ocial media has become a critical ingredient to every advertiser’s marketing mix. Gone are the days in which social media was simply used for product discovery and awareness. Today, social media marketing plays an increasingly important role in driving intent and conversion within the consumer journey. But the world of social media is dynamic and in constant change.
Keeping up with social media evolution can be challenging for many marketers. From Facebook hearings to influencer transparency, here are five trends and areas of focus that advertisers should keep an eye on to stay on top of the social media marketing game.
Organic Reach Is Changing
The organic world of social content has been unfolding for some time and reflects a broader trend of the evolution happening in SEO. As Google, Facebook and Amazon cracked down with more updates and AI-driven technology, marketers have had to become savvier to reach consumers.
What does this mean for social media marketers? It’s time to change the game by investing in more useful, high-quality content that consumers actually want to see and engage with. Despite all the headlines about Facebook’s algorithm changes, it didn’t wipe out brands that effectively used organic content -- it weeded out those that didn’t. If your messaging didn’t produce “meaningful interactions” among users, you weren’t set up to win in the first place.
The next generation of content marketers needs to know how to create content that builds a bridge between business goals and consumer needs and desires. Invest in creating engaging social content, and you will continue to win organic social.
Social Ad Spend Continues To Rise
This year, Zenith Media predicts that online advertisers will outspend TV advertisers by $40 billion. A whopping 40% of this year's global ad spend will take place online. And more specifically, ad spend on social media is expected to increase by more than 20%, totaling $58 billion.
Even with the increased focus on paid social, the key to conversion for social media marketing lies in the call to action (CTA). Instagram has seen success from its “Shoppable Tags,” especially within the retail industry. As new and improved CTA options pop up everywhere from Snapchat to Twitter to YouTube, smart advertisers should continue to test new ways to garner action and sales from social media campaigns.
Facebook Still Reigns Supreme
Despite all the negative publicity regarding its data privacy and security practices, coupled with disappointing Q2 Wall Street performance, consumers still flock to the tech titan by the billions. Facebook's daily active users continued to rise in the second quarter to 2.23 billion, solidifying its stronghold as the most impactful social media platform for advertisers.
Sure, Facebook has frequently tinkered with its algorithm, and passive organic reach for businesses has been on the decline for years. But the reality is that advertisers on this social network can no longer rely on passive engagement to play the game. Marketing on Facebook now entails branding, video creation, remarketing, influencers, content marketing, data and analytics. The continuous changes on Facebook shouldn’t deter advertisers from the platform. Instead, brands should redefine the win with better data, analytics and optimization for both paid and organic efforts.
Chatbots Are Winning
The world has gone artificial intelligence crazy and, for marketers focused on storytelling, chatbots are the newest shiny thing to test on social media marketing programs. Chatbots within platforms like Facebook Messenger can help content marketers effectively communicate with an audience via an enhanced customer experience.
Leveraging its vast amount of user data, Facebook’s Messenger platform continues to add functions like in-chat payment, built-in natural language processing (NLP) and Handover Protocol. Though these tools are still in beta mode, some companies, like the beauty retailer Sephora, have already experienced success. As more companies embrace chatbot functionality, brands can improve customer service, engagement, speed to close, conversion rates and overall experience.
Ephemeral Content Will Lead The Pack For Younger Consumers
With billions of daily video views happening on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, marketers should not ignore the engagement that ephemeral (or short-lived) content can provide, especially with millennials and Generation Z-ers. Ephemeral content allows the user to engage with a brand on a more authentic level.
A well-crafted ephemeral content strategy can deliver stronger brand engagement and loyalty using the right mix of images, influencers and rich media, such as video. Marketers and their creative designers should reenvision their video strategy for ephemeral, given the content is short-lived and designed to create FOMO (fear of missing out), no matter the industry.
Leveraging CTAs is key to return on investment, and for ephemeral content that means the use of Snap Codes or Instagram Nametags. Through buyer personas and other audience segmentation tools, marketers can leverage ephemeral content as the purest form of social media storytelling.
Marketers should expect more changes in the social media landscape in the near term, which means the role of social media marketing will continue to evolve. Combining the power of continuous reach and the ability to optimize and target will elevate the winners on this platform to the next level.