The days when social media was all about increasing followers are gone. Welcome the more mature phase! This shouldn't be necessarily a bad, more boring phase but how can we marketers adapt to the changing world of it all?
How social media is changing
The landscape is changing and this can affect past and current strategies, but failure to adapt means a success in failure. We're all connected more than ever and using smartphones at an ever increasing rate. As of July, 2018 there have been more than 4.4 billion active internet users and 3.6 billion users of social media. As more people use their smartphones to access the internet, marketers have already adjusted their strategies to make campaigns ever more appealing. Constant connectivity has made people far more demanding and omnipresent brand messaging makes it harder for many businesses to stand out.
The users of social media might be increasing, however, marketers need to be creative in reaching audience clearly. This is how we've reached this point of maturity on social media with brands and users seeking a greater user experience.
Growing privacy concerns and the need to build trust
It's been a very turbulent year for social media users with many becoming concerned by their privacy. The Cambridge Analytica scandal earlier in the year and the continued censorship and de-monitizing by the major platforms have not only changed influencer behaviours but also consumers.
24% of teens in the US feel social media has a negative effect on people. Bullying, rumour spreading and harmful relationships are the main concerns. Social platforms seem to be aware of these concerns and they're trying to address them to ensure they're not missing out on these younger demographics.
The most successful brands will be the ones which manage the consumers trust over the next few years. Marketers similarly are heading into black hat techniques looking the make small gains and keep unhappy clients whilst also misleading them.
The changing algorithms that affect the social media game
Facebook & Google both love to change their algorithm and although we can't do anything about them, to keep up with them is key to max out your potential and campaigning online. For example, Facebook's latest algorithm update encourages marketers to create more engaging content if they wish to stay relevant. Organic reach continues to drop and Clickbait methods are no longer welcome. The demand for video and live streaming continues and is only going to continue to grow. Increasingly the way to manage your audience is to post engaging content that you also engage on, thus building a community. Marketers must be aware of their strategy and updates that can negatively affect this and opportunities to take advantage of too.
Instagram has also gained rapidly for marketers and users and further updated their algorithm earlier this year. As you'd expect being owned by Facebook, they've progressed in the engagement direction. The more their followers engage with the brand, the higher their chances to maintain visibility on their feeds.
How get more serious with social media marketing
More marketers realise that evaluating your strategies regularly - many not realising this is the industry of all industries to move fast. However, the wider understanding is that social media is now turning into a business tool and there are areas for a more serious focus:
As the Income Generation Experts, we've seen this coming and from a business point of view made ROI our defining point from the outset. Everything else comes second. Awareness and engagement are vital, so is increased followers... but if they're not turning into business for the client, that client won't stay around. ROI has tended to a be a common challenge until now, with new updates software and API's tracking everything the potential customer is doing and giving readable feedback. 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.
2. Focusing on the right platforms
As we're focussed on ROI, we also must realise there's not a need for every company to be present across all social media platforms. This in essence is the mass marketing vs niche marketing analogy. It is more time efficient to focus on your platforms with the clients target audience and narrow from there, rather than, post everything across all platforms as that must contain the clients target audience (which also cheapens their brand).
The choice obviously 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? No, Linkedin.
3. Blending organic and paid social
Finally organic meets paid social! While many may have gone through a denial process, we've been embracing the recalculating of the rankings between the two. Marketers need both to create a balance between their own existing audience and also their prospect followers. Facebook made it quite clear their organic marketing will not survive without a paid budget in their platform leading to a push in paid traffic for sure. However, the end-user is always looking for more organic/engaging content.
4. From Influencers to Micro
Another sign of maturity is the fact that influencers aren't just ranked on followers anymore. We now have a higher value and appreciation of active audiences vs dormant numbers. Clear indications of paid partnerships are also coming into the fore with a forced transparency. 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.
There'll still be large scale collaborations but with a clear purpose. If you don't have the budget, you can still promote your campaign with more relevant micro-influencers.
5. Being more serious about analytics
An increased focus on data has been something we've all dealt with over the last few years, however, this is not slowing down... and won't for some time. The explosive growth has brought with it enormous benefits not least cost-savings and performance measuring.
You can use social media analytics to:
- Analyze your competitors’ performance
- Learn more about your audience
- Measure the success of your campaign
- Perform market research when testing new ideas
- Keep track of your mentions and your brand’s sentiment
- Follow the latest trends in your brand’s social profiles
- 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.