With 2018 in full swing, marketers should be thinking about way to level-up their strategies. And as much as we wish it would, money (and a marketer’s budget) doesn’t grow on trees.
You probably don’t have the budget for cash-consuming items like augmented reality or time-consuming brand boosters like Instagram stories. Plus, as social networks become increasingly segmented, it’s tough to know where and when to engage your precise target audience and how to monetize every social network. And even if you do know, the sheer volume of work may be overwhelming.
Fortunately, there are plenty of straightforward (and, frankly, less expensive) tactics to increase website traffic and engage prospective customers. These dependable strategies have the potential to generate real, tangible outcomes for marketers. Here are six social media marketing pointers from some of the industry’s leading practitioners on how to make these trends work for you, no matter what your budget may be.
1. The Line Between Social Media Content and Social Ads Is Blurring
With Facebook and Instagram using the same targeting engines and technologies (more or less), your content now has a super high-horsepower amplification engine behind it. Think about building ad campaigns that have direct targeting, retargeting, the ability to target audiences you’ve built, and the ability to target audiences that look like the audiences you’ve built. Test and track them all.
Yes, your content might be a series of editorial style videos. But now they can be distributed with this advanced targeting and specifically served to people that view a high percentage of similar content, and to other people that have the same demographic, interest, and behavioral qualities. This is social content with targeting power like we’ve never seen before.
“Remember that ‘social’ implies you’re giving something useful to the audience,” explained Jason Falls, noted digital marketing speaker and author. “Ad targeting to get people to give you something is fine. But leveraging it to show people how much you can give to them goes a long way in building trust and brand affinity.”
2. Social Ads Are on Steroids
The ability to target people based on multiple data points—including demographics, interests, and behaviors—coupled with the ability to utilize existing audiences and lookalike audiences has created social ad capabilities, audience growth, content virality, website traffic, and event attendance. And sales are endless.
Chad Richards, veteran social media marketer and Senior Social Media Manager at Firebelly Marketing, a social media marketing agency, explained,
“People divulge a lot of personal information on social media, so these networks know a lot about us: our characteristics, our interests, and behaviors. Because of this, it’s never been easier to reach exactly the right people with your products and services. And with Facebook’s Pixel, Twitter’s Universal Website Tag, LinkedIn’s Insight Tag, and Snapchat’s Snap Pixel—all provided pieces of code you place on your website—tracking sales and other conversion events from your social ad efforts is clear and straightforward.”
3. Micro-Influencers Get the Respect They Deserve
Influencer marketing is gaining acceptance from marketers at medium-sized—and even small—brands. Emphasis will shift (as it should) to influencers with small, yet highly engaged followings, and toward those connected to other influencers. More importantly, brands that get it understand that influencer marketing is about relationships and not transactions. It’s about creating win- win relationships that benefit the brand and the influencer.
These micro-influencers have audience reach that big influencers can only dream of. While they may lack celebrity, they have an underdog commitment and fight to prove their value to their audience. They live and die to prove this value, which is ultimately in the best interest of a strategic marketer. A successful partnership with an influencer is worth its weight in platinum.
“Customers love authenticity. It’s what enabled RedBull, Dove’s ‘real beauty’ and Pantene’s ‘Shine’ campaigns 10 to 12 years ago, and what Tory Burch seems to be at with Anni Kravi or The Beauty Chef today,” says Christopher Samuel, global corporate preparedness and engagement lead at Monsanto.
“I recommend brands take the long view. Invite and immerse micro-influencers in authentic real-world brand experiences. Existing fans may choose to become advocates. New ones may create their own real-world content/stories, and the ROI on engagement and conversion will be significant. While in influencer marketing, more is more (micro- plus celebrity influencers), the key to success is a commitment to authenticity, transparency, and long-term equity-building.”
Influencer marketing’s emphasis will shift to influencers with small, highly engaged followings.
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4. Social Intelligence Is Easy to Access
With companies like Nuvi and Brandwatch churning out valuable data and beautiful visual reports, any brand can arm itself with the most cutting-edge information about its customers, prospects, its industry, and the conversation. Business development, and marketing in general, needs to focus on what we know about our client or customer. Therefore, understanding the social content that is popular (by brand, competitor, or the industry in general) is critical.
Paying attention to where content and amplification is happening, and which influencers are involved, and which types of content are being amplified—these are all invaluable aspects of understanding what is happening in the social sphere. The opportunity lies in how we extend that knowledge into real actionable insights to inform strategy and tactics.
“Social listening takes real-time conversations and opinions from the internet to the boardroom”, says Will McInnes, CMO, Brandwatch. “Marketers use these insights to beef up their content and influencer marketing practices, and the entire company can gain better insight into what their consumers are looking for everyday. Social data doesn’t just equip marketers with the information necessary to make better business decisions—it allows entire companies to better understand the world they navigate.”
5. Content Intelligence Is Making Life Easier
Yes, we all know we live in a content marketing world. Thanks, HubSpot, for the mass proliferation of this. However, we also know the 80/20 principle applies to content with the most or least levels of engagement. Smart companies like Ceralytics help clients analyze reams of data across awareness, engagement, and conversion, as well as benchmark it against competitors—all while identifying content gaps and missed opportunities with associated keyword difficulties. Say goodbye to overpriced content marketing strategy agencies and hello to smart content that really kicks your competition’s butt.
“The days of ‘if you write it, they will come’ are over,” says Brandon Andersen, veteran marketer and founder of Ceralytics, a content intelligence platform and service. “Succeeding in content marketing now takes a deep understanding of what topics resonate with your audience through the buying cycle. Without these insights, content marketers will continue to shoot in the dark and ultimately fail.”
6. Conversion Matters
Brands will start paying more attention to converting at scale as opposed to the current preoccupation with traffic acquisition. Instead of obsessively chasing more traffic, focus on converting and engaging the traffic you’re already getting.
Whether it’s a conversion on a landing page into a lead or sale, this is the best place to start. From there, you can move across the rest of the site to optimize for email sign-ups, whitepaper downloads, or problem-solving. The crux here is to remove obstacles or friction that prevent visitors from converting. It could be the amount of text. It could be a messaging mismatch between the ad (or general expectations) and the text on the page. Or maybe it’s the image, a lack of trust symbols, or the layout of the page. An improvement of one percentage point in conversion can be a significant game-changer.
“Conversion rate optimization needs to be viewed from your visitor’s perspective. You need to create compelling online experiences for every stage of the online customer journey. The biggest mistake that you can make is to be a greedy marketer and only focus on the bottom of the sales funnel,” said Tim Ash, the CEO of SiteTuners and chairperson of the Digital Growth Unleashed conference.
If your company is a leader and is traditionally first in the space, go ahead and chase the edgy opportunity (and if you’ve got extra time and budget). Otherwise, take the smart and practical approach. Pursue a solid mix of these six opportunities to get the maximum bang for your time and investment.