As 2018 nears its conclusion, business owners and marketers should be thinking about what they can do to make their companies more successful in the new year. And I hope that somewhere near the top of their priorities list is finding ways to leverage their social media channels more effectively.
Gone are the days when companies are able to treat social media as an afterthought, or as a supplemental marketing channel. Today, social media platforms are where a business has an opportunity to consistently demonstrate its value, and reinforce its voice. Social networks are the go-to platforms where customers ask questions, offer accolades, and air complaints. No business can ignore the significance of its social media presence, because it influences how people perceive its brand.
So what can you do to bolster your brand’s success through social media in 2019?
I’ve always been cautious about making social media predictions because the ideal social strategy is unique for every business, however there are some online marketing trends I believe are worth considering as you evaluate which tactics will help grow your business.
1. The growing importance of personal branding to business branding
Particularly for small businesses, putting a real, human face to a brand name helps to build loyalty. A brand that’s more relatable, and has the human element, naturally garners more trust, and trust is essential for building relationships.
One way to humanize a brand is to promote the personal brand of the business owner or a high-level leader. This tactic has become a staple for many organizations, as demonstrated through guest blogging, podcast and webinar appearances, and other publicity opportunities. By enabling your audiences to get to know the character and expertise of company leadership, a business can strengthen its brand reputation.
I expect that businesses which embrace this in 2019 will have a distinct advantage over companies that hide behind their logo.
2. Long-form content for making an SEO impact
While word count is not the only thing that can impact how prominently an article will appear on search engine results pages, SEO experts agree that long-form content can give you an edge.
Although Google doesn’t penalize blog posts if they fail to reach a certain word count threshold, it stands to reason that a high-quality article with 1,600 words will likely outrank a high-quality article with 500 words. It’s for that reason that I believe we’re seeing more publishers requiring guest authors to submit articles with a minimum of 1,000 or more words.
I believe we’ll see more company blogs embracing long-form content, and incorporating it into their content strategies. Therefore, businesses that have found they aren’t getting SEO traction with short posts may want to “go long” and add more comprehensive articles, rich with information and insight, in order to both attract readers and give Google a reason to rank them more favorably.
3. Acceleration of personalized marketing
With more companies digging into their data and using it to create customized marketing campaigns which target individuals' interests at different points in the buyer's journey, the pressure is on.
Customers have come to expect brands to tailor special offers and discounts to their wants and needs. To accommodate that expectation, more businesses will need to consider targeted advertising and retargeting campaigns on social media channels.
I anticipate that social platforms will continue to refine their targeting offerings as the demand for individualized content grows.
4. Video’s prominence as the preferred form of content
According to research by Wyzowl, 97% of marketers say that video has helped increase user understanding of their product or service, and 76% indicated that it has helped increase web traffic and sales. That doesn’t seem far-fetched, given that 95% of people have watched explainer videos to learn more about a product or service, and 81% have bought a product or service as a result of watching a brand’s video.
Live-streaming will continue its emergence as a powerful way to engage people on social media. According to statistics compiled by Go-Globe, two-thirds of all internet traffic in 2017 was streaming video. By 2020, 82% of internet traffic is expected to be video content.
I see video's prominence tied closely to the first trend I mentioned - personal branding's influence on the business brand. Video allows for a company to put a face to the business. It enables prospects and customers to get to know who leads and works in a business. Video gives businesses an opportunity to show not only what they do but also "who" they are.
5. “Pay to play”—the path to more exposure
In 2012, brands could expect, on average, that 16% of their fans would see their Facebook updates. Fast forward to 2018, and that reach has plummeted to about 6% (often less).
With the diminishing organic reach of business content, most companies will need to invest in sponsored posts, boosted posts, and social media ads if they want to stay top of mind.
Fortunately, social media advertising doesn’t have to break the bank; a small amount of money can go a long way.
Change: An Ever-Constant Trend
The one trend you can always count on resurfacing year after year is that businesses must, to some degree, adjust their social media approach to gain broader awareness, and increase engagement with customers.
Mark Zuckerberg once said, “Figuring out what the next big trend is tells us what we should focus on.” And while that might be true for Facebook, you should also realize that it isn’t always so for every business.
The thing about trends is that following them doesn’t guarantee success - I advocate for paying attention to social media trends, but before you jump on the bandwagon, carefully evaluate before incorporating them into your marketing strategy, and ensure that you always remain consistent with your brand and business efforts.