Here’s the thing about social media: it’s fast. Even when it seems to you like there’s not much going on at the particular moment.
Not only are the various networks buzzing with activity 24/7, but the social media landscape itself continuously changes and evolves. It’s an incredibly fluid environment, and its nature very much reflects the way we consume and digest information nowadays.
That makes it all the more important for marketers to stay on their toes and constantly be up to date. Otherwise, you’re inevitably risking falling into oblivion.
Now, an effective marketing strategy requires careful planning and goal setting – you’re surely not going to wing it all the way and just do what’s trendiest at the moment. But you have to be prepared to tweak and adjust your social media strategy continuously as the environment changes in order to reach your goals.
And that’s more important now than ever, when social media marketing has quite evidently left behind the days of innocence. You know, the days when it was enough to just be present and gain a relatively wide following in order to stand out.
With competition swarming, social media is reaching a more mature phase when it comes to marketing and it will only continue to evolve in this direction. Read on to find out how to keep up with the core changes as well as upcoming trends.
Know your platform – but don’t get too attached
A little over ten years ago, just being on Facebook was enough to stand out among competitors. Oh, how the times have changed. Of course, social media marketing wasn’t really a thing back then.
Now that you have various platforms to choose from, you need to know where exactly your target audience hangs out, which will take some insightful research. Not only that, but you need to understand the ever-changing user behaviors and the best times for posting on the platform of your choice.
With so many choices, there’s no need to spread yourself thin; just pick that one and focus all your efforts on building a strong presence there. Listen actively and reflect your users’ social media habits, knowing that what worked yesterday might not work tomorrow.
Most importantly, don’t forget that in such a fast-paced environment, in five years’ time your audience might easily shift to an entirely new network we have no idea of today – and you’ll need to make the move with them.
Overcome the noise
The latest statistics show there are over 3.3 billion active social media users globally. That’s a huge jump from the 2.46 billion in 2017 and even surpassing statistical predictions for 2021. What can we take away from this?
Number of social media users worldwide from 2010 to 2021 (in billions)
Source: statista.com (screenshot)
Well, the rising numbers of social media users bring the potential of reaching wider audiences, but things are not so simple.
In short, we’re looking at quite a beehive here. We’re living in an era of constant connection, which inevitably means constant noise. Millions of businesses and bloggers are running their campaigns and trying to reach people, and it’s getting overwhelming.
In return, this has made social media users more demanding and more wary of brand messaging. They’re seeking a more meaningful social experience. Marketers need to be creative with their campaigns in order to face up to these demands and stand out.
It’s all about authenticity and ingenuity. To be successful on social media nowadays and in the future, businesses need to build relationships with the target audience, marketing in a way that’s less intrusive and thoughtfully tailored to each specific niche.
In order to channel your marketing creativity the right way, knowing your audience is key. Really dig in there so that you can offer them relatable and appealing content, and you can always use social media tools to help you stay on top of your game.
Focus on building trust
In an era where consumers are seeking more authentic relationships with brands, the tremendous importance of trust, as the foundation of any kind of successful relationship, can’t be emphasized enough.
It’s all the more important now, considering that Facebook’s data scandals have raised privacy concerns among consumers and social media users worldwide. As competition continues to swarm and the use of artificial intelligence evolves, its importance is only going to strengthen in the future.
Social networks are addressing this issue by raising ad transparency, but the work of building and maintaining trust is still yours to do. Whether you’re using social media to promote your blog or market products/services, always be straightforward and transparent. Cultivate your online presence with dedication to show a human face to your brand.
Trust is built each step of the way – from how you present yourself to how you interact with your audience. Be genuine and helpful, respond to inquiries, say what you’ve got to say, and don’t shy away from addressing any possible negative comments. They’re a great opportunity to right wrongs and show your professionalism.
Use social media for customer service
Speaking of responding to inquiries and addressing negative comments, there’s a lot more where that came from.
Social media is ultimately becoming a channel for customer service, and this is a pivotal change whose impact is bigger than it seems. Currently, the reliable digital marketing companies largely suggest that online customer support, especially on social media, is taking over digital marketing at a larger scale. That’s because marketing strategies are becoming increasingly integrated and customer-oriented each step of the way.
There’s huge potential here, and smart marketers are grabbing the opportunity.
In fact, it’s no longer a matter of opportunity: audiences feel comfortable with interacting with businesses on social, and they’re coming to expect swift and useful responses. Not meeting their expectations can seriously hurt your business.
People expect efficient customer support on social media, and with technology evolving, this phenomenon is becoming more prominent – think Messenger Chatbots.
Get comfortable with ephemeral content
Stories and live videos that have a 24-hour lifespan – aka ephemeral content – were initially the domain of Snapchat, but Facebook and Instagram were relatively quick to follow. This is no coincidence, and while Snapchat marketing is currently somewhat underestimated, it’s clear that temporary posts hold huge marketing potential.
This rising trend especially came into light as Facebook’s and Instagram’s algorithm changes made it more difficult for brands to gain visibility, putting engagement rates ahead of all other metrics. Now, Facebook is pushing Stories as the primary means of sharing content on the network, expecting them to even surpass the News Feed.
Overall, it’s time to get comfy with ephemeral because it’s not going away. This topic deserves an entire post on its own, but here’s a quick overview of what it can do for your social media campaign:
Help you grab attention.
Ephemeral content plays on the concept of FOMO – the Fear of Missing Out – which is widely spread on social media. Users want to be in-the-know, and when they see you’ve posted something that’s not going to be there the next day, their attention is inherently directed towards it.
As the current and future landscape puts engagement ahead of likes and the number of followers (which are now simply “vanity metrics”), Stories and Live videos can help you bring out true interaction with your followers. You can use them to run polls and ask questions, encourage contests and other means of user-generated content, or interact with your audience in real-time, showing authenticity and spontaneity.
Humanize your brand.
We’ve talked about the importance of this in a previous point, and you might have already seen that many businesses and institutions – including NASA – use ephemeral content to show what goes on behind the scenes. It’s a great way to establish trust and show the human faces that help run your business in a casual and relatable way.
Buy you time.
The thing about ephemeral content is that it’s purposely raw and unpretentious – which is exactly what users love about it. This especially stands true for Instagram, where audiences have grown somewhat tired of the curated and polished nature of Instagram posts. Creating ephemeral content takes very little time because there’s no need for careful orchestration and editing, which is great because you can use it to maintain consistency while preparing your more demanding permanent content.
Turn your attention to micro-influencers
Great news for bloggers and businesses: micro-influencers (influencers with a smaller follower count) are on the rise. That’s because the recent shift to engagement-driven marketing strategies works in their favor, as those with a smaller following typically have larger engagement rates.
Naturally, mega-influencers can hardly keep up with the need for genuine interaction with such tremendous amounts of followers. When the name of the game is engagement, their wide audience falls behind on the list of social media marketing priorities.
The great thing about all this is that businesses now have a lot more opportunities for collaboration, and at cheaper rates too – although we can expect that micro-influencers will inevitably raise their price per post as demand rises. So if you’re planning on collaborating, grab the opportunity as fast as you can. Snatch someone who is tight with their audience and well-respected within their niche – just a few thousand followers will do marvelously.
Lastly, let’s not forget that this shift in paradigm is a golden opportunity for would-be influencers, especially those looking to attract an Instagram sponsorship.
Overall, it’s a world of opportunity out there, and we’re loving every moment of it. The fast pace of social media may seem intimidating, and upgrading your strategy to keep up can seem overwhelming – but it’s the nature of things and there’s no point in fighting it. The best way to go about it is to just dive in and embrace the current.
After all, the landscape is evolving for the better, focusing on more meaningful, creative, and trustworthy presences. Although the algorithm changes and the general change in the atmosphere might make it more difficult to stand out, the rewards are more profound. It takes constant work, but there’s a sense of community and audience loyalty like never before.