What is social media marketing?
Social media marketing is the use of websites and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat to promote products, brands, or businesses. Social media platforms or social networking sites are constructed for building virtual communities, allowing individuals, organizations, and even businesses to interact with one another. When companies take part in these social platforms, they open a channel for users to interact with them, at the same time providing themselves an opportunity to market their business.
Why businesses should invest in social media marketing?
It was reported that in 2017 the number of social media users worldwide reached 1.96 billion and is expected to grow to 2.5 billion by 2018 with Facebook having the highest number of active users per month at more than 1 billion. This astoundingly high number of social media users and its influential reach makes it a marketing rich resource. The use of social media as a marketing medium has proven itself increasingly effective through the years. It is not only a place where people socialize with each other anymore, it has also become a place where they look for services and products.
This brand-new role of social media in effective business marketing is the reason why businesses are trying all their best to keep up with trends and establish a following online. For instance Instagram had the highest number of engagements and conversion of users to shoppers in 2014. A study by the research firm L2 reported that 92% of brands who regularly update their feeds were able to grow their customer base.
Moreover, most social media platforms today have in them built-in data analytics tools to help businesses keep track to progress, success, and engagement their campaigns. Other benefits of investing efforts and resources to social media marketing for your business includes:
- Offers greater number of prospective clients and customers
- Improves brand awareness and professional presence
- More cost-effective than traditional marketing strategies
- Gives useful customer insights
- Provides an avenue for better customer communication
- Provides better customer experience
- Increase customer’s brand loyalty
There are much more benefits a business or brand can get from investing in social media marketing, we could on pages and pages of its advantages but this is not the point of this article.
Digital marketing trends to watch out in 2018
Businesses and brands are doing more and more ways to connect with their audiences especially across the growing number of social media platforms. The competition gets harder and harder every passing day as the number of competitors increases. It gets more challenging since the number of seconds of audience attention span had decreased down to 8 seconds. An average internet user scrolls through 300 feet of content every day. This is a lot of content but it gives businesses and brands a very limited amount of time to grab the audience’s attention.
The main problem now is how will you keep up with the ever changing and dynamic field of social media and grab all these digital nomads’ attention. As you look forward for the coming year and plan for online campaigns, it’s a better idea if you take a look at some of the social media marketing trends expected for 2018. Below are some of the expected social media marketing trends to help you boost your business this coming year:
1.) Chatbots for better and faster customer service
The latter part of 2017 has seen a great increase of chatbots being around the internet, sending response to basic queries, providing assistance for various processes, and even solving customer issues. The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) specifically Advanced Natural Language Generation (advanced NLG) paved way for these bots to feel more personal when interacting with customers.
Harvard Business Review estimated that 20% of business contents can be generated by machines in 2018. Facebook’s latest report, suggests that there are currently 100,000 monthly active bots on Messenger – giving a whole new platform for businesses to connect with customers.
2.) Influencer marketing continues to dominate
User generated contents also known as earned media are contents created by users of a service or system made publicly within or outside that system. In other words, comments, reviews, demos, referrals, and other social media posts mentioning a brand, and many more are examples of user-generated content.
User-generated contents are examples of influencer marketing wherein you use your audience as a means to promote your business. Studies show that 74% of consumers try to look for advices on their social media accounts before buying something. Additionally, 40% of people buy something that is promoted by influencers.
Huge brands like Starbucks and Daniel Wellington are prime examples of companies dominating their respective industries with the use of this strategy. With this massive success of influencer marketing, expect a lot more brands to jump in by 2018.
3.) Live streaming
Live streaming was one of the hottest marketing trends we’ve seen this 2017. And expect to see more of it this coming 2018. The ability to share information live to your audience and interact with them through coverage provides a more personal and more comprehensive connection with them.
If you are planning to take advantage of this marketing trend, we suggest that you make a schedule, either weekly or twice a week, and stick to it. Make sure to update yourself of the current tools for livestreaming especially those that allow multiple participants to maximize this strategy.
4.) Videos will take the spotlight
2017 has seen the rise of social media videos used in marketing. And in 2018 it is expected to be an even more integral part of effective social media marketing strategy. Videos on social media generate a massive 1200% more shares than promotional images and text combined. It is also important to note that 95% of the information people see on videos are retained in contrast to only 10% with text.
Marketing strategists and planners at major companies like Facebook and Twitter has reiterated again and again the importance of using videos in promoting brands and companies. Kat Hahn, Facebook’s Creative Strategist said during the Social Media Week London that “not doing short video is not an option”. David Wilding, Head of Planning at Twitter was also quoted saying that “video isn’t a strategy, it’s a tactic”.
It is also estimated that in 2019, videos will account to 80% of the total consumer internet traffic generated. So 2018 is the perfect time to up your game in the video department.
5.) Generation Z takes over
Millenials has been the focus of many marketing strategies for the past years. Although millenials are still part of the major social media marketing scene, it is important to note that the leading members of Gen Z are now 22 years old and they are starting to graduate from college. This means that a lot of them are now going to enter the workforce, have a stable income and have a higher buying power.
It is important to pay attention where the majority of Gen Z flock. You would need to try to have a marketing strategy that would efficiently reach these audience considering the fact that their purchasing decisions are two to three times more likely to be influenced by social media than by low prices, discounts, or sales. They are the only generation that values social media than price when it comes to their purchases.
6.) Use of strong visuals
Before you can try to sell something to your audience, it is necessary that you grab their attention first. And an effective way to grab their attention? The use of strong, punchy, and eye-catching visuals. Aside from videos as mentioned earlier, flatlays, cinematic color-graded pictures, and themed feeds are all effective ways to make your audience take a second look at your social media posts or page. Statistics proves how visual contents are more engaging than non-visual contents, thus being more effective in marketing products.
7.) Ephemeral content is the ‘new king’
In the marketing world, we would often hear that ‘content is king’, but 2017 had seen a dramatic increase in the popularity and effectiveness of ephemeral contents that it is believed to be the new king of the marketing world. Ephemeral contents are short-lived contents that lasts usually around 24 hours only before it disappears forever. These type of contents started to gain social traction when Snapchat popularized it, not long after, other social media platforms started to roll out their own versions such as Messenger’s My Day, Facebook and Instagram’s Stories, and Twitter’s Moments.
For unfamiliar marketing experts, it may sound scary or even dumb that the content that you put effort and resources to would just go down the drain once the content vanishes. On the contrary, this is the reason why ephemeral marketing works; it creates a Fear of Missing out (FOMO) effect to your audience. This FOMO effect encourages them to take quick actions and will make them watch out for your updates.
Short-lived contents like behind the scenes, previews to upcoming campaigns, and raw clips and images, builds excitement and trust for the brand, at the same time giving a more authentic feel than those sponsored ads that have lost their charms long ago.
8.) Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality or AR is not a new technology, it has been around for quite a time now but it is getting a bigger boost recently as different social media platforms are releasing their own takes on the technology. In 2016, Snapchat launched its augmented reality selfie filters. This move by Snapchat was so well accepted by users that more platforms soon followed suit.
It is expected that in 2018, augmented reality will go beyond selfie filters and will soon be able to project products directly to homes of consumers with the use of special filters. Snapchat and Instagram are also reported to be soon supporting taking photos with friends or celebrities projected through AR.
Moreover, brand new devices nowadays have the ability to provide extraordinary AR experience like the all new iPhone X and the iPhone8. With all these things in consideration,
9.) Personalized dynamic ads
It is expected that in 2018 chatbots aren’t the only marketing tools that will be getting more personal. Marketers try their best to tailor their ads to the interest of their audience. Thankfully, social media platforms are now making their job of customizing ads easier with the help of dynamic ads. It is one of the major emerging trends in the field of social media marketing.
Facebook recently launched their new creative tool which is designed to show various combinations of ad components like headlines, images, and campaigns to audiences based on their preference. Marketers can experiment on the elements for the ads and can choose from over 6,250 possible unique combinations. Facebook will then analyze the data and will give an insight on which combination will perform best with each specific audience. This creative tool will greatly help advertisers by giving them the insights they need for an effective ad.
YouTube on the other hand has also introduced their new tool called Director Mix. This tool will allow advertisers generate a number of different variations in one video. The advertiser will be the one supplying all the needed ad component (e.g. video, voiceovers, background music, text, images, clips, etc.), and Director Mix will be the one put together versions of the ad focusing on specific audience segment. To put this into perspective, Director Mix is the one responsible of putting an ad about acne creams as you are about to watch pimple popping videos.
10.) More accessible companies through messaging platforms
As more and more millennials and generation z are gaining purchasing powers, it is important to take into consideration their preferences, one of which is talking or reaching out to a company. In case you are not aware, they feel more comfortable and less intimidated talking to brands or companies via messaging platforms compared to talking on the phone or via email correspondence.
This is the reason why more and more businesses are setting up their Messenger, Wechat, or WhatsApp accounts in order to develop better connection with their audience. With billions of active monthly users, messaging apps/platforms are great avenue for businesses to raise their brand visibility and establish professional presence.
The social media marketing scene is actually not as predictable as it seems. Its landscape is rapidly changing as the number of social media users continues to increase and the diversity of users expands at the same time. Changes like the ones mentioned above is what brands need to capitalize. If there is one thing sure about the social media marketing scene is that the number of social media users won’t cease to increase anytime soon and the need to establish an online presence is a must for businesses to succeed.