By Rachel Schlow

For its first in-person meeting in three years, the Media Management Association (MMA) welcomed Anthony Santana, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Hardcore Advertising, to discuss the evolution of social media marketing in the United States. Hardcore Advertising is a local full-service advertising agency that offers numerous services ranging from social media strategy to website creation. Born and raised in Miami, Santana has more than 15 years of experience in both media and marketing industries. He earned his M.B.A. degree in International Business from Florida International University.

Santana began his presentation by defining the term social media “as digital channels that allow social user interaction and networking by sharing information through an online app or platform.” These channels can be divided into four categories: social networks (e.g., Facebook), forums (e.g., Reddit), video platforms (e.g., YouTube), and messaging apps (e.g., Messenger). He then noted that, as of 2022, there were 5.5 billion unique mobile phone users (68.6% of the world’s population) and 4.7 billion worldwide social media users among all platforms and locations.

Santana also chronicled the emergence of various social media platforms during the last 20 years, starting with MySpace in 2002 and Facebook in 2004. Despite economic weaknesses, most social media platforms managed to generate substantial revenues in 2022: $86 billion for Facebook, $29 billion for YouTube, $24 billion for Instagram, and $11 billion for TikTok. Twitter only reported $1.2 billion in revenue last year, due in part to Elon Musk’s controversial acquisition of the company in October 2022, but Santana stated that advertisers tend to have a short memory and would eventually resume spending on Twitter after a period of wait and see.

Next, Santana discussed the importance of effectively using social media from a business standpoint. He said one should “understand your goals, identify the audience, develop audience segments, create content for segments, and report and track.” He also mentioned that the influencer marketing route serves to amplify the promotion of one’s message because posting organically does not always guarantee audience reach maximization.

To finish up the conversation, Santana touched on the future of social media by covering such topics as artificial intelligence content and decentralization. For instance, ChatGPT has the ability to generate detailed human-like responses to specific questions asked. The concept of decentralization will involve data ownership, privacy, and revenue generation. Santana concluded that platforms that are unwilling to accept decentralization would have to find another way to conduct business online.