Social media is a constantly evolving medium, from which sites are trending within your industry to the latest Facebook features and Instagram influencers â€“ let alone the development of completely new social media platforms every time you turn on your laptop. How can modern marketers expect to keep up?
The secret is to embrace the change. After all, it is the rapid advancements and constant stream of innovations that have provided digital marketers with so much to work with in the first place. So, no, your social media marketing campaigns this year are not going to look the same as the onesÂ you used in 2016â€”at least, not if you want to generate more leads and stand a chance against your competitors.
If you want to make an impact with your social media efforts, it is time to give your strategy a refresh. Here is what you need to know to master your social media marketing and to stay ahead of the trends in 2017.
Customize your use of major and niche social media sites
Facebook is still number one, and that isnâ€™t going to change in 2017. In fact, Facebook itself is a world in itself to keep up to date with â€“ in this year alone, it is predicted that Facebook Live will be monetized and that the Call to Action buttons for local business pages will be updated.
Currently the top five social media sites in terms of reach and impact are:
While these networks are important, there is also value in niche networks for many businesses. For example, DeviantArt is geared towards illustrators, designers, and other artists, as well as art enthusiasts â€“ and has a huge network of 26,000,000. While this site mightÂ be useless for, say, an insurance brokerage, it would be incredibly powerful for a photography school. Other examples include eToro for finance professionals, Wayn for travel and tourism, 43 Things for health and wellness brandsâ€”and the list goes on as more networks are created and gain active users.
This year, instead of trying to have your brand on every major site and spreading your resources too thin, create a strategy that makes sense for your industry â€“ and your business.
Start with the biggest. With 1.79 billion monthly active users, Facebook is a wise choice.
Next, choose one or two other major networks. Visual industries like clothing and apparel, food, and travel are well-suited to sites like Pinterest and Instagram, while service-oriented industries may gain more leads from LinkedIn and Twitter.
Finally, consider a niche social media network. Many have several million active users and may offer a unique way for you to reach out to leads and to build brand awareness.
Make your video more sophisticated
Throughout 2016, the use of video on social media grew, but itsÂ impact exploded. A recent survey by Wyzowl found that 84% of consumers said they have been convinced to make a purchase choice after viewing a brandâ€™s video â€“ and 91% claimed to have watched a video to learn about a product or service they were interested in. Now consider that only 63% of businesses taking advantage of video right now.
Videos that engage with viewers tend to be very effective. While customer testimonials and demonstration videos will always have their place, add challenges, puzzles, games, and surveys to your video content, along with informational videos, to keep people interested and talking on social media. Buzzfeedâ€™s Tasty does an excellent job of this.
For some businesses, live streaming can make a strong impact. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all being used by social media savvy brands to engage with consumers in real-time with interviews, Q&A sessions, and brand events.
If you havenâ€™t already branched into video, 2017 is the year. If you are already using promotional videos on your social media channels, then this is the year to make them better. The use of video for social media marketing is no longer new. This year, itâ€™s about coming up with creative, fresh ideas that will capture your audience and inspire leads.
Focus on the influencers
A business could run eleven different social media accounts, with Twitter updates every two hours, Facebook postings twice a day, vibrant Pinterest boards, and an active presence on LinkedIn. But they still would not make the same impact that a couple of mentions by one major social media influencer would create. The big influencers have legions of followers who often look to their voice as a sort of industry guiding force.
While in the past, consistent regular posting was the way to go, make sure you arenâ€™t overextending your marketing efforts with too many platforms â€“ and too many posts. You may not just be draining your resources, but these resources may be better spent with a more concentrated focal point, like an industry influencer.
Furious Pete (TV, food, and fitness) has more than 5 million YouTube followers. Kristina Bazan (fashion) has more thanÂ 2.4 million Instagram followers. Jake Paul (millennials) has more than 17 million social media followers. A social media mention from an influencer, or better yet, a video post that mentions your product or service is going to reach a profoundly broad and engaged audience.
Many major companies are now partnering â€“ and paying â€“ the big influencers to promote their product. If you want to master social media, pay attention to who the influencers are in your market.
They donâ€™t have to be the biggest names around, but with a few hundred thousand followers you can make an impact if you can get these people to share, like, tweet, or feature your content in some way. Use resources like BuzzSumo and find the top blogs in your industry to get a better idea of who the influencers are that you may want to connect with.
Examine your social media ads â€“ a lot
Ads continue to be a popular social media marketing tool as they offer marketers a cost-effective way not just to build brand awareness, but also to test their products and messaging and to get important feedback for building future campaigns.
Facebook ads still offer the best ROI by far â€“ 95.8%, compared to 63.5% on Twitter and 2.1% on Snapchat. However, these numbers can shift quickly, especially as the newer networks like Snapchat and Instagram blossom in 2017.
Managing director of Traktek Partners Cyril Lemaire warns that Twitter will see a double-digit decline in active users this year. While this may or may not come to pass, it is important to be agile and to switch gears midstream if your ads arenâ€™t working.
Make sure you are consistently measuring the results of your advertising campaigns, and track changes over time. This will help your team make smart decisions when it comes to social media advertising.
Take a fresh approach to your social media marketing efforts in order to take advantage of the opportunities that are available right now. No longer does it make sense to just chug away with your accounts and follow general trends. Your marketing efforts should be both more sophisticated and much more creative. The brands that can master these qualities will leap ahead in 2017.
For more insight on social media strategies, see How To Weave Social Media Into The Fabric Of The Business.