Social Media Marketing is a constantly shifting marketplace - so how is it going to change in 2018?
There are also some pieces of best practice that will remain evergreen. So, without wasting any more time, here are the key social marketing trends and best practices for 2018.
The keystone of all good marketing is perhaps the least sexy, but most necessary part of the job.
Social media marketing requires good research and good analysis. The good news is that companies like Facebook are constantly refining their analysis tools, so it makes in-depth analysis easier than it has ever been.
Systems like the dynamic content ads allow you to test multiple images and pieces of copy, and Facebook will work out the combination that performs best.
With the right audience size, it can be a really effective market research tool, at a much lower expense (and you can actually sell things when you’re going through the process).
I can't emphasize this enough:
Just remember with dynamic ads - and with all other kinds of ads - to do your own research.
For the objective you have set, one ad may stand out from the rest, but be aware of ads that perform well for other objectives, if you decide to change the path of your customer journey.
The better prepared you are, the more effective your marketing will be.
With Facebook dominating the social media landscape, it’s easy to just focus on that platform. Especially when you consider the audience network, which puts out content over Facebook on desktop and mobile - as well as on other websites, in-app and also on Instagram.
With the potential reach that is there, it can be tempting to just put a message out on all of those platforms.
People react differently on Instagram than they do on Facebook - they also react differently on a desktop than they do on mobile.
You can (and should) create platform-specific content. The only issue is that you lose out on shared social proof.
If you get most of your engagement on mobile, then optimise for mobile - and vice versa for the desktop.
If you do want to send out just one message over multiple platforms, make sure that you front load the content - so that the first 89 characters have their own message, meaning that it can still work in in-app ads as well as the longer form of a desktop post.
And this one is important:
You should also avoid just copying and pasting content that you have written for Facebook onto LinkedIn and Twitter, for example. There are different expectations for the types of posts and even the frequency of posts on the different platforms.
Look in depth at the results your different platforms are generating, and focus your effort where it does the most good.
When you have multiple levels of the sales funnel, split audiences, split content for platform and multiple objectives, it can be easy to create a fragmented campaign.
Think about where you are ultimately driving people to - in most cases, it’s your website, right?
In which case, you need to have a landing page that reflects the messages that people have already been given before they got there.
If the tone, style, and content of your messaging isn’t reflected on your landing page, you will confuse the customer and less of them will convert.
Think about working backwards from your landing page - whether your messaging is meant to attract or lead customers to an action, whether it’s targeting to males or females, or retargeting to people who have already interacted. The message should be consistent enough that there is a clear progression for the consumer - no matter how they ultimately come to you.
Having a specific goal, as well as rules about branding and tone can help you keep that consistency.
Also, think about the style of your images - are they all similar?
If you are using emojis in one post, are you using them in all of them?
Does your message of personal branding shine through in every piece of content you are putting before your audience?
There’s also a practical benefit on Facebook. Part of the relevancy score is determined by a sweep of the page that a campaign leads to. The closer in-message they are, the higher your relevancy score.
Ultimately, it means that a vertically integrated campaign is more likely to convert customers, and the cost of converting them will be much lower.
Split testing has never been easier, but people still aren’t doing it enough.
Split testing lets you find ads that work, and even convert better.
You can split test everything, and it can help you do everything from refining your visual style down to the use of logos, to finding out the type of content different sections of your demographic respond to.
Nowhere is split testing more important than in retargeting, in finding the best way to get people back into the funnel who have fallen out of it.
Careful testing and the right retargeting message can massively improve the effectiveness of a campaign.
The rise of the influencer has been an emerging trend since 2016 and has only strengthened throughout 2017 with the rise of the micro-influencer. These are small and hungry influencers with followings as little as 1,000 who put your message out to a very specific audience.
The smaller size of micro-influencers means that they are a resource to be used by businesses of all sizes.
Even firms without a large marketing budget can approach small influencers directly and offer them free samples or even a commission, and turn micro-influencers into micro-affiliates.
For small businesses, they add credibility and shareable content.
Audit the content that influencers put out yourself so you can be sure that it stays on-brand.
The Internet is global, and if you have a product that you can sell to a global marketplace, you should take advantage of it.
According to HootSuite, internet use in the United Arab Emirates has increased by 43% over just the last year. Although 51.6% of the stuff on the Internet is in English, only about 4% of people on the planet speak English as a first language.
Think about having your services advertised in other countries, and setting up automated chatbot services written in other languages.
Translation services are available at very reasonable prices over the Internet, and a small upfront cost can open up new markets that have a lot less competition in the marketplace.
Growth in social media networks is reaching a plateau in English speaking countries, but it is on a meteoric rise in other parts of the world.
The last best practice is to remember that social media is social.
People don’t go to social media to be sold to - they go on social media to be entertained, to learn something and to make connections with people.
People talk about how social media is the new word of mouth - then put out content while not engaging with the people they put the message out to.
Make sure that you respond to the comments and messages your audience sends you.
Give them a chance to interact with you. Try and make a genuine connection with them. Show them how your business works, and the people who make it work behind the scenes.
Use tools like Facebook Live and Instagram to let your audience become your friends.
The very best of luck.
About the author
Zachary Jarvis is a Digital Marketer with one thing on his mind: Results. Uninspired by the never ending talk of ‘vanity metrics’ in the world of digital marketing, Magnate was founded - the ‘Social-First’ marketing agency.