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 next year, keep the eight points below in mind to build a strong social presence that creates real value for you, your company and your consumers.
Social media has seen some amazing innovations in the last few years, and it doesn’t show signs of stopping any time soon. As more users turn to friends and connections to get answers to their questions, search engines are working hard to build social signals into their algorithms. Staying on top of social media is about working smart, not just working hard. Based on where the industry is moving, these ten trends should be strong influencers.
- Socialization of search: Search engines started using social signals in their ranking algorithms as far back as 2010. As Google and Bing continue testing and perfecting their algorithms, the search results for any individual users will become increasingly personal based on location and his/her social connections.
- Hard ROI metrics: As with all marketing campaigns, at the end of the day it is important to see some measurable returns from social media. The concepts of “brand exposure” and “building engagement” are great buzz words, but in order to improve your efforts on a regular basis you need to be able to measure results. When a social marketing plan is developed correctly, real ROI is able to be measured and reported.
- Merging of marketing channels: As search engines begin incorporating the data from many different departments into their algorithms, it becomes more important for members of various marketing teams to communicate and share strategies. The lines between traditional, paid, organic, and social marketing are blurring.
- Location-based social media: The technology in mobile devices is more powerful and more affordable than ever. This combination of power and economy is contributing to an increase in mobile social activity. A large user base with geographic ties allows brands to target small, qualified groups of users with unique and relevant messaging.
- Social media fatigue / content aggregation: With so many different social networks available, it is easy for the average user to burn out and get tired of staying on top of every new channel. In some ways this is already evident by the large number of accounts on Google+ that were created and quickly abandoned. Users are starting to focus on the one or two social networks that fulfill their unique engagement needs. To be able to connect across so many networks, it is imperative for businesses to have a strong listening foundation, and the ability to adapt targeted messaging to diverse networks.
- Infographics: The idea of sharing large amounts of complex data in a friendly, visual manner is not new. However, the rise of infographic popularity on the internet is astounding. Creating compelling infographics is a great way to get fun information out to your customers, but also a way to reach new users with popular keywords.
Search volume for the words “infographic” and “infographic” on Google. Source: Google Trends
- LinkedIn: As search engines rely more on social signals, it is important to have an active presence in the channels that carry the most search engine weight. LinkedIn is one such channel, and can be a very effective tool for connecting with business consumers as well as getting yourself to rank higher in search engine results.
- Identifying sales leads: The real-time nature of social sharing presents the potential to proactively reach out to users and cultivate potential sales leads. The key is to develop effective listening methods that allow you to identify and contact potential consumers in a way that allows you to contribute to ongoing conversations.
- Facebook sharing: Facebook’s open graph technology is making it easier for users to connect and share things on Facebook while outside of the FB platform. As developers create applications that take advantage of the open graph network, “liking” will become more ubiquitous to include other verbs and not require physical clicks of a button.
- Consumer lifetime value: Too often, marketing promotions focus on ways to grab attention for one purchase or event, and fail to take into account the potential value of consumers over a lifetime. Using social media to reward customer loyalty can ensure a long and profitable relationship.
Here are 8 recommendations to improve your social media performance in 2021.
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 2020 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 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.
7. Image-based networks
Simply put, images get more attention than text. Images can evoke all kinds of emotions in less than a second. Recent years 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.
Social Media is an important piece of modern marketing, but for just a moment forget everything you’ve heard about engagement and interaction. By optimizing your social channels and applying specific strategies to your socializing, you can build a presence that helps your overall SEO and organic presence.
In addition, let’s look at how is social an integral part of your organic SEO efforts?
- Traffic to and from travel site is influenced by social media – if you aren’t there, you’re missing out.
- 78%: the number of travel sites for which social media is in the top 8 referral sources1
- 90%: the number of users who use social media after visiting a travel site1
- Both Google and Bing officially use social media metrics as part of their ranking algorithms
- “The best decisions are not just fueled by facts, they require the opinions and emotions of your friends.” –Yusef Mehdi, senior vice president, Bing2
This does not mean every business should jump headlong into the next flashy service that comes along. It does mean that the implementation of a carefully structured and researched social plan can put your brand in a strong position as a subject matter expert, able to help customers, answer questions, resolve disputes, offer promotions and generally contribute to the growing database of quality information available on the internet.
While the end goal of most marketing campaigns is new customers and/or more sales, social media should not be embraced as a hard-sell tool. Positioning yourself has a reliable source of information about specific subjects – local events, company insights, etc – makes you valuable to your customers. For businesses, knowing WHY people come to your area and being able to provide updated information about events and activities will position you as a leader in your area.
How do you create relevant social content that will have a positive impact on your overall SEO efforts? Align your social strategy with your other marketing strategies. When it comes to search engines, think keywords; then build quality content around the keywords that have the best traffic and conversion rates for you.
While your site may be full of keywords positioning you around the top local events and attractions, search volume for the attractions themselves is often significantly higher than for the local businesses. By positioning yourself as a local expert, you build relevance for your brand on those topics. Below is an example of the types of attraction-based keywords a hotel in the San Antonio, Texas area could focus on:
Using this list as a starting point, you can then research the local organizations that already maintain a presence in social media so you can appropriately network with them, expanding the reach of your conversations:
The trending keyword list gives you a base from which to build your conversations. To stay relevant in social media it is important to be useful to your fans/followers. Talking about lifestyle topics that are important to them goes much farther than just pushing information about yourself and your brands. Taking the conversation to the next level by talking to, about and with the local organizations that are also on social networks brings added value to your fans and to theirs.
Happy new year, and may 2020 and 2021 bring you great social media success!