While most non-believers remain paralyzed by that now famous line, "What's the ROI of Social Media?"...year after year passes them by without ever developing a solid social plan.
For those businesses who still struggle with this question, the bottom line here is that you really need to focus. There is so much information out there as to how you can successfully set metrics that allow your business to track and measure results, it's mind boggling. If you have already jumped in- great. For those still searching for results, maybe you need to look inward at yourself, your team or your agency.
To be clear, a basic social strategy needs to set realistic goals and objectives. Develop measureable campaigns with set milestones that allow you to monitor success. Remember to deliver valuable content, be consistent, offer relevant advice and you will have the opportunity to become the authority in your space.
So with 2015 right around the corner, let's look at the most recent changes to the social landscape and how they will impact everyone's businesses. We'll also outline some other marketing areas that need watching.
Facebook - Earlier this month, Facebook broke the news that they will be rolling out a new Calls to Action feature for Facebook pages. As pages remain an essential destination for people on Facebook, the hope here is that this feature will allow businesses to drive clearer business objectives. Admins will be able to select from a group of CTA buttons - like Sign Up, Shop Now and more. Best of all, these CTA buttons can be linked to a destination of your choice either on or off Facebook. These features will begin rolling out over the next few weeks and can clearly be used to boost new customer acquisition.
FB adds auto-enhance to photos uploaded via iOS - check your settings as you can control it now or just turn it on and off.
As some individuals head for the exits, Facebook remains a critical portal for all businesses. The sheer numbers (1 billion active users) will not allow you to leave or not be active. Now with that being said, it's going to cost you to play. However, once you adjust to this new marketing reality, you'll quickly recognize that it's just another cost that needs to be built in to your yearly budget.
LinkedIn - LinkedIn continues to refine its platform with a New Homepage Design. The hope here is that you will be able to stay more closely connected with your professional world. The new dashboard layout is geared to provide instant feedback on how you're doing:
- How many people have viewed you
- How status updates are performing
- Get deeper insights
- Strengthen your connections
- Stay connected with the people that matter
- And more
LinkedIn continues build on its networking strengths with its focus on its members and the new homepage. As more and more emphasis is put on ease of use, watch for LinkedIn to continue to dominate the professional connection space.
Instagram - rolls out a total of five new filters. As you can imagine these new filters are directly influenced by the photography, design, and art and fashion Instagram communities.
Google - the good folks over at Google launched the Video Analytics page in AdWords for video. This revamp offers more detailed information regarding YouTube performance with the goal of helping marketers create better videos with emphasis on improvement and optimization.
For Business Marketer in 2015
Let's begin by outlining the benefits of social media marketing for businesses both now and moving into 2015
-Increased brand exposure and traffic - through their social efforts, 93% of all business have seen a significant increase in their exposure while more than 80% have seen an increase in web traffic.
-Using social media to develop a loyal fan base - most marketers are using social media to develop loyal fans (74% of those surveyed) and gain overall marketplace intelligence (71%).
-Improve sales - more than half of all marketers reported that social media has directly helped to increase sales. Conversely, half have said that social media has not helped them increase sales. Social media does take time to develop and those who have not seen success may not have the right plan or be using the correct tools to analyze and track results.
A recent survey released by StronView stated that business leaders are very optimistic about their marketing budgets. The survey goes on to reveal that:
- 54% expect budgets to increase from last year, while 40% will maintain the current levels.
- 33% of those surveyed expect at least a 10% growth.
- Digital marketing efforts-email, along with social media marketing, will see budget increases.
- Traditional marketing budgets will decrease.
Email marketing is back - Now some will argue that it never left; however, certain businesses have certainly lost interest in list building. In 2015, email marketing needs to again become a primary channel of focus. Because, done correctly, it remains a solid method of attracting new investments. With that, 61% of businesses will increase spend and efforts in this area.
Companies are also expected to increase spending on Social Media 48.9% and Mobile 40.2%
Online - Offline integration - Will be a top priority. In 2015, 50% of all digital marketers point to cross-channel marketing as a priority, followed by a more-smoothly integrated online and offline efforts. Also, more businesses will feel compelled to shift offline budgets into online digital segments, like social media. Currently, only thirty-one percent feel they have the right mix between the two.
In general, 2015 looks to be another big year for digital online marketing. On the social side its clear your business will need to be active; just be aware that this landscape changes quickly.
Closing points worth mentioning...
- No surprise here, make your blog the foundation of your online marketing. Produce high value quality content (videos, infographics etc.), and use it to drive traffic back to your website.
- Use lead capture to measure your marketing success.
- Shift your approach. Due to Facebook's algorithm changes and the impact that has had on overall post reach, you should incorporate FB Ads as a support mechanism to gain more exposure.
- Yes, Facebook is free, but in order to gain more reach and target your specific audience...you'll have to pay for it.
- Learn how to use Power Editor. (look for our training course release soon)
- Photos will continue to dominate post engagement, hint...75% rule, use more photos.
- Look hard at your hashtag strategy, as they will continue to gain you more traction.
- Retargeting will continue to produce more results, but make sure it's right for your business. (for retail, ecommerce, it's a no-brainer)
- Pinterest- as a traffic source, refocus your efforts, and use it to acquire more valuable data. (lead capture)
- Instagram- will remain a platform of choice because of its pure visual impact. Integrate this into your marketing plan, and get active.
- Twitter- will remain a real-time network and look for them to grow their stand alone app segment
As you can imagine, we could go on and on, but really businesses should look at breaking 2015 into plan segments. Set your new plans in motion, set measureable goals and monitor results. If you continue to miss the mark, stop, analyze why and tweak accordingly. Stay on top of things, and 2015 could very well be the year your business breaks down the online marketing barriers.