When we hear the term digital marketing, one of the first things that spring to mind is social media. There is a natural correlation, and it is undoubtedly one of the main tools that digital marketers use, but it is essential to understand that it is far from static. We need to appreciate that just because something worked last year, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work this year. It is naturally evolving, and you must stay ahead of the game.
According to Hootsuite, there are now approximately 3.5 billion social media users in the world, so there is certainly a big audience! However, a term that you may have heard is “detoxing from social media” which means that users are deleting some platforms that they no longer use. Marketers, therefore, need to aware of what the trends are. For example, an increasing number of people are moving away from Facebook, but more people are using Instagram. As a result, marketers should be shifting their focus away from Facebook.
What Should We Be Looking to Do?
Here at Phoenix Media, we have always been firm advocates of adopting a variety of strategies and not putting all your eggs in one basket. You should use your budget wisely and not solely focus on social media but also on SEO and email marketing. However, the most important thing is that your marketing is meaningful and serves the desired purpose. Marketing for the sake of marketing rarely produces the results that you deserve.
Brands have always endeavoured to interact with their audience, even before the advent of social media. In recent years the objective has been to create engaging posts that people will like or share; after all, this forms a crucial role in building your social media presence. In 2020, we are anticipating that it will become more important to engage in more meaningful interactions. The best way to achieve this is by building communities that engage in conversations rather than merely likes and shares.
As always, you must monitor your results to find out what is working and what’s not. A good tactic is to try and create an “authentic voice”, and one of the most effective ways is to encourage your team to have their own presence representing your company online. Twitter is one of the successful approaches for achieving this as it can invite existing customers to join in community chats. 2020 is likely to see existing customers playing a more significant influence than ever before but don’t forget that exciting content is still vital to spark group conversations within communities!
The Growing Importance of Influencers
Very few people would argue that word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising. Social media influencers have been becoming more and more, well influential for several years. Still, in 2020 they may just become pivotal to promoting your brand, especially if they join your “community”. These influencers can be micro or even nano influencers, what is essential is that they are advocating your brand, products or services.
Influencers are used by some of the largest organisations in the world, but it is equally important to understand that they are not always trusted. In 2020, micro and nano influencers are likely to be more effective than larger influencers who are now viewed as disingenuous. Smaller influencers tend to engage more with their communities which will inevitably build higher levels of trust, which in turn leads to greater engagement. These higher levels of engagement are also likely to be at a lower cost, so it is a win-win situation all round!
Smaller and lesser-known brand ambassadors are also keen to build their personal following so their levels of engagement will inevitably be higher. Higher levels of engagement mean that they will have more influence over buying decisions, and they will help to build positive brand sentiment. The result is that it starts conversations and natural engagement, creating “real” experiences which your target audience can become a part of.
Are Alternative Platforms Taking Over?
Well, not quite, but we are witnessing a rise in the popularity of alternative platforms with users becoming increasingly bored with the likes of Facebook, Twitter and even LinkedIn. As well as users becoming bored, many marketers are questioning whether the traditional “pay-to-play” platforms yield the results they once did with ROI significantly diminishing.
One social media platform that an increasing number of people, especially the younger generations, are turning to is TikTok. The platform was founded in 2016 but already amassed around 500 million monthly users. While it is unlike to appeal to B2B organisations, there appears to be significant scope for its use with B2C brands aiming at younger audiences.
Pinterest has been around some time now but is steadily starting to have a growing influence, especially with companies that are looking to build an e-commerce business. Many of the items that appear on Pinterest create genuine buying ideas. Users see it as a welcome change from the more targeted marketing techniques adopted by sites such as Facebook and even Google.
Ad spend on Pinterest has generated twice the returns that retail brands had reported from other platforms. As a result, marketers are now viewing this platform as a genuine alternative, especially as it has no obstructive adverts and few fake influencers. At present, it only has around 250 million active monthly users, but this is anticipated to increase throughout 2020.
Never Forget Customer Service
Something else that has always been vital in building business relationships is good old fashioned customer service. In the digital age, it is all too easy to forget that positive customer experience is critical. Remember the old adage, “If people have a good experience they tell one person, if they have a bad experience they tell ten”. Besides, reviews and complaints are now far easier to find with the advent of the internet and, more importantly, social media.
Social media is becoming an increasingly popular means of communicating with businesses, with an estimated 28% of consumers saying that they have used social media as a convenient method of communication. The fact that it is available 24-hours appeals to consumers although, naturally, sometimes they have to wait for a response. It is a trend that is expected to continue and increase in 2020 with an increasing number of brands viewing building communities as the way forward.
The downside of being accessible 24-hours a day is that customers and clients are expecting almost instantaneous responses and indeed this has led to several complaints. However, conversely, complaints can be dealt with almost immediately, which has long been proven to increase customer advocacy which results in higher levels of brand loyalty.
Increase in Story Telling
Telling stories on social media has been growing in popularity ever since Snapchat first introduced the concept. Most of the leading platforms offer this facility, although it appears that the biggest beneficiary has been Instagram who has around 500 million daily storytellers.
Stories hold a lot of appeal for both brands and consumers as the stories are instant and take just a minute to be read, unlike the more traditional newsfeeds. They fit in well with the community concept as they are not designed to be shared but to strike up conversations at that moment. Brands can use experimentation and make them light-hearted, which tends to make them more appealing and encourages engagement. The telling of stories has increased 15 times since 2017.
It is anticipated that marketers will start to use Instagram Stories as part of their social media marketing with 64% having already done so, according to Hootsuite. Most brands are currently posting around four stories a month, with 45% of Instagram ads being placed in Stories rather than the feed. The general feeling is that stories are more authentic and leave less room for editing.
We would certainly recommend that you investigate how you could utilise Stories as part of your social media marketing. We believe that this form of marketing becomes more popular sites such as Instagram will release more features. At the moment we appreciate that Stories are not going to either appeal or work for everyone, but we expect that all social media platforms will recognise the potential for both themselves and the brands.
Social media marketing is continuously evolving, and it is vital that you stay ahead of the curve and aware of the changes that are occurring around. Adverse publicity or surprising new features will always alter how appealing a platform will be, and as user demands change, you must develop your social media approach.
Here at Phoenix Media, we are always ahead of the curve, following the latest news reports while watching and creating new trends. We are an innovative and forward-looking company with clients across a broad range of industry sectors and operating in different countries around the world. If you would like more information about the services that we offer, you can contact us.
We look forward to hearing from you!