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4 Social Media Marketing Trends in 2016 (Predictions)

7 Dec

In the early days of social media marketing, companies did not consider it as a viable strategy to promote awareness or market their products. Now, most of us have become a witness to the fact that social media marketing is indeed a rock-solid platform that offers plenty of opportunities to make our products reach a wider market.

Social Media Marketing Trends in 2016

But the world of social media is changing quickly. Thanks to the dozens of new platforms appearing every year. Existing companies, big or small, are scrambling to stay ahead of their competitors by offering their audiences new features.

So, as a social media marketer, what trends can you expect in 2016?

1. Buy Buttons

Facebook has introduced the “buy” feature for their advertisers and users. It is followed by Pinterest. These two platforms are aggressive in promoting this feature to advertisers. Users of these two social networking sites can now purchase a product directly from these platforms through a sponsored content.

Facebook-owned Instagram is following behind. And more and more platforms are going to follow. That said, when 2016 ends, major social media brands will also be offering a “buy” feature.

2. Live broadcasting

Recently, Facebook has rolled out its live broadcasting feature to non-verified accounts to compete with Periscope, a Twitter-owned company that offers a live video broadcast. Instagram and Snapchat are also offering an on-the-go video update as opposed to the late-game update.

If this trend will continue, scheduling your updates in advance will no longer be advisable. That is if you want to go with the trend.

3. In-App functionality

When it comes to providing users with new functionalities, Facebook is considered the king in this area. Currently, the company is developing a human hybrid assistant and other social media companies are also developing such functionality.

An in-app functionality will prevent users from ever leaving Facebook, Instagram and other social networking apps they are using.

This trend is said to continue in 2016. It will give marketers better opportunities to engage with their audiences using one platform.

4. Publication option

Publishers can publish their full-length articles on a social media site. This is how Instant Articles of Facebook works. With this option, publishers no longer have to provide an external link to their sites.

Social media marketing experts are guessing that, as this trend continues, other social media platforms will offer a more sophisticated form of publishing to some businesses and organizations.

The Project Lighting of Twitter offers a dynamic way of presenting a material to the public. But it still works like the Instant Articles of Facebook. Pretty sure, others will follow.

Will there be fewer smaller platforms to emerge?

There is a dozen of social media platforms that emerged but most of them died a quick death. That said, experts are seeing fewer smaller social media platforms to compete against the big three – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

These trends are just predictions. But some of them will permeate across multiple platforms. Many audiences will use them. Some companies may not adapt to the changes but others will.

Social Media Should be Part of Your Marketing Budget!

9 Nov

Social media marketing, or SMM, is perhaps the best method to get one’s marketing message through. Both B2C and B2B companies are making it an essential part of their appointment setting and lead generation program.

And given several conditions such as the prevalence of digital channels and innovations in mobile technology, SMM has become a necessity for business survival. So much so that companies are spending a great deal in optimizing and creating their SMM platforms.

A report from the Wall Street Journal has found that SMM spending will experience a steady upsurge next year. Quoting a recent research paper from Duke University, the report says that spending will increase at least 11% in 2015 and 21% in the next five years. The report also states that expenditures in traditional advertising would “contract” by 3.

It’s obvious. Digital marketing methods are slowly taking the place of television, radio and newspapers in terms of stimulating brand awareness. But can we see this as a positive development?

It might seem inevitable that SMM would supersede traditional advertising, but we cannot ignore its negative implications. Certain factors need to be taken into account before a social media lead generation campaign is realized.

ROI tracking.

The most compelling challenge to SMM is tracking its impact on one’s sales pipeline. The same Duke University report says that only 15% of marketers can effectively measure their SMM campaign through quantitative approaches. Furthermore, only 40% were able to gauge their campaigns based on qualitative rubrics. The reasons are numerous as they are complex: fluctuating marketing trends, shifting buyer behaviors and preferences, big data management, etc.

Spending on infrastructure.

Despite such projections however, analysts still see a rise in SMM budgets. A bulk of this will be dedicated to establishing vital lead management infrastructure. Spending in this instance will go to much needed upgrades and installing marketing automation software. Despite these activities however, marketers will still encounter the problem of ROI tracking. Unless an effective approach to this issue is realized, marketers will have to bear with inconsistent information about their online lead generation program.

What’s the prescription?

The only remedy at this point would be to focus on spending on quality manpower. Competencies in the field of B2B digital marketing are as good as having up-to-date marketing systems. Moreover, employing the services of a proficient B2B outsourcing company can also be a practical option, especially when you want to handle different audience interaction channels simultaneously.

Automating your SMM for Ease!

24 Aug

What do social media marketing, professional wrestling, and magic all have in common?

Trompe-l’œil, to borrow from the French.

It’s all a “trick of the eye” – a play on perspective. We are led to believe we see something one way, when what’s going on beneath can be rather different.

When we see a magic trick, we know that there’s a rational explanation behind the trick. But the trick is so good that we can’t even begin to guess how the magician pulls it off.

When we watch professional wrestling, we know it’s “fake,” but at the same time, a good storyline and well-executed moves make us think, if even for just a second, “Wait! Is this part real?”

Truly excellent social media marketers have to be able to pull off their own trompe-l’œil. We must appear to be always-on and 100% THE BRAND we represent. But, in reality, we have multiple accounts, other professional responsibilities, and personal lives that don’t include managing a Facebook page at four o’clock in the morning.

So, are all social media managers fakes? Cynics?

Maybe the mediocre ones are. But the true social media marketing experts have mastered a balance that isn’t just recommended for success… it’s necessary for success. Great social media experts know how to automate.

Automation is what allows your brand to be effective, relevant, and responsive.

At the same time, when automation is your priority, the humanity of your brand gets lost.

The art is in the balance. The real social experts balance automation with authenticity to produce a social persona that is truthful and valuable.

Social Media Automation Tips

  • Create your content calendar in advance. Develop your assets for at least one week at a time. This will save stress and pressure, freeing you up to improvise.
  • Don’t feel obligated to respond immediately. Yes, social media responsiveness is a hugely important metric. However, it’s also a productivity-killer. Set up reminders to check in two or three times a day (depending on your account traffic) to respond to interactions.
  • Constantly fine-tune your messaging. One of the biggest pitfalls of social media automation is falling into routine. Habit can save you time, but it can also stick you in a rut. Constantly evaluate what’s working and what’s not to improve your messaging and post timing.

Do you automate your social content?

Why or why not? To what degree do you think automation is helpful?

3 Tips to Maximize the Synergy of Social Media and Content Marketing

4 May

Are social media marketing and content marketingtwo disparate entities, or could they perhaps be a marriage made in heaven?

Unfortunately, many brands approach both as if one has nothing to do with the other. The simple fact is that social media marketing cannot function without content. If you have no content, you have nothing to share, tweet or post. Without valuable content, you cannot drive engagement on social media. Therefore, it only stands to reason that content serve as the heart of any successful social media marketing campaign.

With that said, unlike traditional content marketing, content within the sphere of social media marketing must serve specific purposes. To be effective, content for social media marketing must be designed to fit the parameters of specific platforms and, furthermore, must be developed to either generate discussion or provide an open dialogue for current customers. The tips below will guide you through the process of bringing social media and content marketing together.

1. A/B test content for effectiveness with your audience.

Simply publishing content on social media and hoping it sticks is not an effective plan. Testing a variety of content and messages across different networks can help you to determine which type of content resonates best with your audience.

If you only publish one piece of content and you do not receive the response you expected, you may never know exactly what was wrong with it. A/B testing can give you the insight you need to determine how to best connect with specific audiences.

2. Optimize content for specific social media networks.

Your audience can choose from a range of different social media networks. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest, each social media network has its unique audience and features. Ignoring these unique qualities is tantamount to disaster in terms of social media marketing.

By contrast, taking the time to ensure that the content you publish on each platform is optimized for that specific channel will give you a far greater chance to connect with the audiences most likely to frequent that platform.

For instance, while Twitter has a strict 140-character limit and demands concise but powerful content, content on Facebook is far more flexible, but typically requires the inclusion of a photo or video in order to gain traction.

3. Tap your audience for ideas.

Take the time to ask your followers and fans for suggestions regarding the types of content that interests them. There are also tools you can leverage to determine the types of content most likely to gain traction in your social media marketing, such asNexalogy, which can generate a map of the types of topics that your followers and fans are discussing.

Social media provides a venue for giving your content its own voice. With careful planning, you can bring content marketing and social media together to create a highly successful social media marketing campaign.

When Should Small Businesses Outsource Social Media Marketing?

14 Jul

Social media marketing is a time-consuming initiative that can easily turn into a vanity project. Small business owners don’t have enough time to engage their social media accounts. Without resources and a strategy in place, it can be pointless in terms of ROI. One of the options is outsourcing social media marketing. Branding and engagement are important parts of your business, so when is the ideal time to do these?

After laying the foundation.
Identify your target audience, determine the best way to promote engagement, and create a style guide. Collaborate with the service provider to find the right strategy to achieve business results.

What’s the point of outsourcing if I’m going to do some work?
Outsourcing doesn’t have to mean surrendering your voice in social media to a third party, and you shouldn’t. When you hand over all the work, they’ll end up managing that part of your business. Your outsourcing partner should follow your lead not the other way around.

This step ensures that your outsourcing efforts are aligned with your business goals. No one knows your brand and its customers more than you do. You can delegate the process and still have control over the branding message.

Before turning your social media account into a wasteland or a useless mess.
If you can’t maintain a social media publishing schedule or don’t know how to make engagement viable, it’s time to get help.

Why? We’ll lose control!

An empty or inactive social media account sends a discouraging message to the visitor. If you can’t translate engagement into business value, it’s useless. Updating your Twitter is easy, but incorporating that into your marketing and sales strategy is the challenging part.

Collaborating with your outsourcing partner and due diligence reduce risks. Assign a person to oversee the processes.

Outsourcing is similar to any other deal. If you treat it as a value generator (other than a cost reduction tactic) and incorporate it into your internal strategy, it can deliver transformational results.

 

How To Track Your Social Media Marketing

23 Jun

How do you measure social media?

Some people call it metrics. Others call it measuring your marketing efforts. Whatever you want to call it, this measuring stuff can get pretty confusing if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Think about it –  you’ve got a bunch of stats with your Facebook Insights, click-thrus in your scheduling program and your Pinterest analytics telling you which is the most pinned image.

Where do you look? Which number is more important than the others? And what the heck is the difference between a sharing metric and a consumption metric?

I’m not a numbers person. I swear, I just barely squeaked through my Statistics 101 class in college. And honestly, it hurts my head to think about this stuff.

Where do we start?

You start with understanding your goals.

I want you to think about WHY your company is using social media. And how are these social marketing efforts helping you to effectively grow your business?

  • Are you on Facebook to increase your exposure?
  • Do you post on Twitter to grow your website traffic?
  • Or are you pinning on Pinterest to generate more sales?

Your social programs may be different with each of the above questions but those are the type of business goals I’m talking about. It’s about asking the right questions to help you make a decision about what’s working and what’s not.

Let me break down these three types of goals, give you some actionable ideas to try and then show you how to measure your social media marketing.

Increase Exposure:

This exposure stuff is pretty simple. To increase your company’s exposure, you need to spend time where your customers hang out.

I’m not just talking about a post here and there and replying to comments. I mean really pulling together a posting strategy that creates multiple touchpoints where you connect with your fans.

You want to make sure you provide enough positive impressions about your company to connect with the right people.

And how do you grow your exposure?

1. Optimize your profiles with targeted key words to ensure that people running a search on your products can find you.

2. Customize your content – not just for the social program you’re on but for the audience you’re trying to reach.

3. Create shareable content with special offers to grow your followers.

Website Traffic:

Well, this one is pretty obvious. The more people who come to your site, the more they see your stuff, what you do and how to follow your marketing messages.

What are some ideas to use your social sites to increase your site traffic?

1. Use eye-catching images and attention-grabbing headlines in your posts.

I know I’ve said this before but this point is so important that I’m going to repeat myself:

This is how we connect to content online – first we see the image, then the headline and if both the image and headline have caught our attention, then we read the post.

2. Remember to add your site links to your marketing messages. Consistently schedule in your own content mixed with your promotional messages into all of your social media posts.

3. Create custom landing pages on your site. If you want me to sign up for your new online class, don’t send me to your home page so I have to look for it. Give me the direct link to your register page.

Making more sales:

This is always a tough one for people to figure out where their sales are coming from. During the sales process, there are multiple marketing messages that can contribute to the final purchase.

There are quite a few steps that happen from when someone clicks on a social media post to the day when they hit the Buy Here button. The initial post is just the start of the conversion process that takes a retweet from connection to a lead to a customer.

How can you use social media to help with your sales goals?

1. Give your connections a clear call-to-action. Don’t just assume that they know to click this link to register. Tell them what to do and what they’ll get from doing that action.

2. Include valuable content in your posts to give your fans the information they need to make their decisions. Chances are, they’ve been researching answers to their problems even before they connected with you. Why not give them what they want so they don’t have to ask for it?

3. Develop your content and your social posts for your specific target audience. Being everything to everyone may bring you the clicks to your site but they may not be the ones who will convert to a customer.

How do we track all this stuff?

I’ve lost track of the number of times I asked this question. I ran searches on Google and in Pinterest.

I found expensive programs that would run metric numbers for me, confusing spreadsheets and even a few companies I could hire to run my numbers every month.

I just couldn’t find what I was looking for so I made my own. And I didn’t even create a spreadsheet for this. I pulled up a word document, added in a table and some cool graphics behind it and check it out — my own tracking sheet!

Below is my tracking checklist that I run every month. Feel free to use my list and add your own important measurements like sales of a product that your company tracks every month. The point of this is to start tracking your numbers so you can see a pattern of what’s working and what’s not.

1. First thing I do, I log into my Google Analytics every month. In my monthly report, I include the following:

  • Page view numbers – social vs organic
  • All traffic numbers – not just my top referral sites but how many clicks did I get to come to my site?
  • What’s my top content for the month?
  • What are the top content pages on my site?
  • And I break down my top referral social site (which is Pinterest) and I see which pins were the ones that brought me the most traffic.

2. Next thing I do is track my social site numbers:

  • Which site is growing and which one is losing fans?
  • How does my fan numbers compare to the month before?
  • I add in notes to myself about anything that happened that month – did I teach more workshops? Did I do an online webinar? What could have created a change in my social numbers?

3. Then I track my blog subscribers and email newsletter signups:

  • These numbers are even more important than your social site followers.
  • Your subscriber lists are people who are interested in connecting with you on a deeper level than just following your company on Facebook. These are the people who have the greatest chance of converting to loyal customers.

4. I take a look at the big picture of all my numbers:

  • I can see which type of content is resonating with more people by the traffic it brings to my site. Can I expand on this content more or create a series of posts?
  • The numbers tell me where to spend my valuable time. When I watched my Facebook numbers go down for several months, I shifted my focus to Twitter. And when I saw that an increase in my tweets led to more clicks on my site, then I knew how to schedule my weekly social media updates.
  • When I see my subscriber number, I get a good feel for the amount of exposure I’m generating. If the numbers are slow to climb, it prompts me to re-think my content (am I connecting to the right people?). And when the numbers go up quicker, I take note as to what might have caused that (do I need to do more webinars?).

Tracking your social media marketing shouldn’t be about a bunch of numbers. It’s more about measuring your social activity and figuring out how to adjust your marketing strategy to reach the goals that help you grow your company.

By constantly reviewing the behavior and the actions of your site visitors, you’ll start to get more details about how to refine your marketing plans. And the more specific your strategies can be, the better your chances are to convert your connections into loyal customers.

 

Social Media Marketing Myths!

1 Dec

There is no shortage of advice about the role social media marketing should play in a company’s overall marketing plan. Unfortunately, that advice is often all over the map.

While a number of years has passed since companies first began venturing out into the unexplored territory of social media, mixed messages continue to flourish, leaving business owners wondering where to focus marketing resources.

One end of the spectrum proclaims there is no return on investment for a business tapping into social media. The other extreme school of thought dictates your business has no future if it doesn’t have an engaging profile on every available social media network.

The result is that both over-inflating and underestimating social media’s potential impact on your business means you are not as likely to make a sound investment of resources to gain a reasonable return on your investment.

One message does appear to be clear: an estimated 35 percent of businesses use social media. If yours is not one of them—or, if you are not using social media to its optimal advantage—consider that an estimated one out of every three of your competitors is probably doing so. How can you afford to miss the marketing opportunities offered by a strong social media presence?

But sorting the social media marketing fact from fiction can seem an insurmountable task for small- and medium-sized business owners already over-tasked with leading their companies. If you are one of them, here are some of the most common myths about social media marketing—along with suggested strategies for turning these myths to your advantage.

Myth: Your customer demographic isn’t using social media.

This myth should be easy to bust, yet it persists. According to digital marketing resource Digital Marketing Ramblings, best statistical estimates as of November 2013 find Facebook with 1.19 billion active users, YouTube boasting its own 1 billion users, Twitter with 215 million active users, and Google+ garnering 300 million active users. In addition, Instagram has attracted about 150 million users while Pinterest claims 70 million.

Digital media research company eMarketer estimates that in total, social media reaches nearly one in four people around the globe. Maybe you could have made the argument back in 1993 that your customers weren’t on social media, but this is one easy myth to bust 20 years later.

Strategy: Social media marketing should be one out of several components of your company’s overall marketing plan. That means even if you are still concerned that your customers aren’t on social media, you can continue to reach them by phone, direct mail, print advertising or other means. Fretting that your targeted demographics are not tweeting, posting, or uploading is time and energy wasted. Remember, too, that your existing customer base should not be your only concern. If you are convinced your current clients are permanently offline, consider the opportunity to target a brand new demographic.

Myth: A staff member needs to be dedicated to social media to get results.

Sure, Katy Perry may make it seem like the only way to take advantage of a social media site like Twitter is to devote hour after hour to the task. All that devotion may generate a whole lot of conversation, but with so much time involved, you aren’t likely to get a reasonable return on your investment.

Strategy: Instead, use aggregators like Hootsuite to make posting simpler on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. Then, with the time you save, use Twitter as part of a more concerted marketing effort by hosting a tweet chat. A tweet chat is a kind of live Twitter event, moderated to focus on a number of aspects of one general topic. A hashtag is used to filter all the chatter. Hosting a tweet chat provides your company with the opportunity to build its brand in ways that can’t be accomplished through posts alone.

Myth: Social media can take the place of your website.

Because use of social media is a newer marketing tool than launching a website, there is some confusion over whether social media marketing can take the place of a company website. The answer is, no. The longer answer is, social media may be comparatively new, but email still remains a very powerful tool in your arsenal.

Strategy: Yes, you can capture email addresses via social media. However, a company website offers opportunity to use a simple form to do the same thing, likely with less effort or complexity.There are some things that your website does best for your company and other things  you may be able to better accomplish with social media. Just as you didn’t do away with all your other marketing tools back when your company launched its first email campaign, you can’t expect social media to take the place of all your other marketing efforts. Put together a marketing plan that recognizes the right tools for the job and you’ll get the most out of your social media efforts.

Myth: There is no way to measure a social media campaign’s return on investment (ROI).

This is perhaps the myth that seems to outlive and outlast all others. Part of the problem is that there are a lot of social media experts and consultants who may be extremely knowledgeable about social media networks, but they know very little about marketing or measuring return on investment for businesses.

Strategy: In reality, there are a number of ways to track social media’s impact on your business. The metrics for your social media program are not much different from the metrics of other marketing efforts. There are quantitative metrics, which are the many data-driven measurements, such as page views, unique visits, demographics and the like. Then there are qualitative metrics. Unlike quantitative metrics, qualitative metrics have an emotional element. If you are serious about the impact, there are several companies competent in providing an in-depth analysis of these metrics.

But your most important metric should be your ROI metrics. You can arrive at this measurement by tracking the percentage of visitors from social media channels who follow a link to your site and are then converted from prospect to customer or client.

In doing so, you will need to create landing pages designed specifically around your company’s social media campaign, with Google Analytics or similar application installed so you can track traffic and conversions. All social media programs should drive visitors to this landing page of your site where you have the opportunity to convert them from prospects to paying clients or customers.

While your ROI metric is very useful, it still provides only a snapshot of social media’s true influence on your company’s bottom line. Even more important  is your customer lifetime value or CLV. This is the amount of revenue a customer from your social media marketing program will bring to your business over the entire course of their time with your company’s brand. Typically, companies budget about 10 percent of CLV as the amount they are willing to invest to acquire their next customer. In this way, you can compare the CLV of your social media marketing efforts to other marketing efforts in validating your social media investment.

Engage, Drive, and Convert

When it comes to social media, the phrase “engage your customer” always seems to be at the forefront. However, just engaging prospective customers is only part of the story. It does not mean you have successfully driven them back to your site and converted them to paying customers. Treat your social media marketing efforts as you would other marketing programs. Plan carefully, budget adequately, and analyze your results.