Archive | December, 2018

10 Social Media Trends to Watch in 2019

31 Dec

As social media platforms have evolved into full-blown communication channels, more brands are relying on these platforms to reach their target audiences.

Consumer attention is scattered across various social platforms, not to mention apps and other online diversions. Brands that hope to capture consumers’ attention and dollars need to keep in touch with how their audiences utilize these platforms. The bottom line is that, as trends evolve on social media, so must the corresponding marketing.

With the start of a new year, it’s time to look into the crystal ball of emerging trends on social media. What is going to influence social media users? What does this mean for brand marketing? And what do we need to be aware of to stay current and relevant in 2019?

Here are the top 10 social media trends to keep an eye on in the new year.

1. Rebuilding trust in social media platforms.

Social media platforms continue to grow annually — in fact, Facebook has more than 2 billion active users each month. However, the picture isn’t entirely rosy. Consumer confidence in social media is on shaky ground.

Users are growing increasingly leery of the information they find on social media. And marketers may be contributing to the situation when they fail to properly label paid advertising posts or they bombard a platform with targeted ads that overwhelm users. All of this can leave users feeling distrustful of both the brand and the platform.

Younger generations have little tolerance for marketing that comes off as disingenuous. Brands will need to look for ways to build consumer trust. That means focusing on ways to authentically connect with audiences, and ways to highlight their humanity. Brands need to connect with their audiences on a meaningful level. No one likes being constantly swamped with ads. Even worse is when you’re being marketed to and don’t even realize it.

2. Social media is about storytelling.

Social media’s popularity is rooted in the fact that it allows us to share our life experiences with friends and families. We get to tell our stories through our posts, and we get to see a snapshot of everyone else’s lives through our news feeds. At first, that was through written posts and photos, but video content is increasingly popular.

Social media is adapting, embracing new ways to allow people to tell their stories and share their narrative with the world. Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook are embracing this trend, and it’s changing the way we consume social media content.

This opens the door for brands to share more human stories of their own, which will inspire audiences to try out their product. Storytelling feels real, immediate and personal, but it also demands a mix of more time-intensive video, images and graphics, and requires brands to be more creative and thoughtful in the intent.

3. Build a brand narrative.

Along with honing their human stories, businesses are going to need to build a strategic narrative behind their brand. Narratives capture moments and experiences shared between a user and a product; they’re the conversations that are occurring, and they’re often about trying to create a broader, more positive change.

These narratives can be distributed through social media and digital media, and they reflect what a brand’s community is saying about them. If a brand can build a larger story, it will have a better chance of success.

Brand narratives need to be compelling and lead audiences to an action. Evaluate your brand story, and ensure it is inspiring and stands out against the messiness of other social media content.

4. Quality and creativity over quantity.

Marketers often have a knee-jerk reaction to trends by flooding platforms with mediocre and uninspired content in hopes of riding the trend wave. Would-be customers react by tuning out and quickly dismissing subpar messaging. The threshold for gaining customer attention and trust has grown exponentially. Marketers who hope to gain consumer consideration must be willing to go the extra mile in creating engaging content.

The bottom line is, to have an impact, brands must be purposeful and creative. Less content, if it’s created thoughtfully and is well-positioned, will have greater impact than an abundance of content that is uninspired, heavy-handed or seen as shallow or dull.

5. Put a human face to your brand.

Personal branding is a must on social media. Putting a real, human face to a brand is key in building trust and loyalty, especially for small, relatively unknown businesses. Personal branding gives a business a human element that will naturally connect customers and make the brand seem more relatable. Businesses that learn to foster their human element will have a real advantage over those who hide behind a logo.

One popular trend in humanizing a business is to promote the personal brand of the business owner or a high-level leader. This can be done through guest blogging, podcasts and webinars. Giving the public an up-close view of the company’s leader can strengthen its brand reputation.

6. Influencers continue to grow their communities.

Influencer marketing continues to develop and grow on social media platforms. Influencers are social media figures who have gathered a defined community around themselves. Their large followings (which can range from the thousands to over a million viewers) give them influence over others. They can be incredibly effective as salespeople because we inherently trust the people we follow on social media.

Much like personal branding, when done well influencer marketing gives a human voice to brands. Influencer marketing is less direct than traditional forms of advertising, but it can effectively create authentic ways of connecting with customers.

7. Selfie videos and branding.

The selfie culture continues to flourish on social media, with the popularity of selfie photo evolving into the self-recorded video. These “selfie videos” are drawing high user interest on social media. Like the selfie photo, the selfie video allows users to capture a moment in time, but the video format allows users to communicate in a deeper and more personal way than a photo ever could. Selfie videos tend to be short and feel more immediate than a written post with a photo.

Businesses need to take note: viewers spend hours watching friends’ videos on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. Brands would be wise to look for ways to incorporate first-person “selfie video” content as part of their marketing strategy.

Traditional advertising can be off-putting to younger audiences, who are more cautious about their purchases and want a more authentic experience with their brands. The selfie video can help a brand seem more relatable and trustworthy.

8. Segment your social audiences.

While brands talk about their customers and audiences, the reality is that most businesses will have multiple audiences. Segmentation is the process of organizing your audience into manageable groups (or segments) so you can tailor your messaging and communications to the preferences of each group. Social media is most effective when you segment your audiences so you can be relevant to the right groups of people at the right time.

Making assumptions about your audience and lumping them all together could limit your ability to reach more people. So the more you know about your audience and the various groups that make up your audience, the better you can adjust your messaging and narratives to fit each segment.

9. Hyper-targeted personalization.

Customers have come to expect brands to tailor special offers and discounts to their wants and needs. To keep up with expectations, businesses need to step up their game when it comes to targeted advertising. Nearly every social media platform offers some level of audience filtering when you opt to pay for advertising. These options range from simple geographic targeting to advanced filters that refine audiences into highly specific segments.

In the coming year, brands will increasingly turn to hyper-targeted personalization to reach their audiences. This is often achieved through retargeting or remarketing ads. Ever wonder why you’re seeing an ad on your social media site for something you were shopping for earlier? That’s hyper-targeted personalization at work.

Using “cookies” while you browse online, marketers collect data on users, such as online habits, the area they live in and any other pertinent information. But marketers will need to find a balance between being too pushy and being able to offer personalized advertising that will genuinely interest customers.

10. Know your platforms.

Businesses should carefully consider which social media platforms to focus on, as each platform tends to be used by different groups. For example, over 80 percent of Pinterest users are female, and more than 50 percent of users are from the US. So, if a brand is targeting American women, posting on Pinterest could help isolate that group.

Meanwhile, Snapchat users tend to be younger than those who use Facebook. And career-focused professionals spend more of their time on LinkedIn. Brands that use multiple platforms should use these distinguishing characteristics to decide where to post content and on which platforms to focus the majority of their marketing efforts.

Six key social media marketing trends for 2019

17 Dec

It’s the right time now to start planning your social media marketing strategy for 2019. These are the key trends to follow for another successful year of social media marketing for your business.

It’s the right time now to start planning your social media marketing strategy for 2019. These are the key trends to follow for another successful year of social media marketing for your business.

Right before starting the new year, it’s good to review your existing social media marketing strategy to find what works and what can be improved. A closer look at your past campaigns, social posts, best-performing channels and analytics can help you get ready for 2019.

As the social media landscape is changing at a fast pace, it’s important to keep up with the latest trends every year to ensure that your strategy is still successful.

Here are six key trends to keep an eye on for 2019.

Engagement is more important than ever

Facebook has announced early in 2018 the focus on meaningful interactions as part of their updated algorithm.

This meant that their algorithm started favoring content that sparks a genuine conversation, which inspired many Page Managers to create more engaging content.

As organic reach becomes harder, the only way to survive is to aim for content that is:

  • Interesting
  • Appealing
  • Engaging

Algorithms are becoming smarter so there’s no short route to genuine engagement. It’s not enough anymore to encourage people to like, comment, share on your post. Social platforms are trying to cut down on engagement bait techniques so you may risk losing your existing reach in the longer term with such techniques.

Thus, it’s time to stop ‘cheating’ to win engagement and start thinking of an improved engagement strategy for every channel to continue reaching your followers.

Influencer marketing and the rise of micro-influencers

Influencer marketing is becoming an established element of your marketing mix. Influencers can make thousands of dollars through paid sponsorships while brands are constantly seeking for the best influencers for their campaigns.

As influencer marketing grows, big influencers are becoming more expensive for small and medium-sized brands. That’s when micro-influencers came in to make up for the gap between being interested in influencer marketing and having the right budget to try it out.

Micro-influencers may not have the outreach of celebrities, but they may have an even bigger influence in their own followers. Even 40k followers as an audience can be perfect for a brand, provided that they are working with the right influencer for their target audience.

For example, a food brand may see better results by working with a rising food blogger with 30k followers than a well-known chef who may ask for 20x of the budget.

And just as micro-influencers keep winning ground, there is also the trend of nano-influencers, or else influencers who have up to 10k followers. They may not have a big audience to follow them, but they can still have a great influence over them, either by their job, their engaging social presence or their passion about a specific industry/topic.

Nano-influencers don’t require a big budget to work with them but you may need to spend more time on the research to find the perfect one for your brand.

Since they may still be new to the influencer marketing world, they may be seeking a partnership that matches their values and could possibly last in the longer term. They can also be easier to reach since they don’t have to deal with thousands of messages every day.

Social media for sales enablement

Social media is already helping customers in the phase of product discovery. Brands are able to promote their products through social channels and customers are finding out about them before making a purchase.

Social media is not anymore just about awareness and engagement, but it’s heading even more towards consideration and sales enablement in the business funnel.

According to Mary Meeker’s report of Internet Trends in 2018, 55% of respondents who discovered a product through social media proceeded to a purchase later on. Facebook seems to be the first channel that people discover new products, with Instagram and Pinterest following up.

What do these mean for 2019? Brands have a great opportunity to benefit from this trend to improve their social strategy. You don’t always need a sales pitch in all your messaging to convince people to trust you. Social media can help you tell your story and improve consideration. Right after someone discovers your product online, it’s up to you to provide a smooth experience that will make sales easier.

AI and customer service

Bots and automated messaging have already shown up in many brands’ customer service. Social media has made it easier for customers to reach a brand, which means that the expectations about the response time are increasing.

Chatbots have started becoming popular through Facebook’s Messenger when brands realized that it’s an easy way to add an additional customer support to the mix.

Not all customers were convinced that this is the best way to reach a brand, but the adoption rate is improving thanks to the enhanced intelligence and programming of the latest bot experiences. More brands are spending the time to program the bots in a way that they seem as authentic as possible. Whether it’s about giving them their own character or simply predicting as many customer questions as possible, there has certainly been great progress in how they work.

AI can also come in providing automating messaging to customers who want an answer to a common question. Brands can set up messaging that keeps their customers satisfied while they’re also saving time in repeatedly answering the same questions.

2019 will bring an improved adoption of AI as part of social customer service and it’s time for more brands to give it a try to ensure that their customers are finding the answers to their questions as fast as possible.

Stories, stories, stories

Stories are everywhere! Visual content in a vertical format that usually lasts for 24 hours became popular from Snapchat and it soon was copied by Instagram to turn into a global trend for people of all ages.

Snapchat may have struggled since then to remain relevant, at least in the way that it was known for, but we’ve already seen Stories to Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and just recently, LinkedIn.

There are currently more than 400 million people consuming Stories on Instagram on a daily basis, while Facebook is trying to integrate Stories to our daily routines.

Advertisers have already realized that Instagram Stories ads can be very effective, with Snapchat and Facebook following up with their current hype and demand.

What makes Stories successful?

Stories are:

  • easy to create them
  • fun and engaging
  • spontaneous or they don’t necessarily require much editing before uploading them
  • authentic
  • are not always lasting more than 24 hours

The end of fake followers

Instagram is currently one of the most popular apps in the social media landscape. Influencers have benefited from the app’s success by rising to fame through their growing audience.

However, it was no secret that several Instagram accounts have artificially increased their number of followers to boost their popularity. Many services provide fake followers for a fee and Instagram knew that sooner or later this had to stop.

Just last month, Instagram announced that they’ve started removing inauthentic likes, follows, and comments from accounts that used third-party apps to increase their popularity. They have actually built machine learning tools to identify such activities so that they prevent it from happening in the future.

This is a big step for Instagram towards maintaining their reputation as a popular social network where people (and brands) can grow their community through genuine interest and engagement.

Since the change has just started rolling out, 2019 will prove that the number of followers will not be as relevant anymore comparing to the actual influence and engagement that you’re having within your community.

As a brand, there’s no need anymore to chase for increasing your followers if you’re not already engaging with your existing ones. Spend more time on growing your community organically to avoid seeing a sudden drop of (fake) followers and likes.

What can we learn from all these trends?

2018 has been a big year for social networks and it will probably affect their future more than what we can predict now.

There have been small steps to improve trust, transparency, authentic engagement and genuine followers.

There is still a long way to go but it’s still important for brands to pay attention to the latest trends.

It’s better to start applying them to your social media strategy now to stay ahead of the curve instead of insisting on old tricks that might not work anymore.

Find the channels that work better for you, spend more time (and money) on them and always listen to your audience. They can offer valuable insights on what you need to improve on your social tactics.

Back to basics: Measuring your social media efforts with unique acquisition channels

10 Dec

Most organizations are spending a considerable amount of money and resources on their social media marketing efforts. These efforts generally take the form of three types of effort – organic, paid and promoted (also referred to as owned, paid and earned). No matter how you label them, you should segregate them into three unique marketing acquisition channels in your analytics reports to correctly evaluate how effective your efforts are.

To segregate traffic driven to your site from various social media properties, you’ll need to configure custom channels in your analytics tool.

Defining custom social channels

Before starting any configuration changes, first decide not only the names of these new channels, but what they represent for your clients (both internal and external).

I’d recommend setting up the following three channels.

Paid social: Consists of any paid ads you are running on any social media property to drive traffic to your website.

Promoted social: All activity performed by your social media team where no additional marketing fees are required. Typical activities that fall under this channel include typical posting to your social media channels.

Organic social: Any activity that the general public (people not on your payroll) drives traffic to your site from social media. This includes a person clicking on a “Share This” icon on your blog post or perhaps just including a link to your site in a spontaneous social media post.

Once you’ve defined your social media channels, you need to define the medium definitions (for GA the utm_medium parameter value) to be used your generate a custom URL to track. The great news is you don’t need to do anything for organic social.

Here are some typical medium definitions (required by your analytics software) or make up your own. Note you can use more than one to refine your analysis at a later date.

Paid social: Paid-social, Social-PPC, Social-CPC, Social-display, Promoted-post

Promoted social: Psocial, Promoted, Post, Tweet

Remember, these changes to your analytics tool are permanent and will remain in place unless deleted. They will not impact historical data.

Repeating the benefits of custom channels

With this additional information, you’ll be more effective at evaluating which content is performing best and you’ll be able to compare its performance across the organic, paid and promoted social channels.

Another advantage is it will be much easier to compare conversion rates and goal achievement between different channels.

It is only by segregating paid from organic from promoted social activity that a complete picture of which activity drives which type of conversion.

The 10 Best Tools for Social Marketing Automation

3 Dec

Social media is where everything happens these days. With so many platforms available to a marketer, keeping up with the many tasks that social media marketing needs, is an uphill task in itself. Hence, in this article, we talk about 10 social media automation tools that can help you build your social media marketing strategy.

With an estimated 2.77 billion social network users in 2019, who are online virtually 24/7, you have to be quick and responsive in your social media marketing strategy. For this, you must automate tasks like sharing posts, scheduling, analytics, etc. to make the most of your time and resources.

There are tons of excellent social media automation tools that allow you to be efficient and effective with your marketing strategy and even improve the effectiveness of your campaigns.

What are the Top 10 Social Media Automation Tools?

1. Buffer:

Buffer is a hot favorite in the industry. It offers you a lot of flexibility to schedule and automate your posts. It also analyzes the performance of the posts, and provides a user-friendly interface to get you going in a jiffy.

Here’s what you can do with Buffer:

  • Get automated and manual support to schedule updates
  • Integrate and manage all social media accounts through a single platform
  • Schedule posts for preferred times, all at once
  • Measure social media performance
  • Get recommendations on the best time to post
  • Have multiple team members (maximum 25) access the same account (access specifiers for each member)
  • Schedule content on the go, with browser extensions and Android and iOS apps
  • Receive frequent updates from Buffer to adapt to ever-changing social media platforms
  • Unified interface for all major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Youtube)
  • Smart post analytics and reporting tools to track social content performance
  • Simplified content publishing and scheduling with the Calendar function
  • Active social listening to monitor relevant conversations and audience engagement

2. Agora Pulse:

Agora Pulse has a comprehensive feature set where you can plan posts, engage your customers with contests and quizzes, collaborate with your team, and perform advanced analysis. With an easy-to-use interface and timely updates about posts, tweets, messages, comments, etc., this platform helps you stay ahead of your competition and forge strong relationships with your target audience.

This is what Agora Pulse offers:

  • Unified interface for all major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Youtube)
  • Smart post analytics and reporting tools to track social content performance
  • Simplified content publishing and scheduling with the Calendar function
  • Active social listening to monitor relevant conversations and audience engagement

3. Buzzsumo:

Buzzsumo automates content discovery. It helps you find fresh content topics, channels, and the sources your competitors are using to reach your target audience. This way you can align your content accordingly.

Buzzsumo offers the following:

  • Search tool (search bar) for discovering content related to a keyword/phrase, and influencers who share related content
  • Content search filter for a location, domain, platform, etc.
  • Tracking for different platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
  • Solutions like brand monitoring, influencer marketing, content curation and insights, content research and planning, competitor research, question analyzer, etc.

4. Hootsuite:

Hootsuite is a popular and affordable social media automation tool that can help you schedule posts on over 35+ social media platforms. It also offers an analysis of the content to determine the best time to post content, as well as real-time updates to keep a track of brand mentions and audience engagement.

Here’s what Hootsuite provides:

  • Tabs to organize, link, and schedule posts for all your social profiles in one place
  • Advanced search for sentiment analysis, location-based search, etc.
  • Customizable and insightful social analytics reports
  • Tracking of industry trends and campaign results to tweak strategies

5. IFTTT:

‘If this, then that’ (IFTTT) is an automation solution that helps you use a combination of applets and services to connect various devices and apps to solve a whole host of automation problems. You have to set triggers (or conditions), and IFTTT will perform that action when a condition is triggered. For example, If a blog post is published (This), Then tweet this article link on my twitter account (That). So, every time you publish a blog post, IFTTT will automatically tweet it through your account.

You can use a combination of apps and services, from over 600 apps, devices, and companies to create a wide range of recipes, to scale your social media efforts.

6. SocialOomph:

With Socialoomph you can boost your social media productivity, and easily schedule updates. It also helps you monitor the social activity on your Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, RSS feeds, blogs, and Plurk accounts. It is a social media management tool doubling up as an automation platform.

This is what SocialOomph offers:

  • Automation of post scheduling, image uploads, sharing, and profile updates
  • Blog post(s) updates and RSS feeds
  • New followers monitoring and automating direct messages to them
  • Supports you by converting emails from a personal email account to social media updates
  • Queues reservoir for evergreen content to be promoted (and reshared)

 

7. Sprout Social:

Whether you are a small business, an agency, or an enterprise, Sprout Social offers you affordable tools with exhaustive features, which include:

  • Scheduling posts
  • Monitoring competition
  • Tracking your keywords
  • Identifying influencers
  • Discovering mentions
  • Analyzing stats

8. MeetEdgar:

Apart from automating content sharing and posting, MeetEdgar allows you to re-share and recycle old content as well. You can create a content library where you can organize it by category. MeetEdgar will fill up your social media streams by recycling content from the library or ‘pulling’ content from the RSS feeds from various blog posts.

MeetEdgar also does the following for you:

  • Connect to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. through a web plugin from any mobile device
  • Auto refill queue from saved update archives
  • Set expiry dates for seasonal posts
  • Share evergreen content to increase traffic and audience engagement
  • Category-based scheduling tool to mix content types

9. SocialFlow:

SocialFlow is a one-of-its-kind tool, where content is scheduled based on real-time insights on campaign performance. You can add your content to the queue, and your posts will be scheduled based on actionable data – when your target audience is active, what are they engaging with, etc. It will use real-time data along with your business rules to determine what posts to publish, on which platform, and the best time to publish them.

10. TailWind:

TailWind is social media automation tool for visual marketing on Pinterest and Instagram. It is an all-in-one tool to discover content, schedule posts, monitor conversations, amplify reach, and analyze results.

Apart from that, TailWind offers:

  • Multi-board pinning, hashtag lists, bulk image upload, drag-and-drop calendar
  • Optimization of your Instagram and Pinterest schedules
  • Analytics and insights by monitoring KPIs, followers, brand mentions, likes, repins, boards and more
  • Creation of multiple posts from any website with a single click
  • Tracking activity and trends

Social media automation tools help you increase efficiency in your social media marketing strategy, and to scale your business and fully engage with your clients and customers. Anyone of these ten tools can help you improve your social marketing automation strategy for better customer engagement.