Social media—as many digital marketers know it—refuses to slow down.
To keep up with trends, consumer inquiries and engagement efforts, it’s imperative that PR pros and social media managers learn new skills and apply them to their current strategies.
To more effectively engage with audiences, automation marketing outfit TapInfluence foresees an increased dependence on the relationship between brand managers and influential social media users.
Here’s more, from its 2017 predictions guide:
Influencer marketing has emerged as a real line item in the modern marketer’s toolkit. The question is no longer whether or not it works; rather, it’s how to best integrate influencer marketing in a scalable way.
What else should social media marketing teams have on their radar for the coming year?
Here’s what to watch—from several digital engagement pros:
Many social media marketers focus their efforts on reach. In their current campaigns, plenty seek to cast an extremely wide net with the hope of catching some big fish—or influential users. Should this be the strategy moving forward?
TapInfleunce marketing communications manager Michelle Dziuban says the size of your audience won’t matter as much as the drive of the people with whom you engage.
Reach is sexy, but it will only get you so far. Audience size doesn’t matter and people will start to catch on to this in 2017. In the past, social media stars were measured by the number of followers they had on Twitter. 2017 will focus on those that can drive more engagement because the content they produce is relatable and can authentically resonate with their audience. Tap into users’ passions instead of [focusing on] reach.
Customization—not content—will be king.
Regardless of your reach, an influx of emerging social media channels makes it tough for brand managers to keep their audiences engaged. Here’s what Lithium’s vice president of marketing, Dayle Hall, suggests to avoid getting lost in that shuffle:
It seems like a new social network launches every week, and each of them with new media through which we can communicate – Snaps, live video, emoji, etc. With this proliferation, it can feel like an insurmountable objective to ensure you are showing up in the right places.
For a brand manager looking to incorporate social media more centrally, it’s important to first understand where your audience is and not just gravitate to the newest, shiniest network on the scene. Because each network’s audience deserves content that’s been optimized for the channel, a good first step is sitting down with your marketing team to plan for campaigns that can easily be tweaked and customized for each.
To keep your audience on board, Dziuban says to skip the “gated content.” (That’s anything that requires a user to provide personal information in exchange for access to the content.)
“It’s time to stop gating your content on social media,” she says. “Users will see straight through your marketing tactics, and just like they turned off ads with AdBlock, they’re going to shut you off, too.”
With regard to targeted content, Hall adds:
While there is a fine line between creepy and targeted, research continues to show that consumers expect brands to recognize them as the same individual irrespective of channel. And, with consumers seeing social media as a go-to for customer support, this seamless integration of social data will be essential in 2017.
Adopt an interaction etiquette.
Communications expert, professor and author Leslie Shore urges marketers to be cognizant of social media’s permanence. Once you post, your content will exist in cyberspace indefinitely.
Even though it might seem wise to get involved in a Twitter skirmish or respond hastily to a customer’s rant, you shouldn’t “lower your bar.”
Here’s more, from Shore:
What you put out on social media is permanent. How you use social media in marketing has a cumulative effect. Just because some else is lowering the bar doesn’t mean you should. Take the high road, always. In the short run, it may seem that strategy might not be working; but in the long run, class always wins.
When it comes to ego, Shore says to leave it offline—especially when working with influential users or brand ambassadors.
Be open, she says, and note:
There is no one influencer. All of the social media platforms can make anyone an influencer. The key is to understand why they would want to influence their followers to follow you or your product. This is the wild west of selling ideas or products at the grass roots level. Agility is key. Is your strategy working? How do you know it is working? If it isn’t, change strategies. Ego will get in the way if you let it.
Consumers want to feel involved, so customer reviews will become essential to an effective marketing strategy. Interacting with customers in a way that reflects your brand identity is key, Hall says.
Here’s additional insight from Hall on that relationship:
The stark reality is that marketing no longer has complete control over the brand narrative. However, reviews are a crucial component to the brand so counting them out of the mix is the equivalent to burying your head in the sand.
Though this realm of user-generated content seems like the Wild West, marketers can boost their [odds] by empowering their stakeholders with the right content, making sure they understand the overall brand narrative, and by promoting [positive] user content.
As brand managers recognize the power behind social media, a greater emphasis will be placed on successfully integrating social [media] and commerce. In 2017, we’ll see more customer reviews and product information becoming completely integrated.