If there’s one thing you can rely on, it’s change – especially when it comes to social media. It seems like every day there’s some new feature or new technology that is taking the digital landscape by storm.
And social media is’t showing any signs of slowing down yet. Today, one-third of the world’s population uses social media networks on a regular basis.
With so much constant change, it’s the brands that can keep up and roll with the punches that are going to be the ones to succeed on social. But to keep up and stay ahead of the competition, businesses must understand the latest trends and how to use them effectively.
If your brand is still stuck using Google+, it may be time for an upgrade. Here are five of the latest social media marketing trends that I want to incorporate into my strategy this year – you may want to consider them for yours, too.
1. Live Video
In 2016, 14% of marketers experimented with live video, and that number is only going to climb this year.
We saw live video come on the scene last year with Twitter’s Periscope, and soon after, Facebook followed with Facebook Live, bringing livestreaming into the limelight. Instagram has also launched its own live video feature, and other social networks will likely follow suit in the near future.
It’s no secret that audiences love video content. YouTube has been a successful platform for years, and Facebook users watch 100 million hours of video every day. But live video takes video content to the next level.
Audiences crave authenticity, and that’s exactly what live video provides. With no editing or scripting, going live presents your brand in a more personable and genuine way.
Incorporating live video into your social media strategy is easy to do – especially if you’ve already been creating video content. “First and foremost, you’ll want to consider where your audience already spends time on social media – and try to connect with them on those networks,” says Sophia Bernazzani, staff writer at HubSpot.
Once you’ve chosen where to post your video content, you need to decide what to post. If you have an event going on, have a member of your team livestream it. Consider providing a behind-the-scenes look at your office and operations. Try hosting a Q&A with a special guest or demonstrate how to use one of your products.
2. Paid Content
If you’re publishing a Facebook post and just hoping someone will see it, you aren’t doing enough. With more and more changes being made to social networks’ algorithms, the chances that your audience will see your content grow slimmer and slimmer.
While these algorithms serve to ensure the platform’s users are seeing content they actually enjoy, there’s no doubt they make it harder for brands to get noticed.
Plus, other brands and consumers are sharing and publishing more content than ever, so competition for attention is fierce. In the past two years, content consumption on Facebook has increased 57%.
So how do you cut through the clutter? The answer is: you must pay for it. Organic traffic on social can only get you so far. But paid content is well worth the investment.
Promoted posts and native advertising allow businesses to narrowly target a specific audience, so you know the right people are seeing your posts. By paying for it, you can ensure that your posts actually show up on your target audience’s feeds.
3. Interactive Content
While I’m on the topic of grabbing your audience’s attention, it’s also critical for you to take an honest look at the content you’re putting out on social. With so much content online already, doing the same things as everyone else isn’t going to make your brand stand out.
Consider spicing it up by creating interactive content. Eighty-one percent of marketers say interactive content grabs attention more effectively than static content. Interactive content could be a quiz, game, calculator or similar.
“Brands not only want consumers to recall [their brands], they want them to be excited and share the content with their friends,” says Russab Ali, founder of SMC Marketing. “They can then ‘compare results’ with friends.”
It’s not enough these days for your audience to just click on your posts. You need to get them to engage, too. By making engagement intrinsic to the content, you’ll increase the likelihood that your audience will do just that.
4. Customer Service Chatbots
When you need customer service, you don’t want to wait on hold for hours on the phone or for a representative to answer your question on social media. Good customer service is fast, but most brands can’t keep up with the demand.
This is where social media can step in and give customer service a boost. Chatbots are a type of AI that can interact with customers via social messaging apps like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. Think back to the days of AOL Instant Messenger and SmarterChild – but don’t worry, we’ve come a long way since then.
Using social messaging apps is a smart choice for marketers. In fact, 20% of marketers plan to add messaging apps to their content strategy in the next year. “These apps have a wide audience and offer several attractive features to brands for e-commerce and client support, for example, which allows for economies of scale and the creation of new types of user experience,” says social media strategist Isabelle Matthieu.
Chatbots can guide customers through completing a transaction, answer a question or point people in the right direction. They offer fast, one-on-one service without the need for additional employees. Plus, your customers are a lot happier when their problems are solved right away.
5. Employee Advocacy
There’s a powerful social media marketing tool hiding right under your nose – and it doesn’t cost a penny. It’s your employees, the people who support and work for your brand every day. Why wouldn’t you leverage them as part of your marketing strategy?
By encouraging and empowering your employees to spread the word and share your brand’s messages on social, your brand will be exposed to hundreds or even thousands of potential customers.
Your employees are powerful advocates for your brand. They offer validity and credibility to your brand’s messages. Your audience tends to trust messages that come from personal social media accounts over a brand’s social media accounts.
But you can’t mandate or force it. The employee’s support must be authentic or it will lose that credibility, and your brand will suffer because of it.
“A company’s social media must be -cool” enough for the employees to want to share it on personal platforms,” says Jake Messier, principal & COO of Mungo Creative Group.
Make it easy for your employees to get involved by providing them with easy-to-share updates. Simply ask them to share your posts, and see what kind of a response you get. Chances are you’ll soon see positive results.