In January of 2018, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made an announcement that had social media marketers everywhere wondering - is this the end?
“Recently we've gotten feedback from our community that public content -- posts from businesses, brands and media -- is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other… Based on this, we're making a major change to how we build Facebook. I'm changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.” - Mark Zuckerberg
With Facebook warning that users would began to see less public content like posts from businesses and brands, it’s no wonder that digital marketers and business owners began to wonder what the future of social holds. Is it time to abandon ship?
The answer is no. The social media sea is expected to grow to some 2.5 billion users in 2018 and marketers are learning how to shift the tide of social media marketing rather than getting out of the ocean.
Here’s where to focus your social media marketing efforts in 2018.
Take Influencer Marketing to the Next Level
Influencer marketing isn’t new - in recent years brands have flocked to influencers to help sell their products on social media. And it’s working:
- 74% of people trust social networks to guide them to purchase decisions
- 49% of people rely on influencer recommendations
- 75% of all marketers claim to have allocated money for influencer marketing
But influencer marketing isn’t relegated to paying huge celebrities tens of thousands of dollars for a single post. Here’s how influencer marketing is evolving for 2018:
Go Beyond the ‘Gram
In 2017, Instagram was the #1 platform for 92% of influencers. Instagram may be the reigning king of influencer marketing platforms, but don’t rule out the others. These same influencers are active on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Youtube, and Pinterest.
A recent study showed that nearly 40% of Twitter users said that a social media influencer tweet lead to a purchase. Cast a wider net when looking for influencers to market your brand/ product this year.
Trusted users that have established credibility with their audience, social media influencers are on the upswing. However, marketers who depend on them are trending towards a less-is-more approach by turning to micro-influencers.
These are users on social media platforms that have a smaller audience – somewhere between one and ten thousand followers – than their million-follower counterparts. Marketing to a smaller following may seem counterintuitive but there is a method to the madness.
- 82% of customers said they’d be very likely to follow a recommendation from a micro-influencer
- 97% of micro-influencers on Instagram charge less than $500 for a post
- Micro-influencers generate 60% greater engagement than other campaigns
The reason is simple: today’s consumers crave authenticity. Micro-influencers are real people, not celebrities and not brands. When a highly-engaged audience of a micro-influencer sees them promoting a product or service, the recommendation feels authentic.
Let’s say you want to pay an influencer for a post highlighting your new line of protein drinks. On one hand, you could pay a famous musician tens of thousands of dollars (or more) to feature your product in a post. But how many of their 2-million followers actually care about fitness or health products?
On the other hand, you can find a local fitness guru with 5,000 highly-engaged followers who may be willing to highlight your new protein drink for hundreds of dollars. A recommendation from this micro-influencer is going to feel far more authentic.
Micro-influencers may have fewer total follower compared to a celebrity, but their smaller audience is far more likely to engage.
- Users with less than 1,000 followers generally received likes on their posts 8% of the time.
- Users with 10 million+ followers only received likes 1.6% of the time.
Visibility on a micro-influencer page actually yields a higher payoff, reminding us that bigger isn’t always better for social media marketing in 2018 – authenticity is.
Embrace Ephemeral Content
The growing popularity of content that only lasts a short while, such as stories on Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook, has social media marketers trending toward the curation of temporary content. This ephemeral content creates a feeling of intimacy and authenticity with viewers, cultivating feelings of trust in a brand.
Think beyond the post and start engaging with your audience with stories on Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram, instead.
Posting social stories regularly keeps you at the top of your followers news feed. While changing algorithms can have an impact on who sees your post in their newsfeed, posting a story guarantees that your brand will get seen at the very top of your audience’s screens. The fleetingness of this content can also be a benefit, it’s a great way to create a buzz and sense of urgency. Get your micro-influencers or audience involved, too - schedule 24-hour “takeovers” and let someone else contribute to your story for the day.
Up the Engagement with Everyday Joe
34% of consumers turn to a brand’s social media accounts to resolve support issues, yet 73% of people report negative experiences with brands on social. The issue is clear: your customers see your social media accounts as an extension of your customer service department … and most of you are failing their expectations.
Here’s how you can improve your engagement and turn customers into loyal advocates for your brand: respond quickly and personally.
51% of consumers expect a response within an hour, but the average response time for brands is 4 hours (or longer).
People who tag a brand in their social post love getting a response, and brands are starting to see the marketing value in the exchange. Forging a one-on-one connection with a follower not only reinforces their affinity for your brand, but also cultivates a feeling of brand sincerity for those who witness the exchange.
Remember that your social media channels have a purpose beyond basic engagement - think of them as an extension of your customer service department. Be sure to respond quickly and be personable. And if someone mentions your brand in a post, be sure to respond just like you would if they called or emailed your customer service department.
Appealing to Gen Z
Marketing to millennials is so 2017. As the youngest of Gen Z reaches the ripe old age of 22, marketing trends are going to turn their focus toward the up and coming generation of consumers.
More tech savvy then any generation before them, this group of young adults was born well into the era of modern technology. Never having lived a day on this earth without the convenience of an internet search or having had the experience of scrounging up a quarter so they could make a call from a pay phone, this generation is glued to social media.
2-3 times more likely to make purchasing decisions based on social media influence than on sales or discounts, social media marketing to Gen Z will show a trend of focusing on platforms that are popular with this demographic such as Snapchat and Instagram.
They may not be a particularly brand loyal bunch, but they do expect more social media interaction with the brands they commit to. Breaking the mold for marketers, Generation Z will be bringing change to the way brands appeal to buyers, both on and off social media platforms.
Video consumption on social media has grown in recent years. In fact, social media users are putting in an average time of six hours per week watching videos.
What does this mean for marketers? A shift towards incorporating video into social media brand engagement.
Consumers are not only watching videos for pleasure, but rather are making some of the spending choices based on videos they see. A lot of their choices, in fact.
Almost three quarters (74%) of consumers reported a connection between a video they viewed on social media and their decision to make a purchase.
This means brands that aren’t yet incorporating video into their social media marketing plan will be missing the bus on a proven conversion opportunity in 2018.
The world of social media marketing is an ever changing space which ebbs and flows with the trends and opinions of over a billion users. Armed with information for what to expect in 2018, you are now able to forge ahead with social media marketing plan that is current and effective.
And you can surely expect to see a plethora of changes in the coming years... social’s not dead by a long shot.