Today, there are more than 1 billion people on Facebook alone and 87% of the world’s population uses the internet. (Impressive considering that over 1.8 billion people must travel up to 1 kilometer from their homes to access clean water.)

The public internet was born in 1969 and, since then, the history of social media marketing has been nothing if not fast-paced and hard-hitting.

There were naysayers, it’s true.

Let’s take, for example, the case of Clifford Stoll. In 1995, he was saying that the internet would never become a household item — or even very popular. He said (and never mind he published that on


Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic.



Sorry, Cliff, looks like the visionaries were right. Except, maybe, about making governments more democratic. Considering Edward Snowden, we’ll give you that point and avoid a shutout.

To be fair, Stoll’s critiques of the internet (social isolation, lowered educational standards, online abuse, unedited materials, etc.) are all true. It’s just that the internet’s flaws haven’t been enough to stem the tidal wave of its ubiquity.

45 Years of Social Media Marketing

In 1969 there was no such thing as “social media marketing.” In fact, it wasn’t until the mid 80’s that people began having email accounts in significant numbers and the mid 90’s when average people began creating personal websites. That was 20 years ago.

Google launched in 1998 and the first social networking site, Friends Reunited (remember that one?), was founded in 1999. That was 15 years ago.

Search engines, email accounts, websites and social channels. These are the basic four components of social media marketing.

You may quibble that email isn’t part of social media marketing, but I use them together. When I find an interesting link on a website, I may tweet it to my followers and send it in an email to a potential or current client so they can have fresh content to tweet to their followers. The whole thing is cross pollination.

Seven years ago, Facebook began releasing buyer data to companies and Apple launched the iPhone, setting the stage for a mobile revolution within the internet revolution.

My point is that social media marketing as we know it is barely seven years old.

I think that’s very interesting. Do you?

Whether or not you think social media marketing’s growth is “interesting,” if you are a small business owner you have probably found it both fast-paced and hard-hitting.

Used to be, you listed yourself in the yellow pages, sent out press releases and printed up brochures. You don’t list yourself with the print yellow pages anymore, but, if you are working on local SEO, you are listing your company in as many as 50 online directories.

The take-home? Your work load as a small business owner has at least doubled. And, if you are like most people, you don’t really know how Google and other search engines work or how to use the technology you need to make social media marketing truly effective.

Innovative and industrious as they are, small business owners/marketers are cobbling together solutions to address the four basic areas of social media marketing (search engines, email accounts, websites and social channels).

For the small business owner, social media marketing is not a question of “if”. It’s a question of “when”.

Your Turn

This could get very embarrassing (no one wants to be a Cliff Stoll), but what do you think the next 7, 10, 15 or 20 years hold for the internet? Let us know what you think in the comments


Curtis, Dr. Anthony. The Brief History of Social Media. Dr. Curtis’ web page. 2013.

Stoll, Clifford. Why The Internet Won’t Be Nirvana. February 26, 1995.

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