Ensure your company stays ahead for maximum return on your digital investment
There was a time when social media was simply the high tech way in which teens gossiped and moms shared embarrassing family snaps with the world. They still do that, but social media has grown up to become a supremely high achieving marketing platform that no business can afford to ignore.
The rapid evolution of social media can make it bewildering, so it’s critical for marketers to keep their eyes on the latest trends and developments – or partner with a reputable communications specialist whose expertise will help them to leverage maximum value from social media channels.
As we edge towards the third decade of the 21st century, Amani Abuseedo, Dubai communications expert and director at 7G Media looks at the most prominent digital marketing trends leading the way.
The latest studies reveal that 95% of a video message is retained compared to just 10% of text, which goes a long way to explaining the massive rise of video. Already, 90% of all content shared by social media users is short video and, by 2020, around 80% of global internet traffic is likely to be attributed to video. People love it. It’s easy to absorb and matches their shorter attention spans. The biggest challenge, then, is how to capture an audience in seconds, since the next video is waiting just a finger swipe to the right. Video content needs to be immediately engaging, fresh, targeted and top quality. It should also be responsive to fit different platforms – and, above all, mobile friendly.
2. LIVE STREAMING
In line with the devotion to moving pictures, most social media channels have implemented live streaming options, with Facebook ahead of the pack. From events to live interviews, ‘how do I do it’ clips and company announcements, people love to feel part of the action. Planned, professionally delivered live stories can go a long way to increase customer engagement and extend a brand’s reach.
3. CHATBOTS & OTHER AI
Chatbots, like Siri and Cortana, are among a growing range of innovative applications using artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to have ‘conversations’ with humans. The bots recognise and automatically respond to word phrases sent online by users. Nothing can replace the personal touch of a human response but, integrated with social media platforms, well-programmed chatbots can provide 24/7 communication, so businesses are always available when their customers need them. This perceived real-time engagement enriches the brand relationship, ultimately driving sales and increasing revenue streams. With over a billion people on Facebook Messenger every month, for example, astute marketers could achieve huge engagement levels by proactively deploying chatbots.
4. MAINLY MOBILE
The digital future is mobile. With smartphone use steadily rising, seamless integration between all platforms is critical. If anything, the leverage lies with mobile-native applications, designed for scrolling rather than pagination. High quality content should include short, punchy headlines and perfectly cropped images for the smaller screen. Content creators need to carefully strategise for mobile to maximise use of every gigabyte.
5. DIVERSIFICATION & SOCIAL MEDIA AUDITING
It’s tempting to go all out and try to cover every possible social media channel. But, truthfully, certain channels are likely to be more expensive and less effective in reaching your target audiences than others. It’s helpful for marketers to periodically conduct a critical audit of their social media efforts, to see what’s really working and what is pointlessly exhausting their resources. The fantastic advantage of digital is that advanced site analytics can provide all the data you need to develop a tactically diverse social media presence that will provide an improved return on investment.
6. INFENCER MARKETING
The dwindling persuasive ability of advertisers has been replaced by the astounding sway of social media influencers, who have access to huge numbers of potential customers. The power of influencer marketing lies in these popular individuals’ apparent authenticity and their reach. Increasingly, companies are partnering with micro influencers (with between a thousand and a hundred thousand followers) rather than big celebrities to enhance their credibility. They are more cost effective and they tend to leverage higher brand engagement rates. As long as marketers carefully research and find the right influencers for their brand’s target audience, and establish solid relationships with them, this avenue of social media marketing is a winner.
7. PAID ADVERTISING
Paid advertising has gained traction. It notches social media strategies up another level to take advantage of the precise demographic targeting that the algorithms of these channels can offer. Instagram crossed the two-million paid advertiser mark in 2017, closing the gap on Facebook’s six million plus. These platforms make it easy to set an advertising budget, reach a precise audience and experiment with a variety of ad options. Again, it will pay companies to utilise expert services in the creation and management of social media advertisements rather than think they can go it alone.
8. SOCIAL LISTENING
Social media monitoring, also disturbingly known as listening, is the way in which companies or brands can keep track of what the online world is saying about them. If you’re invested in social media marketing, it certainly pays to utilise a good social listening tool to track and assess the keywords, hash tags and URLs commonly used on social media by your target market.
9. AUGMENTED REALITY
Using augmented reality on mobile devices is a fun, fresh and interactive way to engage with social media audiences. Quite simply, augmented reality uses technology to superimpose images, text and sounds onto the viewer’s real world. For marketers, it offers an innovative opportunity to convert audiences into shoppers by virtually projecting their products into their lives. IKEA was one of the first brands to jump on the AR bandwagon, with their ‘Place’ app cleverly enabling iPhone users to see how items would fit into their homes before buying. L’Oreal similarly entices users to ‘test’ makeup and hairstyles before purchasing. With a little imagination, the possibilities are endless. Social media marketing is likely to drive AR into the mainstream.
10. EPHEMERAL CONTENT
When your stories regularly feature at the top of your social media followers’ feed, your brand stays top of mind. Ephemeral content – which exists no more than 24 hours before disappearing forever – is a great way to sustain that position. First introduced by Snapchat, get-ahead marketers are now developing social media strategies that include short-lived stories, because they are enjoyed as authentic, do not annoyingly clutter people’s timelines, and they exploit people’s fear of missing out. Ephemeral content is a valuable tool to drive flash sales, events and launch campaigns, but it does require invested time and thoughtful development.