This Saturday marks the ninth anniversary of Social Media Day, a day to recognize the impact of social media on global communications.
Social media has changed how we communicate in every facet of society from entertainment to politics and education to business. Posts from celebrities, political figures and influencers are dominating newsfeeds on a daily basis. Business has taken to social media as an instrument for account-based marketing and social selling. Social influencers have transformed their use of social media by using innovative and interactive strategies.
For Social Media Day, I thought it most appropriate to look back on five of 2017’s social media predictions and review where they are today.
1. Data Privacy and Regulation (GDPR)
Last year, many sales professionals and marketers worried about how GDPR would affect social media marketing and social selling. Effective last month, companies were required to adjust their strategies to be compliant with GDPR. This is on-trend with the prediction of privacy taking precedence in social media interactions. Social network companies have been working diligently to keep users informed about their privacy rights. Companies are prioritizing user privacy – permissions, data expiration dates, opt-outs, etc. – while maintaining the freedom to communicate and stay connected with consumers.
2. The emerging importance of paid ads
It was expected that companies would grow more dependent on paid ads to reach prospects and clients through social platforms. This is due to the shift in user experience favoring revenue-producing service offerings. Users may not have an appetite to pay for their multiple social media profiles but they do tend to click on and buy products/services through ads.
Organic ads and posts have taken a backseat to paid ads and understandably so; LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook have operating costs and are revenue-seeking organizations. This means that companies on these social platforms must make an investment to reach a target audience. Others may seek to refine their organic growth strategies with employee advocacy and strategic postings but today, social marketers and sellers are encouraged to boost their posts with paid ads to influence targeted buyers.
3. More social noise than ever before
Social noise is getting louder, which means that content machines are spitting out so many pieces and assets but we’re too busy plugging our ears that we can’t hit the stop button. Not really, but this is causing brand fatigue. Companies have invested in brand-written content with the hopes of exposing their messages and engaging more prospects. The over-saturation of information may lead to some consumers feeling less interested in sponsored or branded content.
What to do? Research shows that consumers are more likely to interact with independent sources of information. That means beefing up influencer strategies, including brand partnerships, employee advocacy and influencer alliances. Companies must continue to build relationships with other brands and influencers to get the message out to networks and partners. The pressure is on to develop better, more autonomous and verifiable avenues of communication. Basically, the more social you are with other social people, the more likely you’ll break through the noise.
4. Content is still king
Creating tons of noisy content isn’t enough this year. Brands must generate content that drives interactive web experiences and engages prospects while producing leads. This means that social media marketers and sellers need to build experiences that establish thought leadership in a compelling, animated and visually stimulating way.
Consumers are seeking more honest and relatable content that provides a clear understanding of the product and service offerings, how they work and what problems they will solve. In the spur of creating content, remember to lead with brand integrity. Strive to educate buyers making content easy to understand so that they can determine their own paths to buying decisions. Above all, be authentic.
5. Videos, videos and more videos
A final prediction is the domination of videos on social feeds. Cisco forecasted that 82% of all 2018 consumer internet traffic would be video-based. Videos have even been given their own paid ad format and almost half of businesses on social media have implemented social videos, which Cisco’s same study forecasted around 26% more businesses are planning to implement video strategies this year.
Video is making its mark on social media, but what should marketers and sellers be focused on when using this strategy to produce leads and push sales through the pipe? Views and clicks are nice but pay attention to who is watching your videos and what they are taking from them. The call-to-action and how well the message resonates with your target audience is far more important than how “viral” a video goes. Remember, the goal is to reach actual customers who want to buy something. An amazing video experience can drive amazing ROI.
As a B2B social media manager charged with directing the social media strategy for marketing and social selling, I am enthusiastically addressing the challenges brought on by the changes and trends seen in the social media marketing world.
As creators and marketers, there is work to be done to build effective social strategies that build engagement, drive lead generation and accelerate sales.
For those that are up for the challenge and are willing to keep up with the social trends, get ready to see bigger, more engaged audiences that will produce strong ROI for your organizations.