One of my clients is a small charitable group who are looking to find new volunteers and increase the publics awareness of what they do to generate higher donations to their good causes.
Whilst the majority of the team are onboard with the idea of employing a professional marketeer to achieve these goals, some are sceptical due to the additional expenditure they now have.
Of course, budgets always come into play and smaller charities might not have the budgets that the likes of Cancer Research or the RSPCA might, but nonetheless, charities of all sizes should be doing more to raise awareness of their cause through digital marketing.
There have been some great examples of charities using digital over the years. From giving a voice to the unheard to helping people help each other, charities have proven the effectiveness of digital engagement.
Investing in digital marketing can make a huge difference to any business, charities perhaps even more so. Here’s why...
A Wise Investment for Budget Conscious Business
Charities often work with very restricted budgets and it’s important that every penny spent helps the charity to spread the word of their cause and to ultimately achieve their goals, be it awareness, fundraising or recruitment.
Digital marketing is the most cost-effective way to reach the largest audience possible. When done well, digital techniques such as search engine optimisation (SEO), paid search advertising (PPC) and social media can enable charities to speak to huge numbers of people very quickly.
Digital is also an arena in which brand advocacy really comes into its own. Consider your charities loyal supporters; no doubt they’d relish an opportunity to help you to further build cause awareness and if you check, they’re probably doing it already through social media posts and the things they share online. By investing in digital marketing, charities can better equip their supporters to be really valuable brand advocates too.
Building Cause Awareness
With so many charities (there are 183,230 charities registered in the UK today according to the Charity Commission), it can be difficult for charity supporters to find the charity that’s right for them. Everyone wants to support charities but it’s impossible to support all 180,000 – so each charity needs to let people know exactly what their cause is and how support can help them.
Digital marketing can enable charities to highlight their cause – even if you don’t have the bigger budgets that the likes of Macmillan, who advertise on TV etc., do. Search engine optimisation, as an example, is a really strong place to associate your charity with its cause, by ensuring your charity appears when people search for relevant terms like ‘how can I help people with disabilities in my area’.
Digital Marketing for Charities: Tips and Advice
The website is the online shop window of a charity. It is where the charity can showcase its values, highlight its cause and encourage people to donate.
But despite the importance of websites, many charities are missing out because they simply fail to address the basics.
Charities investing in digital marketing for the future should be reviewing their website design and making use of strong calls to action and the power of faces. They should also make their job easier by choosing easy to use, easily modifiable content management systems to build their sites on from inception: this will only help with marketing efforts in future, as well as making it easy for customers to navigate.
SEO for Charities
SEO (search engine optimisation) is the process through which companies can improve their website’s visibility in the Google search results. For charities, it’s a particularly important digital marketing discipline because it enables them to build brand and cause awareness.
Whilst big name charities can invest in TV advertising and so on to spread their message, charities across the UK should all be investing in SEO to build their visibility in search for terms related to their brand and also relevant to their cause.
Think about other ways people might look for your charity. Did you know, there are nearly 1,600 searches every month in the UK for ‘charity fundraising ideas’? 210 for ‘charity days’? It is using SEO that charities can ensure their websites appear for these search terms – thus helping them to build brand and cause awareness to people who might not already know their name.
The future of digital marketing for charities will see savvy charities taking advantage of the opportunities of SEO by:
Charities on Social Media
Social media marketing is an important element of any business’ digital marketing strategy. It provides a huge opportunity for charities in particular to spread their message and engage with potential fundraisers and benefactors.
One charity making social media work for them is the NSPCC. With over 352,415 fans on Facebook, the NSPCC boosted its donations and continues to build its profile through its Page. And what makes it so successful? The Page is kept up-to-date, content is posted regularly and the charity interacts with its audience.
Charities looking to grow their digital presence in the future will be innovative in their use of social media and make use of the many channels available, such as:
Digital Marketing for Charities
The charity sector has experienced a boom in digital in recent years. Big name charities are using digital technologies and techniques to raise brand awareness and to increase donations.
But there are still many opportunities available to charities, both large and small.
I was at a meeting last night made up of respected leaders from a well-known membership organisation that provides volunteers and funding to local and international communities. We were all there to talk about how we might be able to work across the boundaries of our individual clubs to create a bigger impact with regards to the public image of the organisation.
Whilst talking about the various ways we can market ourselves it became clear that some clubs re still scared by social media, fearful that it will only bring negativity and downgrade their good name and good standing in the community.
This got me to thinking, is social media really something we should still fear in 2019?
Social Media Is Where Your Customers Are Spending Their Time
If you are afraid of or confused about the social media landscape and are avoiding it, I am here to help. Stop keeping your business in the dark ages, it’s time to get on social media and connect with your potential customers and dedicated fans.
If you think social media is just a fad, then I’ve got news for you… social media is here to stay.
Furthermore, I have had the pleasure of working with many amazing clients over the last few years by helping them grow their social media following from ground zero. So don’t worry you aren’t the only one who is afraid of change or investing in a “new” marketing strategy.
But trust me, if you are not using social media just keep in mind your competitors are using it to attract your target market away from you! So don’t miss out on the opportunity, especially if you are a small business!
If you are hesitant about using social media to build a community around your small business, you aren’t the only one. In fact, I have noticed that there are three specific reasons many small business owners are hesitant about investing in a social media strategy but why they should today.
1. Small Businesses Want Immediate Results
One of the biggest reasons many small businesses stay away from social media is because they want to see immediate results. Unfortunately, growing a social media following takes time and if you want to build a community of fans around your brand, that also takes time. Unlike traditional advertising methods, social media is a long-term strategy which is often a scary thing to hear. Especially if you are a small business, every pound counts, I get it. But just think of it like this, an investment in social media marketing today could pay dividends in the future!
For example, one of the biggest business social media influencers right now is Gary Vaynerchuk. But how did he rise to fame? He invested years into growing his personal brand on social media through the creation of inspiring content, entertaining viewers through a Wine show called, “Wine Library TV”, and providing value to people on their entrepreneurial journeys. Over the years, Gary’s brand has adapted and grown to new heights which have allowed him to not only leverage new content but build trust with viewers. In addition, this newfound “trust” has allowed him to generate new clients for his advertising agency, Vayner Media!
So think of social media as a long-term marketing strategy and you can leverage it to grow your personal brand and your business’s brand online!
2. Small Businesses Don’t Understand the Benefits
Another reason many companies are behind when it comes to social media is that they don’t understand the benefits of social media marketing. Social media has the power to connect a company directly to their target market while providing them with actionable insights. Are you still not impressed? Well, social media has the power to drive traffic to your website, create a community around your brand and help your bottom line.
If your goal at the end of the day is to get more customers, social media can help you on your journey. For example, one way many companies use social media is by driving customers to their website through entertaining or educational content. Don’t believe me? One brand that has become well-known for educational and inspirational videos is Goalcast. They have grown a substantial following on social media by creating biographical videos of famous individuals such as Elon Musk and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
So don’t underestimate the power of social media, it has the potential to take your business to the next level by generating more potential customers while creating valuable brand loyalty.
3. Social media creates negativity
A successful business cannot lay in fear of risk but embrace the rewards it can achieve. Brand negativity by those few you speak about will occur even if your business never logs into a social network. In fact, there's a greater risk since that negativity will be the only content feeding social proof around your brand. Social media does embolden haters but it also provides a new soapbox for great experiences. If anything, social media has increased the importance of building positive customer experiences online and off.
Social media does have a powerful amplifying effect. But just like any technology, it can be used for good or evil. The key is building the right social strategy for your brand. It's not a "one size fits all" marketing solution. It has to be adopted in strategic, tailored ways
There is no reason to not invest time, money, and effort into a social media strategy this year. Social media has truly changed the way that businesses can communicate with their customers. That’s because it gives businesses an affordable and accessible way to grow a community around their brand.
Seriously, don’t fear the social media landscape. Think of it as a way to communicate with your customers and grow a community around your brand!
So what are you waiting for? Get your business on social media today, contact LjH Consulting to start that journey.
Content marketing is a powerful weapon for influencing brand development and attracting new customers. It is also among the fastest growing branches of digital marketing. If you’re a content marketing veteran, you know how important it is to keep up with the emerging trends and innovate. From implementing new technologies to putting new spins on old tactics, the content quality bar is rising. To help you level up, we present you with the ultimate content marketing tips for 2019.
1. Have a Documented Strategy
A great content strategy starts with a simple content marketing assessment. Did you know that marketers with a documented content marketing strategy are five times more likely to succeed? In order to leverage the full potential of content marketing, you need to have a guiding strategy.
A great content strategy starts with a simple content marketing assessment that identifies the primary challenges and outlines the steps you’ll take to overcome them. Certain points of interest like lead generation and SEO are a good start, from which you can customise the strategy depending on your specific goals. Furthermore, you should include a unique perspective of your organisation and find an approach that will set you apart from the competition.
2. Tell a Story
Sticking to the good old “How To” lists won’t always do the trick. That’s where brand storytelling kicks in. Brand storytelling gives a whole new perspective to content marketing and gives you an opportunity to connect authentically with your audience by humanising your brand. This is particularly important now, when people appreciate the brands they can connect with.
You can start by sharing your own experiences. How the company started and what it took to get it where it is now is an excellent beginning. You can also reach out to customers who claim your products have changed their lives. Talk about their experiences in a way that your potential customers can relate to.
3. Take Advantage of Live Video
It’s safe to say that video is the future of content marketing. Cisco’s predictions indicate that by 2021, video will take up as much as 80% of all internet traffic. The wide acceptance of the video format opens up numerous possibilities to communicate your story and build relationships. One of the trends that should be singled out is live video.
Facebook users spend triple the amount of time watching live videos over traditional videos. Similarly, social media stats show that Instagram’s videos get two times the views of its photos. Live video creates a real-time connection with the audience, driving engagement and response.
People love seeing their favourite brand humanised, showing that not everything is always perfect. There are endless possibilities, from using live streaming, hosting Q&A sessions, and giving product demonstrations, to hosting interviews with topic experts.
4. Embrace Artificial Intelligence
Ever since it was introduced, artificial intelligence has been one of the hottest topics in the marketing world. You can use this powerful technology for discovering keywords, planning blog topics, and reviewing analyses, as well as accessing data reports that would guide the creation process, shaping it for your core audience. Furthermore, AI-powered predictive intelligence enables the gathering of information that can be used for offering personalised experiences. You can instantly get valuable insight into what your target audience is searching for, when they do it, and what content would be the most successful at any given point.
5. Go for Micro-Influencers
Influencer marketing has come a long way. In 2009, content marketing strategies generated over £68.98 billion in revenue, and, in 2019, they’re expected to generate more than £237 billion. Influencers continue to utilise social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook to grow their base of followers and then leverage them to ensure a six-figure income from featured brands.
But in 2019, predictions are that the micro-influencers — those with smaller yet dedicated following—will overshadow the ‘big sharks.’ The main reason for this shift is the lack of dedication coming from macro influencers as they take on more sponsored posts, thus reducing the authenticity and, as a result, the impact of the marketing. Micro-influencers, on the other hand, build more personal relationships with the audience, delivering an authentic message.
While there’s no doubt that it will continue to be one of the most important tools for boosting brand awareness, building trust, generating leads, and educating audiences, you need to be aware that trends change. Start with preparing a documented strategy, dive into your storytelling, embrace live video and AI, and you may as well proclaim yourself the king of content marketing.
As social media platforms have evolved into full-blown communication channels, more brands are relying on these platforms to reach their target audiences.
Consumer attention is scattered across various social platforms, not to mention apps and other online diversions. Brands that hope to capture consumers’ attention and dollars need to keep in touch with how their audiences utilise these platforms. The bottom line is that, as trends evolve on social media, so must the corresponding marketing.
What is going to influence social media users? What does this mean for brand marketing? And what do we need to be aware of to stay current and relevant?
Here are the top 10 social media trends to keep an eye on in the new year.
1. Rebuilding trust in social media platforms.
Social media platforms continue to grow annually -- in fact, Facebook has more than 2 billion active users each month. However, the picture isn’t entirely rosy. Consumer confidence in social media is on shaky ground.
Users are growing increasingly leery of the information they find on social media. And marketers may be contributing to the situation when they fail to properly label paid advertising posts or they bombard a platform with targeted ads that overwhelm users. All of this can leave users feeling distrustful of both the brand and the platform.
Younger generations have little tolerance for marketing that comes off as disingenuous. Brands will need to look for ways to build consumer trust. That means focusing on ways to authentically connect with audiences, and ways to highlight their humanity. Brands need to connect with their audiences on a meaningful level. No one likes being constantly swamped with ads. Even worse is when you’re being marketed to and don’t even realise it.
2. Social media is about storytelling.
Social media’s popularity is rooted in the fact that it allows us to share our life experiences with friends and families. We get to tell our stories through our posts, and we get to see a snapshot of everyone else’s lives through our news feeds. At first, that was through written posts and photos, but video content is increasingly popular.
Social media is adapting, embracing new ways to allow people to tell their stories and share their narrative with the world. Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook are embracing this trend, and it’s changing the way we consume social media content.
This opens the door for brands to share more human stories of their own, which will inspire audiences to try out their product. Storytelling feels real, immediate and personal, but it also demands a mix of more time-intensive video, images and graphics, and requires brands to be more creative and thoughtful in the intent.
3. Build a brand narrative.Along with honing their human stories, businesses are going to need to build a strategic narrative behind their brand. Narratives capture moments and experiences shared between a user and a product; they’re the conversations that are occurring, and they’re often about trying to create a broader, more positive change.
These narratives can be distributed through social media and digital media, and they reflect what a brand’s community is saying about them. If a brand can build a larger story, it will have a better chance of success.
Brand narratives need to be compelling and lead audiences to an action. Evaluate your brand story, and ensure it is inspiring and stands out against the messiness of other social media content.
4. Quality and creativity over quantity.
Marketers often have a knee-jerk reaction to trends by flooding platforms with mediocre and uninspired content in hopes of riding the trend wave. Would-be customers react by tuning out and quickly dismissing sub-par messaging. The threshold for gaining customer attention and trust has grown exponentially. Marketers who hope to gain consumer consideration must be willing to go the extra mile in creating engaging content.
The bottom line is, to have an impact, brands must be purposeful and creative. Less content, if it’s created thoughtfully and is well-positioned, will have greater impact than an abundance of content that is uninspired, heavy-handed or seen as shallow or dull.
5. Put a human face to your brand.
Personal branding is a must on social media. Putting a real, human face to a brand is key in building trust and loyalty, especially for small, relatively unknown businesses. Personal branding gives a business a human element that will naturally connect customers and make the brand seem more relateable. Businesses that learn to foster their human element will have a real advantage over those who hide behind a logo.
One popular trend in humanising a business is to promote the personal brand of the business owner or a high-level leader. This can be done through guest blogging, podcasts and webinars. Giving the public an up-close view of the company’s leader can strengthen its brand reputation.
6. Influencers continue to grow their communities.
Influencer marketing continues to develop and grow on social media platforms.
Influencers are social media figures who have gathered a defined community around themselves. Their large followings (which can range from the thousands to over a million viewers) give them influence over others. They can be incredibly effective as salespeople because we inherently trust the people we follow on social media.
Much like personal branding, when done well influencer marketing gives a human voice to brands. Influencer marketing is less direct than traditional forms of advertising, but it can effectively create authentic ways of connecting with customers.
7. Selfie videos and branding.
The selfie culture continues to flourish on social media, with the popularity of selfie photo evolving into the self-recorded video. These “selfie videos” are drawing high user interest on social media. Like the selfie photo, the selfie video allows users to capture a moment in time, but the video format allows users to communicate in a deeper and more personal way than a photo ever could. Selfie videos tend to be short and feel more immediate than a written post with a photo.
Businesses need to take note: viewers spend hours watching friends’ videos on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. Brands would be wise to look for ways to incorporate first-person “selfie video” content as part of their marketing strategy. Traditional advertising can be off-putting to younger audiences, who are more cautious about their purchases and want a more authentic experience with their brands. The selfie video can help a brand seem more relateable and trustworthy.
8. Segment your social audiences.
While brands talk about their customers and audiences, the reality is that most businesses will have multiple audiences. Segmentation is the process of organising your audience into manageable groups (or segments) so you can tailor your messaging and communications to the preferences of each group. Social media is most effective when you segment your audiences so you can be relevant to the right groups of people at the right time.
Making assumptions about your audience and lumping them all together could limit your ability to reach more people. So the more you know about your audience and the various groups that make up your audience, the better you can adjust your messaging and narratives to fit each segment.
9. Hyper-targeted personalisation.
Customers have come to expect brands to tailor special offers and discounts to their wants and needs. To keep up with expectations, businesses need to step up their game when it comes to targeted advertising. Nearly every social media platform offers some level of audience filtering when you opt to pay for advertising. These options range from simple geographic targeting to advanced filters that refine audiences into highly specific segments.
In the coming year, brands will increasingly turn to hyper-targeted personalisation to reach their audiences. This is often achieved through re-targeting or re-marketing ads. Ever wonder why you’re seeing an ad on your social media site for something you were shopping for earlier? That’s hyper-targeted personalisation at work.
Using “cookies” while you browse online, marketers collect data on users, such as online habits, the area they live in and any other pertinent information. But marketers will need to find a balance between being too pushy and being able to offer personalised advertising that will genuinely interest customers.
10. Know your platforms.
Businesses should carefully consider which social media platforms to focus on, as each platform tends to be used by different groups. For example, over 80 percent of Pinterest users are female, and more than 50 percent of users are from the US. So, if a brand is targeting American women, posting on Pinterest could help isolate that group.
Meanwhile, Snapchat users tend to be younger than those who use Facebook. And career-focused professionals spend more of their time on LinkedIn. Brands that use multiple platforms should use these distinguishing characteristics to decide where to post content and on which platforms to focus the majority of their marketing efforts.
Every marketer knows social media is one of the most effective ways to expand your reach, connect with your target audience, and grow your business. However, along with everything else in inbound, social media is constantly changing. Just look at 2017, for example.
In the past year alone, Facebook seduced Snapchat users to Instagram with the addition of stories, the president of the United States took to Twitter to communicate official policy positions in 140 characters (now he has 280, but we’ll get to that), and Apple announced plans to alter the way we interact with our mobile devices.
As more and more brands expand their reach with social media, the competition on these channels is increasing and people’s attention spans are decreasing.
So, how should marketers adjust their social media marketing in 2018? They need to stay on top of the changes and be ready to pivot.
As we move into the next year, we are going to see an overall increased amount of time spent on social platforms, with big brands digging in and committing to a much larger investment in social media marketing. 2017 saw a 60% increase in social media budget over 2016, which is set to continue into 2018
You want to stay ahead of the curve and your competition, but you also don’t want to waste time and money on a something fleeting that won’t stick around. So how do you figure out what’s going to be worth your investment?
Well, we did the hard part for you and identified the hottest trends in the social media world for 2018, hopefully giving you enough time to get them implemented right after the new year.
Before we dig into it, however, here are some of the biggest challenges social media marketers are going to face in 2018.
Social Media Marketing Challenges in 2018
Less Organic Reach
As more and more businesses increase their presence on social media platforms, the organisations themselves have made big moves to combat spam. In most instances, this means marketers have to fight a decline in organic reach.
With less organic return, brands are likely to take a more selective approach to social media marketing. They will have to be very particular about where and what they post and invest more in paid ads to keep their numbers up.
Social Media Video Peaking
According to research done by Kenshoo, spending on social video advertising grew 130% this year, with no sign of stopping.
The problem with this is the market for social video is being saturated. Businesses are now going to be challenged with producing even more relevant video content and distributing it properly if they want to get noticed.
“New Tool” Fatigue
Hootsuite did some research and found a lot of their customers are fed up with the never-ending list of new tactics, tools, and formats for handling their social media marketing.
In 2018, there is going to be a shift back to the basics.
Marketers are going to have to try and prove the ROI of existing tactics. This means metric measurements will be more important than ever as brands try and identify what strategies are working and what isn’t.
Okay, so there are the challenges. So what can you do to overcome them? Onto the top social media marketing trends for 2018…
Social Media Trends for 2018
1. Instagram Stories
Yes, yes, Snapchat was first to let users share short videos that delete after 24 hours, but it worked! It worked so well Facebook decided to take a whack at it both on Instagram and in the app that bears its name.
With its huge audience, it should come as no surprise that within the first year of the Instagram story debut, it has surpassed Snapchat’s view count with 20 million views a day. At that same rate, nearly half of all Instagram users will be using Stories by the end of 2018.
This means brands trying to connect with their customers on Instagram must take the time to get on board with stories. Regardless of B2B or B2C, they are a great way to showcase your company culture or put your processes on display.
The stories are fun to use and to view, allowing you to add filters, tags, and text. One of the biggest brand benefits of Instagram stories is that they are discoverable, meaning that Instagram users can see your stories even if they are not your followers.
In addition, just like with any other post on the platform, you can hashtag relevant keywords to help users find you faster and easier. These tags are clickable, so brands can dive into their niche markets and target more effectively than ever. Brands are going to be trying new ways to engage with their story viewers by taking polls and asking questions with their posts. You can even tag your location
Now it’s definitely a long shot for most, but any account with 10,000 followers or more can also add links to their stories, which is a huge advantage considering Instagram doesn’t allow links in posts otherwise.
2. Social Media Influencers & Micro-Influencers
Not long ago, the fastest and easiest public relations tactic was hiring a celebrity to endorse or promote your brand or product, but that can come with a hefty price tag (and now Kyrie Irving is joining the flat-earthers).
Nowadays, a more reasonable solution is social media influencers (or micro-influencers), who are celebrities in their own circles.
Micro-influencers can have an incredible amount of reach, usually with followings in the hundreds of thousands or millions. Brands are shifting towards paying these influencers to promote their specific products because they deliver 11 times the ROI compared to traditional digital marketing, and 49% of people suggest that they depend on influencers for their purchase decisions.
This is not just a trend, but a billion-dollar emerging industry. Many of these influencers walk away with six-figure incomes, all from promoting brands to their massive followings. Take Ryan ToysReview for example. Ryan is an irresistible 6-year-old who is estimated by Forbes to have made $11 million this year through his YouTube channel. Ryan opens toys, plays with them and then offers his opinions. With 10 million subscribers, he is leading the charge for the social influencer industry for 2018.
Over 90% of marketers who employ an influencer marketing strategy believe it is successful. In 2017, brands struggled to connect with their audiences with traditional advertising tactics, so expect influencers to take off even more than they already have.
3. Augmented & Virtual Reality
While augmented reality’s initial impact will be on mobile gaming, it is likely that social media platforms will find more ways to incorporate the new technology as well.
Snapchat is already on board, teaming up with Bitmoji to allow users to project animated versions of themselves into the real world doing lots of random things. Not to mention Pokemon GO, which has let players catch the beloved pocket monsters in their real surroundings for a couple of years now.
Even the new iPhone 8 and Google’s Pixel 2 have incorporated augmented reality with talking emojis amongst other things.
Getting away from the novelty of it all, the potential of augmented reality for brands is immense. Companies will be able to showcase their products in brand new ways to customers, like seeing how a piece of clothing looks on them or how a certain chair would fit in their living room.
Implementing AR into your marketing efforts can take some significant time and budget, but we expect a more manageable solution to AR customisation to come out this year through social media.
In terms of Virtual Reality, most technologies have at least another year of development before they hit mainstream markets.
There is some hope for 2018, however.
Facebook, for example, has been working on a project called Spaces that is designed to allow friends to connect in VR. Since Facebook owns Oculus, a VR headset retailer and software company, it’s no surprise that they are making this jump and it’s an exciting move for marketers.
Facebook wants to release Spaces in 2018 and when they do, it is probably going to be the first VR social media experience. While still a way off, marketers should start strategising around this ground-breaking opportunity.
4. More Live Streaming is Coming
While Facebook Live and other live streaming have been around for a while now, the way people and brands are going to use them is changing.
We are going to see a lot more of it in 2018, and the people who do it well will be revelling in the organic reach it will generate. The significance of live streaming is not from it gaining popularity, but rather the technology we have to do it, is improving.
We get better phones with better hardware every year, meaning better and more accessible video recording and processing.
In 2018, more brands will begin to harness the power of live streaming and will incorporate it into their monthly content plans. And like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and even LinkedIn even more social platforms are sure to follow as they try to capitalize on the trend.
5. Generation Z
What the heck is Generation Z? Gen Z are millennials’ little sibling, born in the late 90s / early 00s.
This generation is the first to grow up 100% online and their tech-savviness is unparalleled. According to RetailDive, Gen Z is 2-3 times more likely to be influenced by social media than they are by sales or discounts.
In other words, they value social media and what others are doing more than they do price itself. That’s a huge shift from the price conscious shoppers of the past.
Now, most marketers won’t worry about Gen Z for at least a few years, but the very first of them are about 22 years old now. A Gen Z workforce is on its way, and marketers should stay ahead of this curve on this one, especially B2B.
Goldman Sachs says that Gen Z is more valuable to marketers than millennials in 2018 because their buying power is only going to increase, and we need to shift social media strategies accordingly.
There will be a shift in social media investments to Gen Z-friendly platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, and away from those like Facebook.
6. Online Hangouts Become the Norm
Online hangouts are the perfect harmony between the live streaming trend and Gen Z. Houseparty, for example, is a free app where you can live video chat with multiple people that saw rapid growth last year and is starting to turn heads.
Because of this, yes, you guessed it, Facebook is reportedly investigating ways to create a similar functionality within their live streaming platform.
7. Twitter... is Still Here
And it probably doesn’t even know why. For most businesses, it might be better to invest more time and money in increasingly popular platforms like Facebook and Instagram next year.
Twitter has been struggling in the past few years, and it needs to make some big changes in order to stay relevant in 2018.
It was the slowest growing major social media platform in 2017, despite the viral coverage of President Trump’s statements on the platform. Many users are leaving Twitter due to unfair code of conduct enforcement with regards to the President.
With this in mind, expect them to hit the drawing board in 2018 with any and all attempts to switch things up. They have already increased their character limit to 280 characters and experts predict they will soon fully launch their subscription model for advertisers, among other things. The bottomline is: stay on the lookout. They aren’t done yet.
8. Stricter Conduct Policies
Along the same lines as Twitter’s code of conduct issue, many platforms are rethinking how they govern their users.
After a series of controversial issues during the 2016 presidential election, social media platforms have embraced a more involved approach.
Facebook, for instance, recently turned over a ton of ads that seem to be connected to Russian hacking, and has invested in new AI and human forms of monitoring.
In the wake of several graphic live streams, some resulting in death, Facebook also had to hire more staff just for content monitoring.
At this point, it seems more like damage control than a proactive solution, but we expect platforms to implement more preventative and long-lasting measures when it comes to content monitoring.
As a marketer, you need to know and understand these guidelines to ensure you don’t get penalized.
The 8 social media trends above will impact users and brands significantly in 2018. With these trends in mind, it’s time to reconsider your social media approach to maximize your ROI.
Get your plans underway now so that you can stay ahead of the curve with these latest trends.
Marketing used to be about companies pushing their ads in front of people in order to sell; now it’s about engagement with the audience. There has always been competition in business but with such a plethora of options these days, companies must stand out in a very positive way, they almost have to seduce potential clients like a new sweetheart.
Less than a decade ago, few people thought of social media as a useful channel for online marketing, now small businesses are embracing it and are reaping the benefits with increased customer engagement and sales. From Facebook to Twitter and Instagram to LinkedIn, some of the savviest businesses are establishing a presence on social media and capitalising on the massive exposure available from it.
Whichever social media platform you choose will depend on your individual preferences of course, but to some extent the nature of your business can determine the most suitable for your purposes. LinkedIn for example is the platform of choice for some professionals because of the more formal nature of their business services, whereas Facebook and Twitter are less formal, and reflect more of an individual’s or company’s personality, while still providing opportunities to promote the business. Twitter gives valuable exposure to small businesses and Pinterest is highly visual, which businesses can benefit from using the impact of images to attract interest.
Once we’ve identified the best platform(s) for our business we cannot rest on our laurels. Continued interaction is important in keeping people interested and they will, in turn, reward us with their loyalty, and their custom.
Content can go out-of-date very quickly and if we are not updating it, our followers may just head off somewhere else. Also, we can get insights into what is being said before it ever becomes a problem. The best performing businesses constantly monitor and measure activity and responses and adapt their strategies accordingly.
Social media is a stage upon which we can stand, view the landscape and make a judgement about where we need to be heading to effectively market and promote our business. It reaches the ears of so many more potential opportunities than was ever possible before its invention. It does the hard work connecting us to the people that matter to our business and we reap the rewards.
What are # (Hashtags) and How to Use them on Social Media
Once upon a time, # was but a simple pound sign or hash. But then came Twitter and turned this mundane sign into an online sensation. Today, whether you are on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube or Facebook, you simply cannot escape the all-encompassing presence of the #hashtag.
To the social media novice, hashtags might seem confusing, annoying and pointless at first glance. But if you understand their purpose and learn how to use them, hashtags are a powerful tool to help you engage your target audience and increase your brand awareness.
So What is a # Hashtag?
A hashtag is a keyword or phrase preceded by the hash symbol (#), that people include in their social media posts. Essentially, it makes the content of your post accessible to all people with similar interests, even if they’re not your followers or fans. For instance, let’s say you’re an Apple fan and that you’re playing with the idea of buying an iPhone 5. A simple “#iPhone5” search on any social network will open a dedicated news feed with all iPhone 5 latest updates, deals, rumours and hacks. The results you see on this feed are the aggregated posts of any users who used “#iPhone5” in their posts. But usually, users don’t actively search for hashtags, but simply spot them. Hashtags appear as clickable links on posts they see and a mouse click will display a real-time live feed of every other post tagged with the same hashtag.
How Can Using #Hashtags Help you Promote your Business?
Assuming your social media profile is public, using hashtags make your posts visible to basically anyone who shares your interest. No longer are your posts limited to just your followers; your content is now accessible to all other users interested in similar topics. Choosing the right hashtag can greatly broaden the reach of your social media posts to thousands of potential followers, fans or customers.
Creating an Effective Hashtag
To create a hashtag, all you need to do is include a # and a relevant keyword or phrase. You can insert hashtags anywhere in your posts: front, middle or end. Some people like to weave their hashtags into the middle of posts, while others prefer inserting them at the end. It does not really matter, as long as your hashtags remain relevant. Hashtags are powerful when used wisely. Nothing turns people off more than a cluttered post with excessive hashtags or overly lengthy hashtags, e.g. #thisLongHashtagIsSoPointless. As a general rule of thumb, keep your hashtags to a maximum of two or three when tweeting on Twitter. For Instagram, the ideal number of hashtags is five. Always remember to use clear, unique and relevant hashtags.
Three Powerful Hashtags to Use on Social Media
Content Hashtags: If you are totally new to hashtags, first consider using hashtags that directly relate to your brand, product or service. Content hashtags will greatly expose your brand to potential customers on those social media platforms who weren’t previously familiar with your brand. In the Tweet below, New York restaurant Madison Bistro skilfully includes hashtags about its products (#coffee, #breakfast) and location (#nyc), coupled with a clickable hyperlink that directs users to the restaurant menu on its Facebook page. Through this simple Tweet, the company increases its visibility among relevant Twitter users and in the process might have attracted some potential coffee-loving customers in New York City.
Trending Hashtags: Another great way to boost your brand’s visibility is using existing hashtags that have grown popular among millions of users, also known as ‘trending’ hashtags. Before you hashtag trending topics, remember to first ask yourself whether your social media posts are adding value to the existing conversation. If your post does not add value, it is highly likely to be ignored and lost in the plethora of posts. If however your post is informative, funny or viral, it would get re-shared by fellow users and this greatly enlarges awareness of your brand.
As Halloween approaches, there are many brands and companies who have hopped on the #Halloween bandwagon. Here are some good examples:
Brand-Specific Hashtags: Sometimes, the problem with using generic or popular hashtags is that your posts might be lost in the noise of hundreds of posts using the same hashtags. Hence, it is a good idea to create your own dedicated brand-specific hashtags. These can be used for general branding, promotions, events, contests or other marketing campaigns. For example, as part of its 100th anniversary, Oreo created a special hashtag #oreomoment and got users to share about their favorite memory of their product. The hashtag got so popular that it elicited thousands of responses from users. Soon, what was originally a brand-specific hashtag became a trending hashtag as more people (even companies) used the #oreomoment hashtag.
Effective Brand Specific Hashtags
The key to creating an effective brand-specific hashtag is to ensure that there is no one else using the same hashtag. Make sure it is unique and memorable. For general branding, use a short motto or tagline (e.g. Kit Kat uses #haveabreak). When creating marketing campaign-specific hashtags, make sure to give users a compelling incentive to use them. For example, you could get users to post with a campaign-specific hashtag to stand a chance to get discounts or win prizes. In return, your brand stands to benefit from major viral marketing publicity.
So what are you waiting for, start harnessing the power of hashtags and broaden your reach to millions of potential followers or customers now!
Lisa Hunter is an experienced Marketing, Events and Project Manager. She has over 10 years’ experience working in the IT and marketing industry, delivering strategic marketing support and managing creative projects for a wide-range of clients. In this blog she shares her knowledge and experiences…we hope you enjoy it.