Another year's gone and here we are standing at the beginning of 365-days of opportunity that lie ahead of us. While 2015 was an exciting year for social media marketers, 2016 promises a host of changes and opportunities. All we need to do is leverage them to improve our social media marketing strategy. In fact, now is the perfect time to wipe the slate clean and get a leg up on your competition.
Here are three social media efforts you should consider utilizing in 2016 to better connect with your audiences and create a greater impact.
1. Do Live Video Streaming
The popularity of video in the social landscape is nothing new, but in 2016 it's going to be a bit different. Businesses, large or small, are more likely to invest in live-streaming this year, though likely for different purposes. B2C companies, for example, will look to leverage live-streaming to humanize their brands with 'the face behind the brand' and/or 'behind-the-scenes' videos. This, in turn, will help brands forge connections and build loyalty with their customers.
B2B companies, on the other hand, will invest in live-streaming to share valuable information with their clients (both existing and potential). They'll use videos to explain how their products/services can benefit the clients, making their job easier and improving efficiency. Live-streaming can also be used by B2B companies to show the real-time impact of their products and services, as well as the dedication and hard work of their team. This too can help to establish authentic and emotional connection with customers.
Video hosting company Wistia, for example, recently created a "Take a Survey" video to collect useful feedback. They featured the entire company doing the Hustle and the infectious and sincere enjoyment of its people helped Wistia create an emotional connection with their audience. This year, we might see similar activations live and in real-time.
2. Connect with Social Media Influencers
Brands have been partnering with celebrities for a long time. Why? Because they can influence people's purchase decisions, and in the age of social media, that influence has expanded two-fold. However, it's not just celebrities that can encourage consumer purchase decisions. Even eminent bloggers and social media influencers are able to wield such influence - it's therefore no surprise that brands have been partnering with them as well in recent times.
Done well, influencer marketing converts better than paid media. It involves talking to your audience through a voice they trust, but influencer marketing's more than a celebrity endorsing your brand or a blogger spreading awareness about your products/services. Your influencers are people who are well-versed and popular within your particular industry or niche, and have great social reach. They can be industry professionals, thought-leaders, bloggers and/or influential consumers; it's all about generating word-of-mouth recommendation - and that can lead to "twice the sales of paid advertising."
The luxury fashion brand Lord & Taylor got 50 Instagram influencers to wear the same dress last year and post a picture of themselves on the photo-sharing network on the same day. The result? The dress, available from Lord & Taylor, was sold out the following weekend.
Industry experts predict that the popularity of influencer marketing will continue to rise in 2016, and further than that. Nielsen, for example, found that consumers' trust in social, mobile and online advertising is growing, and influencers play a big part in that.
And the best part of this form of advertising? You don't need to worry about ad blockers, unlike other forms.
3. Social Media Advertising and Social Commerce
Investing in organic social media efforts won't be enough this year. Although organic reach will continue to play a significant role, businesses now also need to focus on their paid social media efforts as well. According to Statista, Facebook's advertising revenue is likely to reach $17.23 billion in 2016. eMarketer, on the other hand, predicts that ad revenue at Facebook will reach $21.43 billion, representing $61.06 per user revenue in the U.S.
Although Twitter and other social channels are lagging way behind Facebook when it comes to advertising revenue, the numbers are gradually increasing. Facebook, for example, has already introduced 360 ads for immersive user experiences. YouTube too has added 360 ads while Instagram opened for advertisers with its action-oriented ad format. You should therefore invest in social media advertising this year, along with your organic social media efforts, if you aren't doing so already. This is especially beneficial for new brands or companies launching new products/services as it makes it easier for people to discover your brand/offerings.
While it's important to have a proper social media advertising strategy in 2016, don't just stop there. Social media sites can not only engaged your customers and drive traffic to your website, they can also help you sell, right from your social account. Yes, we're talking about social commerce, which represented 5% of the total U.S. online retail revenue in 2015, equating to $15 billion in revenue.
Online retailers should pay close attention to social commerce - Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google are all offering various types of 'Buy' buttons to make social ads more effective.
Chances are, we're more likely to see many other changes in the social media landscape coming up in 2016. Take some time to reflect on your past social media marketing efforts and understand where you need to change and upgrade. Although this is not an extensive list, integrating these strategies into your social media marketing plan will help you maximize your social performance in 2016.
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