Say what you will about the screen addiction backlash and the seemingly never-ending parade of data privacy snafus. Social media will undoubtedly continue to play a definitive role in marketing for years to come.
Facebook still has around 2.27 billion active users monthly, and Twitter has over 336 million. LinkedIn reports user metrics a bit differently, but as of two years ago, expert estimates had them at over 260 million, and that was before the platform got “cool” again, thanks to a series of feature updates and engagement spikes.
Social media has earned its place as an integral part of people’s lives, and there won’t be a rollback any time soon.
As a marketer, you might be frustrated with a lack of traction on a given social channel, but giving up simply isn’t an option. Social media equity takes time and experimentation to build momentum. Developing your presence isn’t simply about routinely posting and sharing curated content or making snarky jabs at competitors anymore. You have to find ways to meaningfully engage your audience.
So, before we hit the dog days of summer, it would serve you well to review your respective social media strategies and make sure that you’re on top of key trends. Here are six key tactics and use cases that your business should employ today, to help boost your reach, engagement and yes, even ROI.
1. Listen to your customers on social media
Consumers are now starting to use social media as their preferred means to reach out to companies. Some 45 percent of consumers say that social media is one of the first channels they use for making inquiries and seeking support. Yet most brands to fail to respond to social media messages. Plus, even if customers don’t directly message you or comment on your posts, they may still be talking about your brand in their own feeds. Failing to address urgent concerns, especially negative ones, can drive customers away.
Even with a dedicated social media effort, monitoring chatter that involves your company can be a challenge. Fortunately, sentiment analysis has become more accessible these days where a service can actively “listen” for relevant mentions of brands online. Several listening platforms can help you track such mentions across social media, blogs and forums. You can even monitor sentiments concerning your competitors as well. Through the listening platforms’ analytics engines, you can derive useful insights on trends that can help guide your engagement activities.
Knowing what the market thinks and feels about your brand allows you to customize communication plans and specifically target user groups with strategic campaigns in order to engage them more effectively.
2. Sell products from your Instagram feed
Across all industries, Instagram drives an average engagement rate of 1.6% per post, which is significantly higher than both Facebook and Twitter. For brands, Instagram is all about lifestyle marketing, but that doesn’t mean you need to stick to the “soft sell” in order to drive engagement on this platform.
In fact, some of the biggest Instagram success stories involve use of its new shoppable posts feature, which allows brands to tag products appearing in their image posts. Shoppers can then tap on the shopping bag in the corner to open up a layer that reveals product names and pricing – and allows them to click through straight to an ecommerce product page. In a case study from BigCommerce, fashion brand Natori is cited as a prime example of an ecommerce company that has made the most of shoppable Instagram. Just 60 posts into their first experiments with the feature, they reported having seen a 1,416% spike in traffic referred from Instagram, doubling their Instagram-referred revenues week-over-week.
“Instagram has played a major role in helping us build a brand,” Natori President Ken Natori said, “and we love how the new shopping features allow us to easily showcase our products in a way that feels authentic to the community we’ve built.”
3. Nurture brand advocates and ambassadors
Marketers don’t have to look far to find people who could talk positively about their brands. If your company takes care of your staff well enough, then your employees could easily become your own pool of social media ambassadors.
Employees have the power to reach an estimated ten times more people than brands themselves can on social media. Unlike advertising campaigns run by marketing teams, content generated by employees on their own accounts appear as native content. This allows posts to be more visible through employees’ own networks and even circumvent barriers such as ad blockers.
Aside from delivering better reach, having your employees talk about your brand also conveys employee loyalty, further contributing to your company’s overall positive image.
4. Use dynamic video to boost conversion rates
Short-form video has started to dominate social media. About 75 percent of videos published over the past year span only two minutes or less in length. This conciseness has proven helpful in drawing and retaining attention with 46 percent of viewers watching such videos until the end.
To further enhance the effectiveness of short-form video, brands could look into personalization. Storybulbs, for instance, helps brands publish dynamic videos that target users’ specific interests and preferences. The platform allows marketers to easily create custom videos based on your company’s customer data, so that people will post them to social media.
Even users’ names can be placed as part of the rendered videos to make it clear that the videos are made specifically of them.
You can also explore sponsoring external personalities and influencers since they can showcase your brand to their followers instantly. Even local celebrities could easily have thousands of subscribers to their feeds. Budding influencers and content developers might even be happy to talk about your brand in exchange for freebies and samples.
5. Create captivating and elegant visuals
Almost a third of marketers agree that visual images are now more important to them than text content since users are now likely to ignore plain posts. Walls of text and bland graphics only contribute to the visual clutter and noise that pervades social networks today.
To remedy this, many marketing teams now have graphic designers on board to help create captivating and elegant visual content. However, social media marketing demands quick turnaround times that designers often feel pressured and burdened to deliver quality outputs within short periods of time.
To empower your team, you can actually automate the creation and publishing captivating visual content. A service like Crello can help you create eye-catching designs easily even without any advanced design skills. The platform features images, typefaces, colors, and backgrounds which you can combine to create elegant visuals made for social. Aside from its design features, it can also schedule and automate the posting of content, allowing you to preplan posts days or even weeks ahead of time.
6. Explore conversational marketing
Advances in AI and natural language processing (NLP) have led to improvements in chatbot technology. Today, chatbots are already capable of handling a number of routine customer interactions and more businesses are already integrating chatbots to their social media channels. Gartner expects that, by 2020, 85 percent of business engagement will be done without interacting with another human being.
With regard to marketing, chatbots are now being used perform tasks such as facilitating lead conversion. Conversational marketing platform Drift, for instance, optimizes the conversion funnel by allowing chatbots to qualify leads so that human agents can focus on engaging high potential prospects. Drift, in its own effort, was able to convert 300 percent more traffic from Facebook ads without even redesigning their landing page.
Chatbots are expected to become a major force in e-commerce. Facebook has been investing heavily on its Messenger platform to be able to accommodate more chatbots, the big idea being users will be able to do pretty much everything including interacting with companies and services within Facebook’s ecosystem.
All advantages necessary
Consumers are expected to continue shifting their media consumption to digital and mobile. By the end of 2019, the time people spend online is expected to eclipse the time they spend watching TV.
Marketing and engagement efforts should accommodate this shift in customer behavior. If you’re already invested in digital marketing, you should optimize your strategies to accommodate these new trends. It’s also high time for those who have yet to take start their own efforts to kick start theirs as soon as possible.
All advantages will be necessary to ensure the relevance and visibility of your brand. So be sure to plan and strategize your effort well in preparation for the coming year.