Author   |    Speaker   |    Chief Content Officer

Facebook celebrates its 10th birthday this week, which made me wonder: What did marketing in 2004 look like?

I was there, of course. Maybe you were, too. But time has a funny way of recasting memories. (Which explains how my siblings and I sometimes have annoyingly different takes on our childhood.)

In marketing and perhaps in life, it’s easy to notice how much things have changed. In February of 2004, when Mark Zuckerberg launched from his Harvard dorm room, it entered what seemed at the time like a crowded social media world. Friendster,, Habbo, and MySpace all preceded Facebook.

And remember FullCircle? Me, neither.

source: Wikipedia

source: Wikipedia

It seems cute and provincial to think of that time before Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vine, Slideshare, and the rest as “crowded,” doesn’t it? This was before content marketing was a thing; before Big Data was our big daddy; before his first infographic was a twinkle in Joe Chernov‘s eye. But in some respects, the more things change… the more they stay the same.

While we have lots of new tools and new techniques and new tactics and new headlines and new jobs and new complexities and new words and new platforms… at the same time, the broad issues marketers face remain pretty much the same. And some of the strongest voices 10 years ago remain strong voices today.

Take a look:

Top Business Stories of 2004

  • Martha Stewart goes to prison
  • Oil crosses the $50/barrel mark
  • The fall of the value of the dollar ($1.36 to 1 euro)
  • Elliot Spitzer scandal
  • Google went public for $85/share, marking the first successful IPO by a major internet business since the end of the tech boom
  • More than 200 companies went for IPOs (the most since 2000)
  • Sprint/Nextel merger, Cingular/AT&T merger
  • Airlines filing for bankruptcy: United, US Airways, Aloha Airlines, and more
  • Mortgage rates dropped and demand for housing soared

Top Tech Trends and Internet Culture in 2004

  • JibJab produces a video that goes viral during the 2004 presidential election featuring George Bush and John Kerry singing This Land Is Your Land
  • Bluetooth – keyboards, headsets, PCs with built-in Bluetooth capabilities
  • DVR built in to TV boxes (the beginning of the end of TiVo?)
  • Early video blogs
  • new iPod competition and video iPods
  • High megapixel phones

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Marketing Books Published in 2004

Leading Companies of 2004
(measured by a composite of sales, profits, assets and market value)

  • Citigroup
  • General Electric
  • AIG
  • Wal-Mart
  • BP

Worst Companies of 2004
(according to Multinational Monitor)

  • Wal-Mart (for poor treatment of its workers and general egregious behavior)
  • Coca-Cola (for failing to protect its work force in Colombia from paramilitary violence)
  • AIG (for financial insurance shenanigans)
  • Dow ChemicalGlaxoSmithKline (for marketing antidepressant Paxil to children and allegedly suppressing evidence of the drug’s harm to children)
  • Hardee’s (for introducing the 1,420-calorie Monster Thickburger, redefining “whooper”)

Top Google Searches in 2004

  1. Britney Spears
  2. Paris Hilton
  3. Christina Aguilera

Screenshot 2014-02-04 15.50.58 Screenshot 2014-02-04 15.51.29 2004 Word of the Year: Blog
(according to Merriam-Webster)

Top Stories of 2004 on MarketingProfs

Marketing Jobs That Didn’t Exist (or Barely Existed) 10 Years Ago

  • Social media manager
  • Online community manager
  • Corporate blogger
  • Chief Content Officer (Since I invented this title in the late 1990s when I was President and CCO at ClickZ, I’m pretty sure that makes me the first Chief Content Officer, period.)

Top Marketing and Advertising Blogs
(winners of MarketingSherpa’s 2004 “Reader’s Choice” awards)

Top Email Mistakes of 2004
(curated from a MarketingSherpa list)

  • Thinking CAN-SPAM doesn’t apply to all commercial email.
  • Not asking people how often they want to hear from you.
  • Launching new newsletters to one list without asking whether subscribers want it.

Top Web Analytics Problems of 2004
(according to Jim Sterne on MarketingProfs)

  • So many tools, so  little time.
  • Tools (check!), reports (check!), analysts… (ummmm.)
  • Putting data to use.

Best Websites of 2004
among the top 50 ranked by Time magazine)

Sources: Merriam-Webster, Forbest Top Tech Trends, BBC, NPR, Time magazine, MarketingProfs, MarketingSherpa, Forbes Leading Companies List, Multinational Monitor.

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10 Responses to When Facebook Launched: Marketing In 2004

  1. Heidi Cohen says:

    Ann — I love this walk down memory lane. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  2. Pingback: When Facebook Launched: Marketing In 2004 - Ann...

  3. Jerod Morris says:

    So, “be useful” was good advice all the way back in 2004 too, huh? Some things never change. 🙂

  4. Tobias Schremmer says:

    I’m scared to even look up the top searched terms this year – are they still the female celebs du jour? A bit depressing.
    More intrigued by the top analytic problems from 2004 – that could be the same list every year since.

    Oh and a little correction – LinkedIn was around in ’04, already for over a year. (I joined in 3/05 …I see a “10 years ago” blog post of my own coming soon). Can argue it wasn’t significant yet in 2004 or a site that marketers concerned themselves with, but then again neither was TheFacebook! 😉

  5. David Nowlan says:

    Its crazy to think how much things have changed in just 10 short years. It’s insane that Facebook launched marketing just in 2004 and how it is has grown so substantially since then. I remember Facebook being so new and Myspace being the “cool” social media sight to be on. This is a great look at the past and cool to see how much we have come.

  6. Pingback: What is a “Traditional” Social Media Network? - LA TechWatch

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