Social Media has been a great tool for communications and more so conversations between a web audience and brands/businesses. Brands have been attempting to capitalize on the inbound aspect of marketing through social media platforms for the past few months. While some have achieved to capitalize on such social media chatter or dialogue many businesses and brands alike have sort of missed the boat on social media effectiveness. Partially this is caused by the apparent lack of an effective social media strategy and a part of it is understand the true essence of having a social media presence. Here is some insight on some of the current challenges we are going to face when it comes to Social Media in 2014.
#1 The Interactive Audience.
When a brand can segment their following or understand their following it is easier to customize a brand message towards that respective group or following based on their background, who they are and what the need. This avoids a brand blasting a general message to an overall audience to determine what will stick and catch on. Most brands are directly trying to tap into their customer base but it is more important to identify the social authority that your customers are certain to follow.
There are 4 different quadrants of people one must follow as a brand or business:
- Audience Reach – These are profiles your audience follows such as authority figures in the digital web space.
- Influencers – These are profiles that can influence or increase exposure of a brand over night
- Customer Personas – The audience that matches your customer demographics
- Competitors – These competitors that are either directly impacting your sandbox or indirectly ranking you based on search results.
#2 The Interactive Content
Brands today are continuously trying to understand the secret recipe to going viral. Brands are continuously hoping that they will hit the jackpot when it comes to exciting and engaging content. It is no secret that creating awesome content is the first step to deliver shares, likes and reactions on social media platforms. It goes further than just a retweet or share moving forward. To justify effective content a brand must show a return on investment on the energy put in towards creating and delivering content. Brands will have to start capitalizing on the inbound marketing that comes with becoming a content authority. More and more websites now offer live chat as a feature for a brand to communicate with a live audience. We are already seeing this with the chat feature tool on Google Plus and Facebook being used a format to have a sales opportunity. Businesses are reporting success with sales conversions through social media interaction.
#3 The Perfect Timing
Brands try to find out when is the most effective time to publish content to capitalize on social media engagement. It is every social media managers dream to find out the right time when a brands most engaged followers are online. The formula here is posting social feeds during peak times when followers are logged in to social platforms deliver automatic social media reactions and engagement. Some brands tackle this by repurposing content to capitalize different audiences see the respective content. Brands also use other forms of integrated digital marketing such as email marketing and delivering the same content in other formats to capture various audiences. Integrated marketing will become reinvented to compliment social media reach. We are already seeing this with email marketing programs develop and offer social media email marketing campaigns.
#4 The Exposure Factor
While many brands are starting to realize the importance of deploying an effective content strategy what makes great content engaging is also the exposure you give it. Gone are the days where social media content will be exposed only through organic means. The second element of exposure comes from alliances you have with social media influencers. Content distribution will become a job description and community managers will become even more relevant as we approach this digital age. Brands will focus on building a digital tribe of influencers to get the message out and content syndication, distribution and influence will resonate with any brand trying to become an authority. Brands are advised to create content and speak to their strengths. The context of ones content will determine how viral it becomes.
#5 The Right Platform/ Network
The common question is which social network or platform should a brand have a presence on. The bigger question to ask is understanding how the network or platform compliments a brand. Each social network can be capitalized or used in a certain way where some elements are more visually interactive while others might be more text engaging. Either ways with mobile platforms shaping the way for a future trends of visual engagement brands will have to get creative and give visual engagement the priority it deserves. A trend of digital creative companies that compliment social media will start to emerge as we start to see more visual forms of social media engagement. Banners, Posters and Digital pictures of brand messaging will have an even bigger effect than a traditional blog post. In fact we will start to see an infusion of text. Images and video even more. This format of integrated and interactive digital content will be used even more on social networks/platforms. To focus on this challenge brands must ask how can they utilize each platform or network as opposed to just being present on the network.
#6 The Growth Factor
How can I get more social media followers without paying for fake followers? A brand must simply give an audience a reason to follow them and have an effective message. An audience that can understand or relate to a brands why will become even more loyal going forward. Many brands today miss the boat on an effective call to action. If a brand has a hard time explaining what they do it becomes even harder to translate this message on social or digital platforms. Brand consistency across social media channels is another killer for growth. One must position themselves as an authority to portray any format of brand attraction moving forward. A brand should also give direction to the general audience to promote an effective call to action. Events, Guest posts, Media and social shares can allow you to capture a following you might not necessarily be able to tap into. Your social media growth is dictated by a brands ability to tap in to the need of the audience and providing clarity on your brand messaging.
#7 The SEO Impact
While some social networks indirectly impact SEO, a social platform that is doing wonders for social media is Google Plus. Social Media Networks impacts social media traffic to web platforms or assets and in turn impact SEO. Regardless if some networks don’t compliment SEO directly it will still impact the social rankings through other means. We will hear the term Social Marketing Optimization more often in the near future. Every platform will play a role in complimenting SEO and as much as we see some limitation’s with rankings social triggers will be prioritized in the future when it comes to search results. Social reactions, shares and going viral will be elements to search filters that will compliment a brand going forward.
#8 Social Advertising
With recent algorithm changes on Facebook, the Edge-rank calculates that only an even smaller fraction of your followers get to see what you organically post online. The latest news mean that companies will almost have to overnight pay to play! The new age of paid media will certainly create a divide between brands wanting to capitalize on a wed audience. We will see an even bigger divide in the months as many early adopters will either jump ship to find the next free tool they can use or give up on their content strategy deployment. Social media advertising will become the norm as some of the bigger platforms like Linked In, Twitter, YouTube already joining Facebook using social advertising as means to revenue.
#9 Time Management
Quantity matters less than consistency and quality. A healthy schedule of being present on a social platform and setting some time daily for social is key and pivotal. Followers on social media tend to have more conversations with regular presence and engage more. Any brand that is consistent with their posting will do wonders on social media. The balance of curated content versus created content will really depend on the time put into the creation of content. Like anything with time, effort and patience a brand will see success on social media if done correctly. Brands will also recruit social media managers for an even more full-time approach to tacking the social presence factor.
Social Media Metrics will show a brand how effective their content really is based on knowing what to measure in the first place. The traditional elements of measuring social media based on follower counts isn’t effective any more. The engagement and actions taken by a web audience are even more essential today. The 5 more common elements to look at are as follows
To summarize it all social media is evolving rapidly with more changes, enhancements and features and capabilities added to a social network Rolodex. Brands have a need to invest in being aware of these changes now more than ever before. Social media strategies will have to be adjusted and more emphasis on social media budgets will become mandatory. One item that stays the same is that social media will compliment an overall marketing strategy for any brand. It’s a question of how much are brands or businesses willing to embrace this notion. Paying attention to social could be a game changer for any digital presence over the next few years!