Keeping up with social media changes, trends, features and functions can be an overwhelming task as user behaviour shifts, platforms transform and new technologies evolve. Identifying and understanding how social media can add value to your business has always been at the core of my approach to social.
Here are some thoughts in my recent article for the Herald Sun and Officeworks where this article first appeared.
Social media trends to grow your business in 2018
While most small business owners are increasing their social media spend, it’s important to know which channels and trends to invest in, and, what outcomes to expect by doing so.
According to Kimberley Lee, Director of Brand PR Social, a better understanding of the value of social media for business, and where it fits within your broader marketing plan, will help optimise its resources. “So many businesses invest so much in the excitement and trend of social, but don’t know how to track success and make sure it’s a worthwhile investment,” Kimberley says. “Now, they’re looking more closely at defining and measuring results.
“Accountability is crucial, especially in small businesses, where budgeting and profitability is everything. There is a lot of ‘customer first’ messaging around marketing, but if you don’t put your bottom line first (and you’re not thriving as a business, then you won’t have any customers to put first!”
Kimberley believes you can reach more potential clients on social media, by understanding who your customers are, and what they want from you. “Use the functions and features of social media to meet their needs and create an exceptional personalised experienced which works really well.
Social media doesn’t work when you’re not thinking about what your customers want from you via social media. Being spread too thinly across too many channels (so that content is the same or not well thought out), is not a great customer experience either. You need to have a separate approach for each channel you commit to.
With this in mind, Kimberley believes there are five social media trends, which could help your business grow in 2018.
Social selling is a great way to interact with, and develop, potential relationships with customers. “Social selling with social media platform features, and instant messaging for customer service and targeted promotions (including live chat on websites), help businesses better communicate with clients,” Kimberley says. “This often leads to sales through better relationships, with the ability to foster a culture of loyalty to custome
rs by being available when they need you in whatever channel of communication they want to use to reach you.”
Ebru Sak understands the importance of knowing what your customers want without the “hard sell”. Founder of Saks Salons, DUO, and more recently, Marquage by Ebru, the beauty entrepreneur believes customer service must be shaped by the person you’re engaging with. Listen to Ebru’s inspiring journey on the Paper Cuts by Officeworks podcast below.
Like social media, augmented reality blurs the lines of the “digital and real world.” While only “25% of brands have considered embracing this trend for marketing purposes,” Kimberley believes we’ll see an increase in years to come.
“Augmented reality for creating unique brand experiences and AI (artificial intelligence) for customer service, with the integration of chatbots to answer questions, find information and feed you content based on your online activity,” Kimberley adds.
High Quality Videos
The stats speak for themselves; “online video drives better engagement, live video is seeing huge response rates and 80% of all internet traffic will be video by 2019.” While Kimberley believes this to be true, it’s the high-quality videos that should take over our feeds in future years. “Videos continue to be on the rise, particularly with Facebook Live, IGTV and Stories – even Linkedin is getting in on the video action!” Kimberley says. “Features like Instagram Stories are appealing because it’s a more casual glimpse of everyday life. But, as the novelty of video and ability to film anywhere, anytime, starts to wear off, there will be a push towards producing well thought-out, high-quality videos. Just as we’ve seen with social media posts generally, as there is noise, there is more demand for even better quality and thoughtful content.”
While they might boast fewer followers, their engagement levels are “60 per cent higher” than their influential peers. “Micro-influencer marketing and leveraging user-generated content is key; focus on who in your customer base of potential customer segments is highly engaged with their online communities and genuinely passionate about the category you’re working in (even better if they’re an actual customer also), then developing an ongoing storyline of content with them,” Kimberley adds. “Then, curate content about your brand or business from these influencers to integrate into your own organic content mix. Being able to define, track and measure success is also crucial.”
It’s important to know as much as possible about your clients, so, your targeted advertising reaches your specific audience segment. “The data available from gaining insights into who your customers are, is invaluable for better understanding of how your business fits in with their lives and where you can help solve a problem, meet a need or want,” Kimberley says. “Knowing what your customers love about you and your brand, and connecting with them with your unique sparkle through social media, is another communication touchpoint where the focus is on being ‘social’ not salesy.”