Over the last five years, social networks have acquired over a billion users. A third of the world’s population is now active on social media. A few years ago, organizations did not understand what the fuss was all about. Few saw any usefulness from a business point of view. Social media was regarded as a thing that the youth engaged that had no value. Fast forward to today and companies that were once skeptical about the usefulness of social media for marketing, are now spending millions to reach and engage audiences.
The following are five major social media trends and tips that will help marketers reach their audiences and engage them on a more personal level in the near future.
1. Visual Marketing
Almost all social networks have a live video option. It started with Periscope, which Twitter acquired in 2015, then Snapchat and now Facebook Live. Live video is the new fad. Even the US Presidential debates were broadcast live. If you don’t have a live video strategy, it’s time to come up with one. Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter and you need to make use of more visuals to capture and, hold the attention of your audience. The demand for more visual content is the reason the graphic design software market has expanded over recent years.
Today, social media users are bombarded with ads on multiple fronts. There are so many ads that users have become ad blind. The only way to get through to social media users is personalization. Ads need to ultra targeted. Social networks are improving personalization by investing heavily in artificial intelligence. It is now possible to post content that your audience can relate to. This increases engagement and conversion rates. Personalization is a major trend to watch on the social media scene.
3. Brand Advocacy
Ad blindness and saturation is pushing brands to seek other ways to reach audiences. Advocate marketing is one way that is proving to be a game changer. Brand advocates are people who post content that is favorable to a brand. Social media micro influencers are great brand advocates. These include social fans, employees and existing customers. They are more credible and trusted than the company. Highly targeted micro influencers can improve engagement and gain more visibility without having to spend a fortune. Influencers can be coaxed to share your content by offering them incentives, for example, Uber offers free rides if you share a link to their app on your social media pages and a new customer signs up. There are many others ways to get people to become brand ambassadors and this is a major trend to watch.
4. Expansion of Native Content Promotion
Native advertising is a form of advertising where the user experiences the ad in the same form and function of the platform upon which it is placed. Other than the “Sponsored” or “Paid Content” text informing the reader that the content is paid advertising, the reader wouldn’t know otherwise. Native advertising is going to become mainstream as modern audiences become saturated by traditional advertising. They help create awareness without being disruptive. One study has revealed that by 2018, native ads will account for $21 billion of online advertising spend. If you want to put your social media marketing on steroids, you cannot ignore native ads. Facebook and Google now offer a spectrum of tools that allow publishers to build native ads.
5. Marketing Automation
Research has demonstrated that companies lose a ton of money simply by failing to automate social media tasks. Automation is one way to make big savings on your marketing budget. Managing social media accounts and pages is time and labor intensive. Unless you make use of social media automation tools, you will spend long hours updating pages. If you are big on social media you may need to hire several full-time individuals to get it all done. Examples of how automation can help includes;
- posting the same content to multiple social media pages
- following back people that follow you
- curating content
- catching mentions of your brand, and much more.
Social media marketing is a fast-changing field. What was true yesterday could quickly be old news today. To become successful at reaching and engaging your audience, you must stay apprised of the latest developments on social media. The points covered in this post are going major areas to keep close tabs on.