As freelancers, small business owners and entrepreneurs we have to and usually try to understand about every ‘business’ area, sometimes we outsource and leave certain elements to professionals such as web design and accounting. Social media marketing is now fast becoming one of those things because it’s so confusing and time consuming.
Social media is free business marketing and when it’s done right it can massively help your business to succeed, whether you provide a service or sell products. 90% of companies state that social media is the most effective way in building brand reputation and awareness. Good news for us is that 78% of small businesses attract new customers through social media – but are you putting your energy into the right platform in the right way?
Facebook has 3.5 Billion active users and is ideal for building a community but the biggest challenge is that it has low organic reach and you need to post 1-3 times a day! Unfortunately and probably due to Instagram we have become ‘likers’ (in 2019 the ‘Like’ button was clicked 1.13 trillion times), we are bombarded with so much information on a daily basis that we no longer take the time to comment, which makes it really difficult when you are trying to get engagement within a Facebook Group.
Youtube is the second highest platform and has 1.9 billions users but the user demographic is 62% male and 82% of users are teenagers. It’s great for attracting new customers with ‘how to’ and problem solving tutorials but recording videos can be time consuming.
Instagram has 1 billion active users and unsurprisingly its used the most by 18 to 29 year old females, its great for connecting with existing customers but requires a lot of creativity – more on this later.
LinkedIn and Twitter come in 4th and 5th but over 50% of the users are male. The majority of LinkedIn’s users aren’t very active but it is good for leads and recruiting. Twitter posts have a short lifespan but it’s useful if you want to connect with influencers.
Pinterest has the lowest number of active users at 250 million but 80% are female! If you can create custom images then get on Pinterest because it’s fast becoming a place that drives traffic and leads to your website, you can share lead magnets, infographics, quotes and blog posts. Share as much as possible.
On to 2020 Digital Trends…
Reputation – On average people read 10 online reviews before making a final purchase decision. Ultimately, what your customers say about you is far more powerful than what you say about yourself. The Google algorithm penalises you for every bad review and rewards your competitors when they receive positive recommendations. In 2019 17% of professional marketers spent over half their marketing budget on influencers, with so much emphasis on reputation they want to change ‘nice-to-have’ to a ‘must have’.
Authenticity – Overly-staged and carefully filtered social media posts are quickly losing their appeal. Many influencers have built their personal brand around flawless photos and ‘candid’ poses, this vanity-driven style is no longer resonating like it use to – yay, at last!! Scammers have notoriously been flaunting fake wealth on Instagram by promoting their get-rich-quick courses and schemes. In response to all of this people are now starting to value authenticity, purpose and honest depictions of real people from diverse backgrounds. Today’s consumers respond positively to down-to-earth (but purpose-driven) marketing and communication. So it’s time to get real in 2020.
Influencers have also been actively speaking out about themselves experiencing burnout, mental health issues and the stress that comes from maintaining perfection.
SEO – There is a significant overlap between social media and SEO and the relationship is multifaceted as they become increasingly intertwined. Social media platforms have become search engines in their own right. SEO is traditionally built around keywords and now the same principle is being applied to social media (SMO) in the form of hashtags, keywords and trend phrases. In 2019 there will have been an increased engagement from your SMO efforts and can yeild more benefits than SEO. There’s a big question (Google still haven’t confirmed this and the debate has been going on since 2010) around whether social signals, such as likes and shares, can directly impact your SEO ranking. Now that SEO and social media go hand-in-hand you can and should cross-promote your content over both channels, driving visitors to your social profiles can be just as worth while as boosting organic website traffic.
Micro-influencers with 10k-50k followers have on average 41.7% higher engagement rates than macro-influencers with 500k-1m followers.
Ecommerce – Social media has now become a place to shop, not just to chat, browse and share. Instagram has lead the change. If you have a product to sell then Instagram is your platform, it’s a powerhouse for product discovery with 70% of shopping enthusiasts using Instagram to explore trendy new items. This shoppable trend isn’t limited to posts, stories have exploded as a great sharing format, where you can tag and product sticker links. If you aren’t using it then now is a good time to start.
Voice search – This one took me by surprise but actually it’s really obvious, Siri and Alexa have now become household names. Big companies are eagerly developing voice-activated technologies to make customer interaction fluid and as convenient as possible. 41% of adults use voice search at least once a day ‘Alexa, what’s the time?’. In the marketing world there is a growing emphasis on VEO (Voice Engine Optimisation) but how does this effect you? Well the voice search is often used with local intent and factors in the user’s physical location and now people can ask ‘Siri, what is the best Indian restaurant near me?’. VEO is advancing quickly so keep a look out for it in 2020 and how it could help your business.
82.2% of marketers will invest in more video content in 2020.
Ephemeral marketing – WTF I hear you say, yeah me too, but you do know what this is and you probably have done it.. It’s content that disappears after 24 hours, think Instagram and Facebook Stories (although it was first introduced by SnapChat in 2013). Ephemeral content has exploded in popularity, it’s become a key feature on Instagram and Facebook, so why should you care? Turns out this has a profound effect on user engagement, it’s doubled the amount of time people spend on Instagram. This is partly due to FOMO so users check more regularly and wanting to see more ‘authentic’ content, you can connect with. Stories is a great way to boost engagement, you can add branded filters, geofilters, polls, live stream videos and product stickers. Stories are pinned to the top of the page giving you higher viability so create stories that truly resonate, tell your brands story from a genuine perspective.
Social media ad spend reached $84 billion worldwide in 2019, which has overtaken print advertising spend and an increase of more than 100% since 2016.
Paid ads – The spend on social media ads has risen steadily for years and has now surpassed print making it the third-largest advertising channel. This is due to the influx of small and medium-sized businesses using paid ads as part of their marketing effort and is accessible to entrepreneurs with small budgets. It’s a highly appealing advertising tool and there has been an increase in hiring a professional social media marketing expert, joining a group or doing a course so you can create a sophisticated social media advertising strategy. The competition is fierce and businesses need to expand their budgets to keep up, but spending more doesn’t guarantee success. It’s all too much, isn’t it? So is organic dead? No but it needs the suppor of social ad spend. an organic campaign can serve as a testing ground, which can help guide any future paid advertising initiatives if it performs well. Organic still has it’s place but the importance of paid social ads cannot be understated.
Real-time marketing content – People move fast and we are ‘always on’, resulting in being hyper-connected so the internet is becoming an increasingly live environment. This means that audiences are captivated by live video, 80% of people would rather watch a brand’s live video than read a blog. Might be worth thinking of including an intro video on your website and reducing the text.
‘Likes’ – When your social media posts receive a lot of ‘likes’ you get a dopamine hit, you feel socially validated, if you receive very few ‘likes’ you may feel socially disconnected, this has become the pillar of social media and is negatively impacting on our mental health. Instagram is currently testing this and has hidden the number of ‘likes’ a post receives. The official purpose of this initiative is to make social media less of popularity contest by creating a less pressurised environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves. In the early days, social media was a community-orientated forum that fostered legitimate peer-to-peer connection. Now it’s morphed into an ad-fuelled space that feeds on social validation, by taking away the ‘likes’ they hope to make the push to re-establish the social aspect that it was created for in the first place. It doesn’t mean that much for entrepreneurs, it’s exciting to receive hundreds and thousands of ‘likes’ but it’s not a valuable business KPI, ‘likes’ are cheap currency. However, comments, shares and clicks are a much clearer indication of engagement and what you should be striving for. Algorithms currently use engagement signals to prioritise posts in the feed and not chronological ordering, but this may change and they may find a new way to prioritise content without using ‘likes’ as a primary metric.
That’s it, well done for getting to the end, I hope it was interesting. I have to say that I definitely learnt a few new things while researching all of this and collating all the info. I still hate recording videos but I guess there’s no other way around it, facts are facts, that’s the road we are heading down. We all experience information overload so it can be really challenging to market yourself and your business, so I know how incredibly frustrating it is when your Facebook Group isn’t getting much or any engagement no matter how good you content or you business isn’t coming up first in local searches and is beaten to the top by paid ads. Decide where your product or service fits best and focus on that, make authentic connections with people and don’t be afraid to post consistently on your chosen platform.
I will just leave you with this… Did you know that 90% of the data on the internet has been created since 2016? People, businesses, and devices have all become data factories that are pumping out and taking in incredible amounts of information each day, more than ever before in human history. Here are some crazy numbers; 300 hours of video are uploads to YouTube every minute and 510,000 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated, and 136,000 photos are uploaded to Facebook alone every minute.
Thanks to Falcon.IO for their amazing handbooks and information.