With a flurry of recent updates to its ad products, Snapchat is inviting marketers of all sizes to buy ads on the social app. But the company still seems intent on keeping its sanctity intact.In other words, despite opening up its doors to the ad masses, it still wants Snapchat to look like Snapchat.
Come July, advertisers will have access to a slick new creative tool called Snapchat Publisher, which will let them create ads in less than two minutes. But before the tool is widely rolled out, Snapchat seems to be doing some quality-control.
The company has been circulating updated specifics and guidelines that marketers are encouraged to keep in mind while creating Snap ads, multiple sources told Business Insider. The updated “Creative Guidelines & Specs” deck for Snap ads started making the rounds earlier this month , when the platform announced a series of new ad efforts, including a new Ad Manager tool and a Certified Partners program, apart from the Publisher tool.
“The general theme on Snapchat has been to use all the tools at our disposal to create low-fi ads instead of polished ones,” an agency media buyer, who wished to remain anonymous, said. “But we’ve been getting more of those directives the past few weeks.”
“They’ve definitely been pushing for content that feels native to the platform,” said Jill Sherman, svp of social media at DigitasLBi. “They’ve always emphasized content that feels as though it was created on the app itself, instead of being highly produced.”
Snapchat pioneered the vertical video format, and the new Publisher tool makes it even easier for marketers to adopt it. It can import existing brand assets, trim horizontal videos for the vertical format and also offers Snap-provided ad templates.
Since Snapchat is throwing open the ad floodgates, it makes sense that it would remind marketers of the guidelines for Snap Ads.
“Not all creative agency partners are used to creating videos just for platform,” said Sherwin Su, associate social director at digital agency Essence.
But Snapchat has tweaked some of these best practices, too. There are two key differences in the most recent set of guidelines put forward by the company, pointed out Su, associate social director at digital agency Essence.
“Brands are no longer limited to videos, the latest update allows more formats in snap ads including still images, gifs, cinemagraphs and slideshows,” he said. “And sound is now optional.”
According to another anonymous agency social lead, Snapchat is continuing to do creative tests, even encouraging marketers to incorporate organic native tools on the platform like bitmojis and stickers. While it currently allows only emojis and text graphics, it restricts the inclusion of Snapchat native creative tools in ads. That might change moving forward, said the source.
Here are some key guidelines for creating Snap Ads posted by the company:
The ads must be full screen and vertically formatted, and feature visual branding
Strong and relevant call-to-action for Snap Ads with attachments are encouraged
No letterboxing/borders of any kind, static collages that fill the screen for the entirety of the ad, copy-heavy ads or the use of Snapcodes or Snapchat usernames
No imitation of Snapchat native creative tools and UI features like static doodles, stickers, Bitmoji
For Snap ads that have web view attachments, no URLs with auto-playing video or audio, or Facebook, Instagram or Twitter URLs
This goes against a lot of common advice. Longer blogposts (above 2,000 words!) drive more traffic. And from an SEO perspective, this is true.
But: Short pieces of content have their place in blogging and content production in general. The cornerstone of blogging success is value â€“ not wordcount. And while in general longer posts may drive more traffic, this is not always true!
Why? Because short form also has a lot of advantages:
Good short posts get to the point faster
Short pieces are easier to consume â€“ this is blogging, not scientific research
Short pieces (with value!) often work better on social media
Do you need to blog more often? Short posts take less time.
Can I Back This With Data?
In this case, the data is so openly available that I am surprised this doesn’t get mentioned in the blogosphere more often:
Take clickbait sites – let’s go for Upworthy and Buzzfeed:
This is long for Upworthy… 700 words. It was in Upworthy’s most shared posts this week, over 7,000 shares. (Contrary to popular belief clickbait sites are bringing value in their posts – that is exactly why they are getting so much traffic!)
Want more data? Here are the Alexa ranks for Upworthy and Buzzfeed:
The Problem: Value per Word
This is not an excuse for creating many short posts that bring little value.
Focus onvalue per word.
Creating short postsÂ that still bring loads of value to readers is a craft – an it needs to be practiced. Which is why so few recommend short posts.
Value per word is harder to achieve than increasing your word count. You will have to write slower than usual – you will have to think about how to best get your point across, how to shorten your sentences while not losing meaning.
But most audiences will accept short and long form content. The real question is how much value you are giving. And value per word is actually harder to produce in a long post. Producing very long posts with very little information won’t help you.
Online marketing is an essential part of your automotive marketing, and the online world is constantly changing.
You need to stay up to date, and connect with your customers over multiple modes of communication in order to be effective. We have some tips to help you out.
1. Connect Effectively with Online Leads
Many dealerships do not know how to reach out to online leads that visit their website or their social media pages. In order to draw in online visitors, place calls to action and signup forms on multiple pages of your website and on your Twitter and Facebook pages. Signup forms should allow visitors to subscribe to your marketing emails or text messages. Calls to action can encourage customers to download any inbound marketing resources that you offer, such as a car buying guide, or to click for a special promotional offer.
2. Keep your Social Media Pages Up to Date
Don’t try to be on every social media site online. Instead, focus on distributing quality content on a few of the most popular sites, such as Facebook. If your social media pages are stagnant, visitors will think your auto business is lazy or doesn’t care about its customers. An automated marketing solution can help you keep your pages current, without you having to manually update it all the time. Create posts and tweets in advance and schedule them to post over time.
3. Provide Useful Auto Dealership Marketing Resources
In order to truly engage your online customers, you need to provide valuable, relevant resources. These can include informative emails, text message coupons, auto maintenance tips, industry news, whitepapers and so on. These resources help to establish your auto dealership marketing as an automotive authority and create ongoing interest in your customers.
4. Use Automated Marketing to Personalize Marketing Campaigns
An automated marketing solution can be used to make your marketing campaigns highly personalized for each of your customers. A customer profile is created which stores customer preferences, vehicle history, purchase and auto maintenance history and individual customer dates. This information is used to send personalized promotional messages and maintenance reminders at exactly the right time. Personalized campaigns help to drive business back to your dealership and boost customer satisfaction.
5. Respond to Online Feedback Promptly
Just as you would quickly follow up with an in-person customer complaint or other feedback, you must also follow up with any online feedback. If a customer posts a comment on your Facebook or Twitter page, reply in a friendly and professional manner. Don’t ever start an argument with a customer on social media or it will come back to haunt you, and can even seriously damage your auto dealership reputation.
6. Gather Feedback Easily through Surveys
One of the most important aspects of any type of marketing, is to continually analyze your campaigns and see how they can be improved. Gaining useful customer feedback through online surveys is a simple way to learn what your customers want. Try to make survey questions simple and straightforward so your customers will be able to answer them clearly. Surveys can be sent out to customers after they visit the dealership in order to gauge their opinions about the service. Survey distribution and the gathering of information can be made much easier and more efficient with an automated survey tool.
7. Offer Special Marketing Promotions
Promotions and contests are very effective ways to engage customers. Many customers will go to your dealership over a competitor dealer if you have a special promotion going on. You can easily promote your contests, coupons and auto sales on your website and on your social media pages. Promotions are a great way to draw new and repeat business to your auto dealership.
8. Interact with Your Customers Online
This tactic is an excellent way of connecting with your customers, and works as a form of indirect marketing. Online communication, especially social media, is all about two way interaction between businesses and their customers. Pose questions, such as “What is your favorite song to listen to in the car?” Join conversations on Twitter by using hashtags (relevant keywords or phrases with the # sign in front of them) and contribute useful auto information. Communicating actively with your customers online shows that your auto dealership is active and engaged with its customers, and that you value your customers’ opinions.
9. Integrate Your Marketing Efforts
Your online marketing campaigns should go hand in hand in order to make the most of your budget and your efforts. Post signup forms on your website and social media pages that encourage visitors to subscribe to your email marketing newsletters and text message campaigns. Your email marketing newsletters should have social sharing and social following buttons that allow subscribers to easily share your content with a wider audience. Whenever you send out marketing messages, think about how you can integrate that message in with your other marketing efforts.
10. Create Videos
Videos are some of the most engaging things you can put on your website and social media pages. They are engaging, informative and interesting to your auto customers. Your auto videos can advertise your newest vehicles or special sales you are having, or they can be all about automotive tips and can provide your customers with information they can really use. Videos can also be easily shared so more people see them and you will bring in new business for your dealership.
Social media is now a major part of most marketing budgets, and over the next five years social marketing spend is projected to increase by 90%. However, 86% of marketers still want to learn how to more accurately measure social ROI.
Finding the ROI is important, as marketers are often active on various social platforms. And with new networks and options being introduced every day, its important for marketers to know where they should be spending their time and effort to maximize return.
No matter your budget, a careful examination of your social media marketing budget is imperative.
Create a strategy, consider your budget, and then find how to manage your social media in a way that’s right for your company.
As much time and effort that marketers put into improving visibility within search results, not all search engine ranking pages (SERPs) are good.
Increasing numbers of companies are experiencing the sharp edge of the sword from disgruntled employees or customers taking advantage of the amazingly simplistic process of publishing content to the web.
Because these references occur within the search results, many companies perceive search engine reputation management as a SEO problem. But displacing negative search results only treats the symptoms of the problem. It’s not a cure.
While other companies see tarnished brand issues as more of a public relations issue, it’s important to understand that sometimes it’s the PR firm that is at the root of the problem.
Negative search results are not limited to standard search engines either. Blog search engines, video sites like YouTube, social news such as Digg and news search can be affected as well.
Negative commentary can have a significant impact on brands that companies have spent years and immense resources to build. It pays to protect those brands where ever consumers can interact with them.
There are three fundamental concepts to master when dealing with search engine reputation management: Monitor, Optimize and Engage.
What to monitor?
Include modifiers: “sucks”, “scam”. Types of content to monitor include: News Search, Social Media/Tags, Standard Search Results, Blogs and Forums.
Where to Monitor
Google Alerts – google.com/alerts
Yahoo Alerts – alerts.yahoo.com
RSS feed subscriptions to search results Technorati, Yahoo & Google News, BlogPulse
Social Media via tags: tagbulb.com, tagfetch.com, keotag.com
Optimizing is most effective as a preventive measure rather than a reactive measure. However, reactive optimization for displacing negative search results is what most online reputation management services focus on. It leaves the company chasing after the various dissenters and does not put the brand in a position of control.
Treat the Symptoms
Companies that want to protect their brand visibility on the web would do well to make optimizing their brand content a best practice. Optimizing all digital communications including: PR, marketing, SEO, HR, investor relations and related electronic content that is publicly available on the web as well as social media: text, images, audio, video will produce more branded content in the SERPs. Doing so doesn’t necessarily put the brand in control, but it’s a much better situation than scrambling after the fact.
Engage & Address the Cause
Once a negative mention has been identified, here are a few basic steps in dealing with it:
Research the situation – is there merit?
If not, provide the facts and ask for corrections
If yes, then offer to discuss
Be ready to respond with your own blog
Be honest, be transparent and LISTEN
Results can be a anything from a positive turn around to a loyal brand evangelist.
Implementing a proactive monitoring campaign provides insight into the kinds of content interactions audiences are having with your brand. When identified and qualified, situations need to be addressed directly. At the same time, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, and companies need to implement holistic brand content optimization as a best practice. The more branded content in the search results, the more diluted any negative brand content will be.
Social media is one of the fastest changing industries out there.
Sometimes a cutting-edge technology changes the social game, or an old idea (e.g. virtual reality) gains viral popularly. Either way, the results always have a huge impact and 2017 will be no different. Here are five social media trends that will dominate 2017.
1. Social messaging
When people discuss social media, there always seems to be more focus on social networks than social networking. That’s pretty strange, considering that messaging apps have a much wider community of users than social networks. In fact, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber and WeChat together have more users than the big networks: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
Over-the-top (OTT) messaging and SMS messaging are millennials’ preferred form of communication. Sixty-two percent of millennials are more loyal to brands that engage them via those channels and an estimated two billion users will be messaging through OTT apps by 2018. Why is this so? Millennials want the personal touch, transparency and collaboration that the one-on-one communication allows.
Businesses are already taking advantage of the huge audience base on social messaging platforms — on Facebook, you can click on an ad and it takes you directly to a chat window with the brand. As more brands start to realize the value of social messaging compared to regular social networks, they’ll make even more efforts to have a presence there.
2. The fight against fake news
Every year, more and more people, especially millennials, are turning to the internet as their main news source instead of TV, newspaper, or radio. As a result, there’s been a rise in “fake news” from sites that deliberately publish and circulate inaccurate information about current events.
We saw the worst of it during the 2016 presidential election — fake news about both candidates was shared widely across Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms. Now, Facebook is already taking steps to curb fake news appearing on the site. These “news outlets” are no longer allowed to advertise on the platform.
But the fight against fake news isn’t likely to stop there. Germany is already considering legislation to fine social media sites that let fake news proliferate. That’s bound to catch the attention of all the major platforms. Millennials are tech-savvy, get their news predominantly from social media and value honesty, so they’re likely to investigate and verify news they see, push for more transparency from media outlets and reward factual reportage by sharing such content.
3. Authentic content (a.k.a. live video)
YouTube was built on a foundation of videos that capture real, unfiltered moments. Now social media is taking it to the next level by offering the content in real-time. Live streaming video was first made popular by Twitter’s Periscope. Now Facebook Live has launched. Social videos have much more engagement than any other content format, and have been responsible for a lot of growth on Facebook. Even news sources are citing Facebook Live videos when covering major events. The world of media is changing thanks to live video.
Instagram is now testing their own live video option, and they won’t be the last platform to implement live streaming video. Social media is becoming fascinated with live, authentic content. Millennials love video content and are the most active video viewers of any age group in the U.S. in 2016 and they’re not likely to slow down in 2017.
4. Augmented reality
Snapchat selfie lenses brought the idea of augmented reality into the social sphere. Pokemon Go (arguably a social media app) turned it into a sensation in 2016.
So you can’t expect the other social platforms to not jump on the bandwagon in 2017. Mark Zuckerberg has confirmed that Facebook is already experimenting with augmented reality. They recently acquired Masquerade, a live filter and selfie app for live streaming video.
Augmented reality is actually an old technology that’s started to go viral thanks to social media. While Snapchat has come a long way since puking rainbows (their first filter), there’s still a lot of room to expand on the concept in 2017. And just like live video, augmented reality create new opportunities for brands to connect with their audience by sharing experiences, rather than just information, on social media. Almost 75% of millennials are interested in virtual reality, and 2017 may just be the year they blow up the idea of self insertion into media.
Chatbots are a kind of artificial intelligence that can have a conversation with someone. Facebook had integrated them within Facebook Messenger, and businesses are now using them to communicate with customers.
Chatbots are already helping businesses improve customer service by quickly responding to their comments and questions. You can only expect the tool to become more popular in 2017 — especially since social media sites are doing everything they can to keep people on their platform instead of navigating away to a business website.
It’s still early days, but chatbots already have the intelligence and ability to help people consume content, answer questions, and complete transaction. More than a third of people already prefer social media over a phone call for customer support. Millennials want self-service and like to resolve their customer service issues mainly technology as it’s fast, efficient, and brief. Soon, brands might not bother having a website at all, and conduct all their customer relations through social media.
Live video content is on the rise — in fact, 14% of marketers experimented with it in 2016, according to Social Media Examiner, and 43% plan to use interactive video this year, according to new survey data from Wyzowl.
While there are a ton of streaming sites and platforms out there, both Periscope and Facebook Live are among the most popular — and they have the numbers to prove it.
In its 2016 annual recap, Periscope noted that users watched 110 years of live video every day using the app. And just this New Year’s Eve, live streaming on Facebook reached record-breaking numbers around the globe:
In addition to Facebook Live and Periscope, Instagram and Twitter launched their versions of live video streaming in November and December 2016, respectively.
So where should you be planning to focus your live streaming efforts in 2017?
Good question. 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.
As for what to broadcast, there are a lot of brands out there that are nailing this strategy across several use cases. For example, many brands are using Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to live stream events. This approach aims to keep your followers engaged with your brand by bringing an event they otherwise might not be able to attend directly to their screens.
At INBOUND 2016, HubSpot shared Facebook Live interviews with speakers so our followers who couldn’t join us in Boston still had the opportunity to learn from the experts:
Brands can also use live video for customer service by hosting Q&A sessions and product demonstrations. These videos drive engagement because hosts can ask for comments, questions, and feedback from the audience.
Brands can also stream multiple live videos in a series, providing more opportunities for engagement, which Facebook said happens at a rate 10X higher with live videos. Here’s an example of a weekly series from Allure, where hosts demonstrate and review a new type of lipstick and ask the audience for questions and what they want to see in the next instalment:
This year, keep an eye out for new features rolling out to the different live streaming platforms to amp up your video strategy. For example, Facebook Live is launching 360-degree capabilities, which would be a neat way to record a crowded event, a beautiful landscape, or a behind-the-scenes tour.
(Read more about successful strategies for Facebook Live in this blog post.)
2) Brands will lean on messaging apps more than ever.
If you’re only thinking about messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat as alternatives to traditional text messaging, think again — messaging apps are used by 4 billion users worldwide, and there’s tremendous opportunity for brands to leverage this presence.
More specifically, many brands are using messaging apps to communicate one-on-one with customers, which is completely changing the way customer service gets done. These apps provide a faster and easier way for customers to get the assistance they need, rather than being placed on hold or waiting for a returned email. Deploying messaging for customer service is more scalable and cost-effective for businesses, and by providing a better experience for the customer, brands can solve their problems quickly and retain them more easily.
For example, Hyatt uses Facebook Messenger for 24-hour customer service, where guests can make reservations, ask questions, and get recommendations for their trips:
HubSpot Vice President of Marketing, Meghan Keaney Anderson, predicts that messaging apps will eventually become a part of every online interaction. “Maybe we shouldn’t be thinking about messaging in terms of apps at all,’ Anderson notes, “but rather as an evolving infrastructure.”
So far, Anderson’s theory is well-supported by the stats: A quarter of all apps that are downloaded are abandoned after just one use — except for messaging apps. In 2017 and beyond, marketers should anticipate less social networking and more messaging for instant, real-time connection with audiences.
3) Social media ecommerce will become a powerful avenue for sales.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest offer ways for users to purchase products from directly within their apps, and Snapchat started testing and rolling out ecommerce features in the spring of 2016. Check it out below on Instagram:
According to a survey from Aimia, 56% of consumers said they followed brands on social media to browse products for sale, and 31% of online shoppers say they’re using social media specifically to look for new items to purchase.
Brands should leverage these shopping habits when thinking about their social media strategy for 2017. People come to social media to interact with interesting content, so instead of sharing a photo of a product on Instagram with a “Buy Now” call-to-action, share gift ideas and product trends (24% and 16% of survey respondents relied on social media for these, respectively) and encourage online shopping without directly asking for it.
Another idea? Product demonstration videos on social media. According to research from Animoto,4X as many customers prefer to watch a video about a new product, so share them on social media to encourage online shoppers. Here’s an unconventional “Will It Blend?” product demonstration from Blendtec to get the wheels turning:
4) Virtual reality will find its way into more and more marketing experiences.
Virtual reality is still new to the marketing scene, and in 2017, we predict the market will get even more popular. What’s unique about virtual reality is that it encourages engagement by offering an immersive, memorable experience unlike any other medium — and brands are quickly recognizing that value.
For example, TOMS uses virtual reality to shed light on the mission and impact customers are having. Its mission, “One for One,” refers to its pledge to match with each pair of shoes purchased a new pair for a child in need around the world. While visiting children who received new shoes during a trip to Peru, TOMS shot the following 360-degree virtual reality video to create a firsthand account of the impact this initiative is making:
What’s so great about this video is how transportative it is. Most customers might not be planning a trip to Peru, but all of them can see the direct impact of their purchase. The experience is improved when they use a VR headset or viewer, but the video is still viewable on mobile or desktop devices, so the brand can effectively share its story.
This year, video streaming will represent almost 75% of all internet traffic, and since audiences want more video content, brands should continue experimenting with different formats — including virtual reality — to see which audiences respond best to.
5) Ephemeral content will continue to find its place and purpose.
HubSpot Social Media Marketing Manager Marissa Emanuele artfully coined the term “Frankenfeatures,” which are born when a social media platform launches its own version of another platform’s successful feature.
One example? Snapchat started the ephemeral, or disappearing, visual content sharing trend, and Instagram recently launched a similar disappearing video feature — but with the ability to share live ephemeral video, too.
We’re not suggesting that you abandon professional photography and marketing video production, but ephemeral content on Snapchat and Instagram is a great way to showcase the “other side” of your brand’s personality with authentic, unscripted, unpolished content. Content ideas for ephemeral stories include:
Contests and giveaways
“Takeovers,” or when a different user chooses what content to share
Daily or weekly video series
Announcements or product reveals
“The most important part of ephemeral content is to be human. This is a unique opportunity to show an unpolished, lighthearted side to your brand, so don’t be afraid to share content that’s humorous or otherwise ‘flawed’ in some way,” urges Emanuele.
(For more ideas on how to brainstorm ephemeral content ideas for Snapchat or Instagram, here’ a roundup of some of the best brands on Snapchat right now.)
6) Many brands will make the shift from Snapchat to Instagram for Stories.
Instagram introduced its Stories feature in August 2016. After just two months, BuzzFeed News reported that Instagram Stories were experiencing 100 million daily active viewers — this represents two thirds of Snapchat’ total user base, period. For this and other reasons, Emanuele predicts that brands will start transitioning from Snapchat to Instagram for sharing Stories (photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours).
At 600 million users, Instagram offers a vastly bigger audience than Snapchat at 150 million users. And because Facebook owns Instagram, Instagram advertisers can target based on Facebook and Instagram insights, which means there is a bigger target audience on Instagram than Twitter.
Not to mention, Instagram lets users publish photos and videos in a permanent portfolio in addition to ephemeral Stories, so users can more easily share content with their friends.
BrandFire CEO Adam Padilla agrees with Emanuele’s prediction, also noting the adoption of Instagram by a larger number of celebrities and public figures, and a slicker Instagram interface.
Despite its rapid growth and sheer volume of content being shared, Snapchat offers fewer means of measurement and analysis for social media marketers, so Instagram may offer greater ROI in 2017.
7) Mobile advertising will grow more competitive.
In 2017, marketers should expect greater investment in mobile advertising. Here’s rundown of what that will look like on some of the largest social networks:
Facebook is the behemoth when it comes to social media ad revenues, bringing in more than $7 billion last year — 80% of which came from mobile ads. Facebook’s News Feed algorithmic changes now prioritize content from friends and family first, so the 75% of brands on Facebook that pay to promote ads will have to get creative and design visual, engaging ads to get noticed first.
Twitter’s ad revenue is increasing, especially in the mobile format, and in 2017, they’ll likely continue experimenting with visual content, such as sponsored hashtag icons and stickers, to provide a variety of ad options to users.
As we’ve discussed previously in this article, Snapchat and Instagram will be competing for a lot of attention this year, and advertising revenue will be no exception. Where do they stand in terms of developments? Well, Snapchat recently launched a new advertising API that makes it easier to buy ad space, in addition to a greater variety of video ads and sponsored filters. Instagram, on the other hand, is doubling down on ecommerce with the introduction of Shoppable Instagram, a feature that lets users buy products directly by clicking on a CTA in the app.
According to an Adweek survey among millennial Snapchat and Instagram users about their experiences with ads, the results are roughly split — with a few noteworthy distinctions. While a greater percentage thought Instagram ads were more memorable than those on Snapchat, more millennials loved Snapchat ads than Instagram ads:
In short: Marketers should experiment with ads on different platforms to see which perform better among their audience and take advantage of the cool new features each rolls out.
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.
We look ahead at what next year holds for digital marketing
As we look back over 2016, some clear digital marketing trends have been present throughout. The final third of the year saw mobile internet usage overtake that of desktop for the first time, a milestone in keeping with perhaps the year’s most dominant trend. Digital publishers and marketers alike have made mobile a priority, and though this won’t slow down in 2016, other specific areas like UX will take precedence.
Video, too, has been a major buzzword of 2016, with brands large and small looking to create video content to be shared across social channels. 2017 will see further proliferation of this, with live video and native advertising in broadcasting realising their potential1. So, as 2016 draws to a close, here are the top digital marketing trends to watch out for in the 12 months to come.
Less is more
One thing we can learn from Facebook’s recent algorithmic change, which favours user generated content over that of brands, is that persistent branded content is no longer welcome. The emphasis now is on quality. Content should offer real value to the customer in exchange for their attention, and brands are now spending more of fewer pieces of content. This shift will only intensify in 2017, with the crackdown on misleading content on social channels marking the beginning of an online clean-up.
Essentially, brands will be afforded less exposure by social channels. As a result, content will need a marketing budget behind and brands will have to be more considered in their approach. Churning out second-rate content for the sake of clicks will be less effective.
UX, UX, UX
A serious trend in the latter half of 2016, user experience (UX) will only grow in importance in 2017 whether it be on mobile, on desktop, or in store. You may consider UX more of a design issue than a marketing concern, but the area has progressed to the point where all interactions with a brand should be in keeping with its wider feel – even an email blast is part of the user journey, and brands should take into account how intuitive it is to navigate and how it connects with the website.
The focus on UX will also affect digital marketers looking to place ads on other brands’ websites or in-app. Such is the need for a smooth and pleasing UX that banner ads will become less and less available, with pop-ups all but disappearing across mainstream apps and websites. As a result, digital marketers should focus on native advertising in 2017, marketing that offers a value exchange to the user.
Smart home marketing takes off
Though the technology hit the mainstream somewhat in 2016 – think Amazon Echo or Google Home – the connected home is set to take off proper in 2017. Personal assistants and mobile thermostat controls are just the beginning, and some believe homes will one day be able to distinguish between family members and guests, using heartbeat rhythms, body temperatures and fingerprints to build a picture of who they’re serving.
As the technology grows, marketers will need to be cautious in how they exploit it. The home is a by definition a personal space, and users will reject any data collection or brand involvement that crosses the ‘creepy’ line. However, techniques like suggesting a particular brand of detergent when a user asks how to get a stain out of their clothes, for example, could give brands a way into the home that isn’t particularly invasive. 2017 will see smart home technology proliferate, and along with it opportunities for marketing.
Native advertising in broadcasting
Just as online, the public dislike of advertising in the conventional sense has become a problem for those marketing on television. TV advertising remains an incredibly effective – albeit expensive – method but broadcasters are experimenting with ways to increase engagement as many lose interest in the traditional ad break.
Fox Sports, for example, is doing away with the commercial break during games. In its place, the broadcaster is airing ‘commercial-free breaks,’ segments of analysis sponsored by T-Mobile. The phone network’s logo adorns the entire segment, it’s ‘brought to you by T-Mobile’ and the break ended with what Digiday called ‘a 30-second live read about the T-Mobile One campaign.’ Digital marketers should be aware of the opportunities native advertising may throw up, as more broadcasters experiment in 2017.
Live content improves
2016 was supposed to be the year that brands got live content right. With Facebook in particular pushing live content to its user base and encouraging its users to ‘go live’, brands had the opportunity to exploit the hype by creating their own live content. Very few have succeeded, though. Live content isn’t easy – the production value is often too low to wow customers and the content just isn’t interesting enough.
But live video is still on the rise, and brands in 2017 will be missing an opportunity if they don’t at least experiment with it. Experian, for example, holds live Q&A sessions with finance experts every week to discuss their customers’ financial worries. Live video is best when its interactive or unpredictable. Buzzfeed live broadcasted two of its employees strapping elastic bands around a watermelon until it spectacularly exploded, and the suspense and sense of occasion generated lent itself to a live broadcast. In 2017 expect to see not only the growth of live content, but the increase in quality.
Social and digital marketing have hit their stride – and now that everyone is back from winter break and settling in to the new year, it’s time to review the lessons learned from last year, and look forward to what’s needed for your company to shine in 2017. From the evolving world of artificial intelligence to expectations of instant communications, Stacy DeBroff, CEO and founder of Influence-Central, shares her take on the social and digital marketing horizon, based on her research and work with over 350 national brands last year.
Digital Marketing Trends 2017 (Image: Shutterstock)
New Products Roll in From the Brand Revolution
“As consumers – via social media – we all have a seat at the marketing table -by sharing our needs and priorities through direct feedback and our purchasing choices. We’ve seen the impact of the ‘brand revolution’ on key consumer-facing industries,” DeBroff says. “In the coming year, brands will become even more attuned to the needs and priorities of the consumer, and increasingly shape their product offerings around the latest lifestyle trends.”
2. A.I. Solutions Point to a Brave New World
2017 will be the year when we will look more to artificial intelligence to lend a helping hand. “This current trend with start-up brands, as well as data analytics, identifies applicable A.I. solutions as a way for consumers to navigate in an increasingly complex world,” DeBroff notes. “From advanced electronics applications, to pinpoint analytics that predict consumer needs as they arise, A.I. is on the way, in a big way.”
3. “Instant” Speeds up as the New Normal for Gen Z
What happens when you grow up surrounded by social media and technology? Expectations of instant communications and entertainment become inevitable. Generation Z consumers gravitate to instantaneous social channels such as Snapchat, Instagram, and the new social app Musical.ly. “The downside ?” DeBroff explains, “This generation has grown up with instant response as its baseline expectation. We can count on at least three platforms we’ve never heard of rising to social prominence next year that embrace faster, more pictorial, and more spontaneous ways for rising Gen Z to bond.”
4. Niche Curation Sorts Information Overload
“We find ourselves awash with more information than has ever been available to us as humans, and we simply can’t process it,” DeBroff concludes. “As a result, we’ve increasingly come to rely not just on curated information, but on the people we most trust to curate this information for us in a way that resonates with our lifestyle, interests, and values. In 2017, consumers will be on a mission to find peer specialists with niche expertise to filter recommendations that meet their needs in a customized way.”
5. Mobile Devices Forge On-the-Go Consumerism
In 2017, DeBroff predicts we will see the emergence of a new “electronics evolution” with innovative technology and apps for the mobile phones we keep tethered to our sides. “As these devices offer up smarter, faster, and more intuitive information, they will become even more ingrained into our daily patterns and connected culture – and dramatically influence consumers at the point of purchase. Mobile devices will emerge as shoppers’ most valued shopping partner, as consumers check them for recommendations from their network of trusted advisors while fact-checking product attributes and using online coupons,” DeBroff says
6. Social Influencers Diversify, Specialize, and Grow Exponentially
“We’ve never had more on-call peers to advise us – from peer advisors to specialists and trend-spotters,” DeBroff notes. As we move into 2017, she predicts we will “entrench ourselves more deeply within the social web, immersing ourselves in increasingly diverse and broadening circles of discerning opinions. These influencers will powerfully inform and guide us in our consumer decisions.”
7. Influencer Marketing as a Fundamental Brand Strategy
Many brands now recognized Influencer Marketing as the industry’s hot “go-to” strategy, but they struggle on how best to leverage it and measure it from the perspective of business results and attribution modelling. “As we head into 2017, influencers will entrench as defining voices in consumer marketing, as brands concede advertising control and look to passionate brand advocates to sway consumers on social media,” says DeBroff.
8. Consumer Resentment of Intrusive Marketing Deepens
Op-ups, banner ads, and disruptive brand messages are all falling out of favour. Today’s consumers don’t want brands aggressively pushing their way into social media feeds, whether on Facebook, through promoted Pins or Tweets, or paid-for Snapchat stories. “As consumers seek to learn more about new products on their own time, expect continued resentment over intrusive marketing to deepen in 2017. Consumers will continue to vote with their feet… “walking” away from social platforms that inundate them with brand marketing,” DeBroff notes. Similarly, the tone and content of ads needs to be geared to the new Gen Z paradigm: fast, smart, sassy, and relevant.
9. Consumer Tethering to Mobile Devices Tightens
As mobile devices take over photography, replace alarm clocks, and provide on-the-go access to favourite social media platforms, as well as music and even audio books, they’ve transformed how consumers communicate and share information. Our smart phones and tablets have become 24/7 companions,” DeBroff explains. This year she says consumers will continue to ratchet up their mobile dependency as more usages emerge. Retailers that do not consider the impact of this sea change, and deal with it intelligently, will be left behind on shore.
10. Words Prove So Overrated: The Year When Images and Videos Rule
“Visuals and videos have truly surged over the past six months, and consumers – particularly those in the Millennial and rising Generation Z cohorts – have truly embraced pictures and videos as a way to gather and share information,” DeBroff says. “Look for new visual platforms to roll out in 2017 to accompany existing ones as consumers gravitate toward authentic, live-action, visual storytelling.”