Social media of the future is going to be more exceptional and carry bigger impact. It will be a more prominent go-to tool for self-expression. What does this mean for small businesses in 2016? How do brands prioritize the increased engagement that’s required to establish and maintain customer loyalty?
Every brand should have social media as part of their marketing strategy. Consumers want to have relationships with companies, and they want companies to participate in the narratives and systems that are being built to accommodate these relationships.
Here are three areas to focus your attention on in social media for 2016:
1. People Power Rules the Social Planet
Personalization is more important than ever. In the relationship between brands and customers, social media is a valuable asset in creating personal connections. There are three elements that are growing in the social arena to pay attention to:
- User-generated content is a growing trend that gives companies a great way to engage with customers. Since Doritos began its Crash the Super Bowl contest, the user-generated concept has moved into other platforms, such as Instagram and Vine.
Lately, user-generated content is making waves in “unboxing” as brands jump in on the resurgence in popularity. While unboxing has been around as long as video-sharing software, the format is experiencing a rejuvenated appeal due to the rise in video sharing platforms and smartphone video technology.
Wikipedia defines unboxing as the “unpacking of new products, especially high tech consumer products. The product’s owner captures the process on video and later uploads it to the web.” It’s expanding to include cosmetics, fashion, cars, and toys, and brands are getting involved by sponsoring the unboxing stars.
- Employee advocacy needs to be encouraged in companies for its positive effect on generating a wider reach and more personal appeal. Link Humans defines employee advocacy as” the exposure that employees generate for brands using their own online assets.” Your employees are your biggest advocates, and they will help build a more authentic trust for your company.
Instead of advancing more of your own marketing content, recruit your employees to talk about your company on social media, including forums and discussion boards. Create brand ambassadors to share a human perspective to your brand that customers will gravitate to. Most of your employees’ lives are already intertwined with social media. Enlisting their help to maintain and nurture company relationships as brand ambassadors is also a way to empower them.
- Influencer marketing is a way to reach the audience of an influencer in your market. By establishing a long-term relationship with a key influencer, you establish trust with your customers while promoting your brand. Because audiences are so fragmented on social media, influencer marketing can help build your presence on multiple platforms.
2. Social Video Takes Over the World
Video is flourishing on social media. Facebook surpassed YouTube with daily video views, Twitter launched its own native video, and Snapchat reports it’s getting 6 billion views of video daily. U.S. adults watch an average of 5.5 hours of video every day.
Video shoots of the past are morphing into new formats. No longer does the prospect of costly professional video prevent you from creating and sharing video content. Today’s video, live photo, livestream apps like Periscope and Meerkat, GIFs, 8-second Vines, 15-second Instagram videos, and Snapchat video messaging are all easily adaptable to the novice videographer.
70% of companies now say video is the most effective tool in their online marketing belts, with video content dominating social media, thanks to the growing number of platforms and features. Video is set to become one of the most powerful communication tools of 2016. Be sure to engage with social video using your most creative content. Try out livestreaming services such as Periscope, Blab, Snapchat, and Meerkat. Video offers an immersive experience for your customers, giving you an opportunity to communicate in the moment.
3. The Moment Is Now With Messaging
Companies are gradually entering into social messaging as the number of active users grows, with 75 percent of internet users worldwide accessing messaging apps on their mobile devices. Business Insider reports that messaging apps are now bigger than social networks. Their growth will continue to accelerate as the apps change and more features are added.
Messaging gives internet users what they have come to expect, instantaneous responses and answers. Google’s high quality and fast delivery, and social media’s constant updating and auto-loading are conditioning people to expect consistently fast results.
While social messaging for brands might be in an undefined grey realm, it’s only a matter of time before businesses are courted by new data for marketing purposes. Already, one-on-one customer support and direct service has moved into the messaging channels. The major social platforms all have a messaging component, making 2016 the year for companies to tap into the social messaging potential.
For 2016, you can expect new challenges and opportunities in digital — how will you use them to grow your business? Get your story out using the rising power of people, video, and messaging on social media.