Over the last few years, “social media” have become buzzwords. It’s a concept that not many businesses truly understand or embrace to its full potential.
Restaurants and cafés often feel obliged to set up a presence of core social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter, without much thought of how and why they are using them, or who they are targeting. For many businesses, results have been mixed, and without easy ways to measure performance, businesses grow tired of the constant need to produce material to tell their brand stories – and so they often give up.
After several years of exponential growth, it’s worth acknowledging that social media is here to stay. So how does it fit into your marketing strategy? Do you even have a social media plan? Do you know how to maximise the energy you put into these platforms? Let’s face it; you can spend a lot of time engaging for very little return, unless you have a plan and objectives to help you achieve your goals.
The truth is, for many small businesses, not all social media platforms are perfectly suited to every brand, so rather than focusing on every single platform, why not think about which ones are most relevant for your business and target market? It’s much more effective to have a solid presence in one or two channels and grow your presence in those, than to try and dominate every single platform.
Got you thinking? If you’re starting to reassess the time you’re spending on social media, consider these emerging trends as part of your marketing mix – consumers are responding to them incredibly well.
CORE SOCIAL MEDIA TRENDS DEFINING 2013
No longer is content creation focused purely on the written word. Images are becoming more and more important in online marketing, as seen from the growth of platforms like Pinterest and Instagram.
Up to 250 million photographs are uploaded onto Facebook every day, and image posts are definitely the more engaging pieces of content. A 2012 study by ROI Research found that when users engage with friends on social media sites, it’s by far the pictures that people enjoy the most. And, 44% of respondents were more likely to engage with brands that have images posted than any other media. Pictures have become one of our default mechanisms of sorting and understanding the vast amounts of information we’re exposed to every day.
The trend towards “the visual” is also influenced by the shifting habits of technology users. As more people engage with social media via smartphones, they are discovering that taking a picture on-the-go using a high-resolution phone is less tedious and much quicker than typing a status update on the keyboard and uploading an image from your phone onto your computer.
Think about the visual content you’re creating for your brand and consider getting involved with platforms such as Instagram to be able to spread your message via visual imagery. It may even be time to think about updating your professional photos like bottle shots with food or shopfront images and incorporate these on your website, so users of Pinterest or Instagram can share and spread the word on your behalf. It’s free marketing working at its finest!
If you’re not already using video content, now is the time to embrace it. The evidence for adding video to your content strategy is compelling. This is a core medium for the younger demographics and is also driving internet traffic and search engine results.
Digital media watcher Comscore says that visitors who watch a video on your website are 64% more likely to make a purchase than those who don’t. Video is a great tool to attract new customers, improve conversations and grow sales. Research also shows it can improve viewer retention. On average, visitors stay on a website two minutes longer if they watch a video.
YouTube certainly is the most dominant video platform, and given it’s owned by Google, it’s a no-brainer step to improve your search results alone. Other video-based platforms like Twitter’s Vine or Vimeo are also worth exploring. Live video streaming or video hook-ups with consumers and customers also represent a growing opportunity to connect people in far-reaching physical locations.
Games are not just for kids anymore. Content marketers are using gamification to create meaningful content that customers are keen to engage with. As audiences become more jaded by internet marketing and need greater incentive to interact with brands online, creative strategy that provides entertainment, reward and learning features will prove to be a vital differentiator.
As audiences become more jaded by internet marketing and need greater incentive to interact with brands online, creative strategy that provides entertainment, reward and learning features will prove to be a vital differentiator.
Growth of Smartphone Usage
Last year, more people purchased smartphones than PCs. While it seems as though we hear the word “mobile” more often than our own names these days, many websites are still not mobile enabled and are difficult to read and engage with on a mobile phone. If you do nothing else with new technology this year, think about improving your mobile strategy – it will serve you well, as this method of interacting with a brand is becoming the most frequent and effective. It will importantly also help your business to be found when people are looking for you via their mobile device.
WHAT ABOUT FACEBOOK?
There’s no denying the power of Facebook. It remains the most used social media platform in Australia and continues to dominate, with the June 2013 figures reporting 12,200,000 Australian users/accounts (Socialmedianews.com.au). Some reports flag “Facebook fatigue” as the network starts to reach saturation point, but there’s no denying it has become a crucial part of the way consumers connect with friends, as well as keep up to date with brands. It’s a platform you can’t afford to ignore, but if you’re late to jump on board, it’s definitely more difficult to get traction.
What you may not realise is that only 10 – 20% of the content you post on Facebook makes it to the news feed of your fans. Why? Facebook uses an algorithm called “Edgerank” to determine where and what posts appear on each individual user’s news feed, in order to give users relevant and wanted content. There are a number of variables that determine whether your post is seen, such as: affinity with the post, type of content and time of posting. With so many brands on Facebook, you need to be creating meaningful content and thinking about what content you’re sharing to cut through the clutter and make a connection with your fans.
Facebook makes money through its advertising, mainly because it’s incredibly effective. Use it for yourself and experience the amazing capability to target your audience and ensure that your message is heard. It’s also worth keeping an eye out for Facebook “Graph Search”, which is currently being rolled out and makes sure that the details of your business are up to date in your Facebook profile.
WHERE TO NEXT?
There’s no magic answer to finding the right social media platform for your brand. In the end, it comes down to your individual strategies, goals and budgets (and a bit of trial and error, too!). If you’re thinking about adding a new platform to your marketing mix, take the time to plan your strategy and think about allocating resources to be able to produce the best outcomes. Many brands still fail to measure the results of their social media effort. There is a range of tools available to help, and for many this may be the first step to ensuring your time and effort pays dividends in the long run.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Trish Barry is Director of Mastermind Consulting.
Read more tips on her blog:
www.mastermindmusings.com.au or contact via email: Trish@mastermindconsulting.com.au
By Trish Barry