Social media is no longer just about easily and digitally connecting with friends and colleagues; it is becoming ever more a clever and critical marketing tool for businesses of all kinds to announce, broadcast, showcase and build their brands. Those businesses that do not take full advantage of what social media platforms have to offer will very quickly find themselves left behind – and this is going to be even more the case as we flow into 2016.
This is an incredibly exciting time for all aspects of social media, and one glance at social media advertising trends is testament to how important this resource has become to both small businesses and larger enterprises.
As a business owner, you need to be aware of what is new in social media so you can create your own social media marketing strategy template. With such a plan, you as a business owner can effectively understand your objectives, use social media to its fullest advantage, and use the analytical tools available to measure the success of your campaign.
Here are the top social trends to watch for in 2016 so you can stay ahead of the game:
- Social media married with content marketing
The role of content marketers is changing and all good marketers will pay close attention to social media trends. This means that an entire new role has been born: That of the social media content marketer.
Social media networks have the ability to amplify any marketing campaign and each social media platform uses content slightly differently. Hence, a great content marketer will create content that is geared towards the strengths of each social channel on which it will appear.
For example, consider Twitter as a source of news, LinkedIn as a channel for professional connection and networking, Instagram for top-quality visual content and Facebook for storytelling. A social media marketer needs to create content to fit into each of these pigeonholes. It is an exciting and ever-evolving niche, and takes innovative thinking and a novel approach.
- Shop via Facebook
In recent months, both Facebook and Twitter have commenced beta testing for “buy” buttons on their platforms; these will appear alongside selected posts and tweets to offer users the opportunity to make purchases simply and without leaving the social media platform.
All online merchants face the conundrum of how to get customers into their virtual or physical door; this dilemma is greatly eliminated when the already-amenable online audience can simply click and buy without ever leaving their chosen social media site. This works especially well for time-sensitive specials and promotions, eliminating comparison shopping and the prospect of losing a sale to a competitor. It is also an invaluable resource for analysing sale and consumer trends.
- Social listening is becoming visual
Marketers are very familiar with real-time monitoring of keywords and conversations on social media, seeking to identify and evaluate social commentary relating to brands and industries. Almost two billion images are shared via social media every day. The fact that visual material is the most used type of content across all forms of social media means that these conversations themselves have morphed into visual images as opposed to written text. Marketers need to evolve alongside this trend as well.
Ditto is a new tool that marketers and analysts can use to scan for the logos of brands in social media imagery. While a brand may not be mentioned by name, any image including your brand or logo will trigger a response. This is an outstanding way to glean just what is being said in the social conversation about your brand, giving insight in real time about the way people use a product. Rather than a keyword search, it represents a visual search. Image recognition via Ditto can tag logos, brands, faces, products, clothing, objects and scenes. It is the future of advert-targeting online.
- Facebook takes it to the next level
Facebook has for years allowed businesses to easily target their consumer base and to directly promote their brands. This has resulted in currently more than two million business advertisers actively using Facebook to enhance and build their enterprises. Advanced advertising tactics have been used by Facebook for a long time, however, there is an array of new features that take the advertising and marketing capabilities of Facebook to the next level. These include:
- Carousel ads – these multi-image adverts link to different pages across your business website. This facility is now available for mobile-device targeting.
- “Call now” buttons – consumers now have the option to call your business directly from a Facebook advert that is displayed on their mobile device.
- Bluetooth beacons – this new feature allows consumers who visit your place of business to check in on Facebook, like your business page on Facebook and to receive more broadcasts regarding your business. When the consumer uses Facebook while visiting your business, more information is made available to them. It is a clever and innovative tool for engaging customers and includes tips, a welcome message, prompts, notifications and much more.
- New Google+
Google is the world’s largest search engine and its social media platform Google+ is being revamped to offer users a premium experience. In an attempt to better compete with its competitors Twitter and Facebook, Google+ is releasing new features that include, but are not limited to, location sharing, Google+ Collections for grouping posts and halting the automatic Google+ profile creation for users of Google. The Google Photos app is no longer linked with Google+.
- Instagram advertising
Instagram has recently implemented advertising, partnering with top marketing agencies globally in order to fine tune and enhance their advertising platform. By the end of this year, it is envisaged that businesses will be able to run advertising campaigns via Instagram. Marketers will be able to utilise this social media platform to create image and video adverts, which affords a powerful new mobile platform for marketers. There is also a facility to be able to include direct call-to-action links in their chosen images. Instagram is focused on the future expansion of advert offerings, enabling better targeting capabilities within the platform and streamlining the process by which businesses purchase ads on their platform.
Early results are promising and in more than 400 global advertising campaigns, recall by consumers for Instagram ads was almost threefold higher than for other forms of online advertising.
- Anonymous social media presence
There has been a surge in the popularity of “anonymous” social media networks in the last year or so. With the concern of how personal information is collected and distributed, and the fact that not everyone wants their social media conversations shared with the entire world, platforms such as Snapchat, YikYak, Whisper and Telegram are becoming more widely used. These, until now, have only offered the illusion of privacy and anonymity.
This is changing as demand for anonymity in social media usage grows. Facebook now offers new chat app rooms, which allow the creation of online chatting in a forum without users revealing their location or name. Watch this space for more privacy-preserving social media usage options.
Intimate knowledge of social media advertising trends results in a successful social media marketing strategy. This translates to a broader advertising reach, exponential growth in your customer base, higher consumer interest, interaction and satisfaction, and, ultimately, greater profits for your business. Here are nine more ways to make your social media work for you.
Factor in the above flourishing trends when you create your own business’s social media marketing strategy template – and lead the way in 2016.
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