According to the World Economic Forum:
- Facebook is the largest country on earth.
- The fastest growing users on Twitter are grandparents.
- 2.44 billion people will be using social media platforms by 2018.
There's no doubt about it. If you want your business to succeed, social media needs to be a core component of your strategy. Here we'll take a closer look at the social media trends you'll need to master this year.
1. Live video
Since Facebook launched Facebook Live in 2016, other social media platforms have followed suit. Instagram launched live stories in December 2016, while YouTube just recently announced its own live-streaming TV service early this year (February 2017).
Given how platforms are heavily promoting live streaming, you should also consider how to incorporate these functionalities to your marketing strategy. More than ever, people are craving authenticity when it comes to social media content. If you're planning an event, for example, live streaming can make your customers feel more connected to your brand.
Pre-produced videos will always have their place in social media. But pre-produced ideally means all flaws have been erased. Live videos, though far from perfect, is a great way to show people how accessible you are. The lesson here is this: authenticity coupled with accessibility is a fantastic way to strengthen your hold on your social media followers.
2. Blurred lines
Nope, we're not talking about that Robin Thicke song! We're referring to how it's becoming more difficult to distinguish what each social media platform is for. Here's the explanation. Years ago, you didn't have to be a digital marketer to know the distinct purpose of each platform. Twitter was for microblogging, Facebook was for connecting with friends, and Instagram for sharing gorgeous pictures.
If you want to promote your business' products or service, you'll need a specific strategy for each social media channel. Now, platforms are expanding their features that they're all starting to look alike. Consider how Facebook now has Stories or how Instagram's Location Stories mimic Snapchat's. The good news is it will make allocating budget and resources for social media marketing easier. If you can't seem to gain a following on Instagram, maybe you could be more successful on Snapchat. The important thing is to test which platform/s will work best for your business.
Arguably one of the hottest social media trends to watch out for this year, chatbots are taking over messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger and WeChat. Here's how chatbots can be useful for businesses. Let's say a customer sends you a question on Facebook about a product or a service your company offers. A chatbot can immediately reply to that customer's question no matter how early or late it is in the day.
Chatbots are also rapidly evolving that people are using them to shop for shoes, schedule meetings, and even act as your friend. Now if you want to use chatbots as part of your social media strategy, make sure you choose a secure platform. This is important if your business requires customers to provide sensitive information such as credit card details (e.g. e-commerce). You should also realize that chatbots are a means to enhance customer service and not a replacement for genuine human interaction.
4. Paid content
Some would argue that paid content isn't so much a trend as it is a staple in social media marketing. But we would say since paid content isn't going away anytime soon, it's still relevant to this list. If you have dabbled in social media advertising before, now's the time to ramp up your paid content strategy. It's not enough that your followers are engaging with your brand. You should be able to use paid content to convert your audience into paying customers.
There are several tactics to do this. One is to optimize your external links. Make sure that anything you share on social media includes a link to a landing page on your website. Once a customer lands on your website, make it easier for the customer to buy from you. Don't lead your customers to a maze just to get to your URL. Clear the conversion path of obstacles and you'll soon see your customer base growing.
5. Social selling
Do you have a lot of social media followers but for some reason, they're not visiting your site? Well, if you can't find a way to lure them to your site, you can take advantage of the e-commerce features offered by social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Let your customers purchase your products directly from these social networks. Also, don't forget to leverage the power of product demonstration videos. Take note that customers these days don't just check their social media accounts to browse interesting content. They check the brands they follow for sale updates and to see which new items to buy.
6. Influencer marketing
Have you ever brought something because your favorite athlete or a business guru recommended it? That's basically how influencer marketing works. A social media influencer doesn't have to be a high-profile celebrity. He can be a regular person. It just so happened that these influencers have found a way to gain social media users' trust and keep them engaged. Think YouTube stars such as Yuya or FBE.
You can use influencer marketing to widen your brand's reach, as well as promote your products or services.
7. Social analytics
Of the social media trends listed above, social analytics should be non-negotiable for businesses. After all, you can just pour money into social media channels and see which one will give you the highest ROI. You need to track your results and tweak your social media strategy as needed.
By now, you're probably very familiar with Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics. If you're also using other social media channels such as Instagram or Pinterest, then you need to know how to use Business Tools and Pinterest Analytics as well. Other tools can measure key metrics across all social platforms. Some of them are free, while others require users to pay a monthly subscription fee. It takes a bit of experimenting to see which ones will help you analyze your social media marketing efforts so you can develop better campaigns.
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