Digitally Next

Digitally Next

The Evolution of Digital Marketing: From Then to Now – Embracing the Era of Digital Social Media

The digital ecosystem has undergone a tectonic shift over the past few decades, redefining

the way businesses bridge and build bonds with their target audiences.

In the early days, the term “digital marketing” majorly used strategies that leveraged digital platforms for promotional activities.

Fast forward to today, we have crossed the rubicon.

The world has reached a point of no return where conventional digital marketing efforts has shifted dramatically towards “digital social media,” a dynamic and interactive realm that has changed the face of marketing forever.

There are 4.8 billion social media users worldwide. This number roughly represents 59.9% of the global populations and 92.7% of the entire internet traffic (Source: Search Engine Journal)




With such an impressive context, let’s navigate the evolution trajectory of digital marketing into digital social media and make sense of how businesses are growing around this exciting new era.

Then: The Emergence of Digital Marketing


When digital marketing emerged, it marked a paradigm shift from standard marketing mantras.


At first, digital marketing efforts used tactics such as email campaigns, banner advertisements, and search engine optimization (SEO).


The trade was changing shapes and morphing into an advanced form.


And what did they do?


At this juncture, brands started to recognize the potential of reaching a global audience through websites, search engines, and online directories.


With this in mind, strategies were tailored around pushing customised content under the nose of potential customers, with limited avenues for engagement and interaction.


As per a report by Demand Sage, the compound annual growth rate of Digital Marketing is expected to be 17.6% between 2021 and 2026. 


With the advent of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, the approach allowed businesses to bid on keywords and display ads at the top of search engine results. 

No wonder, there had been a changing of guards.

From traditional to digital.

From generic to segmented targeting.


Thus, this opened portals to experimenting with targeted advertising, giving brands the scope to reach users who were actively searching for relevant products or services.


However, it must be noted that while these approaches laid the foundation for digital marketing, they were largely one-way communication channels that lacked the interactivity and personalization that modern consumers demand.


When the question of singular treatment was raised, the need to switch to digital social media became a pressing need.


Now: The Era of Digital Social Media


The gradual evolution of digital marketing into digital social media has been largely dominated by the rapid takeover of SOCIAL NETWORKING PLATFORMS.


Instagram,Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, Twitter, Threads,

And so on and so forth..


If we go by the book, a report by Search Engine Journal found that there were 150 million new social media users between April 2022 and April 2023.


This is a 3.2% increase year-over-year.


If we break those numbers down, it equals approximately 410,000 new social media users every day and 4.7 every second.


The growth has clearly reach mammoth proportions.


The interesting thing is that all of them are now hotspots of product services, with marketers dangling their produce in people’s feed in a bid for their attention/ click.


The truth is that with the onset of social media, the change in online interaction brought about a seismic shift in how brands hold an audience with their consumers.


So what is this difference? What has changed?



Instead of simply broadcasting messages, businesses now engage in conversations, build relationships, and foster communities.


In short, a narrative is being woven together.


So much so that social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn have become artboards to a brand’s online presence.


Digital social media is characterized by user-generated content, real-time interactions, and the ability for brands to HUMANIZE THEIR IDENTITIES.




Visual content, videos, live streams, stories, and interactive posts have become the norm.


The social media is saturated with an armada of content that work together to create immersive experiences that teleport the audience down the digital rabbit hole.


Moreover, the power of influencer marketing has soared, as individuals with substantial followings can authentically promote products and services to their engaged fan bases.


The use is now so rampant that studies show that people use an average of 6.6 different social networks each month (Source: Search Engine Journal)


Key Differences and Advantages:


– Interactivity and Engagement: 

Unlike traditional digital marketing, digital social media is a two way street.


It encourages two-way communication.


Brands can respond to comments, answer questions, and participate in discussions, fostering a sense of connection and loyalty.


In the era of digital social media, brands are functional and interactive as opposed to being mere vending machines mindlessly churning out placed orders.


– Personalization:

The experience of special treatment is the hallmark of Digital Social Media.


With access to user data and insights, brands and businesses fine-tune content to align with individual preferences, delivering more compelling and engaging experiences.


– User-Generated Content: 

Consumers have become co-creators of content, sharing their experiences and opinions.


Why has this happened?


This is because user-generated content acts as social proof and enhances a brand’s authenticity.


In fact, reports by Stackla reveal that  79% of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions.


Not only this, consumers find user generated content 9.8x more impactful than influencer content owing to the transparency and social proof it provides. (Source: Stackla, 2020)

– Brand Storytelling: 

Storytelling is the cornerstone of branding.


And without branding, there can be no legacy only an ordinary commodity.


Through storytelling and visual content, brands attempt to convey their values and missions effectively, forging a deeper emotional connection with their audience.

– Metrics and Analytics: 

Digital social media platforms offer robust analytics, enabling businesses to track engagement, conversion rates, and other valuable metrics to optimize their strategies.




The evolution from traditional digital marketing to the era of digital social media represents a fundamental shift in how businesses connect with their audiences.


The loud emphasis on interactivity, engagement, and authenticity has transformed the way brands build relationships and foster loyalty.

As technology continues to advance, it’s crucial for businesses to stay attuned to the ever-changing landscape of digital social media and adapt their strategies to create meaningful connections in this dynamic realm.


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