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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3 Social Media Marketing Resolutions for 2015

computer-resolutionsDid you craft measurable resolutions for your business at the end of 2014? We’re just over a week into 2015, so if you haven’t had time to do that, don’t fret; there is still time. Resolutions are difficult to make if they are broad, unrealistic and there isn’t a way to measure if you are sticking to them. Borrowing from Lululemon’s goal setting process, create a vision to provide focus to your business’ overall growth. Would you like to have the resources to hire more staff, expand your services, or reach into a new market area? Once you have your overall dream for 2015, create the goals to get you there. Goals should be specific, measurable and written in the present tense. From your overall business goals, determine the social media goals that can assist your efforts. Here are three social media goals to get you started on the right foot for 2015:

1. I determine what social channels are or aren’t working for my business by properly tagging social media URLs and monitoring progress within my analytics software once a week.

Whether you use Google Analytics or another analytics tool, it is important to accurately track what sources are performing for your business. If you have goals set up in your analytics software, proper tags will let you know which specific tweet or Facebook call to action drove the inquiry or sale. Tagging your links with the appropriate parameters will allow traffic and site activity to be attributed to the correct sources. Remember to craft your parameters with care, so they can be used consistently without any future changes. Also, aim to learn something about your audience or social metrics each week. Check out this helpful URL Builder for Google Analytics to get started.

2. I devote time monthly to update my business’ social media profiles to make sure the information is up-to-date and useful to my audience.

Things change. It’s important to let your audience know when they do, so they don’t try to call the wrong number or visit an outdated social media profile. Once a profile is created, we rarely go back and edit the information even if our company has grown and developed. Set aside time to review each field on your profile and fill in any relevant blank spaces. This Hootsuite resource is a good guide for setting up both your business profiles and your personal social media profiles. When reviewing your social profiles, remember to check for consistency in messaging across all channels.

3. I monitor what changes are occurring in the social media space by reading social media blogs and networks daily.

The world of social media changes fast. What is in one day may be out the next and subtle changes may make a difference in how you market your business online. Pay attention to blogs that post new trends, ideas and tools so you can make sure your business continues in the right direction. Social Media Examiner and Marketing Land are good resources to bookmark. To get you started on this quest, check out the new Call to Action button for Facebook pages.

What Are Your Social Media Resolutions?

While these goals are a good place to start, take time to look at your business’ goals and determine how your social media can support those goals throughout the year. Figure out how your social media can become more effective and authentic and run with it. I invite you to share your goals in the comments below or on our social media profiles. Cheers to a successful year in social media!

Hootsuite: Love It or Hate It

With the myriad of social media options out there, the thought has probably crossed each of our minds before at least once: “If only there was a way to condense all these into one place” or “I wish I could connect all these things and organize them on one page.” There are a couple of social media organizational dashboards out there, but this time we’re going to enter the wonderful world of Hootsuite.

Hootsuite: you either love it, or hate it. If you google it, you’ll find adamant camps of haters or admirers, the haters really hate, the admirers will hear of no other platform. Let’s take a look at what Hootsuite has to offer you, and you may decide for yourself.

Currently, Hootsuite’s free version offers you a web-based tabulated dashboard that can keep track of up to five different social media programs (you have to pay a pretty penny to go pro if you want Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, or more than five different sites in there). Hootsuite allows you multiple streams of information per site tab, so when you click on, say, your Facebook tab, you can create a stream for your current posts, a stream for comments you receive, scheduled posts, personal messages and more. All of this appears on one page, right before your eyes, no clicking back and forth to different, open tabs. They just recently added Google+ into the list of social sites they offer you, so right now you can put your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, WordPress and Mixi accounts on the dashboard. It is fairly simple to create your account, and then click on the tab settings to add your social networks.

Entering your usernames, passwords, and giving Hootsuite authorization to access all these accounts takes a few minutes, and pretty soon you have a dashboard of tabs.  

If you are boring, and want to say the same thing at the same time on all your sites, you may choose which social media sites to post to (at the top of the dashboard there is an easily seen dialog box in which to do this), then there is a dialog box to type your post for the day. Choose all your sites at one time, type one post for all, add a link if you wish and viola, you post and it’s on all the networks you chose. You spent only a few seconds but reached all of your fans across your entire social media spectrum.

What if you’re not boring, and want to say different stuff at different times? With Hootsuite, you can definitely get more creative. You’re still saving time by operating on all the social media sites from one dashboard, eliminating the need to open up a bunch of tabs or manage usernames and passwords (basically, saving the minutes and then seconds that we have come to value in our fast-paced tech world), and you can see what is happening in one glance with comments, re-tweets, sharing, etc. all from this page. You can schedule posts for later days and times, reply to comments and interact with your followers; it’s an OC organizers delight! Want to carry a theme for a week but only have time today to plan it? Get together all your material and schedule a whole week of themed posts and links in an easy-to-view column of information, pick the time of day you want each one to post, set it and forget it! This is great for people with structured, planned Google+ or Facebook pages, but who want to keep, say, Twitter real, live and in the moment.

So far it sounds great, but for some of us who get lost in a world of a million and one options, where if one miniscule box is unchecked or checked it could mean professional embarrassment (double posts anyone?), or you are the kind of person who must see the actual Facebook page and familiar Google+ page to figure out what you are going to say for the day, then you (like me) need a bit of time to play with Hootsuite in order to learn how to use it effectively. If you have a question, Hootsuite’s Twitter feed is full of quickly answered queries on “how does one do x?” and the answers are prompt, polite and helpful. They also have a series of video tutorials called “Hoot Tips” available to help you (#HootTip), and if that’s not enough, for $21 a month, you can enroll in Hootsuite University, and even earn a social media certification! In addition to this, another company called Grovo is offering sixty-second video tutorials for your quick questions related to Hootsuite (and other platforms).

From what I can gather, the people that hate Hootsuite are people that want a quick, easy, one-stop-shop where they can glance at the screen and know exactly what it is they want done and how to do it. This is definitely not Hootsuite. But, if you have some time to invest in learning how to use this comprehensive social media tool, it can do great things for you. Their blog, HootSource, is worth giving a read, anyhow.

Let’s recap: Hootsuite offers you the ability to manage multiple social networks, schedule messages and tweets, track mentions, and analyze social media traffic. They will train you for free to use their tools, and they have excellent help available. Now go play with it!

3 Content Marketing Resolutions for 2014

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.

resolutions

Can you believe that we are almost finished with 2013? Time just keeps trucking along and we’re already in the season of New Year’s Resolutions. While you never need to wait for a new year to try new things or revisit your goals, this is the time of year set aside for revisiting what was accomplished in the past year and planning for the next year, as Oprah Winfrey says, quoted above. Goals, as stated by Lululemon, “inspire you to do the work, excite and even scare you, and are specific, measurable and written in the present tense.” I’m sure we all have different personal goals – from flossing to eating right – but I’d like to share a few content marketing resolutions for you for 2014 at this time. Feel free to use them, adjust them, or share your own in the comments!

1.  In 2014, I use social media daily and engage in each of the networks of which I am a member.

Social media is a legitimate channel for conversations and shared social content. With successful networks, like Facebook and Twitter, that are trading publicly, social media is proving itself to be far from a fad. If you don’t have social media channels set up yet, get those set up for your business and listen to what people are talking about. Engage authentically. If you don’t know where to start, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest are some of the top networks. Depending on your goals and audience, Tumblr, Instagram, Vimeo, Vine and YouTube are other channels to explore. (You aren’t just limited to those either!)

Resolve to use social media daily to share, but also to engage in conversations – ask questions and find out what your audience is interested in. This easy access to focus groups allows you to learn what your audience is looking for and take your business to the next level!

2. In 2014, I create engaging, informative content that tells a story and answers the right questions.

Google (and other search engines) love websites with unique, relevant content that is posted frequently. (New content sends signals to Google to come back and check out your site more often.) Blogs are a perfect opportunity to add fresh content about your company or industry. Resolve to set up a schedule for blogging and curate a list of topics that answer questions you’ve heard from customers or found online. Engaging and sharable content helps promote your business and drive increased traffic to your site due to the inbound links and higher search rankings.

Determining who is responsible for the content creation is important. Business owners realize the importance of having a dedicated team tasked with creating authentic, compelling content. Whether the writers are hired in house or not depends on the needs of each business.

3. In 2014, I improve my mobile website and blog experience.

Resolve to share great content (goal #2) on social media (goal #1) on an up-to-date mobile experience (goal #3).

Mobile has been one of the top focuses for marketers for the past two years, so as we transition to 2014, it is imperative for your business to have a successfully-designed mobile presence. Whether you are an online or offline business, people are looking for you online and a poor website experience could turn away business if things don’t load properly or appear in a clear way.

Resolve to take a look at your website on the iPhone and Android operating systems and their respective browsers, along with several iPad and tablet devices. Do your blog posts format correctly when shared on social media? Do you have to scroll left-to-right to see the full screen? Are buttons super difficult to click? Check out responsive web design over separate mobile sites as the size of the page and content will automatically adjust based on the size of the device. User experience is so important and can ruin even the greatest content and authentic conversation.

“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been…”

Share your other content marketing goals in the comments below!