Social media has evolved tremendously since its major beginning back in the early 2000s. Since then, new platforms have been created, updated technology has helped us stay connected 24/7, trends have come and gone, and brands have fully come to understand the importance of this form of marketing. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, it isn’t just for connecting with friends, it’s more and more becoming the main way that brands connect with their audience (and vice versa).
At this rate of change, it can be hard to keep up. Especially for brands looking to make an impact online, it can be difficult to know where to focus your attention. In reality, you need to devote a significant amount of time to your social media marketing efforts in order for them to actually pay off.
So, what is the state of social media in 2017? Let’s discuss some of the biggest trends and what all brands need to be doing in order to be successful.
One of the biggest shifts that has occurred in the social media realm is the addition of live video. Video marketing has been a success for years, and in fact over 50% of marketers say that video content has given them their best ROI. However, live video has become the latest and greatest way to connect and interact with your audience.
Live video allows you to interact with your audience in real time. Especially for ecommerce brands who are looking to build trust and humanize their brand, live video is a great way to do it. Because this is still a fairly new concept, it is also a way to stand out from your competitors. In fact, only 14% of marketers used live video in 2016. That number is sure to be higher this year, but it is still early enough that you can do it now in order to make your brand feel fresh and relevant.
You can start a live video via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram. When you are finished with your live stream, the video will remain on your page for users to see (or, in the case of Instagram, you can save it to your Story where it will remain for 24 hours). And speaking of stories, that brings us to our next trend.
Snapchat, the social media platform that allows you to send photos or videos that disappear right after viewing them, launched in 2011. This idea of ephemeral content would change the social media landscape and sparked an entire new method of communicating online.
From Snapchat came the idea of Stories, which launched back in 2013. This update allowed users to add images and videos to their “story” which would be visible for 24 hours. At this point, brands started taking notice of the platform and how they could use it to interact with their audience. No surprise, it was a hit.
Other social media platforms have since joined in on the Stories action, and you can now share content in this way on Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, and even WhatsApp. For brands, this signifies yet another way to interact with your audience. Because the content disappears, there is less pressure to make sure the content is “perfect.” In fact, showing a more human side and those less than perfect moments is part of what makes Stories so successful.
Organic vs. Paid Posts
Part of what makes social media so great and so accessible for everyone is that there is no cost involved to fully utilize the platforms. However, recent algorithm updates have made it harder for organic posts to be seen. Social media can connect you with millions of people, which is great, but the downside is, standing out amongst the millions of pages and posts can be near impossible.
While having organic posts is a must in order to have a public profile that is updated, paid posts are a great option as well. You have numerous options that can help you promote your content to your existing audience, or to boost exposure and bring in a new audience.
For existing content that you have, you can boost your posts in order to increase their exposure. This is in the form of boosted posts for Facebook, promoted tweets for Twitter, or sponsored posts for Instagram, just to name a few examples.
You also have the option to run more involved ad campaigns. These ads can be highly targeted and incorporate either photos or videos. If you are looking to expand your audience via social media, ad campaigns are a great way to do it. Make sure your visual content is top notch, your copy is compelling, and you lay out in advance what you are trying to accomplish with your ads.
Visual content is important, and you already know it results in a lot more engagement (for example, Facebook posts with visuals receive 2.3X more engagement than posts without). However, to stand out on social media, custom visuals can help take you to the next level.
The image above shows you some custom social media graphics we put together for Moe’s Southwest Grill. These graphics tie in Moe’s branding while also referencing local events that their customers are likely to be interested in. If you do not have the graphic design skills needed to produce these types of visuals, we highly recommend you work with someone who does. Stock photos and other generic visuals are better than nothing, but are far less effective than custom, unique visuals created specifically for your brand.
Two Way Communication
Finally, you need to keep in mind that marketing is no longer a one way stream of information. Gone are the days of standard billboard signs and newspaper ads. While more traditional forms of marketing can still be successful in certain instances (and we can help with that, too!), social media marketing has become the standout marketing platform that can work for anyone.
Social media gives users the opportunity to interact with your brand, and that is exactly what they will expect should they choose to follow you. Be sure to hold up your end of the deal- encourage engagement by asking questions, hosting chats, responding to comments, hosting contests, and more.
As you can see, social media marketing takes a lot of time and talent in order to be successful. The most successful brands are always incorporating new trends and are producing fresh, interesting content that their audience loves. If you are struggling to find the time to devote to your marketing, please contact us today for a free quote. Our marketing team can help you develop a strategy that will take your brand to the next level.