- Next-leveling Your Social Media in 2014
Following up from our Digital Marketing Predictions for 2014 blog, we thought we’d focus on ways to start updating your overall social media strategy. Here are our top picks from social media experts on how to stay current, culled from articles including Inc’s “4 Big Reasons to Overhaul Your Social-Media Marketing in 2014” (Marla Tabaka) and “The 3 Biggest Social-Media Trends of 2014” (Abigail Tracy).
#1: “Simplicity will become critical” – David Ritter, Director of Boston Consulting Group
We’ve been hearing for awhile that one-step social networks are on the rise: Pinterest (pin it and you’re done), Snapchat (snap and send), Twitter (if you can’t say it in 140 characters, why bother?), WeChat (connect friends across all social networks) and Keek (insta-send video updates to your friends) all favor short attention span syndrome. As Ritter points out, these sites are quickly surpassing the more complex, multi-level Facebook because they speed adoption, look best on mobile devices, and allow little margin for error when posting. Not to mention, they’re much more in sync with the super-quick reaction time and insta-post tendencies of the younger generations.
As businesses continue to follow consumers away from the social network giants like Facebook and Google+ and onto these more agile platforms, they will have to learn to be engaging in quick, impactful bursts. This is why Vine and Instagram are drawing so much more attention from brands both big and small. Investment is minimal but impact can be huge. Hone your messaging and deliver it in simple formats. Or in Ritter’s words, “find the core of your value and explore ways to deliver it in minimal, targeted bursts.”
#2: “Social customer service is on the rise” - Folke Lemaitre, CEO of Engagor
This is nothing new. Brands like Zappos and Best Buy have taught us that having entire social media teams on Twitter whose main function is to respond to consumer questions and concerns is a great way to solve problems quickly and efficiently. Which is obviously great for a brand’s reputation (tip: Twitter is also a great tool for spreading word-of-mouth). Nowadays, consumers often head to Twitter or Facebook first to demand service, which forces companies to respond more quickly. Taking 24 hours to respond to a question or complaint won’t cut it anymore. A small issue could be retweeted thousands of times by then.
The end result of this trend according to Lemaitre, is that “call centers will become obsolete or at least change the way they work, resulting in the rise of mobile customer service apps.” The new customer service team will consist of social media marketing experts, PR professionals, customer service heroes, and salespeople. The social strategy will be less about putting out fires, and more about “delivering a positive social experience for each and every one of its users.”
#3: “Small businesses can--and will--become big players” - Patrice Francois, Co-founder and Associate Director of Digimind
You no longer need to be a corporation with deep pockets in order to compete in the social sphere. We’re all already competing with each other on a daily basis for the attention of customers we want to attract, and leads we want to generate. Where a large company might hire a PR or social media agency to run their campaigns, smaller companies can level the playing field by looking at the plethora of social media management software that’s out there. And there are a lot of affordable options available in 2014. The best tools will fuse search and social marketing, based on this statistic:
“Only 22% of Americans use social networks daily, meaning the 78% of word-of-mouth advertising is being discovered through search.” Some good options now include Sprinklr, Hubspot, Marketo, and Crowdbooster.
Francois points to short-form video as an inexpensive way to generate creative content. It’s no accident that we’re seeing strong showings with clever short video campaigns on Vine and Instagram, from businesses large and small. It’s storytelling for your brand and it doesn’t have to be complex or fancy. It just has to be good.
#4: “Social Media is Purposeful Marketing” – Veronica Fielding, President of Digital Brand Expressions
The days of throwing out posts just to fill a social media calendar and to see what sticks are over. The strategic attention being placed on a brand’s social media is the same as “putting a game plan to all of this so that every single tweet has a reason that it exists," Fielding says.
Companies are no longer on social platforms to have a one-sided conversation – this is actually what occurs when you are just promoting yourself and your products without asking anything of your audience. What you’re asking them to do now is respond. Engagement is the sweet spot that gets hit when you provoke a reaction in your audience, whether you are asking them to do something or just entertaining them.
The goal now is to look for what Fielding calls “consumer touch points” or ways to add value to the consumer experience. “People don't want to be marketed at in the social channel. This is where they want to talk to each other, and brands are there by invitation.” So be a good party guest, and show up with something. And be a good conversationalist – don’t just talk at people, listen and respond also. Then, take this social intel you’ve gathered and keep tweaking your strategy. Wash, rinse, and repeat.
How are you changing your social media strategy in 2014? Tweet your answers @formiumcreative.
- Digital Marketing Predictions for 2014
Since the start of the New Year, we’ve been enjoying reading all the articles predicting what will be big in digital marketing this year. But there is a lot to sift through, so we’ve picked out a few that resonate the most with our current outlook as we continue to push the envelope in digital marketing for our clients.
#1: Content will be bigger, better, and more shareable
It’s clearly not enough anymore to use the tried and true tactics for social posts: asking a question, keeping it short. Now, people want to see more and expect to have their attention grabbed more enticingly. The kind of content that is doing increasingly well is short videos, infographics, quality photos/images with text overlay, polls, or quote graphics. According to Kissmetrics, we know that posts on Facebook with photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs than text-based posts. Time to brush up on those graphics and video production skills.
#2: Social media advertising will be more of a necessity
Putting dollars behind things like sponsored posts and boosted ads is no longer a “nice to have.” With Facebook often changing their newsfeed algorithm (the new sobering statistic is that your targeted audience only sees 8% of what is posted in their feeds), reaching the right people becomes harder. Promoted posts in Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are way more powerful than the standard pay-per-click ads on the sidebar of a webpage. Instagram and Pinterest advertising are launching this year, and Google+ will soon offer promoted posts through the Google Display Network. Businesses will need to get more creative about how to get the right messages to the right people.
#3: Social media automation will explode
Most social media marketers are managing multiple channels, and posting multiple times a day on each one. Chances are, they’re not just responsible for implementing social media posts either – today’s social media managers are also managing brand voice, company promotions and contests, and digital marketing campaigns. Gets hard to keep track of, right? Scheduling tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck aren’t new, but they’re evolving to include automation of tactics, including timing, platform, and structure. We’re also seeing more traditional technology companies like Adobe, IBM, Oracle and Salesforce integrating Enterprise class social media infrastructure into their product offerings. The more we automate our content, the more time we have to spend on the all-important engagement through creating quality content and the social interaction around it.
#4 Facial recognition technology will become a marketing technique
So you’ve probably heard of technology that identifies people by face and stores their information by now. Retail stores have been using it for security, to help identify shoplifters. But now hotels and high-end stores are starting to use it to recognize their most important clients and send alerts to the employee, so they’ll know to roll out the red carpet (not to mention get ready to upsell). They’re calling it “V.I.P. Identification” software and it may change the way retail associates and other service-oriented marketers approach real-time, in-person selling and customer service. Walking into a store and instantly getting personalized offers sent to your smartphone may soon be a thing (with opt-in consent, of course).
#5 Mobile marketing will continue to grow by leaps and bounds
Right now there is an annual growth rate of 31% in devices that are connected to the Internet: iPads, smartphones, fitness gadgets, Kindles, etc. So it makes sense that these devices will increasingly become a part of the marketing/CRM conversation. Look for more industry giants like Facebook and PayPal to buy up mobile companies so that they can gain access to their in-app activities, locations, and purchases. As mobile advertising becomes more of a focus, content creation for mobile will also have to become a priority as people access everything from emails to social media to videos on their mobile devices.
#6 LinkedIn will gain even more footing
LinkedIn is quickly becoming the go-to source for businesses to publish their own content, and because they have plenty of free and paid options for content distribution they are their own content marketing tool. Content marketing continues to gain importance too – how many agencies do you see who are looking to hire Content Marketing Managers, or even Chief Content Officers? As these roles get filled, LinkedIn will continue to attract a large share of these content kings’ distribution budgets. With more than 259 million members and 142 million unique visitors a month, LinkedIn is more than just a social business network, it’s an industry news site.
What are your digital marketing predictions for 2014? Tweet them at us @formiumcreative.
- Looking Back: Social Media Predictions for 2013
We took a look back at Social Media Insider’s article predicting social media trends for 2013. Some we felt were dead on, others…not so much. Here’s our picks for some predictions that had some legs and one (sorta) dud.
#1 VISUAL MARKETING: YES!
Prediction for 2013: 2013 will be the year of visual marketing. Visuals and video done right are highly effective in cutting through the noise. It’s a snackable type of content that resonates with people globally and increases engagement within communities no matter where they are located. Brands will need to understand what it takes to do visual marketing well, whether within their current communities or new networks like Pinterest, Instagram and others.
Formium Says: Dead On! With the surging popularity of Vine, introduction of Instagram Video, Snapchat and others, you couldn’t turn around without being asked to hit “play” on something. The shorter clips (6 second max on Vine, 15 for Instagram) and ease of recording definitely made these snackable and we saw a lot of brands take advantage of these platforms. We look forward to seeing people get even more creative with video in 2014. Prediction for 2014: lots more Vine or Instagram Video-only campaigns.
#2 CONTENT MARKETING IS THE NEW SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING: YES!
Prediction for 2013: As social media begins to come of age in 2013, brands will realize that with unprecedented clutter coming from both people and brands, the need for beautiful and engaging content is greater than ever. In B2B, content marketing has already taken center stage with white papers, ebooks, webinars, infographics and articles. In 2013, as Instagram, Pinterest and other multimedia social networks grow, you’ll see more and more B2C brands using social media to produce and share beautiful photos, sophisticated comics and other visual aids, and brilliant TV-level videos.
Formium Says: Dead On! We haven’t seen such a fast surge in “Content Marketing Manager” job postings since “Community Manager” became a thing. It makes sense to have one person at a company responsible for telling the overall story of a brand. As you know, we’re big believers in brands acting as storyteller, so it makes sense to think of all consumer-facing communications as content marketing; it’s social media, Web content management, and digital marketing all rolled into one. Prediction for 2014: Far less “fluff” (content for the sake of content), more strategic and customized articles, blog posts, and social media posts designed to target specific audiences and garner specific results. How? Be intriguing and tell a story.
#3 GOOGLE+ IS A "MUST" PLACE TO BE
Prediction for 2013: Google+ will be a "must use" service. But it won't be due to the social elements. Rather, it will be because it becomes the central hub for managing "official" online public presence in the eyes of Google. Google will continue to roll services and products under the Google+ umbrella, forcing businesses to use it if they wish to get the advantages that Google+ offers.
Formium Says: Hmmm, really? OK, we’ll admit that we’ve seen more companies with Google+ pages this year than ever before, and people doing interesting things with Google Hangouts. But, it just still really hasn’t caught on yet on a mass consumer scale. Despite all its business-friendly features (Company Pages, easy photo editing, tie-in with all other Google accounts like YouTube and Gmail), the vox populi just isn’t there yet. They’re on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest. We’re interested to see how G+ integrates with more Google products and if this makes it a “must-use” – until then we’ll wait. Prediction: Facebook will continue to battle to remain the #1 social network while Google+ will continue to court marketers, businesses, and tech people. A maverick like WeChat (already HUGE in China) may just swoop in to grab all the users who have grown tired of Facebook’s data mining and privacy setting changes or who were never reeled in by Google+.
What are your predictions for 2014? Check out Portlandia's ridiculous take on what crazy social media trends digital marketers dream up next.