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You probably already know that having a cohesive and well-integrated social media strategy is, at least for most businesses, truly integral to any digital marketing strategy. But most people would also agree that there are so many social media platforms and activities these days, it’s difficult to know where to focus our energy. This likely will ring true on both a personal and business level.
As we move into 2018 and beyond, it’s time to narrow down some of the best social media platforms and approaches to stick with. There will, of course, be some variation depending on your business and overall strategy, but these are certainly some strong candidates.
1. Influencers Rule
Especially for millennials and “Gen Z” (the generation younger than millennials, influencer marketing is huge. This is the use of marketing partnerships to advertise products, either implicitly or explicitly. The idea behind this is that following people have a more personal connection than following an actual product, and this may also have an emotional relevance as well.
Ephemeral content like Instagram stories are going to continue to be popular because the direct, real-life way that they affect people. The fact that they are fleeting also gives them a special quality that appeals to the emotions. Influencers will continue to tap into strategies like this as well, through various platforms, to offer a more intimate experience.
2. Know your Buyer Persona
Okay, if we actually knew everything about our target customer or audience, it would all be pretty easy, but the truth is, we’ll never completely get inside their head! Even with advances in AI which help us to understand consumer behavior and the like better than ever, we’ll never completely know what buyers are thinking. However, with the right type of research we can easily get a gist of the types of things our customers—both current and potential—are looking for, then base our strategy on this.
Your persona is essentially a creation of your own that “describes” your ideal buyer in order to allow you to target your marketing to catch their attention. It’s a good idea to develop a few versions of this and use them as part of your testing as you try out different strategies.
Things you will want to consider and observe as you build your buyer persona include:
- The type of work that a person may be performing
- Their interests
- Their income
- Their location
- Their age
- The way they share content
- Their pain points
- Their life goals
- Things their family and friends like to do
- This kind of research is ongoing and will be continually used to define and refine your overall marketing strategy.
3. Get Emotional and Dynamic
Appealing to people’s emotions is one of the best ways to have your brand stick with them. Remember your brand. Emotionally, people are looking to tap into an experience, and there may be no better way to do this than through virtual reality.
Toms is a shoe company that’s known for their philanthropy because they give away a pair of shoes for every one that is purchased. They developed an ingenious VR tool that helped to create an experience of a giving trip where they would go to Peru and gift someone a shoe. They set this up in-store for customers to experience. This is a perfect example of not only using new technology to sell, but also tapping into the experience of philanthropy.
This is a great example of using VR to appeal to touch into an emotional, feelings-based marketing campaign, which can be the most effective way of selling a product at the best of times. Use whatever you can to create meaningful, engaging experiences that really touch the hearts of your users.
The most engaging types of social media these days are immersive, multimedia experiences. They should be as dynamic as possible and also have an original slant. They should not only demonstrate creativity, but also offer the users to get creative as well if that’s something that’s in line with a given product in a campaign.
You may be surprised at which platforms are expected to stick around as the most popular in the next few years. Instagram video (ephemeral content) is expected to be big, as are LinkedIn and Facebook.
4. Social Market Research
Facebook & Twitter Polls: Facebook and Twitter each offer poll options to help you understand what your customers are looking for in the context of your business or product. These are extremely useful tools, and they’re free, so any social media marketer would do well to take advantage of these in order to target their marketing. This is a free opportunity to do market research, but it’s also something that many customers think is fun---especially if you can design the polls like quizzes.
Typeform: Speaking of quizzes, Typeform is a great starting point and free tool if you want to build customized quizzes and polls for your audience and send them through your social feeds and email campaigns. It’s free and very user-friendly.
Survey Monkey: Survey Monkey has been around for a long time and it remains one of the most popular means of creating surveys, polls, and other types of questionnaires. It’s entirely affordable and easy to use both for the creator and the user.
5. Be on the Lookout for New Tools
There are so many great tools out there that can help us to organize and analyze our social media, and the list keeps getting longer. Here are just a few of the many examples of ingenious tools that can help you make your social media campaign run smoothly.
Crawlytics and BuzzSumo can each help you build your audience simply by entering a URL or search term. They’ll not only let you know how active your audience is, but how each social media stream measures up in terms of competition.
There’s also a cool new tool called Yotpo which has an interesting curating feature which gathers users content and even integrates with Instagram. It works by grabbing other people’s Instagram photos (with permission only) and putting them in your feed. Their workflows are automated, and the interface is easy-to-use. You can promote these photos on your own site as a way of promoting authentic, “real world” uses of your products and services.
Refind will also help you curate content by helping you save and organize your favorite links. Simply use the extension feature and then add a tag, and it will show you how popular that link is. Planoly helps marketers establish a consistent aesthetic and brand voice on Instagram by showing you in advance how each post will look as an aggregate grid.
6. Facebook and WhatsApp
Facebook ads remain one of the most affordable and efficient ways of marketing your products through the world’s most popular social media platform. Marketers are getting even more innovative by automating Messenger to do their customer service for them. This can offer valuable information about user preferences which can allow you to inform your social strategy further.
So, as you are learning how to create a killer Facebook ad, there are many specific things to consider and explore. You’ll want to learn how to incorporate purchasing behavior parameters on your ads effectively. You’ll also want to consider targeting based on life events which Facebook also has a lot of data for.
You can target your ads for existing and new customers in various ways, as well as use them to build subscription lists. Facebook ads also have a feature called “Create Lookalike Audience” which allows you to find new audiences with similar interests or preferences as your current one.
7. Create a Clear Call to Action
Make sure that your call to action (CTA) is in line with your actual brand messaging and voice. This should be consistent across every level of the campaign and aligned with brand messaging as well. They can be targeted to audience segments.
Most campaigns are going to involve a little bit of trial and error. This is okay, though, as this type of experimentation and problem-solving is part of a content or social media manager’s job. Most of us have a little bit of experience running social media by now, but in order to have a campaign run smoothly, all the pieces have to fit together. Also, you have to be continually testing.
It’s important to develop a social media strategy ahead of time that ties in with the rest of your marketing campaign to build brand awareness and ensure consistent messaging across platforms. And don’t be afraid to keep experimenting!