Social Media Marketing: The Past, Present, & Future

In today’s digital media landscape, the only thing that remains constant is change itself. There are always new tools and apps coming out. Within this flux of change, there is an ever-increasing amount of content circulating in the digital space.

I just watched the recording of Mark Schaefer’s talk at this year’s Social Media Marketing World conference in San Diego. In Mark’s talk, he shared how everyone, including brands, organizations, and individuals, were struggling with a state of content shock. There is way too much content.

Ironically, on the other hand, we are encouraging everyone to become content creators to share their stories and to document their journeys.

How could we ever figure out the digital marketing world?

Well, I had the honor to interview a social media marketing expert, Keith A. Quesenberry, to discuss the latest changes and strategies in digital marketing. Click on the link below to watch the replay of our interview and read my highlights below.

Click  here  to watch the replay of my interview with  Keith A. Quesenberry

Click here to watch the replay of my interview with Keith A. Quesenberry

Before we dive into the content of my interview, let’s first get to know Keith.

Who is Keith A. Quesenberry?

Keith is a Marketing Professor at Messiah College. Prior to teaching, Keith spent 17 years in marketing and advertising at at advertising agencies such as BBDO and Arnold Worldwide. Keith is also a contributing writer to Social Media Examiner and Harvard Business Review. His expert opinions have been featured in many mainstream media and publications such as MSNBC, The New York TimesForbes, and Entrepreneur.

Keith is also the author of a popular social media book, Social Media Strategy: Marketing and Advertising in the Consumer Revolution.

You can learn more about Keith from his Website, and connect with him on TwitterLinkedInInstagram, and Facebook.

What are the big changes in social media marketing?

Keith just released the second edition of his Social Media Strategy book. The first edition was published in 2015. Between the two editions, a lot changed in the digital marketing space.

Keith shared four significant changes that he has observed based on his research and practical experience.

1️⃣ The growing popularity of live video. Within a few years, there has been a spring of live streaming platforms such as MeerKat, Blab, Periscope, Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and YouTube live. Some platforms are gone such as MeerKat and Blab, some still remain like Periscope, and some are dominating such as Facebook live.

In fact, Keith’s observation resonates with the findings in Social Media Examiner’s latest industry report, in which they highlighted an increased interest among social media marketers in using videos and live streaming.

2018 Social Media Marketing Industry Report
Do you wonder how fellow marketers are using social media? Wondering if you should focus more on ads or bots? In our…

2️⃣The emergence of Influencer Marketing and micro-influencers. Keith commented that even the way we approach influencer marketing has changed compared to a few years ago. Back then, people relied at vanity metrics such as number of followers. Now, it is important for brands to identify micro-influencers. Those are people who have smaller audiences, but they are more effective for brands to reach out to targeted demographics and to accomplish your business goals. Spending thousands of dollars paying celebrities to share your content is no longer an effective strategy. Instead, identifying micro influencers who are more relevant to your messaging and audience.

3️⃣Paid social. I am sure you have all heard the phrase, “pay to play.” Especially on platforms that are saturated with content such as Facebook, marketers can no longer ignore paid social. Every social media strategy has to have a paid component. And this paid feature has become official on almost all the social media channels.

4️⃣Emerging and diminishing paid social platforms. The last change that Keith discussed was that some platforms, such as Google +, have faded away, whereas others have come into prominence such as Snapchat, Messenger apps, and various rating review sites such as Trip Adviser and Amazon.

In the midst of all these changes, Keith shared that one thing that hasn’t changed is the need for an overarching brand strategy. With social media sites emerge and disappear so frequently, brands and marketers cannot succeed by chasing after the latest platforms, features, or tactics. Instead,

One has to understand the larger brand. The message has to distinguish one from one’s competitors. Think about who your real target audience is and where they are most active at? They may not be on the big three social platforms.

What are some social media mistakes that brands and companies make?

Keith shared three major social media mistakes that companies still make.

❌ Many companies tend to start with social media objectives without thinking about their actual business objectives. For example, a company might be thinking about creating content to increase followers and shares on Instagram. Within this context, social media has become an end to itself.Marketers may not even know if their social media efforts are translating into business goals or making any contributions to the bottom line.

Instead, always start with the business objectives, such as increasing sales, changing perceptions, asking for donations, increasing volunteers, etc. From business objectives, you go to identify target audience, ➡️ then figure out where your target audience congregates, ➡️ then select the right social media channels to reach these people, ➡️ finally, create the content. Don’t jump into the last step without fully understanding the first three steps.

❌ Most companies tend to focus only on the popular social networks, without examining whether or not these channels are the best for their unique messages and strategies. For example, Keith shared that mediums like corporate blogs and Pinterest can be very effective at generating sales. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of Fortune 500 companies are leveraging them.

❌ The last social media mistake is that brands are not engaging. Most brands tend to use social media as a broadcasting channel by producing and publishing content, without making any genuine effort to engage their consumers after the content is released. As Keith said,

The real return on investment comes in the engagement. It is a two-way channel.

Amen! There were brands that I stopped interacting with and supporting them because then never engaged back.

You can read Keith’s article on Harvard Business Review below to dive deeper into the common social media mistakes discussed here.

The Basic Social Media Mistakes Companies Still Make
Executive Summary Over 90% of medium and large business have used social media marketing for years, but many still…

Educators Need to Be Practitioners

To me, Keith is the ideal marketing professor. He has extensive experience in the professional field. He does not only academic research but practical ones as well that students and professionals can use and apply. Keith walks the talk and is up to date with the latest industry trends and changes.

I think this is how classes should be taught, not just by educators who have terminal degrees in respective academic fields but by educators who are immersed in the professional fields as well.

As a college professor myself, I wholeheartedly believe that educators need to be practitioners. It is one of the important ways to shrink the gap between classroom teaching and real-life applications. Reflecting on my own self-reinvention journey to expand my professional services (listen to the podcast interview below), I have come to see how every single professional endeavor that I do outside the classroom has made me a better professor inside the classroom.

“Who Looks Inside, Awakens”: How I Embraced Big Changes in Life
Recently, I had the great honor to be on Deirdre Breakenridge’s podcast, Women WorldWide. I have been a loyal listener…

Five Ways Social Media Has Made me a Better College Professor

Two years ago in March 2015, I received my first wake-up call as a Public Relations professor. One of my good students wrote in his paper that he had never heard of Pinterest and had never used Twitter. I was in shock for two reasons.

🔶 ONE: I always thought my students were more digitally savvy than me. I was wrong.
🔶 TWO: My teaching had a gap. I was not preparing my students to work in today’s digitally driven world.

What was missing? I had done enough lectures and talks in my class regarding the importance of social media. Why what I shared wasn’t resonating with the students? Slowly and painfully, I learned the missing link in my teaching was ME. I hadn’t truly embraced what I had been preaching. Simply stated, I wasn’t walking the talk.

Fast-forward to today, I have been actively experimenting with social media and building my digital footprint as a college professor for two years. I have learned a lot on this journey.

Today, I want to share with you the top five benefits of incorporating social media as a pedagogical tool and how social media has made a better public relations professor.

Benefit ONE: Extended my professional networks

I used to struggle with finding guest speakers for my classes. I couldn’t find enough professionals to come to my classes, either physically or virtually, to share their day-to-day and latest industry practices with my students.

I felt bad for always relying on the same group of professionals to give guest talks every semester. After all, everyone’s time is limited. I still remember the day I reached out to my dear friend Karen Freberg (Karen Freberg, Ph.D.), an amazing social media professor who has been on this journey much longer than me. I asked Karen if she ever struggled with finding all these amazing speakers from the industry to talk to her students and if she paid them to speak to her class. Karen shared that she had never struggled with finding speakers and she didn’t pay them. I couldn’t help but wonder, how could things be so different between us?

Fast forward to the last semester I taught (Spring 2016) before starting my sabbatical,

I had a waiting list of speakers who wanted to speak to my class.

What a change! I brought fifteen speakers from all walks in public relations and social media marketing to speak to my four classes including a student-run public relations firm that I supervised. Many of my guest speakers are well-known professionals in their fields. For example, one distinguished public relations professional did a live Twitter chat with my entire Introduction to Public Relations class. We discussed how today’s digital landscape was affecting traditional public relations practices. The takeaways and knowledge that we learned as a class were amazing. The excitement from students was music to my ears. I couldn’t be happier as a professor.

My social connections have become students’ learning opportunities and networks.

From struggling with finding guest speakers to having a waiting list of guest speakers, the only thing that changed was my adoption of social media and a persistent and strategic approach to using social media to learn, network, and engage with industry professionals.

Benefit TWO: Developed a habit of lifelong learning

If you are a consumer of social media, you probably realize how fast social media changes. The only thing that doesn’t change about social media is probably change itself. Spending several hours a day on social media has molded me into a lifelong learner and student. It has become a natural habit of mine. And learning has become fun and exciting. I love doing Twitter chats, listening to podcasts, and watching Social Media Examiner’s (@SMExaminer) weekly Friday shows to learn the latest changes in social media. I brought everything I learned back to my classroom teaching. My teaching, as a result, has become much more relevant, up to date, and refreshing. I saw it clearly in my teaching evaluations.

Benefit THREE: More personal stories to share

Do you love listening to stories? Aren’t we all storytellers to some extent? When we connect with our friends, we bond over stories. When we go to job interviews, we support our accomplishments in quantifiable numbers with vivid stories. Stories are powerful. Especially when stories come from our personal experiences, they are even more compelling.

Maybe we can use two scenarios to illustrate the power of storytelling when it comes to teaching. Let’s say that I am going to teach my students what influencer marketing is. I will share with you two scenarios to deliver this concept.

Scenario ONE: Today we are talking about influencer marketing. Here is wikipedia’s definition: “a form of marketing in which focus is placed on specific key individuals (or types of individual) rather than the target market as a whole.” Show the definition on a PowerPoint slide and insert a few examples.

Scenario TWO: Tell the stories of how I developed a relationship with a social media influencer, Brian Fanzo @iSocialFanz, and how I gained the opportunity to do a guest blog on his website (hint: via Snapchat). I shared the top five ways that I used Snapchat as a teaching tool. Because of Brian’s influence and large followers’ base, my guest blog got 402 shares (to this day) and ranked fourth on a Google search of “how to use snapchat as a teaching tool.”

Which scenario seems more captivating to you from a student’s perspective? Probably vote for the second, right? Not only did students relate better to my personal stories, but because I was the narrator of my own storytelling, my story became live.

Benefit FOUR: More relatable to the students

Our students live in the social space. If you send them an email, it may take several hours or a day to receive an answer, but a Snap for instance, you get a response instantaneously. They speak the language of social media, emoji, and gifs. When they knew that they could get a hold of me through Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, they felt excited that I spoke their language. I became more relatable to my students. My teaching evaluations also scored higher. I love what social media influencer, Lori Ruff (Lori Ruff), shared,

Social media is here. It’s not going away; not a passing fad. Be where your customers are: in social media.
— Lori Ruff

Replace customers with students. That’s what made me more relatable to my students.

Benefit FIVE: Better Engagement from the students

Social media allows classroom discussion to happen outside of the regular class hours. The most rewarding feeling comes when I see students helping each other online without any involvement from me. The agency that students developed to engage in proactive learning and sharing was exciting to watch. Even during regular class hours, students enjoyed using our class hashtag on Twitter to express opinions and thoughts regarding what I talked about. Because the content is online and public, oftentimes we had people from the broader community engage in conversations with us.

Learning has become multidirectional.
— Ai Zhang



Social media has indeed made my classroom smaller by breaking down the physical walls. The fact that I am able to connect with so many professionals who were willing to give back to the academic community was unthinkable to me only two years ago. Social media has undoubtedly elevated my ability to teach students, to relate to them, and to expand their networks. Like everything else in life, social media can destroy or escalate one’s career. As educators, it is our call to identify ways to make technology serve us and to create a more digitally enhanced learning experience for our students.