Social Media Marketing Strategies in 2015

Social MediaMarketingStrategies 2015

If there is anything we can count on in the digital world, it’s that it changes quickly. As the speed at which information is exchanged improves, consumer response to that information becomes faster and businesses want to be the first to know, and react in kind, to the consumer response.

Analytics are and will remain important for businesses. Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest all have rolled out analyzation tools for their users. The new information will allow businesses to pinpoint which aspects of social media are drawing interest, and which are falling flat. In order to use this information effectively, businesses will have to be flexible, willing to discard strategies that aren’t working and acquire new ones, sometimes implementing strategies that are novel and creative.

Businesses have to be aware, and not just aware, but engaged with the public profiles of their employees. As businesses learned from this past year, a business, and the public profiles of its employees, don’t have a private life on social media. Everyone markets. On a public profile, employees of a company are representatives held up to consumer expectations.  Consumers have the expectation that the companies they buy from reflect their own values. Which means employees have to be careful what they post on their public profiles and how they represent the brand.

Consumers are also wanting authenticity because it’s more relatable. As video and visuals become more common, there will be an upswing in the number of promotional videos that “sell” via real customer reviews, or through telling a great story. Consumers give greater points to a company that is doing more for the community than just making money off them.  They will want to see the human, personal side of a company because it gives the impression that it’s local and approachable, versus an immense and untouchable thing that happens to employee people. Companies will find their videos going viral if they can make the consumer’s heart melt, by promoting caring rather than persuading them to buy.

But attention spans among adults are starting to change. Studies have shown that we actually read differently after a constant exposure to social media.   Businesses concerned about consumers losing their ability to “read deeply” might focus on having quality posts of a longer length. But businesses who want to tap into the consumer trend of focusing on the most pertinent information in the shortest number of words, will use focus on implementing shorter posts and more of them. Microblogging, especially, will be useful for businesses interested in shorter, more frequent, posts.

Bigger companies will rely on an approach that incorporates both the digital tech and creative aspects of marketing. This means knowing a modicum of html speak will be of huge benefit to the social media marketing job-seeker. At the same time, smaller companies will discover that social media and blogging companies are catering to the DIYers by making their interfaces more user friendly.

Regardless, some argue that the age of the blog is starting to wane as companies discover other avenues of social interaction that work better for their business, and microblogging via tumblr and twitter take over. New social media outlets that are specific to certain subsets of people will begin to become more common. Purchase of ads tailored to these subsets of people will increase as consumers begin to make use of the hobby/interest-specific social media.

Hence, business owners will have social media managers who are given specific parameters of interaction – as much to ensure that there aren’t any social media faux pas which escalate into media debacles, as to ensure that the interactions are appropriate to the audience.

Immediacy continues to be an important aspect of digital commerce and, as such, will continue to force the direction of digital technology. As social media outlets attempt to shorten the distance between idea and action by experimenting with platforms that allow direct purchase of products, we’ll see the beginning of the end of third party distributors. Consumers will no longer have to go to a different website to purchase the product, but can purchase it right from their media outlet of choice.

This in turn will lead to a rise in ad sales on social media, as well as opportunities for individual bloggers to make more through affiliate links and acting as distributors of products endorsed on the blog. Because of this, authenticity will be even more important to the consumer who may not trust a blogger whose sole purpose in owning a blog is to make money off followers.

Overall, in 2015 we can expect to see a more tailored approach to the individual consumer. With every generation that passes the exchange of information has steadily grown swifter. The speed of that exchange has made a huge impact on the marketplace, both digital and otherwise. It will continue to do so and businesses will need to be prepared to take advantage of improved social media changes. Technology stops for no man.

Sources:

http://www.business2community.com/social-media/7-top-social-media-trends-will-impact-marketing-2015-01107054

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/social-media-in-2015-predictions-and-potential/

http://www.toprankblog.com/2014/05/digital-marketing-2015/

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/7608-2015-small-business-predictions.html

 

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Social Media Trends To Watch (And Use!) In 2014

This should be an extremely interesting year in social media.  Knowing what’s coming in social media is pretty much like predicting the future – you won’t ever be exactly correct all of the time, but you can make some pretty good guesses that are pretty likely to work out.  Here are some of those guesses.

Cross-Platform is Key

Facebook is still the big dog, of course, but others are getting bigger, and getting bigger fast.  Whereas 70% of social media users have a Facebook account, 50% of them diversificationalso have a Google+ account, and that number is still going up.  In fact, Google+ now gets the highest number of monthly visits, at 1.2 billion.  Ignoring Google+ used to be an option, but to do so now would be a detriment to your business.  In terms of sheer growth, Pinterest is considered by most to be the fastest growing platform, closely followed by Instagram, which has activity levels (i.e. checking frequently and overall time spent) just shy of Facebook.  If you have a business that can capitalize on any kind of image, these will also be key areas to tap in the coming year, especially because survey after survey shows customers are highly influenced by (and more likely to pass on) posts with pictures.  In fact, one recent study showed that in 2013 social media posts with images actually drove more revenue that standard display ads!  Tools like Hootsuite, IFTTT (if this then that), or Buffer can make it easier to manage the generation of content on multiple sites, but it still pays to know and understand the unique characteristics and benefits of each service.  Each major platform has its challenges and benefits, but the key takeaway here is that 42% of all Americans currently use multiple social media platforms regularly, so you need to broaden your presence into as many of those as possible.

Go Mobile

Over half of Facebook users and 35% of Pinterest users now access their accounts solely through a mobile app.  The numbers for other platforms are smaller but show the same trend.  Perhaps even more importantly, over 60% of Americans now own a smartphone in particular, a jump of 15% in just one year!  There’s no reason to think this trend will slow down soon until saturation is achieved, so the bottom line here is that if you want to get your business and your content out there, you absolutely must orient toward mobile.

Content is King

content-magnet

Social media has evolved to the point where following a person or company simply for the sake of following them is no longer enough.  There needs to be a compelling reason for the follow now.  Your social media posts need to provide either entertainment value, utility value, or (preferably) both.  Once you have a substantial body of work built up, pay attention to the posts that got the most interest and engagement, and try to understand why…then do it again.  And don’t be afraid to change it up every now and then – even the most useful content provider will get stale from time to time, so throwing in some inspirational quotes or just-for-fun off-topic stuff can help keep things interesting. Above all, you must be willing and able to tell a story.  Brief standalone nuggets of information are fine, but don’t exactly inspire loyalty.  A good story, however, sucks people in and compels both interest and a desire to come back again and again.  And that brings us to…

Engage!

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If there is one trend to capture in the coming year, this is it.  You must listen to, understand, and engage with your customers.  One recent survey shows that just 6 hours

invested per week created a noticeable increase in traffic for 74% of respondents.  Over half of these respondents acquired new customers by directly engaging with Facebook followers, and over a third gained new customers by engaging with Twitter followers.  Don’t look at social media as a marketing platform, but rather a way to engage your customers on a conversational level with the intent of building relationships and satisfaction.  These things will ultimately generate repeat business, positive word of mouth, and growing social media presence for your brand.

Jobs to Watch

The rise and popularity of the social media industry also means there is a whole new set of jobs available for talented people to fill.  One great example is analytics – having a mountain of data doesn’t do much for you if you don’t know how to interpret that data into actionable solutions.  Search engine optimization (SEO) specialists and social media strategists are also likely to be in high demand in the near future.  If you have these skills or are willing and able to learn them, you might find yourself riding the wave of these social media trends in a very literal sense!

Six Pinterest Tips for Business

With Pinterest’s roll out of promoted pins last month, I figure it’s time to revisit Pinterest as a tool for business. Pinterest will test sponsored pins for a while, and I’m sure they will roll out more options and features to advertisers in the future. In the meantime, here are six tips for improving your Pinterest presence, which can lead to increased traffic, sales and leads!

While Pinterest easily makes sense for food, clothing and events, Pinterest-ers share all images, so get creative with your brand! Teachers are sharing classroom worksheets, marketers are sharing infographics and news outlets are sharing memorable quotes from their published content.

1.    Connect your Social Media Accounts

By connecting your Pinterest account with your Facebook and Twitter account, you can tweet pins to followers and show what you are pinning in your Facebook friends’ feeds. This allows followers on Facebook and Twitter to easily see what you are sharing and by clicking can repin or follow you on Pinterest, gaining followers from your other networks. For brands that aren’t run by a specific person, do note that it is not yet possible to connect a Facebook business page to the account.

I recommend including a link to your Pinterest (and all other social media accounts) in your Facebook about section, as well.

2. Write a Keyword-Friendly About Section

Once a user decides to check out your page, the About section is the first thing they see – and the main section you have to describe yourself in words rather than images. You can write up to 200 characters (just over that Twitter bio you so carefully crafted). Bonus: This section is indexed by Google and the other search engines, so include your focus keywords here. You can also include your geographic location, which is helpful if you do have a storefront that people can visit.

3. Follow Other People/Brands To Grow your Reach

When users are followed or their images are repinned, they may be alerted. They will also see that you follow them in their follower list and may be likely to follow you back, growing your reach. Start by following influencers in your industry, brands you have worked with, and people you already know.

If you connected your social media accounts (as mentioned in my first point), Pinterest has made it easier to find your friends and connect with them. Click on your name in the top right corner of Pinterest and then select Find Friends to find friends and followers from other networks to follow on Pinterest.

If you are looking to find new people with similar interests or influencers in a certain industry, search for one of your focus keywords. Pinterest will show you pinners, boards and pins that contain this keyword. Then, begin following people and boards who share similar pins to what you share and plan to share. Some of these people will follow you back, which is an excellent way to grow brand awareness and follower count!

4. Create Relevant Boards and Post Useful Pins (and place the best ones near the top!)

Since Pinterest is a great way to drive traffic to the site, share relevant images and pins on your focused boards. (Tip: If you only have one or two images to share on a board, maybe you aren’t ready to create that board yet.) Boards that are positioned at the top of your page will receive the most views, so take time to craft the order of your boards. I love how Pottery Barn – in the image above – has repositioned their boards to highlight the upcoming holidays. They know that their audience is looking for ways to celebrate and decorate for Thanksgiving, so their first two boards are Thanksgiving themed (and include those keywords for improved searching!) Also, note that their boards stay focused on their theme – you won’t see a winter craft pop up on their Thanksgiving board!

By creating focused boards, you are more easily able to keep with your brand image. Don’t think though, that you can’t create a few boards that are outside the box! Show some personality with your boards and pins and like with all social media, share other content and products. (If you are scared of copyright issues, maybe having a group board could take some of the ownership issues away) By sharing useful content from other authoritative sources, you increase your authority and make it more likely a follower will return to you for more information.

To keep content fresh and to stay visible for users who visit the site at different times of the day, try your best to post at regular intervals. If you use Pinterest frequently (and are like me), you may get annoyed when one person has repinned a bunch and is hogging your home page!

5.Update Your Website with Pinterest buttons

Now that your Pinterest page is a rockstar, it’s important to let your website visitors know you are pinning! Pinterest has created several different options for your website and I recommend considering how they can be integrated onto your site. The Pin It Button reminds people to pin images from your website onto their Pinterest pages; the Follow Button lets visitors follow you from the comfort of your website; the Pin Widget allows you to embed one of your pins on your site; the Profile Widget allows you to show up to 30 of your latest pins on your website; and the Board Widget allows you to show up to 30 of your favorite board’s latest pins. These options let you show your users you are located on Pinterest and pinning great stuff, which will generate traffic to your Pinterest page and back to your website.

6. Always measure!

It’s always fun to jump right in to a new social tool without a game plan, right? Sometimes. While you take time to craft how you are going to use the tool, remember to take time to figure out how you are going to measure your efforts. Why spend 4 hours a day on Pinterest if you aren’t gaining any traction for your brand? With the following tools, you have more options to build and measure your campaign.

Pinterest Analytics:

As a verified business Pinterest page, Pinterest allows you to use the free analytics tool. This tool is fairly basic, but you can track how many people are pinning from your website, viewing your pins and clicking your pins. Through this information you can see what pins are getting the most pins and who those influences are, which can inform your Pinterest strategy so you don’t waste a lot of time on images or information people aren’t thinking about.

Curalate:

If you have some money to spare, this paid tool allows you to respond to interactions through the platform, as well as schedule pins, which allows you to be more efficient and plan out your week. Other options with this platform are monitoring keywords for sentiment and purchase intent and create visual promotions. The Curalate dashboard allows you to measure entrants, impressions, organic growth, your top images and your ROI.

Does your business use Pinterest as part of the marketing strategy?

Pinterest is an awesome visual marketing channel and a great way to organically convert followers and brand ambassadors. It’s responsible for the majority of traffic for many brand websites through  unique storytelling. I’d love to hear your success stories and challenges with Pinterest! Have contests worked for your brand? Have you tested group boards? Do you comment on pins or mention people in posts? Which of your pins get the most shares? Share your stories and questions below.

The proper treatment for social media overload

When it comes to social media, the array of options is dizzying.  Facebook is the biggest, of course, with 1.2 billion users.  Twitter comes next, but then comes a glut of others, including — but certainly not limited to — Google+, Pinterest, Vine, Tumblr, and so on.  Then there are a boatload of other services that may have another primary purpose but still contain a social aspect to it, like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Flickr.  There are other players who are huge in their own industries but are trying to bust into the social sphere, like Netflix, Amazon, or YouTube.  There are also an increasing number of hardware manufacturers like Samsung or Sony that are integrating their own “apps” into hardware devices like Blu-ray players to try to play in this space.  As if the waters weren’t muddy enough, there is an increasing number of so-called “curators” like Pulse, Zite, or Flipboard, who simply gather content generated by other outlets and arrange them in simple and intuitive interfaces, integrating social media-like functionality as a secondary feature.  So what should you use to promote your business?

confusion3

The answer to that perplexing quandary is, without question…it depends.

It’s simply not realistic to avoid social media altogether, at least not if you’re intending to grow through the 21st century.  You could take the opposite approach and try to hit them all, but that would take a small herd of twenty-somethings, each armed with more smartphones than hands.  There has to be a middle ground somewhere.

The key is targeting.  Before you devise your social media strategy, you have to answer a few questions.  Who are you trying to reach?  Seventy percent of Pinterest users are women.  LinkedIn is known for its prowess in job searching and career-related content.  Google+ is where you need to be if you’re looking for or addressing a technically savvy crowd.  If you’re trying to reach mobile users in particular, social media consumes a whopping 30% of mobile users’ time all by itself, and 63% of year-on-year social media growth is via mobile apps and website usage, so social media is the way to get to your audience.  If you’re focusing on your business’ brand, Instagram is the place to be.  If you’re looking to find a niche and let the market itself grow the size of that niche, then Facebook and Twitter are out since they’re sitting at something like 0-4% adoption rate; on the other hand, Pinterest and Instagram are growing by leaps and bounds at a clip of about 25-35% per quarter.  Of course, for sheer magnitude of reach, you simply cannot beat Facebook or Twitter, each of which have more users than most of the other services combined.

Another key question is: how and what are you trying to communicate?  If you’re looking to send out a major chunk of text, don’t bother with Instagram or Pinterest – blogs are the ideal forum for you, with Facebook or Google+ a close second.  For high-quality still photos, though, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr are perfect.  YouTube is the undisputed champion of video, but Vine has picked up a huge following for quickie videos that are easy to share, too.  Neither of those are any good at text, though.  Twitter is terrific for witty banter or frequent updates on events or fast-moving real world developments, but long conversations simply aren’t possible.  Customer service functions are rapidly moving into Twitter because it is the only genuinely real-time communication in social media.  I have personally contacted companies via Twitter for fast help at least half a dozen times and gotten good response almost every time.

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The bottom line is that you first need to understand your own business, and how you want to portray yourself to the rest of the world.  It’s better to cherry pick two or three social media services that are a good fit for what you’re trying to do than to cram a round peg into a square hole simply for the sake of “getting out there.”  The Internet is clogged with enough useless digital vomit already, so don’t contribute even more!  Keep it focused, keep it relevant, and keep it coming regularly.  The key result you’re looking for is to get engagement from your followers and/or customers.  Getting likes or comments or shares is how you know you’ve found both a receptive audience and a good vehicle for reaching that audience.  And don’t think for a moment that no one will care about your business, no matter what it is.  Velveeta has over 7,000 followers on Twitter and over 150,000 likes on Facebook.  If processed cheese food can get that kind of a following, so can you.  You just need to know who you are, who you’re trying to reach, and what you’re trying to accomplish.

The 5 ways social media affects your business

There are over 15 million businesses on Facebook. Twitter has over 200 million active users, and many of those users are Tweeting on behalf of a business. Instagram has 150 million users, and, increasingly, those users are companies looking for new ways to promote themselves. But skeptical small business owners might wonder whether all of this social media stuff really matters for their bottom line. Are these millions of users just wasting time online and procrastinating when there are more important things that could be done? What is the return on investment? Do all of those status updates, 140 character messages, and interesting pictures really bring in more customers? The answer is yes. We’ve got five good reasons why social media matters for your small business.

1.) Social Media Provides an Insider’s View to your Business

Spend some time on Instagram and you’ll feel like you’re getting personal photographic glimpses into people’s lives. It’s like paging through a friend’s photo album, except that you might not know that friend offline. Celebrities have taken to Instagram to get closer to their fans–singer Beyonce uses the social media outlet to post pictures of herself backstage and with friends. These peeks into Beyonce’s personal life are seen by 6.5 million followers. Instagram has, then, helped her boost her fan base. Businesses can do the same with Instagram. Think of your fan base as current and potential customers. You can use Instagram to show the behind-the-scenes elements of your company. Have a quirky Friday tradition in your office? Snap a picture of it for Instagram. Are you a restaurant owner? Post pictures of your food on Instagram to advertise new dishes. Are you a clothing designer? Use Instagram to show yourself in the creative process. No matter what kind of business you own, social media is a great tool to provide more transparency–and more trust–in your company.

2.) Social Media Helps you to Connect with Customers

There are over a billion people on Facebook, so if your business does not have a Facebook page, then you are, quite simply, missing out on connecting with a lot of people. Why is it important to post frequently to the social media giant? Because it is a perfect way to connect directly with your customers. Once people “like” your page, then they will see everything that you post and then they can interact with you online. Be sure to post every day to keep the name of your business on the minds of these page-viewers and also to develop relationships. Potential and current customers will use your page to ask you questions, to offer comments, and, yes, sometimes issue complaints. But if you respond to these customer posts in a timely and professional way, then you show that you’re a conscientious business owner who cares about your customers, whether they are happy or not. Facebook is also a fun way to connect with people–implement a weekly trivia contest, take pictures of your patrons and post them, ask your clientele to take pictures of themselves with your product and then post them to your page.

3.) Social Media Helps You Tap Into Industry Trends And Connect With Other Businesses

Platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn can help your small business tap into larger industry trends and join industry conversations. With Twitter you’ll want to follow lots of local people in order to build your customer base, but you’ll also want to follow other businesses that are similar to yours. By doing this you can see what social media methods have been successful for others and which methods have not worked. Twitte and LinkedIn also allow you to communicate directly with other businesses, industry publications, and social media gurus. By following the right people, you’ll have plenty of insightful industry-specific reading material at your fingertips. It’s like attending an industry conference every day without the hassle of traveling and spending excess money.

4.) Social Media Is The Best Kind Of Word-Of-Mouth Advertising

People are already talking about your business on social media–even if you’re not out there. But if you are present in the social media world, and you’re using the platforms correctly, then you’ll tap into the the best kind of advertising–viral, word-of-mouth marketing. This doesn’t mean that you need to use every single Facebook post to sell something, for instance. Personal, fun, and interesting posts are the ones that people share. And you want people to share your posts because then the name of your brand is not only seen by that one person who shared your post, but also by that Facebook users hundreds of friends.

5.) Social Media Allows You To Have Real Time Moments With Customers

Social media gives your business the chance to have “real time” moments with people online.  Let’s say that someone has a question about one of your company’s services. Instead of getting on the phone, they send you a tweet. If you respond quickly, then you have provided a direct, real time response to an issue that may have taken a lot longer to resolve if the customer had to place a call, perhaps be put on hold, and maybe even talk to several people before receiving the right answer. And by reacting quickly to tweets like this, you show the entire twitterverse that your company is on top of customer service.

Or maybe you see that someone has posted a picture of your product on Instagram. Simply by “liking” the post and posting a short comment you are showing that your business is run by actual people who care about connecting with customers. And, like on Twitter, that Instagram users followers will see this, too.