Gone are the days when social media marketing was all about increasing your followers. An early sign of success was seeing your followers grow from one day to another. Nowadays, social media marketing has left behind the ages of innocence to go through a more mature phase. This should not be a bad change, but we still need to keep up with the shift.
As buzzwords change, how can marketers adapt to the changing world of social media?
There are many reasons that the social media landscape is changing and all of them can affect your marketing strategy in one way or another.
We are all more connected than ever and we’re using our smartphones at a growing rate. As of July 2018, there have been more than 4.1 billion active internet users and 3.3 billion social media users.
As more people use their smartphones to access social media, marketers need to adjust their strategies to make their campaigns more appealing and less intrusive. The era of constant connectivity has made people more demanding, and omnipresent brand messaging makes it harder for a business to stand out.
Social media users may be increasing, but marketers also need to be more creative to reach their target audience. Content consumption is growing but our online habits are also changing. That’s how we’ve reached the era of maturity on social media with both users and brands seeking an improved social experience.
It has been a turbulent year for social media and many social media users have started being concerned about their privacy. Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal and the rise of fake news has made more people cautious about their use of social media.
24% of US teens feel that social media has mostly a negative effect on people their age. They list bullying, rumor spreading, and harmful relationships as their main concerns.
Social platforms seem to be aware of these concerns and they’re trying to address them to ensure that they are not missing their already engaged younger demographics.
Similarly, marketers should be able to understand their audience’s concerns to avoid using black hat techniques that can mislead users. The most successful brands will be the ones that manage to maintain the consumers’ trust—and this will be more important than ever over the next years.
Facebook loves changing their algorithm, and it’s not the only social network giving their platform a regular update. Although we cannot do anything about these changes, we still need to keep up with them if we want to maintain a successful social marketing strategy.
For example, Facebook’s latest algorithm update encourages marketers to create more engaging content if they want to stay relevant. Organic reach continues to drop. Clickbait techniques are no longer welcome. The demand for video and live streaming continues to grow. Increasingly, the best way to reach your audience is to post content that is genuinely engaging. These are the changes that marketers need to be aware of when revisiting their social strategy to ensure that they stay successful over the next year.
Facebook seems to be the most popular platform for marketers, but Instagram is rapidly gaining ground both from marketers and actual users. Instagram has also updated its algorithm this year to focus on non-chronological feed display. This has been a big change for marketers as it requires them to create more appealing and engaging content to make sure they show up in their followers’ feeds. The more their followers engage with the brand, the higher their chances to maintain visibility on their feeds.
More marketers realize that social media is changing and this makes them evaluate their social strategies. Social media is now turning into a business tool and there are different areas that marketers embrace on a more serious focus while seeking success:
It’s great that we can start talking about real ROI and conversions coming from social media. Awareness and engagement are vital but we’ve reached a level of maturity in social media that we can explore actual return on investment.
ROI has been a common challenge until now, but the rise of attribution and the evolution of marketing technology allow us to have a clearer picture of which social networks help us meet our goals.
In other words, ROI is not just a buzzword anymore—but it’s up to us to set the right goals for our business plan.
As we focus more on ROI we also realize that there’s no need to be present in every single social network. It’s better to spend our energy and our budget in the most relevant social platforms for our target audience as we’re able to narrow down our focus and our messaging.
Thus, more marketers spend time on fewer yet more relevant social platforms. The choice depends on the company’s goals, their industry, and their audience’s online habits. Why should your B2B company join Instagram if you’re targeting 50+ business professionals?
In fact, Snapchat has probably lost the biggest audience in 2018, since both marketers and users moved to other platforms. It was estimated that only 8% of marketers used Snapchat as part of their strategy in Q1 2018.
We’ve finally come to terms with the fact that organic and paid social need to come together. We may have gone through a denial phase measuring the ongoing drop of the organic traffic on Facebook, but it’s time to embrace the change.
Paid social has gained an even more significant role over the last year, and it is imperative for a complete social media marketing strategy to involve both organic and paid growth.
Marketers need both of them to create a balance between their existing audience and their prospect followers. Facebook has made it quite clear that organic marketing will not survive without a paid budget in their platform. This was the final push for any cautious marketers who weren’t using Facebook Ads in the past years.
However, there is still the need to be strategic in different areas, from managing your budget to targeting engagement.
Another sign of maturity from marketers is the fact that influencers are not measured by the number of followers anymore. We now place higher value on the relevance and context of collaboration.
Influencer marketing is heading into a phase of transparency with clear indications of paid partnerships between influencers and brands.
There’s no need to request a big budget to seal a collaboration with the biggest celebrity to promote your campaign. Micro influencers and vloggers have turned into the new generation of celebrities. They don’t necessarily have a massive audience but they have loyal and extremely engaged fans.
A brand can have far better success with a relevant vlogger with 50k subscribers rather than an influencer with 2m fans. This change comes from the changing algorithms, the users’ cautiousness when it comes to fake stories, and the genuine need of belonging in a community. People have more chances to connect with an everyday blogger who found growing success rather than a top model who may be working with multiple brands every week.
This doesn’t mean that collaborations of larger scale don’t exist anymore, but they have a clear purpose and they can be more successful in the awareness and the exposure of big brands. If you don’t have the budget, you can still promote your campaign with more relevant micro influencers.
A key point that led to the maturity of social media marketing has to do with the increased focus on data. It’s more common than ever to build data-driven campaigns and messaging on social media and this comes down to using the right tools.
Marketing technology has seen an explosive growth and we’re reaping the benefits of it. There are numerous tools to measure the performance of your social media campaigns.
You can use social media analytics to:
The right use of technology can make it easier for you to talk about social ROI while proving the areas of growth. There’s no need to focus on vanity metrics like simply the number of followers or number of clicks.
In fact, you can even save time by automating the generation of your reports.
It’s not easy to predict the future of social media marketing but we can tell that it’s heading towards an era where the most successful brands will be the ones that know their audience.
The more time you spend on understanding your audience, the easier it will be to build trust with the right messaging and the most relevant campaigns.
As people get more cautious with social media, marketers need to reassure them by creating campaigns that highlight a brand’s human element.
Trust and accountability across social platforms will be crucial to strategy.
The best way to maintain a successful social media marketing strategy is to keep a close eye on the social media updates without ignoring your audience’s needs.
We can’t predict which social platforms we’ll be using in five years, but we can still ensure that our strategies will be agile enough to maintain the relevance of our marketing plans.
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