Social media marketing was once an exciting new tool for brands to explore. Businesses set up social media account profiles, gathered followers and began posting regularly. However, today’s social media marketing has grown more sophisticated and nuanced, with new tools, platforms and interaction trends.
Brands are aggressively vying for consumers’ attention on social media, and users’ behavior and preferences have evolved. We’ll look at how social media marketing has changed and how you can leverage this powerful tool for brand awareness, customer service, increased sales and much more.
In the early days of social media marketing, brands were content to cross-post generic content across all social channels and sit back and wait for results. Many resorted to blatant advertising in their social posts.
Things have changed dramatically. Today, to be successful at social media marketing, you must adopt a more strategic approach. A results-driven marketing plan for social platforms must include the following components:
Consider the following social media marketing trends and best practices that can drive results for your business:
Social media users like video content. According to Sprout Social, 54 percent of marketers say video is the most effective type of social content. And according to Wyzowl, 87 percent say video content has helped drive sales.
Clearly, brands must prioritize video content for social media marketing. Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and TikTok present ample opportunities for creating and posting video marketing content. For example, Facebook Live Q&As are ideal for product demonstrations, and TikTok business videos can help you connect with a younger audience.
Social commerce is a booming trend that’s expected to become even more prevalent. Many platforms include in-app purchase options. Advertisers can sell their products directly through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Pinterest. According to Datareportal’s Digital 2022: Global Overview Report, 27.6 percent of internet users say the primary reason they use social media is to find inspiration for purchases. Social selling makes it easy to cement sales as users scroll through your feed.
In the early days of influencer marketing — before it was even called “influencer marketing” — you could drive ridiculously high volume by having an account with a large following promote your product or service in a post. A well-known person promoting a brand was a novelty back then, so the method worked well to generate leads and sales.
Several direct-to-consumer brands launched and scaled wildly using only influencer marketing. Fashion Nova is a great example. This brand went from obscurity to a nearly $1.4 billion company by outspending other brands on influencer marketing.
But times have changed, and follower count alone is now irrelevant. Today, brands succeed by identifying “microinfluencers” with highly engaged followings that are perfectly matched to their target audience. To succeed, influencer promotions must be natural and authentic.
Using influencers to grow your business requires long-term partnerships with creators who value your brand. It’s best if the influencer’s audience is introduced to your brand naturally as the relationship evolves.
Many consumers are exposed to thousands of advertisements daily. Social media feeds are often riddled with ads, and many users have become so accustomed to them that they scroll past with barely a glance. Users can identify a hard sell immediately, so if your social media advertising campaigns are too “salesy,” your results will be dismal.
User-generated content is a valuable social media marketing tool that can boost brand awareness while demonstrating social proof. A marketing message that features someone who uses your product or service is often more effective than a creative ad with professional photography and high-budget video.
Incentivize your customers to create UGC for your brand. Create a campaign using a brand-specific hashtag that rewards customers with free products, discounts or other special offers. Highlight standout participants on your social media accounts to gain momentum and encourage others to create UGC.
Your social media accounts aren’t just promotional sales platforms. Today, they’re also customer service channels.
When consumers have issues, they often turn to social media to contact brands. They also share their experiences, complaints and compliments — privately and publicly. Instagram, X (formerly known as Twitter), Facebook and TikTok serve as private and public customer service communication channels.
Your commitment to customer service on social media plays a huge role in your brand’s success. Take time to ensure all inbound customer service requests are handled quickly and satisfactorily. Additionally, monitor social media for brand mentions to see when someone airs their grievances publicly. Many of the best CRM software solutions have social integrations that make it easy for your customer service team to monitor social media messages and mentions.
Social media is no longer the Wild West of marketing; there’s now increased regulatory control. Brands also must be aware of the legalities surrounding influencer and partnership disclosures. In short, brands must lead with transparency when marketing on social media.
For example, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has specific disclosures for social media influencers. If you hire influencers, you must ensure they follow the rules. Failure to do so can come back to bite you.
Also, as the FTC investigates consumer data collection, it will likely change how many data points you can use to target paid ads. If paid ads on Facebook and Instagram are a big piece of your marketing strategy, consider pivoting toward more organic strategies.
Although nothing is guaranteed, emerging tech trends can give us an idea of what the future of social media marketing might look like. Here are some trends to look for:
Because social media has become a popular customer service channel, more brands are using AI chatbots to answer common customer questions and route more complex inquiries to customer service reps.
AI-powered chatbots can even give customers basic product information, direct them to product pages and answer general questions. This technology is easy to implement and significantly reduces incoming customer service calls and emails.
If hiring established influencers is out of your budget, turn to your employees. When employees promote your brand on social media, they have immense credibility. After all, who is in a better position to understand the product or service and know about its quality and efficacy?
When your team promotes the brand’s products and services via their social accounts, your followers will assume they’re happy and well paid, adding to their credibility. Of course, all of this must be true for this strategy to work. Happy, motivated employees in a strong company culture are more likely to participate in a brand advocacy program.
Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram have open and closed groups. However, you can also use invitation-only social media groups to create an intimate setting with an exclusive feel and high engagement. You invite social media users who meet specific criteria, to get honest feedback on your brand and its products. Because invitation-only groups are relatively small, they tend to create brand trust. As a bonus, this strategy is a great way to nurture future brand ambassadors. If you have a luxury or exclusive brand, consider using closed groups as a key part of your strategy.
While evergreen videos are cost-effective, live videos create excitement and immediacy. In addition to generating buzz for new product offerings, live videos boost brand authenticity by showing your team live and unedited. You can do live events on Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Twitch, Instagram and TikTok. Live video events can boost your social media engagement and provide valuable customer insights.
Jennifer Dublino contributed to this article.
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