Social media marketing is an ever-changing game. Having effective marketing campaigns does not always mean jumping on the latest trend or spending thousands of hours in a locked room with Twitter feeds buzzing on dozens of monitors. As we gear up for 2014, keep the eight points below in mind to build a strong social presence that creates real value for you, your company and your consumers.
1. Align social marketing and search engine optimization
The common theme among the algorithm updates Google and the other search engines make every few months is making web search results more impactful to the individual user while cleaning up the junk. Nothing gives better insight into the real-time desires of individual users than social media. At this point, it is pretty undeniable that search engines continue to look at ways to incorporate social signals into their algorithms, making the web a better place. The best marketers in 2014 will be those who stop looking at SEO and social media in a vacuum, and instead dig into how combine both to reach more, better targeted consumers.
2. Tie social marketing to results
Analytics and insights have come pretty far in the last few years in terms of displaying all kinds of numbers about audience reach and interaction. The trick now is to read those numbers in a way that enables action and improved business. As the demand for tying revenue to social media increases, some brands will get overwhelmed by the ocean of meaningless numbers and throw in the towel. Marketers that set the right goals for their social campaigns will be appropriately positioned to measure, adapt and keep driving results.
3. Content curation vs. content creation
The term “content is king” rings truer every day. Constantly creating new content can be very time consuming, which makes sharing of other relevant content – curation – appealing. Striking the right balance between creating and curating can allow for greater social engagement requiring fewer physical man-hours. When using curated content, it is vital that the content is both brand- and user-relevant. A great way to achieve this goal is to use content that is provided by existing fans. Running campaigns or contests that encourage users to upload photos or videos can go a long way towards building a solid user generated content database.
4. Inbound marketing
Social media allows brands to gain significant insight into users that have expressed interest in their products – through likes, +1s, shares, check-ins and more. By focusing on these users, marketers can build a strong database of warm leads, and connect directly with them on a level that matters to the consumer.
5. Value-driven content
There is enough chatter on social media channels now that users are no longer just looking for a pithy quip or flashy photo. This kind of information is flooding their news feeds already. To really carve out a unique position in the market, brands need to talk about things that are relevant to their customer based – position the brand as a thought leader, not just another source of cat videos.
6. Social customer service
According to 2012 data by Oracle, 51% of Facebook users and 81% of Twitter users expect companies to respond to questions on those channels within one day. Instead of viewing this as a drain, set up a process to handle incoming messages in order to delight consumers. Software solutions like MediaConnect360 allow brands to monitor and manage multiple social networks from one login.
7. Image-based networks
Simply put, images get more attention than text. Images can evoke all kinds of emotions in less than a second. 2013 saw a significant overhaul of all major social channels, making user and business profiles more visually impactful. While adding content to individual networks like Instagram, Facebook or Flickr, don’t forget to enable users to share your content on their sites. Include great photography on your website and blog so users will want to add your images on their own Pinterest accounts.
8. Video and micro-video
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video – even one that is just a few seconds long – can tell a complete story. Video sharing platforms like Vine and Instagram continue to increase their share of the social marketplace. While significant thought and time is required to be successful on these platforms, large budgets are not necessary. Creating videos that share a unique, entertaining or educational viewpoint can result in vast reach to a new group of potential consumers.
Staying on top of all eight of these trends can seem daunting, but there is one platform that can put everything mentioned above into practice. And no, it’s not some flashy new social platform that just hit the market; it’s a blog.
A well-maintained blog should be the lifeblood of every corporate social marketing plan. With just a few paragraphs, a blog can combine original and curated content, creating strong positive signals to search engines, supporting website SEO strategies and educating consumers; embedded photos and videos display your multi-media while enabling and encouraging other users to share it; the comments section functions as a customer service and inbound marketing platform; Google Analytics provides robust tracking information; and most importantly to revenue tracking, blogs can easily include links to booking with specials and packages available to entice customer upgrades.
Happy new year, and may 2014 bring you great social media success!
Mike Supple, Director of Social Media