • Growth in social commerce adoption has ground to a halt in recent years due to concerns about the channel’s safety and legitimacy.
  • But adoption and usage are set to pick up thanks to social media’s popularity, its influence, and social platforms’ improved commerce capabilities.
  • Top platforms including Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Snapchat have upgraded their commerce offerings in the hopes of becoming shopping hubs as social commerce takes off.

In full, the report:

  • Forecasts the value of the US social commerce market over the next five years.
  • Examines the obstacles and growth drivers for social commerce adoption and usage.
  • Covers the commerce features being introduced by Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Snapchat and discusses their various strategies, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • Looks at companies with different involvement in social commerce including marketplaces and payments platforms that use social tools and how they fit into the social commerce market.


Control Over Social Media Assets Is More Important Than Ever

3 ways to avoid PR disasters and usage right fines

During times of uncertainty, social media can either drive powerful connections or cause tremendous downfalls for brands. The difference between a social strategy that wins with consumers and one that doesn’t is control and governance over all content. Because without control, how do you really know what’s in front of your consumers?

From the largest brands to up and coming startups, having visibility over what is on your social channels from a local, regional and global level will be critical in the coming weeks and months. Here are three things to be aware of.

Establish and maintain control

Over the next few months, it’s critical that you do everything in your power to ensure that no insensitive imagery or messaging goes to market. While social media typically takes a backseat to this kind of monitoring, it’s imperative that brand managers and approvers have visibility over all social assets as they pivot strategies to drive online engagement.

With marketing teams dispersed around the world, coordinating campaign launches has become even more challenging.   Utilizing platforms that can set up an approval process for all social posts but also unpublish content with the click of a button is key to avoiding insensitivity in the market and mitigating usage rights violation fines.

Steer clear of usage rights violations

Did you know that using unapproved or expired creative with talent can lead to lofty usage rights violation fines? Whether you did or didn’t, the next question is whether you have control of all of your assets and know what teams are using what content where.

To avoid usage rights fines and save valuable time, money and resources, centralize all of your social content on one platform. By consolidating your content into a  cloud-based asset management platform, all teams will have instant access to approved content. If you’ve set up workflow approvals, then you can rest peacefully knowing that all of the content on your brand’s social channels has gone through the proper approval process and that there won’t be any costly PR nightmares down the road.

Create coherence

Consistency is key but when using different systems, it’s easy for assets to end up in the wrong place or for the wrong assets to be used. With a  single library for all your cross-channel media, your marketing team will have visibility over approved, scheduled and published assets in a single dashboard view.

This provides total visibility and coherence and mitigates the possibility of negative backlash against your brand. By centralizing your platforms into one consolidated tech stack, marketing teams can thrive (from home). Cloud-based platforms will continue to drive productivity within marketing teams and allow for collaboration from the couch.


4 Tips on How to Address Negative Comments About Your Brand

Addressing negative online comments about your brand is something that every social media manager will have to deal with from time-to-time.

I see these types of questions pop-up all the time in groups and communities that I’m part of: 

  • How do we deal with negative online comments made on social media about our brand?
  • What’s the best way to respond to negative comments in order to avoid further argument?
  • Do we have to address criticisms online, or can we just delete them?

The short answers are yes, you have to address the comments, publicly; no, you can’t just delete (all of) them.

The best way to respond? In this post, we’ll cover some key notes on just that.

But before I get into the specific tips, I encourage you to remember:

  • The reality is that many of you won’t have to deal with this on an overwhelming basis. A negative comment here and there is normal. 
  • Many people just want to be heard, or they’re having a bad day outside of the interactions on your page/profile.  
  • Intent can be taken wildly out of context when a comment is made online, as you can’t see or hear the person making it. 

​All of that said, if you do see a negative online comment about your brand, here’s an overview of the key steps you can take to address it.

1. Refer back to your external social media policy

All social media managers need to create two specific types of social media usage policies for their organizations.

  • One is internal (for paid staff, interns)
  • The other is for external (general public online community) policies

Your Internal policy is for the people who represent your brand, whether directly or indirectly, including staff, stakeholders, partners, etc. This includes notes on brand voice, posting frequency, and escalation points in case problems arise. 

Your external policy is public-facing, and clearly outlines what you will not tolerate in terms of comments and remarks posted on your social media accounts. 

Here’s an example of an external policy that I worked on with a nonprofit client: 

Welcome to the official Facebook fan page for MetroWest Nonprofit Network (MWNN)!

Here we will share news about our workshops and events, as well as updates about local and regional nonprofit resources, funding sources, photos, videos, interesting stories and articles.

We want to keep our Facebook page an open forum, but we are also a “family-friendly” page, so please keep comments and wall posts clean. We want you to tell us what’s on your mind, but if it falls into any of the categories below, we want to let you know beforehand that we will have to remove it:

  • We do not allow graphic, obscene, explicit or racial comments or submissions nor do we allow comments that are abusive, hateful or intended to defame anyone or any organization. 
  • We do not allow third-party solicitations or advertisements. This includes promotion or endorsement of any financial, commercial or non-governmental agency. Similarly, we do not allow attempts to defame or defraud any financial, commercial or non-governmental agency. 
  • We do not allow comments that support or encourage illegal activity. 
  • We do not promote our members’ events or job/volunteer opportunities on this page. Please email them to and we will post them on our website.

Also, the appearance of external links on this page does not constitute an official endorsement on behalf of MWNN – it just might be something we found interesting and wanted to share!

Whew! Now that all THAT is out of the way, let’s get to know each other. Post, share and tell us what you’d like to see more of from MWNN!

Post your external, public-facing policy on your website, where you can link back to it from your social media accounts, in order to ensure that there’s no confusion as to what will get someone banned and blocked, and what will get a comment deleted.

Both of these policy documents are key in ensuring consistent, effective management of your online channels and streams.

2. Determine the intent of the comment

Whenever a negative comment is posted, take a close look at the language the person has used, then at the account of the user who posted it. 

Is this a real person, with a real bone to pick, or did this come from a troll, someone who frequently posts similar on other pages? 

Wikipedia defines an internet troll as: 

“A person who starts quarrels or upsets people on the Internet in order to distract and sow discord by posting inflammatory and digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into displaying emotional responses and normalizing tangential discussion, whether for the troll’s amusement or a specific gain.”

While it’s important to respond to all genuine, sincere concerns that are raised by your audience, you also need to understand which are just that – genuine, sincere complaints – and which are merely baiting you and your staff/assistants, for their own gain.

Learn the difference, and how to spot the key troll indicators, and avoid getting caught up in needless – sometimes endless – back and forth battles.

3. Redirect the conversation onto a private channel

Once you’ve established that your complainant::

  • Hasn’t directly violated your stated social media policy and… 
  • Is not a troll who’s just trying to start trouble for trouble’s sake

Your first point of call is to apologize and address their concern as best you can with the context you have available. But carrying on a question and response in a comments thread – if your initial response is not enough for the complainant, or if you need more info in order to track down further context, you should recommend redirecting the conversation into a private channel, facilitating more direct engagement. 

Ask the person to DM you (ensure your DMs are open to the public), or email you if you want to give them your email, then take it from there. DMs tend to work best because the person doesn’t have to leave the platform, and again, it can feel more personal and responsive.

Here’s an example of the basic type of language that you want to use in your response:

“Hi NAME, I’m sorry that you had a bad experience and that you’re feeling this way.

Can you send me a DM so that I can get more information from you and discuss next steps? Thank you.”

4. See if your online community will go to bat for you

When you’re actively building your social media community, you may think you’re all alone in seeing and digesting these negative comments. However, as you grow your following, and your engagement, you’ll notice, eventually, that your fans and followers will stick up for you too. 

If someone says something egregiously wrong, or provides false information, or even just leaves a petty comment, your community will often stand up to this person to set the record straight. 

That’s what having a dynamic community on social media means – people who are ready, willing, and able to go to bat for you and your brand can offset negative comments in the best way possible. It won’t always happen, and you shouldn’t necessarily rely on such, but it’s another benefit to building strong ties with your online community.

As noted in the introduction, dealing with negative comments is something that all social media managers deal with from time to time, but it’s important to ensure that you don’t take it personally, and that you work to consider the broader perspective around why someone might have said what they did. The reasons behind such complaints can be complex – simple, straight-forward issues might be easy to resolve, and turn sentiment around, but more embedded, angrier responses could indicate that something more is going on.

It’s important to approach interaction with empathy and compassion, enabling you to work with them, from their perspective, to make things right. 


What Gen Z is Watching Online – and What That Means for Marketers in 2020

Media headlines and marketing campaigns have given the Millennial generation (born between 1981 and 1996) attention for years, but more recently, there’s also been increased focus on the next youngest generation, Generation Z, which is made up of anyone born in 1997  and onwards.

And while both of these demographic subsets are considered the “younger generations”, there are many key differences between Gen Z and Millennials, which is particularly evident in the content that they consume. For example, Millennials are known for cutting the cord – in other words, ditching cable for online streaming services – but Gen Z was never connected to the cord to begin with. Instead, Gen Z users are attracted to social platforms, including YouTube, and newcomer TikTok, which has lead to completely different viewing behaviors and content interests, evolving media consumption trends which are important to note.

So what is Gen Z watching – and what does that mean for your marketing efforts?

Here’s a look at some of the big video content trends taking hold among younger audiences.


Since YouTube has been a thing for basically all of their life (YouTube was founded in 2005), Gen Z has widely adopted the platform into their media consumption process, and it’s their top preferred platform for consuming video content.

In fact,  85% of teens now consume content on YouTube, while the average time kids spend watching online videos has doubled in the last four years.

That shift away from traditional TV – and towards the shorter clip-style presentation of YouTube – has lead to a whole new approach to video content, while it’s also seen the rise of ‘vloggers’, an entirely new category of celebrity.

Indeed, according to a study published last year, children are now  3x as likely to want to be a YouTube star, as opposed to an astronaut, the past standard for aspiration. Here’s a basic overview of what Gen Z is watching on the video platform.


Video blogging – or ‘vlogging’ – has risen to prominence on YouTube, and continues to show signs of growth and popularity. Online personalities typically upload low-budget and highly personal videos of themselves, through which they connect with their audience. Many vloggers have now built massive careers out of their vlogging hobby – the highest-paid vlogger in 2019, Ryan Kaji, earned a whopping $26 million.

From a brand perspective, it’s important to note the role that vloggers are increasingly playing. Given their popularity, in the future, traditional TV advertising may not be your best bet for outreach and brand awareness, while endorsements by influencers are now also considered to be more trustworthy and authentic than those from celebrities and sports stars. This is a key trend to note.

Informative videos

But it’s not just entertainment that makes YouTube a hit with younger users –  according to research, 80% of Gen Z teens say that the platform has helped them become more knowledgeable about something, while 68% say that YouTube has helped them improve or gain skills that will better prepare them for the future.

YouTube education

YouTube has become a valuable, and trusted, learning resource. In fact, most students now prefer YouTube videos over textbooks and many searches for videos for DIY projects and how-tos.

The trend underlines the expanding use of the platform, which has various implications for how you can utilize videos to better connect with younger audiences.


Another key video trend of note among younger audiences is Snapchat, and particularly, the rise of its ‘Snap Originals’ programming.

Late last year, Snap reported that total daily time spent watching its Discover content had increased by 40% year-over-year, while more than 100 of its Discover channels now reach, on average, audiences “in the double-digit millions per month”.

Snap’s Discover shows underline a significant shift in video consumption habits.  Snap Original shows are shot vertically, and episodes average only five minutes in length. The rise of this content format signals a major shift in video expectations among younger audiences, with content that’s aligned to how they watch, as opposed to re-purposing traditional video formats.

That’s a key trend of note – if you’re looking to connect with younger audiences, shorter, purpose-created content may perform better.


TikTok saw a significant rise in 2019, and the majority of its growing audience is within the Gen Z age range. The popularity of its short-form video format has brands taking notice, which is now leading to new approaches designed to cater to this market – but what works on TikTok is largely the same as similar short-form predecessor Vine: quick, fun, DIY-style content that aligns with trends and memes.

 TikTok’s content is much shorter than content on YouTube, with a limit of 15-second per clip. The most popular content on TikTok right now is lip syncs, viral dance crazes, and humorous skits. 

Creativity within the medium is highly encouraged by the TikTok community, who engage and follow little-known video creators and turn them into TikTok stars. As the platform evolves, we’re seeing the rise of these TikTok influencers who post original content. The company now also has a catalog of its own vetted influencers that brands can partner with.

Really, there are two types of creators on TikTok at present – those with large followings on other platforms who are trying out the latest new thing, and unknown, new creators who are finding an audience within TikTok first. Over time, these approaches are leading to a new, dedicated style that’s unique to the platform, which, given its current popularity, could lead to another significant shift in Gen Z video content consumption, again aligned around shorter, vertically shot and presented clips.

The Changing Face of Video

No matter how you look at it, video content is changing, and brands need to keep up with these relevant shifts in order to maintain a connection with younger audiences.

As Forbes puts it, the key to Gen Z is video content which is “relevant, meaningful, and authentic”. Gen Zers are keenly aware when they are being sold to, so content bombarded with cold marketing and logos is going to fail with this generation. Additionally, Gen Z is turning to video content to decompress and to find a release from the increased social pressures and competition they’re facing.

So long as you recognize such trends, and take the time to consider what Gen Z viewers are growing to expect in such, you’ll be able to see success with these digital natives.


8 Ways to Integrate Social Media Into Your Sales Strategy

Using social media for brand-building is just the tip of the iceberg — social media is a valuable tool for driving sales.

Here are eight ways to integrate social media into your sales strategy to drive revenue.

1. Identify the most-used platforms for your ideal customer.

As a sales pro, you should have a well thought out ideal customer profile. This profile should spell out key information about who your buyer personas are. For B2B companies, this can include the size of the company that would benefit from your product, how much revenue they bring in, and their organizational structure.

For companies that sell to consumers, your ideal customer profile should include information such as how old your buyers are, what their interests are, and what problem they are turning to your product to solve.

Once you have your ideal customer profile laid out, use this information to determine what social media platforms they are most likely to be active on. For example, if you work for a B2C company and are targeting Generation X and Millennial consumers, you would be better served to focus your efforts on Facebook than Tik Tok. Conversely, if you sell B2B and are looking to gain direct access to seasoned professionals, LinkedIn may be a more productive platform to focus on than Pinterest.

In addition to understanding what platforms are frequently used by your ideal customer, take time to understand how your customer is using these platforms. For example, if your customers prefer natural-looking user-generated content, then you will most likely find them on Instagram because that is where that type of content performs best. Or if your audience prefers searchable instructional content, they may spend more time on YouTube.

This information will provide valuable insight on where you should focus your energy to best connect with and serve your audience as you implement social media into your sales strategy.

2. Share customer stories with marketing.

When it comes time to purchase a new product, buyers feel more confident in their decision knowing the product has a seal of approval from another buyer. In fact,  83% of buyers say word-of-mouth recommendations influence their buying decisions.

The best way to incorporate the word-of-mouth approach into your sales strategy? Through sharing customer stories your prospects can relate to. As a sales rep, you play an integral role in sharing your customer’s stories. Although your marketing team is often tasked with the job of creating content for your company’s social media channels, your frequent communications with prospects and customers can provide valuable content as well.

Make sure you are regularly sharing the stories of happy customers with your marketing team for amplification on your company’s social media platforms to provide social proof that can help drive sales for your business.

3. Leverage social proof in your sales materials.

In addition to sharing customer stories with marketing, don’t forget to include social proof in your sales materials. If you receive a stellar online review or have a happy customer create an appreciative social media post praising your product, reference them in your sales pitches to build trust and credibility with potential customers.

4. Optimize your personal social media accounts.

Your company’s accounts aren’t the only touchpoints your brand can have with a customer on social media — your personal accounts can serve as a personable extension of your company’s brand. As a sales rep, you can optimize your own social media accounts to support your selling efforts. This way, buyers can quickly see you’re a representative of your brand as soon as they see your profile.

The two platforms that are best for this are Twitter (where consumers often go to communicate directly with brands and thought-leaders) and LinkedIn.

5. Use social media when prospecting.

Social media can be a powerful tool for prospecting and connecting with new contacts, especially for those working in B2B sales. If your company sells to other businesses,  LinkedIn should be a key tool in your prospecting process.

LinkedIn allows you to find and build relationships with potential customers that are a perfect fit for your business. The free version of the tool has a search feature that allows you to filter users by keywords, industry, location, work history, and mutual connections. You can simply tailor your search to include the attributes of your ideal customer to find new contacts to reach out to.

6. Track relevant metrics.

As a sales professional, you’re no stranger to tracking metrics such as the average length of the sales cycle, pipeline velocity, and average lead response time to understand how your business is performing. And if you aren’t already, it is time to include social media metrics in your regular reporting.

How many of your leads come in from social media? Of your social media leads, how many of them convert? What percentage of your total sales come from social media leads? This information is helpful to track to understand how to continue integrating social in your sales strategy.

In addition to these quantitative figures, you may want to consider tracking some qualitative information. For example, if a specific social media post led to an influx of leads that ended up converting, note what type of post this was and seek to understand what made this content so successful. This can inform your strategy moving forward.

7. Add social listening to your operating rhythm.

If you could be granted the superpower of reading your customer’s minds, would you take it? Though I can’t give you that superpower, I can attest to the power of social listening, which can help you understand how your customers really feel about your product and company. You can then use the information you find to inform your sales strategy moving forward to better accommodate customer needs and concerns.

Here are a few ways you can incorporate social listening into your regular operating rhythm:

  • Search for your company or product name on Twitter to see what users are saying even if they don’t directly @ your company. You can also do this with competitors to see what consumers are saying about similar brands.
  • Use a tool such as  HubSpot Social Inbox to see all of your company’s brand mentions across platforms in one place.
  • Follow the LinkedIn updates of companies and individuals you are interested in working with. Anytime they are mentioned in the media or elsewhere on the platform, you’ll receive a notification.
  • Scan the comments section of posts from your company, your competitors, and any influencer marketing posts promoting your or your competitor’s products.

8. Conduct competitive analysis.

I’ve alluded to it above — social media is a powerful tool for conducting competitive analysis. Not only can you see what content your competitors are sharing to engage with their audience, announce new product drops, and promote their current product line-up, but you can also access comments and reviews to see how their customers truly feel about their products.

Whether their audience is living positive or constructive feedback for their product, reviewing this information on a regular basis can help you distinguish the differentiators of your company and offering in the words of customers looking for those attributes. Spending time reviewing the content shared by your competitors on blogs and social is a value-added activity that can provide useful insights into the competitive landscape of your industry.

Additionally, if you work in B2B sales, performing a competitive analysis of your ideal customer’s competitors is also worthwhile. By knowing what your prospect is up against in their industry, you are better equipped to walk into a sales conversation knowing exactly how your product can suit their needs and support the growth of their business.


Real estate pros are using this time to connect to prospects and past clients online. Building brand awareness using social media ad platforms may be cost-effective and could pay off in the long run too, according to a new study from Evocalize, a provider of marketing technology solutions for the real estate industry.

Evocalize, a 2019 member of the National Association of REALTORS®’ Second Century Ventures tech accelerator Reach program, analyzed more than 160 million ad impressions and behaviors generated over 70,000 leads from listing ads on Facebook apps and services. The analysis covers a month-over-month comparison between February to March.

Researchers found a 29% drop in media costs from Facebook advertising. “This is due to the increased amount of supply (available ad impressions) generated from the massive amount of people working from home and surfing Facebook,” the study notes. For example, the amount of video views on Facebook Live has doubled in just a week.

Also, the study notes a decrease in overall advertiser demand. Brands are reducing their marketing expenditures or halting them completely during the pandemic. The drop in demand has resulted in a drop in media rates too, the study notes.

Engagement and click-through rates have dropped somewhat during this time, the study notes. Researchers say this could because in-market buyers and sellers may still be browsing and viewing the ads but have less intent and are, therefore, clicking through less frequently.

Still, “the significant decrease in media costs, with the fluctuation in engagement and conversion metrics, leads to a near ‘business as usual’ approach to lead generation,” the report concludes. “The 15% increase in [cost per lead] means that for every $150 the average real estate agent spends on lead ads, they used to get about eight leads and now they are getting about seven leads.”

The significant drop in media costs could create an opportunity to “start building new relationships with clients and prospects,” the study notes.