Over 2 billion people worldwide are actively using various social media networks, with the numbers set to grow by at least 25% with each passing year. Any business that has yet to jump onto the social media wagon is depriving itself of valuable outreach opportunities. More than 90% of businesses in the US now have active social networks and have witnessed exponential increases in exposure and even sales.
As the year begins, it's important to analyze the changes and trends in social media marketing world and hence take advantage of them to boost your company's position within your niche.
- Social media in the work environment
The brains behind social networks have been promising to give the market internal social networks - that is, networks that are only available within a company for employee communication, reducing and/or altogether eliminating the need for email communication. With this kind of system, employees no longer have to sift through thousands of messages for relevant communications or contend with the vexation of reply-to-all threads.
With innovations like Slack, however, the game is slowly changing. With an intuitive interface created amid theme-based chat rooms and search enable archives, Slack now enjoys more than a million active users in just two years, including everyone from NASA to the local diner employee base.
And that's just the beginning: Slack is already contending with competition from myriad different sources, including the still-in-trial Facebook at Work, which is being tested in a handful of companies. In just a few short months, we may expect it to be open to everyone, with free and premium options depending on organizational requirements. Given that Facebook is the leading social network, adoption is likely to be a breeze once the trial phase is up.
- Employees for social media marketing amplification
Most big businesses today have dedicated social media management teams, but few have the actual presence needed to make an impact within their niches. Only recently have some companies begun to make use of the all-important resources within their toolbox: their employees.
Through social advocacy methods, companies are encouraging their staff members to blow the trumpet on company news and updates using their personal accounts on social media. Such methods have been adopted by nearly 200% more companies than those which had tapped into employee advocacy by 2013. We can only expect more of this in the coming months.
Employee advocacy, if properly executed can result in huge payoffs, including building social audiences exponentially and at lesser cost to the marketing department. The reason for this is that content shared by individuals within social networks has greater engagement value to potential audiences than brand-profile-shared content. In addition, developers are working on tools to enable easier employee advocacy as it works its way into mainstream social marketing in the coming year.
3.Companies taking up social messaging
Studies have shown that there are almost 4 billion people actively using messaging apps, from Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to Kik and WeChat. What's more, the world's five most used applications in smartphones are solely messaging apps, whose users access them more often than they are on any social network.
So, how does this impact enterprise in 2016? Not by much, at present. Messaging apps still fit into the foggy category of social outreach methods referred to as 'dark social'. There's not much information about the kind of content brands are sharing through these apps and its impact on conversions, sales and website traffic. Some of the more forward brands are still testing the waters on this.
However, this may be the year in which we gain more insight into messaging apps' analytics, enabling companies to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by social messaging. Every major social network has its accompanying social messaging app, and one can expect that in just a short while they will come up with methods to harness this data for businesses' marketing efforts.
- Social media paid advertising comes of age
Have you noticed just how many more ads you have within your social networks' newsfeeds? Yeah, that's because they've been proven effective. Unlike your old-school banner advertising, social media networks have developed native advertising (such as promoted tweets, and Sponsored posts on Instagram and Facebook), which resemble normal updates likely to be shared among friends.
Such adverts are targeted for improved precision, with businesses now being able to narrow potential audiences by age, gender, location, interests, roles, and even company affiliations among many other qualities. Therefore, it's likely that you will only see ads that actually interest you.
Given these developments, companies increased their social advertising expenditures by more than 30 percent last year to over $24 billion, remarkable considering that almost no companies had social advertising about three years ago. Fueling this increase is a host of tools through which small business owners can design and pay for ads in a simplified process entailing just a few clicks.
5.Social video sharing
Social video sharing is now at its all-time high, with Facebook reporting over 8 billion video views daily in the last year - purported to be more than YouTube. Twitter also launched its native video feature last year, and Snapchat boasts about 6 billion daily views under its belt.
You can expect this to rise this year, with Facebook working on extra features like Suggested Videos and the possibility of dedicated video feeds. It is no wonder therefore that over 50 percent of companies consider video communication to be one of their most effective online marketing tools, with two in every three planning to make video a dominant part of their 2016 strategy.
If your company is still reluctant to launch into social video, perhaps due to the prohibitive costs involved, there are many alternatives coming into the scene: 15-second videos on Instagram and 8-second Vines being two.
One needs no magic 8-ball to see where the social media marketing sceneis headed in 2016. It is plain as day that social media has become just as important a marketing strategy for companiesas SEO and other older online marketing techniques, with the potential to explode even further than any other. The right time to join the scene for your company is yesterday, but now is the next best thing.