Gather round the social media crystal ball and see what’s coming next.
For the last few years, if you haven’t been on TikTok, you haven’t been on social media. Former heavyweights such as Facebook have been losing their luster, and TikTok has rapidly usurped its role as being on the cutting edge of digital communication. Things can change quickly online, especially within social media.
What are forward-thinking businesses supposed to do? How can one effectively plan a social media strategy when the space is continually in flux? If you are asking yourself those questions, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s explore emerging trends in social media and what they mean for business leaders who want to leverage them for competitive advantage – now and in the future.
As mentioned, while older social media platforms have waned in popularity of late, others have emerged to take their place and a chunk of their market share. Here are a few of the top sites that have left a mark in recent years and are worth keeping an eye on going forward:
Clubhouse: Clubhouse emerged during the first year of the pandemic, offering users a way to form synchronous, audio-only connections between the audience and the speakers. Businesses can consider leveraging the platform to increase the profile of high-performing content pieces or host a dialogue between an industry thought-leader and their target audience.
CaffeineandTwitch: Both Caffeine and Twitch have built steady followings since their launches in 2018 and 2021 respectively. Each of these platforms are video-based, giving users and businesses a powerful way to connect with audiences, position their brands and generate engagement. The success of Caffeine and Twitch also highlight that video is the future when it comes to social marketing – particularly if you need to appeal to the Gen. Z market.
BeReal: BeReal has been adopted with great gusto by Gen. Z. While the full scope of its business applications has yet to be determined, this is a good application to investigate if you’d like to cultivate a highly authentic social presence for your brand.
Paying to Play Will Continue
Last month on this blog, we discussed whether it is now necessary to supplement your organic social media activity with paid promotion. The conclusion we drew is that it has become increasingly difficult to gain the results you may want to see through organic marketing alone. Going forward, this will likely continue to be the case; however, where you spend your marketing dollars is likely to shift. Studies show that consumers prefer ads on sites like TikTok far more than others.[i] Pinterest is another site that has proven itself to be a good bet for advertisers, generating strong ROI for those who choose to deploy its advertising functionality.[ii]
Using Social for Customer Support
While it varies amongst different demographics, customers increasingly expect to interact directly with brands via social media. The gravitation of customers away from the phone and toward online platforms for customer support has been in the works for awhile now, but it truly went into overdrive during the pandemic. To succeed with customer service in this space, businesses must familiarize themselves with how different platforms support one-to-one customer interaction and then make a customer care plan.
The data on this subject robustly backs up these claims. 64 percent of people claim that they would prefer to message a business digitally than hop on the phone.[iii] Despite this, a huge number of businesses have not yet invested in their online customer care, which can be detrimental to their brands, operations, and future profitability.
Embrace the Future
Nothing lasts forever, especially not in the digital sphere. But while that can be intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. New trends are emerging in social media that will allow businesses to accomplish strategic goals far more easily, whether that be hosting authentic online content, advertising more effectively, or improving customer care. Keep your finger on the pulse, and don’t be afraid to experiment with new and emerging technology. That will continue to be key to social success.
Nearly 20 years into the age of social media, is organic content still enough?
For many people, social media is old hat these days. Oh sure, the kids are still rocking out on TikTok. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook still boast userbases in the millions and billions respectively. But let’s be honest, social seems to have lost some of its luster, prompting many to ask themselves: Is it still worth it for my business? The short answer is, absolutely! An overwhelming number of people in the business community agree with this, with 80 percent of enterprises saying social media is the most important factor in digital marketing success.[i]
The longer answer is: It’s complicated. Social media still represents an effective, low-cost way to connect with your customer base and position your brand. But the recipe for success has changed in the two decades many of these platforms have existed. In fact, research increasingly confirms that restricting your social media activity to organic posts will only get you so far.
Below, we’ll assess if this is a good option for your agency.
What do the experts say?
Research shows that people are increasingly deploying paid social media advertising. Eighty six percent of marketers noted in a recent survey, for instance, that they now combine paid and organic tactics.[ii] One reason for this is that some platforms are seeing a dip in organic reach. Organic posts on Facebook reach only 5.5 percent of a brand’s followers on average.[iii] There are multiple reasons for this decline. “For one, the high volume of ads competes with organic content for space on users’ news feeds.”[iv] There is also a widely held impression that algorithmic changes have disincentivized the role of organic social, making its ROI far less impressive than it might have once been.
So, has organic social’s time passed?
Even though there has been a clear decline in the reach of organic social media, that doesn’t mean that businesses can afford to not be active on these platforms. There are many reasons why companies need a strong social presence, some of which include:
Increased brand recognition
More brand loyalty and authority
Higher conversion rates
Increased inbound traffic
Lower marketing costs
Richer customer experiences
Improved customer insights
Even a cursory look at U.S. social media usage should put doubts to rest about whether it is still worthwhile. As of 2020, for instance, nearly 65 percent of American adults are active social media users, while 42 percent of Twitter users visit the site daily.[v] These are facts you just can’t argue with when considering where to put your marketing time and effort.
What is the best approach today?
Instead of jettisoning organic social media, then, what should savvy business leaders and marketers do? Well, instead of choosing one or the other, marketers have increasingly paired organic and paid strategies. Perhaps one of the best things about social media is that it can serve as an enormously valuable source of data on your audience members. Unsurprisingly, these data-driven insights have come to be seen as a guide for which type of content you should boost and on which platform.
Basically, if you have a type of organic content that consistently performs well, you should take a hard look at whether you want to expand its reach with an ad buy. People respond to the content they do for a reason. Don’t miss your opportunity to leverage that knowledge to make a well-reasoned, moderately priced ad buy and expand your presence on social.
Final words on the organic/paid debate
Like so much in the marketing world, nothing in social media stays the same – at least not for long. Over the course of its lifespan, social has changed dramatically, nowhere more so than in the rise of paid postings. But before you throw out organic social altogether, you should look at it as something that can be paired effectively with paid social. That’s where the magic happens.
Want to learn more about how you can harvest data from your social media feeds? Check out this helpful primer.
Data is all around us. Why not leverage it for better business decision making?
Most people know that modern business runs on the internet. But what does the internet run on you ask? Data, that’s what! How can you leverage your data to drive better business decisions? Let’s explore.
Data Sources and Why They Matter
It may surprise you how much data exists about your business. Whether it be from Google Analytics, social media or a business intelligence (BI) platform, there are multiple ways to gain actionable insights into your customers’ demographics, not to mention your business’s projects, performance, costs and revenues.
But why does any of this matter? Well, by better understanding your customers, their behaviors and your own internal processes, you can adjust buyer journeys and touchpoints, optimize your operations, reallocate your resources and more. Changes like these can lead to improved customer sentiment, increased employee morale and a stronger brand.
Google Analytics is a free tool and a great place to start gaining insight into how your customers are interacting with you online. To begin, establish your credentials for the Google suite and link the website you want to track. You’ll have to embed the Google Analytics code snippet on your site to accomplish this. While this isn’t exceptionally complicated, many people are uncomfortable trying to read HTML. Consult with your webmaster if you need assistance.
Once your account is set up, it’s time to start tracking some metrics. Some of the most important metrics include sessions, users, average time on page, bounce rate, acquisition sources and entrance and exit pages. These will give you a good starting point to understand how people are finding your website and what they’re doing once they’re on it. After that, you can take steps to encourage positive trends or address negative ones, such as putting more marketing dollars toward your most effective acquisition sources or optimizing your landing pages to make them more effective.
Although it may not look like it at first, social media can also be a powerful source of business intelligence. The medium has become a primary method for sharing business updates, but prospects and customers now often use social media to collect information on companies’ product and service offerings.
Many of these platforms offer free, built-in analytics where you can gain these insights. Facebook’s business suite, for instance, provides exportable, in-depth reports on your audience, including age and gender breakdowns, as well as top cities where they are located. It can also shine a light into whether your posts, updates and offers are resonating with these followers, and allow you to provide more effective content that will encourage them to engage with you.
For those who are serious about BI, however, nothing beats the power and depth offered by investing in a business intelligence solution. These platforms are designed with the specific purpose of helping firms gather and analyze large amounts of business data. These platforms often include striking data visualizations and can create a comprehensive, 360-degree view of your business. Not only will you gain a better sense of your audience through these platforms, but you can also track your company’s projects, resources and revenues. Staying up to date on this information may help you make tough decisions in real-time that can ultimately benefit your bottom line.
Take a look at some of the best platforms currently on the market.
Better Insights Equal a Better Business
In a fast-paced world that shows no signs of slowing, understanding all aspects of your business is critical to making the best possible decisions. Luckily, we live in a data-rich world. By deploying a BI platform or even leveraging free, pre-existing data sources like Google Analytics and social media, you can gain information to help position your company for even greater success.
Committing to social media marketing can be a heavy lift. Read on for tips to make it easier.
Whether you love it or hate it, social media has permanently changed our world. It has certainly opened new avenues for marketing. Whether you are firing off micro-targeted ads, responding to customer questions or concerns, or using it as a vehicle for branding and thought leadership, social is an essential digital marketing tool. Let’s look at how small agencies can tap into the power of social without becoming overwhelmed.
Social Media 101
First, determine where your audience is. It can be tempting to create profiles on as many platforms as possible, but if you overextend yourself, you may not be able to keep your profiles consistently updated. This can make you look unprofessional and even harm your brand.
Instead, consider a data-driven approach. In our industry, it likely makes sense to start with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Facebook, for example, has incredible reach, with 69% of American adults using the platform as of 2019.[i] LinkedIn is an ideal choice for B2B brands, with 80% of leads coming from the platform.[ii] The platform also offers powerful tools for showcasing your company, recruiting workers and even building your company culture. Twitter has significantly less user adoption – 22% circa 2019[iii] – but it is a hotbed for journalists and is perhaps the easiest platform for engaging in the type of one-to-one customer communication that social thrives on.
After you have your platforms, create profiles that are complete and optimized. At the beginning of 2021, we wrote a blog post outlining how to do this on Facebook, and while each social media platform differs, the best practices we covered are largely applicable to other platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn. Just remember to prioritize the use of photos, your “About” section and your business’s contact info, and you’ll already be ahead of the game.
Next, establish a posting strategy. As you might expect, there is no shortage of opinions on how much to post on each platform. With Twitter, it is suggested that you post three times a day or more, while Facebook and LinkedIn get two times and one time per day respectively.[iv] Yet that cadence is likely not feasible for most agency owners. Posting once per day per platform is sufficient to keep your pages looking fresh and active. Even putting up new content two to three times per week goes a long way toward creating a vibrant social media presence.
Quality Over Quantity
With any content strategy, quality trumps quantity. Focus on thought leadership and educational content over company updates. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should neglect to promote your business or publicize your products, but you want people to see you on social as a helpful resource rather than a pesky salesperson. Here are some great examples of content to post:
Company blog posts
Product demos or videos
Quick tips or advice
Holiday or awareness day posts
Photos of your company culture
White papers or reports
Polls or questions
As long as your posts are visually appealing, educational and inspire engagement, you’re on the right track.
Join the Conversation
Posting your own content is only half the battle on social media. The other half is social listening and fostering conversation. First, establish your community and/or audience on each platform. Friend or follow a few people each day. Depending on the platform, you can also join groups or forums.
Additionally, it’s not a bad idea to track keywords that pertain to your business. That way, you can stay apprised of any chatter where it would make sense for you to join the conversation as a thought leader. Once again, social media is all about two-way communication, community and establishing yourself as a helpful resource. If people start seeing you that way, they may circle back around when they need the product or service your company provides.
To start easily tracking hashtags and keywords, look into a social media listening service. The good news is there are plenty of options out there that offer a free version.
Final Thoughts Like much of marketing, social media can feel overwhelming, especially if you don’t have a designated staff person handling things. But it doesn’t have to be. By being choosy with your platforms, creating optimized profiles and establishing a solid content strategy, you can leverage these technologies
Is it time for a business account? And what do you need to know about their terms of service?
I’m old enough to remember when social media felt simple. Back in the day, social was little more than a space to post silly photos or blog about your day. Fast forward to 2021 and social media is anything but simple. A highly developed industry worth over $60 billion, social is now a fundamental aspect of the modern economy, a low-cost way for organizations to connect with followers and market their products and services.
Considering this explosive growth, perhaps you’ve wondered if you should establish a business account for your agency or if you can get by with a personal profile. Many of the largest social media platforms offer such accounts, each with its own terms of service. Here are some top considerations when thinking about establishing a business profile.
Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter
The good news is that for several of the biggest social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, you don’t have much of a choice when it comes to establishing a full-fledged business profile. Take Facebook, for instance. To interact within the platform as a business, you must establish a business page. Once you do, you’ll be able to access advanced analytics and run paid advertising campaigns. The same holds true for LinkedIn. To effectively promote your business, engage with customers and grow leads, you need to create a page rather than a profile.
What about a more contemporary platform? Can these also be leveraged for social media marketing purposes? TikTok is increasingly being used by brands due to its highly engaged membership of one billion members and counting, compelling video content and sheer variety of ad types. TikTok does require you to establish a specialized profile, but it’s easy enough for any small business to implement.
Terms of Service – Some Core Takeaways
As we’ve mentioned, each one of these platforms includes their own terms of service, and nearly all of these include important things for businesses to mull over. For example, businesses that sign up for Twitter must share “personally verifiable” information, including phone contacts.” Thankfully, it is possible to disable this any time through the settings page. Other terms of service are more difficult to opt out of. For example, any information tweeted by you is considered fair game for Twitter to sell to advertisers. Be sure to never tweet out sensitive information. You can delete your tweets, sure, but Twitter will always keep a record.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, numerous aspects of Facebook’s business tools policy require further reflection. The platform’s advertising policies is one such area, as numerous criteria can get your ad rejected. Whether it be a non-functional landing page or something that violates Facebook’s community standards, it’s good practice to review the site’s advertising policies before you spend time building an ad.
Another factor to be mindful of is copyright. Prior to sharing original graphics on your pages, you should understand you are essentially signing “an agreement that gives the site the right to use the work for a variety of purposes, like displaying it, adapting it, or copying it. In these cases, the license is given without payment.”
TikTok has its own novel copyright issues. With music being at the core of the site’s content, you may be wondering how the content creators or the site itself are not inundated with cease-and-desist letters. Unlike many sites, TikTok “hosts a large library of royalty-free music, often from new and upcoming artists who want to gain exposure.” This allows the music to be leveraged by users “in their videos without risking copyright infringement.” While some users have still received takedown letters in the past, average businesses “probably won’t face legal trouble for using music that appears in the app’s music library.”
The Beginning of the Journey
Moving to a business account on social media can have major benefits for your company – giving you greater understanding of your core audiences and more means for promoting your products and services. Just be sure to review each site’s terms of services for what is allowed and what is a no-go. Then you’ll be all set to leverage social media to gain greater awareness for your brand and grow your business.
This article is for informational purposes and does not contain or convey legal advice. Any opinions, or perceived opinions, are strictly those of the authors and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Consultation with an attorney for specific advice based upon the reader’s situation is recommended.