Social Media

How Social Platforms Actually Work (and How to Tell the Future)

Are you curious about how social platforms actually work and what the future of them holds? Check out this blog post to gain insight into the inner workings of social platforms and get tips on how to tell what the future may bring.

360 Degrees

I have this theory about learning. A framework for understanding things. I refer to it as a “360 Degree Understanding” of a subject, skill or concept. This 360 idea is the idea of knowing something from all angles. Understanding something all the way around. Every nook and cranny. In the sunlight and darkness. When you have a 360 degree understanding of something, you can execute by leveraging that knowledge. You can take action. Or teach. You are on the path to mastery.

I read something recently that is an opportunity for you to have a 360 Degree Understanding of something. Something marketing related. Something that your business leverages to generate revenue and profits.

If your business is eating sausages, it’s important to know how that sausage is made.

For Users

Take a minute and close your eyes. Think back to the first time that you used Google. In a world of Yahoos and Jeeves, all plagued by display ads, gossip articles and slow speeds, arrived Google.

A white page. A logo. A search box.

The Google homepage circa 2000

Enter your search term and rapidly receive your answer. Like magic.

That magic felt real. It impressed you. It amazed you. It was a tool you loved. You told your friends about Google. They, in turn, were amazed. And they told their friends. It became a verb. To “google something”. Everyone knew what you meant.

Who was the beneficiary of Google’s genius at this time? You. And your friends. And everyone you knew. You Googled all the time. It became indispensable. You never thought to try Bing. Jeeves was dead. Yahoo faded. You, the user, were hooked.

And then…Google created their ad platform.

For Businesses

(Side note: IMA started offering Google Ads Management as a service in 2007. I remember learning the platform, getting a 360 Degree Understanding of it so I could sell it to our clients. It was an easy sell. Why?

Who was the user of Google’s Ad platform? Small businesses. Agencies like IMA were the intermediaries who also benefited. We showed our clients this amazing new ad platform.

Free brand impressions. No CPM.

You only pay if someone clicks on your ad.

Those clicks only cost pennies cents.

Best of all, the people doing the clicking are ACTIVELY looking for your service.

Mind blown. It was not hard to sell Google Ads in 2007. It sold itself.

By the time of Peak AdWords (circa 2013) our clients were hooked. The majority of new revenue was being generated by their AdWords campaigns.

Our small business clients were hooked.

An actual client report from IMA in 2013

And then…Google turned the screws.

For Them

In my opinion, 2013 was Peak AdWords. $10 Cost Per Leads, high conversion rates, endless customers.

Then cost per click prices started going up. No more pennies per click. I remember when the keyword “mortgage” hit $50 per click. Businesses didn’t know it yet, but the Google party that was thrown for them was over. The lights went out. They were ushered out the door. There was a new party that they weren’t invited to.

The new party people were Google shareholders, executives, investors and employees (who do you think was paying for all of those employee massages, car washes and organic salmon lunches? You were).

AdWords got more expensive. Competition increased. Google kept trying to automate bidding which in the early days almost always meant that AdWords spent more of your money which, of course, went directly into the bank account of Google.

The Users, our original cohort of amazed individuals, were suddenly having a hard time deciphering what was an Ad and what was not. There were three ads at the top of every search page. Then four. Then shopping ads. Then Local Service Ads. In order to find the “organic” results that users originally fell in love with, they had to scroll past ads, local business listing and the Knowledge Graph (a separate conversation be had about that poor cohort, the website publishers). The magical Google experience was over.

You, the Small Business Owners were also locked into an AdWords platform that kept getting more expensive. Your competitors were bidding on your brand name (Google turned a blind eye. More clicks for them). Your cost per lead numbers kept going up. They kept pushing automations that spent more of your budget. They became Google Ads. They owned the bottom of the funnel. Where else could you go?

All the while Google’s stock price elevated.

During the Peak AdWords period of 2013 the stock was trading around $22.. You can that this is not much higher than it was when it debuted on the market in 2004. In 2007, before the Great Recession, it was trading at $17. Not a huge gain in six years.

Google Stock Price Trend

But then the For Them era began.

In the next six years, the price more than doubled.

Since 2019, it has more than doubled again, with a peak price during the pandemic of ~ $150.

Geriatric Google (and what this means for you)

Google is now an old platform. It has completed it’s cycle from wowing users, to wowing businesses, to wowing itself and it’s shareholders.

The cycle is complete.

Google Ads (né AdWords) are not going to come down. It’s a monopoly (Bing’s recent AI splash is not going to make a dent if it keeps insulting people). The inflated prices are going to cost you more budget every year. And this is Ok.

Why?

Because Google Ads still work! It’s an amazing platform. It’s gotten so much better. It’s automation tools like Performance Max and showing real promise.

But you’re never going to be in in love with it like you were back in the day. Google isn’t interested in you anymore. It’s only interested in itself.

Who cares, right? Why am I writing all this?

Because now you are on your way to having a 360 Degree Understanding of how these social platform work.

You have the ability to evaluate Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. You can see where they are in their own evolutions (hint: TikTok is in the Wow the User phase).

This gives you the knowledge to plan accordingly. Budget accordingly. And look for new social platform advertising opportunities accordingly.

It’s powerful stuff.

Conclusion

With a comprehensive, 360 Degree Understanding of how social platforms work, you can now evaluate the existing social platforms you are advertising on and search for new advertising opportunities.

Having a thorough knowledge of how social media works can be a great advantage when it comes to evaluating the platforms you're already advertising on and looking for new ones. It can also help you make the most of these platforms to make some money and increase your profits. Plus, understanding the algorithms and analytics behind these platforms allows you to make better decisions when it comes to your marketing strategies, improving your chances of success.

And that’s what IMA is all about. We want you to win. With knowledge.

P.S. If you’d like to read the article that inspired this post, you can check in out here. It goes into detail about Amazon, Facebook and TikTok handing out teddy bears.

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