My daughter just got home from school and we chatted for a few minutes about her day. As she is headed to university in the fall, she has been applying for scholarships, grants, bursaries; anything that will help bridge the financial gap. In the application process, they ask all kinds of questions—about grades, extracurricular activities, financial need, and overcoming hurdles, amongst other things. After thinking about it and discussing the criteria with friends, she added a few more details regarding our personal status. Because of some of the choices I made after my husband’s death, my daughter just might qualify for several of those categories. And while financial need is certainly in there, self-employment was also a factor in and of itself. That got me thinking about what I do for a living and my history as a self-employed, social media marketing manager.
Thinking led to writing…
My History as a Social Media Marketing Manager
I have written about social media marketing. I have even shared stories about my role as a social media manager. What I hadn’t really thought about though, was that I have been in the social media world since 2007 and operating as a social media marketing manager since 2010. That is 16 years. More importantly, that time period stretches back to the early days of social media as a whole. I am almost a dinosaur.
Brief History of Social Media
Let’s dive a little deeper, shall we? I need to clarify that I am not quite as senior in the field as I could be. Social Media predated my arrival on the scene by a few years. While many people think of Facebook as the oldest and biggest player in social media, there were social platforms previous to Mark Zuckerberg’s arrival in 2004. Sure, you could argue that the advent of computers in the 1940s also saw networking capabilities between them, but it wasn’t until the 70s and 80s that a rise in home computers began. Playing Pong was cool and all, and I taught myself the basics of typing on our computer in high school, but everything changed when you could start interacting with others with your computer. Social media as we know it today was in its infancy.
As more and more people bought PCs, and learned the ins and outs of using them, the market was ripe for increasing connections. By the 90s, the world was ready. In 1997, SixDegrees—a profile uploading platform—launched. They didn’t last long, but it was followed by a rise in blogging in places like LiveJournal and Blogger (1999) and Wordpress (2003). In 2002 Friendster hit the scene. The business networking site LinkedIn began the same year. MySpace emerged in 2003, followed by Facebook (2004), Reddit and YouTube (2005), Twitter (2006), and Instagram and Pinterest in 2010. It seemed like a new social media platform was formed every time you turned around! More recently, Snapchat hit the web in 2011 and TikTok took over video sharing in 2016. For those who can’t imagine a time before Google, you only have to go back to 1998.
Back to My Social Presence
So for context, I wasn’t the first person on Facebook. Several people had sent me requests to join them on Facebook before I finally gave in and started a profile in August of 2007. I gathered a few friends in the early days, but my personal life was busy melting down, so I didn’t exactly run with it as extensively as some folks did. When someone suggested blogging in early 2009 though, I was at a better spot in life. To be fair, I was pretty bumbling in trying to figure things out and was mostly whispering into the void, but with practice, I gained a voice, and slowly, an audience. The more I talked about blogging, the more people listened.
By 2010, a woman in my book club asked me if I would be willing to take on one of her clients. I started my first blogging gig as a subcontractor for a baby boutique. That also led to becoming a Virtual Assistant to her for a while, where I gained several valuable skills, including an introduction to Twitter. Always one to watch and wait to see where a new platform goes, I didn’t hit Instagram until 2017. I can’t remember exactly when I joined LinkedIn, but I have recommendations dating back to 2011, so that’s some context. 2011 was when I started my Facebook Business Page too.
What does it all mean though? I have seen my fair share of social media. I have explored most popular platforms and have been active on them for clients since 2010 in some form or another. While that doesn’t make me ancient, it does place me into the earlier days of social media marketing. And when you look at that in the history of a career, it is kind of impressive.
Social Media Marketing Today
Where did this whole blog post start though? With my daughter looking at me as an entity for scholarship applications. And me reflecting on my role as a self-employed individual, in a career that was still in its fledgling stages. Mass marketing was definitely a thing long before the world became social online, but so much has changed since the web took over people’s lives and changed the way that businesses operate and market. When I think about that learning curve, it is kind of neat.
Social media wasn’t a thing when I was in high school. Most small businesses advertised via word of mouth, through newspaper ads, or the Yellow Pages. Business websites didn’t start to catch on until the mid-90s. Launching a new career, in a new industry, leaning hard on my writing skills and an ability to research, learn, and adapt, have taken me a long way in a short period of time. I don’t care if I go viral and don’t need to. I am not a top influencer, but don’t need to be that either to function as a social media marketing manager. Ultimately, I just need to keep doing what I have done all along—create quality content for clients based on who they are, who they want to reach, and what their messaging is.
It feels kind of groundbreaking.