What You Need to Know to Stay Ahead of the Game in Social Media Marketing
"What are the kids using these days?" was a question I was recently asked by an older friend who also works in marketing. In his defense, his area of expertise is in other forms of digital marketing, and not social media. The answer? Well, it depends on the day of the week.
Social Media, in some form or another, has been around since the beginning of the 21st century, with social platforms such as Friendster and MySpace becoming the innovators in a space that has grown to be part of our everyday lives. The popularity and importance of social media didn't truly take hold until today's biggest social media platform, Facebook, came along in 2004 (in fact, you may have gotten to this article via Facebook). Today, Facebook boasts over 1 billion daily active users.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn dominate today's market. More and more smaller social start-ups spring up everyday, most with the hope of garnering enough attention to get purchased by one of the big players, such as Facebook's 2012 purchase of picture sharing platform Instagram for $1 billion. But with so many new socially geared platforms appearing seemingly everyday, how does a social media manager or digital marketer stay ahead of trends, and reach consumers who may be interested in their product or service.
Get in the moment
It may be inaccurate to that most social media platforms aren't designed for people to give instant updates. With smart phones we no longer need to be by our laptop or PC to post updates or pictures to our favorite social platforms. But if you truly think about it, the most popular social platforms do cater to capturing moments now, and sharing later. For example, Instagram's robust photo editing features allow a user to capture pictures during a moment in their lives, and adjust the photo later to post it to their followers. Facebook caters to both sets of users: those who wish to capture important moments and share them later, or those who want to instantly share a great experience or moment in their lives. LinkedIn, well, I've never seen anyone capture a moment or thought and share it to LinkedIn right away from their mobile phone, but maybe I'm just missing it?
Over the past few years, social platforms that cater almost exclusively to sharing and broadcasting moments as they happen have gained popularity and traction. Social platforms such as Snapchat allow users to take photos or videos and send them to users one-to-one, or capture a series of photos and videos and add them to their "story" which their friends can see for 24 hours before they vanish. These photos and videos cannot be taken, saved, edited, and uploaded later to Snapchat. Another social platform, Periscope, which was recently acquired by Twitter, allows users to give a live video broadcast of some moment in their lives. Periscope has become so popular, that users collectively watch over 40 years of live video each and every day.
Tip: It's not enough anymore to schedule your social media posts a week in advance and "set it and forget it." Social users like to engage with companies in the moment. Are you a clothing brand attending fashion week? Plan to do a Periscope show or Snapchat story (or both) from the event and promote it with specialized content leading up to the event. Audiences like to hear from the companies they love, without the perceived "corporate filter" on the content they're being exposed to. This strategy does come with some increased risk, so make sure you understand the ins and outs of the platform, and understand that during a live show, anything can go wrong.
Your online store may get some help
For years, the goal of social media has been to drive users to your website to take further action. Whether it's to discover more about your products or services, read a blog, or make a purchase, providing fun and valuable content across social media was a way to drive high-quality traffic to your website for further action. In 2015, both Facebook and Pinterest introduced "buy" features directly in the app for advertisers and users. Mobile users of Facebook and Pinterest who see a product they like in a sponsored post can now use one click to purchase it, without ever leaving the app. By the end of 2016, most major social media platforms are expected to introduce some version of the "buy" button to increase the convenience for consumers and advertisers. Facebook has even introduced dedicated shops on pages where users can browse for, and purchase, items.
Tip: Don't underestimate the power of social media pages augmenting your existing e-commerce site or online shop. Many marketing teams treat their website content and social media content differently, and rightfully so. With the integration of e-commerce into social media platforms, it may be time to start treating the two similarly.
Get ready to pay
A few times a year it seems a viral post begins to circulate around Facebook about the social media giant charging users for access. Each time, Facebook is forced to reiterate their platform is, and will always be, free to use. While that may be true for all users, including businesses, it doesn't necessarily mean reaching a lot of users organically via your business page will be free. Facebook, and other social media platforms, will find a way to encourage businesses to begin spending money on advertising and promoting content.
Small businesses and large enterprises can use Facebook to help build brand awareness, drive website traffic, and even sell goods and services by organically reaching those interested in their business. Last year, Facebook began throttling business page posts and the number of organic reaches decreased across the board. The kind of posts Facebook users are exposed to are based on Facebook algorithms that indicate how valuable or interesting people find posts. With the barriers to entry so low to enter social media, the increasing competition for organic reach, and an ever-evolving Facebook algorithm, more and more businesses will have to begin paying to reach users not only on Facebook, but across every social platform.
Tip: If you haven't included social media ad spending in your budget, now is the time to do it. It's possible your posts will continue to get less and less organic reach, even with high organic interaction rates. Paying for social media advertising is cost-effective at the moment, and easy to set up. if you are unfamiliar with the cost and process, now is the perfect time to be prepared. Set aside time to learn the simple advertising process across different social platforms, and set aside the proper budget for the year.
Social goes private
High-profile security incidents from various websites, stores, and online meeting places have once again put the security of user's personal information at the forefront of their minds. Social platforms and messaging apps such as Snapchat and Whatsapp tout privacy features as one of the main values of using the platform. For example, Snapchat offers users the ability to take photos and videos that after a certain time disappear from company servers, while Whatsapp offers encrypted person-to-person or group messaging.
Facebook and LinkedIn power users report seeing the most value from the private groups they're a part of. Local Facebook groups formed by citizens of a small or even large city, or global groups formed by a few enthusiasts for certain products, sports, or services, mean the content shared within these groups can only be seen by those who granted permission to see it.
Tip: The increasing privacy of social media platforms and messaging apps means businesses might be left out in the cold, so to speak. These private groups likely will not welcome many businesses into their groups. If they do, it will come with rules and boundaries for a business not to break or cross. If you're a small or medium sized business owner, marketing manager, or social media manager, consider joining local city Facebook groups from your personal account and monitoring what customers are saying about your business. Interacting with negative or positive posts is up to your discretion, but the information you can learn from what your customers are saying, unfiltered, could prove invaluable at improving your products or services.
As a full-service digital marketing agency, Farmore Marketing, Inc. can help you reach your customers across multiple social media platforms. Contact us today to get started with a social media management plan that works for you.
About the author
As our Director of Internet Marketing, Paul enjoys working closely with clients to help drive revenue through effective internet marketing techniques. Paul received his bachelor's degree in Marketing from the University of Central Florida and enjoys sports (Go Patriots and Red Sox), movies, and reading. You can connect with him here: