When it comes to online marketing, many digital strategists would surely agree that social media is one of the trickiest and most difficult platforms to figure out.
Sure we probably get good figures in reach and engagement after employing a few social media marketing strategies but, often times, this would go dwindle down again and we are back at square one.
Social media platform engineers continue to tweak and refine their code that a lot of critics wonder if including this as a part of one’s marketing strategy is still a viable option.
Still, we have seen a lot of things over the past years.
Even with so much criticism against using social media strategies, we are still at it anyway. And, in the past few months, we have seen the emergence of new platforms making its way in the market – and even dominating it – which just goes to show just how popular they are among the online crowd.
If we were to follow these trends in the online world, it is just proper that we also adapt to the changes in the social scene and use it to boost our online businesses.
Thus, if you are considering adding social media into your online marketing strategy this 2016, here are a few very important trends (and strategies) you ought to take note:
Domination of Mobile Market
In 2015, we have seen a major surge in terms of the number of mobile users versus desktop ones. Adwords was able to take note of this increase in traffic last year, which was true to around 10 countries including the US and Japan.
Mobile screens have become a primary screen for many users with around 80 percent of Internet users being smart phone owners. This number is projected to increase even more by 2016 which means that business owners should ready themselves and their websites for this huge change.
Smart phones are not the only ones dominating the market in terms of mobile devices. In fact, there has also been a surge in the popularity of smart TVs and watches which means that they might also start becoming a major source of traffic in the coming years.
It should also be kept in mind that a majority of online users, whether via mobile or desktop, use at least one social media network to keep up with news and updates within their social circles and even from their favorite brands.
Live Streaming and Real-Time Updates
Facebook’s introduction to the live video has been somewhat welcomed with open arms considering every social media user’s hunger for ‘real-time’ and ‘in-the-moment’ posts.
Not convinced? Well, other smaller social media platforms have already started emerging such as Periscope and Snapchat which shows short video broadcasts live. According to statistics, Periscope users watch around 40 years’ worth of live video every single day.
Fans and followers of brands love it when they get nearly real-time updates about their favorite products but it becomes even better when a live video is being shown. Live stream is able to show a more authentic side of your business which makes it easier to reach out to people.
However, before you try to make use of any social media marketing strategies that use live video streams and real-time updates, you must be equipped with the right tools and people.
After all, nearly three-quarters of a brand’s fan expect a reply from the company when they are being contacted in social media. Also, half of this fan base usually expects a clear response within an hour after contacting, especially if it is regarding a complaint. Not being able to respond right away, even at least to acknowledge receipt, could lead to a brand or company potentially losing clients.
Brands earn plus points from their fans when they are easy to approach and will easy respond to any and every customer query and complaints being thrown at them. Even better is when brands go beyond what their customers want and exceed expectations.
image source: Econsultancy
Facebook is among one of the lead innovators when it comes to using various social media strategies and techniques that will further increase a user’s response to a call to action.
In fact, you may have already seen that a few sponsored posts in Facebook’s mobile version already have their Buy buttons readily available. Anyone who sees the product can simply click on the button and purchase it immediately without having to leave the app. Even other networks have followed suit including Pinterest and Instagram.
As an online business owner, you can obviously make use of this trend – also called social selling – to your advantage.
Using buy buttons in your social media advertisements could possibly help increase your sales. You would want to catch your potential customer’s attention while they are still itching to get that particular product or service.
When it comes to selling, it is always best to get your customers and clients to purchase what you are offering sooner than later.
Influencer and Employee Marketing
Influencer marketing has been around for some time now but it has only been considered a viable strategy in the recent years.
The way this type of marketing works is that a brand reaches out to a particular social media user who has a large fan base (often, a smaller but more engaged community also works) to help them endorse their product or service. Some of these influencers are paid with cash or product or a combination of both.
Gone are the days when business owners would employ expensive celebrities to do the promotion for them. There are already ‘smaller’ digital influencers who can already make a huge impact for a targeted crowd, making it a better option for the business.
Companies have even realized how important their employee’s real behavior are in the online world and how they are a big key in helping promote and show the authentic face of the brand.
No longer will companies shove content on their employee’s faces for them to share. The employees are, after all, among the biggest advocates of any brand which is why they are given more freedom when it comes to sharing about the company in social media.
Back in the days, it used to be that the people run after the brands to see which ones are the best for them. In 2016, it is the brands that start adapting to their potential customer’s behavior.
Brands that are able to successfully reach out to their customers in a more personal level are rewarded with long-term relationships, better engagement and more trust.
image source: Shuttershock
Another reason why employing social media marketing strategies is nearly a non-viable option is that there is just too much to consider.
Each type of platform has a different type of audience and personality to figure out. In addition, there is not a one-size-fits-all way of managing shares across all platforms thus the reason why customizing visuals are extremely important.
It might not seem like a big issue but it actually is. People have become very visual over the recent years and they will gladly hold their focus on whatever catches their attention, even if it just a few seconds. Regardless of the social media platform a brand is using, making use of strong and attention-grabbing visuals that are fit for the platform can make a huge difference.
In 2016, it is not just about the graphics for blog content that is important in major platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. Most, if not all, of these social media networks have embraced the popularity of videos so using a variety of media formats is also a recommended strategy.
Multimedia in the form of short and long videos, aside from graphics and blog content, are extremely popular in Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest.
Utilization of Social Media Tools
With so much to consider in the online world, the only way that a brand is able to keep up with their social media strategies without breaking the bank is to use social media tools.
Social media experts swear by these tools in making their lives easier. Not only are they able to get a quick glance at everything they are doing across social media platforms but they are also able to plan ahead and even monitor the performance of each strategy they make.
For starters, although Photoshop still continues to dominate the market in terms of graphics and design, there are other cheaper alternatives that are friendlier to the technically-challenged, too. High-quality visual content can easily be created online using Canva or PicMonkey and it does not even require one to be an expert at graphic design.
The trickiest part to managing social media is scheduling posts and keeping track of what has been shared and what has not. It can also be a pain to switch one platform to another which will only break the rhythm of your work. Social media managers often make use of scheduling tools such as Buffer, Edgar, Hootsuite and Coschedule to answer to such needs.
Not to be left behind are scheduling tools for Pinterest such as Board Booster and Tailwind.
There are still a number of online social media tools used for designing, editing, scheduling and other similar purposes. Choosing the best one becomes a subjective matter: social media managers would prefer those that come with an easy-to-use interface that can provide them with all the necessary functions.
Regardless of the trends and strategies you try to follow whether on social media or in search engine marketing as a whole, there is no point to doing it if you cannot measure how well it performed.
In today’s ever-changing algorithms, it is very important to always keep track of the numbers because these figures will help you decide which path to take your business in the future.
Your ultimate goal will be to increase traffic and, perhaps, profit for your online business. If you are not able to attain that with your current social media marketing strategies, then there is obviously no reason why you should continue what you are doing. Change your game plan, move on, see the results and make decisions from there.
Although many online business owners would probably try to avoid having to spend on ads to increase their reach and engagement, it seems that this is an impossible feat within the social media in 2016.
Platforms continue to tweak their algorithms that it becomes difficult to expect good numbers organically. In fact, many social media managers complain that they are only able to reach two percent of their total fan base, at most, if they do not spend money boosting their posts.
This year will see more and more business owners who will be spending money in social media ads.
Although this means allocating a bigger budget for their social media strategies, digital marketers are comforted by the higher likelihood of conversion in these investments as boosted social media posts tend to have a more targeted audience that one can tweak and experiment with very easily.
There are a lot of things in store for the online business owner and digital marketer when it comes to social media this 2016.
The key technique to becoming successful in any online strategy is to keep up to date with the trends and to always measure every single phase in order to find points for improvement.
Although social media is hard and tricky to figure out, one cannot deny its importance especially in this fast-paced world. If you want to stay on top of your business’s marketing strategies and make sure that you constantly have visibility among your potential customers and clients then using social media should be considered seriously.
In 2016, SEO and content marketing strategies will work hand in hand with social media to ensure that a brand or company is able to reach the most number of people in the most cost-effective manner.