We are well into January of 2018, which means it’s not only time to review and summarize 2017, but also prepare for the year in front of us. Discussing digital marketing trends we expect to see in the coming year can be a good start to creating your marketing strategy for 2018. Regardless of whether they are general marketing predictions or have a specific note, they are bound to affect the way we do marketing in the future, so buckle up and read our tips on how to advertise successfully on Social Media in 2018.
1) Build a long-term Social Media marketing strategy instead of relying on short-term tactics
Both have their uses, but if you want to gain results that will help your client’s business in the long run, you should think long-term. A well-thought out Social Media campaign, executed in a rightly manner is bound to yield results that include an increase in brand awareness and produce leads and traffic months and even years down the road. Attracting consumers may be difficult, but keeping them should be your true goal and that surely doesn’t happen overnight.
For starters, when planning ads create a quarterly goal and then go backward. See how many ads, content, and budget you will need. Track them daily and update the before made spreadsheet with the statistic. At the end of Q period, revise, get feedback and start the new quarter a bit smarter ;). At the end of the year, your result should be more than doubled when it comes to ads. Also remember, failure is good if you learn something from it!
2) Choose your Social Media platform carefully
Brands must accept that organic reach is steadily declining and stop relying on short-term tactics that used to work. Instead, businesses need to start building sustainable strategies. This means being more selective when it comes to the networks you post content on, and investing more in social ads as well as the influencer and/or advocacy strategies.
The best approach here would be to use paid advertising on all social media your target audience and potential customers are. But in reality, most of us just don’t have enough of a budget to go all in. When choosing in which platform to invest, think of your desired outcome. Do you want to get brand recognition? Do you want to engage? Do you need new leads?
Also, research the niche. If you are a fashion business and you want to work with influencers, LinkedIn for sure isn`t the platform to place your ads. Instagram and Pinterest are dominating the fashion industry – try there.
If you are in an Automotive niche, you would want to converse with your prospects quite often- try Twitter!
3) Have a clear intent of who you want to reach
Knowing your target audience is a job half done. Buyer personas (or your ideal customers) help you define and target the right people, in the right places, at the right times with the right messages. In that sense, you need to familiarize yourself with your intended demographic based on their:
- Social status
Even though you may have heard about this one a hundred +1 times already, don’t look away! Buyer persona cannot be built in 5 min. It demands a proper research and conversation with actual humans. It may be tough on you but trust us the results will surprise you. Make a case study, pay if you need and get the right interests and insights into your potential leads.
Testing the ad on the test group before releasing it to the general public, can be an awesome idea to generate even bigger results from the campaign itself. Even Facebook now has a Split test – use it wisely and blow away your audience.
Facebook is the most popular social media website by far, with 1.94 billion monthly active users. Next is Instagram, with 700 million users, followed by Twitter with 313 million monthly visitors.
Estimates vary for Google+, but according to research from June 2017, Google+ sees 111 million monthly visitors. LinkedIn comes in just below Google+, with 106 million.
The advertising algorithms on all mentioned networks are favoring content that has already had a previous organic engagement or is naturally attracting a bigger audience. So take your time, build a faithful network of followers, use those ads and slowly go over to website traffic, engagement and lead generation. Promote your posts organically and answer the topics which are in popular demand.
A recent study conducted by Goldman Sachs concluded that Generation Z was more valuable to most organizations than millennials. Today, the oldest Gen Zers are 22 years old. They are just beginning to enter the labor force, and will have increased buying power for some time. Brands will begin to recognize this, and will shift their social media strategies accordingly. Expect great investment in platforms loved by Gen Zers like Snapchat and Instagram.
If you want to have a successful line of communication with potential or existing customers, you need to understand who they are. When you know your target audience, when you understand them, you are on solid ground. From there it’s just the matter of giving them what they want in a way they will appreciate the most.
“If you want to create messages that resonate with your audience, you need to know what they care about.” – Nate Elliott, Marketing Technology Advisor
7) Tweak your Social Media posts through A/B tests
The key to success on social media is to continuously optimize the in’s and out’s of your strategy through A/B tests. That means refining even the most minute details inside your posts. For example, A/B testing video length on Facebook (30-second versus 2-minutes). While shorter videos tend to outperform long ones, Facebook has recently shifted its algorithm to boost longer videos in newsfeeds. It would, therefore, be interesting to see if, despite Facebook’s algorithm change, your audience still favors shorter videos.
The more you tweak, the more you will be able to reach a “near-perfect” product. However, have in mind that optimization is a never-ending cycle where marketers try to create the best copy, with the best image, targeting the most receptive audience, at an ideal time.
8) Diversify ad spending across Social Media networks
“If I was going to point to a trend for 2018 it would be diversification of ad spend across networks. There’s so much money in Facebook advertising today that smart marketers are having to get extremely efficient to get results when targeting new prospects on the network. Any time a lot of money enters an auction you’re wise to enter other auctions where there’s less money sloshing around. I think in 2018 we’ll continue to see smart social marketers diversify and learn how to effectively spend ad dollars on other social networks like Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin and even Reddit.” – David Christopher, Director of Marketing and Growth, Tailwind
9) Stick to the tried and true Social Media advertising strategies (at least partly) to justify continued investment
In 2018, implementation and effective measurement of existing strategies will be more important than the introduction of new tactics.
While social networks continue to innovate and build new ways to reach audiences, marketers are under pressure to prove that their existing social strategies merit continued investment. Future investments need to have a demonstrable business impact beyond classic vanity metrics.
Before starting any ad campaign make sure to clearly state what the ROI should be. Define a SMART goal and go towards. Like that, in the end, you will have something to compare your results to and see if it worked or not.
“Smarter use of metrics, better benchmarks and increased social marketing skills will bring stronger performance marketing to social activation. The norm will be to gather key measures, evaluate, optimise and drive social to deliver value goals. And it will raise the bar on social media, taking it out of the fluffy and making it integral to customer communication and experience.” – Katy Howell, CEO, Immediate Future
11) Post consistently
A good Social Media content strategy needs to be consistent, so you should make a Social Media Calendar where you can plan when each post will be published and stick with it. If you have an accurate picture of when your target audience is online, you will get a steady flow of followers. For instance, mothers might not browse Twitter much when they’re picking kids up from school, LinkedIn followers might spend less time online during the 9 to 5 and so on.
According to research, the best times to post on social media are these:
- Facebook: Wednesday through Sunday in the afternoon.
- Twitter: Weekdays in the afternoon or the evenings.
- Pinterest: Any day of the week in evening.
- LinkedIn: Tuesday through Thursday at 5 p.m.
- Instagram: Monday through Friday at 2 a.m. or 5 p.m.
This goes the same with the ads. Facebook ads are allowing you to choose the optimal time when your post should be actively running. Use it!
12) Keep ahead of evolving Social Media
Social will continue to be an evolving media, so the challenge will be staying on top of the rapidity of change. The need for social media marketing specialism is as strong if not stronger every year. What is needed are killed people that are immersed in the world of social from insights, to creative and paid. With that being said, don’t be afraid to try out new things. Things that have never been done before. Afterwards, inform the marketing community of your results. Again even if you fail, we can all learn something from it.
13) Center Social Media advertising around the consumer’s needs and desires
84 percent of millennials do not trust traditional advertising, so it does not make any sense to create content that is written from a selling point of view. People do not like content that is not relevant to them. Instead, content that is personalized and based on user personas is more likely to be read and shared. With buyer personas, you get an exact answer to what your audience wants instead of guessing it. It is much better to prepare content that solves users’ pain points.
14) Personalize the relationship – make the consumer your brand ambassador
“In 2018, personalization and brand experience will have been taken to their logical extremes: consumers will have far more control over the relationship – in fact, brands will be paying them to advertise in their social ‘space’. Consumers will be involved more closely in product and service development, to the point of co-creation.” – Jemima Gibbons, Social Media Strategist and author of ‘Monkeys with Typewriters’
Everyone reads reviews. They search for your social media profiles. They Internet stalk you because they want to know everything they can possibly know about you before they come to your business. Transparency in reviews adds to your business credibility – having 1 negative review to 20 positive ones humanizes the way your company does business.
And, the Internet is catching up. People can leave reviews on your social pages and profiles. Google recently added an extra layer of verification and trust to home services businesses with its Local Services Ads.
16) Respond to comments
Regardless of whether the comments you receive on your blog posts, for example, are positive or negative, you shouldn’t shy away from responding. It would be at least courteous to acknowledge a pleasant reaction your words have garnered, showing your readers you value their input. Moreover, negative comments should spur you to take action and your reply to such a comment will display a willingness to resolve the problem in question.
17) Build meaningful relationships with influencers
“The key trend for social media in 2018 will be influencer marketing. With the continued democratization of content publishing, traditional marketing channels have less influence while social media users and content creators have more. Anyone can yield influence and thus, as social media becomes more and more pay to play, every business need to incorporate some type of influencer marketing strategy to become more effective in their 2018 marketing. The trend towards brands leveraging user-generated content is one example of this, and if you are going to curate content to represent your brand, why wouldn’t you use that of an influencer?” – Neal Schaffer, Social Media Strategist and the author of ‘The Business of Influence’
18) Make your employees’ social media accounts extensions of your company image through personal branding
“Every employee is their own brand but also an extension of your organization. As social culture in the workplace expands, I think we’ll see an increase in company-wide involvement and storytelling across social media in 2018. 64% of millennials believe that social media is one of the most effective channels for connecting with brands (Source: Microsoft) but messages are re-shared 24 times more frequently when they’re sent by employees instead of the brand itself.
Trust between customers and brands is deepened when there is a face and a story behind a brand, which is often where influencer marketing comes into play. Don’t disregard influencer marketing opportunities, but look for leaders throughout your organization, from top to bottom, who can deepen trust with your audiences by educating and entertaining.” – Katy LaLanne, Content Marketer, Sendible
19) Post ephemeral content to gain more authenticity and probe your target audience to take quick action (Snapchat/Instagram Stories)
We are seeing many brands using their Instagram profile for their best, high-quality content and stories for more real-time content. Because of the nature of stories (they last for 24 hours, after which they disappear forever), content is lost within hours, marketers gain from the audience taking quick action.
20) Rely less on automation and avoid repetition
The best way to overcome the limitation of time is by automating some of your processes – and marketing is one area ripe for automation. However, even if you do find a tool that can automate many components of marketing at once, it should by no means drive you to neglect the creative and engaging side of your job. Moreover, steer clear of automating all of your Social Media advertising steps, so that you can avoid repetition of content and cross-posting.
21) Engage in real-time and capitalize on micro-moments to delight your Social Media followers
“Personal, deeper connections between brands and social media users. Less automation and repetition, more real-time engagement and capitalization on micro-moments with the aim to delight your social media followers. The popular adoption of live video and the Snapchat/Instagram Stories type of content will push marketers to create and publish content as they go.” – Veronika Baranovska, Content Marketing Specialist, Sendible
22) Content marketing will remain the heart of social media marketing
“Content Marketing Strategy will be at the heart of effective social media marketing. You hear the HiPPOs say “We need a social media strategy”, but actually what they want is a way of engaging different personas and it’s the content that fuels this and you need a strategy to compete now that everyone knows about the importance of quality content.” – Dave Chaffey, CEO & Co-Founder, Smart Insights
23) Vary the content form you deliver – from blog posts, to infographics, to videos
Changing up the format will draw in different eyes and different types of visitors. Adding videos, pictures, comics or infographics will appeal to new readers (and spread differently on social networks) more than your bread-and-butter articles. Even your loyal followers will appreciate your changing it up by using different ways to communicate the message.
When was the last time you used, carousel or a live video as a content? They are there for a reason, use them in ads and the research proved your engagement will be higher. Cinemagraphs are the new go-to trend, make sure to try them out.
There is no point in posting content for content’s sake – it has to be engaging, interesting or helpful in the eyes of your target audience. To provide content that can attract and retain interest, you need to add value to them in a variety of ways. You can provide them with a useful resource, for example, a link to a tool they can use in their day to day life. It could be a piece of expert advice in the area they specialize in or are interested in your company for. Lastly, the content could entertain them, so long as it is in some way related to your business and not a “funny cats” video.
25) Don’t forget the CTA
Your Social Media post may be as amazing as you intended, but if you’ve forgotten to add the Call-to-Action, what’s the point? If you haven’t specified what you wanted your followers to do, your attempt at communication leads nowhere. A strategic CTA adds value because it makes the post do more than show your followers something, it gives them a next step to take or a direction to go in with their new-found information you provided in the post.
If you have found that your content is falling flat or your daily traffic is plateauing, try adding one or a few of these ideas to your content. Your added value could result in added engagement.
26) Evoke an emotion or reaction
There are first line sentences that can really grip your audience: interesting, unusual, shocking, or emotional. Viral content is consumed because it meets these human emotional needs.
For example, emotional content can either be historically emotional, personally emotional, or topically emotion (current affairs).
27) Allow your followers to get to know you – the employees, the brand, company values
Photos and other types of visual content are highly shareable on social networks and give you an opportunity to share memorable and funny behind-the-scenes moments in your company. When you post photos of your team showcasing a particular campaign or process, it helps to show your business as a human brand and build relationships with your community.
National Geographic is known for producing high quality, colorful and unique visual content – this is the first step in getting users to stop scrolling. The ‘wow’ element of the image makes the user stop and wonder where/who it is – wanting more information and letting them escape from their current location and situation.
29) Tell a story – add a point to a posted picture, set the context for the image
The power of telling your audience a story is a technique that must not be overlooked, because when done correctly with strategic planning – knowing who your audience is, where they are and what story they want to know – will provide great engagement with your content and brand.
Similar to that of NatGeo’s strategy, Humans of New York a social and now printed book of media and stories – owned and ran by Brandon Stanton – uses the same techniques to achieve success. In under 7 years, the Facebook page has managed to gain almost 20 million followers on the social platform he started it all from. The use of large descriptive stories supplements his portraiture photography – much like NatGeo.
30) Don’t be over promotional – give credit to the author of the picture or article instead of the company
At National Geographic, each photograph is credited to individual photographers instead of being a branded asset. This makes the content much more personal and less corporate, tapping into the psychology of personal interaction between brand and consumer. Being over promotional is a common mistake for content marketing – this can be really off-putting to your audience, which is why National Geographic’s images are credited to the photographer instead. Personalized ads will evoke emotions much more than the traditional ones.
31) Shift to mobile, but don’t forget PC either
We are all aware that mobile devices are taking over when it comes to Social Media usage, and here are the statistics to back that up:
- Mobile is the most popular way to browse the web (51.4%)
- Laptops come in second at 43.4%
- Somewhere around 70% of searches are projected to come from mobile next year, so if you’re not working on your business’s mobile presence, you’re only marketing to 30% of those searches
32) Focus on local advertising
The digital landscape is making it easier than ever for local businesses to interact with consumers. Google Posts rolled out to all businesses in 2017. Facebook Local gives consumers a more localized social platform.
And those Local Services Ads make it easy to prove you’re trustworthy. Let’s hope we see more of this local focus in search results and social media in 2018 and beyond because this gives local businesses the chance to compete with even the biggest brands for consumer attention.
33) Don’t shy away from posting (short) videos
In a mobile-first culture, video is our main consumption. In 2017 90% of all content shared by users on social media is video. The biggest challenge is how you can capture your audience’s attention in the first 3 seconds.
34) Live stream compelling content on Social Media
Facebook already offers live streaming via Facebook Live, and businesses must use it to reach their niche target audiences. Live streaming requires commitment from audiences, so it will automatically keep the uninterested ones away.
35) Get into interactive broadcasting
Moreover, with interactive broadcasting channels like Agora, one-way live streaming is converted into two-way streaming, which allows people to chat with each other. The best part is that your audience is not required to download another app. It integrates with existing apps and allows brands to reach consumers in real-time.
36) Post not only Live Video, but high-quality, relevant video
“While video, particularly Live Video, will continue to increase in importance in the coming year, a key differentiator will be the creation of high-quality, relevant video. As the novelty of being able to “go live” from any device, anywhere, wears off, audiences will begin to tune out creators and broadcasts who share nothing more than their day-to-day activity. Stories, regardless of whether they’re shared on Snapchat, Messenger, Facebook or Instagram, will follow suit.
Simply put, as audiences become more inundated, businesses and marketers will have to become more skilled at creating truly valuable content. Therefore, I do expect the overall quality of video content to improve in 2018.” – Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner, Author, CMO, The Social Media Hat
37) Follow the rule: “Design for sound off, delight with sound on”
As mobile video consumption continues to rise, the majority of users are watching videos with sound off. On average, 85% of users listen to videos with the sound turned off. You can combat this by making sure your video tells a compelling story with or without sound. Use text and graphics, Facebook auto-caption tools, or upload an SRT file to your video ad to add captions to help deliver your message.
Brands could soon project their products into the homes of social media users through special filters. For example, IKEA rolled out ‘Place’ an app for users to preview furniture in their home before buying. This is a great way to increase conversions by showing customers how their products will look in the surroundings of their own home, before buying.
39) Join your consumers in live video group hangouts
Houseparty is a video hangout platform used by over one million people each day. It is primarily used by Gen Zers as a way to hang out with friends digitally. The platform is so successful that Facebook is reportedly investigating ways to create a similar functionality within their platform.
We have already seen video become increasingly important on social media, and live video group hangouts are a natural next iteration of this trend. It is conceivable that in 2018, Facebook will announce a similar product to Houseparty that will win over users, just as Instagram’s introduction of Stories did.
40) Invest time and money in interaction with consumers via messaging apps
Over 2.5 billion people use messaging platforms globally, and yet brands are still primarily focused on connecting with consumers on pure social networks. In 2018, expect brands to invest more time and money in connecting with consumers on messaging platforms. Artificial intelligence, voice assistants and chatbots will enable brands to offer personalized shopping experiences on messaging platforms like Messenger, WhatsApp and Kik.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what will happen or be popular when it comes to digital marketing trends in 2018. The truth is – anything is possible! The Social Media environment is fickle and ever-changing resulting in novelties emerging every single day.
However, one thing is certain – the ball is in the consumers’ court. They are the ones who are dictating the game and whose needs the marketers need to cater to in hopes of having any kind of success in what they do. One more piece of advice from us to you – use the tips provided here and expect a positive outcome this time next year.