Social media marketing is an ever-evolving discipline and it is unsurprising that quite a number of new and useful trends surface now and again. These new ways of conducting social media marketing unlock immense value to companies.
However, to make a multi-spoked social media strategy work, marketers should look beyond maintaining a mere presence on social platforms.
So what are some of the trends that are shaping social media marketing in 2014?
The first one is social listening. This refers to the tactic used by companies to learn about what conversations are happening and where about their company, their competitors and their brand keywords. By listening and following online conversations, brands can take advantage of new opportunities that arise in their target market.
An ideal social listening strategy is driven by social listening software that not only has wide listening capabilities across the web, but also helps marketers to strategise in line with their overall business goals and objectives.
Examples of social listening software include Meltwater, Brandwatch and Socialmention. The latter is free and is meant for companies operating on a budget.
Data driven marketing
The other major trend that marketers must take advantage of is database marketing. This trend hinges on the key feature and benefit of digital marketing which is its ability to generate "footprints" from customer behaviour on social sites and how they interact with a brand's campaigns. Digital media generates and stores functional data which can then be mined to greater effect in order to understand what the consumers prefer, when and how.
Consequently, this places marketers in a better position to leverage data insights to create content that matches their consumers' unique requirements and also to create campaigns that yield positive results. Data-driven marketing allows marketers to pin-point their audience and target their messaging and its core is the objective to propel value by engaging customers more effectively.
The availability of real time data has ultimately sounded a death knell on the traditional way of randomly creating and spraying content and then praying that it will make a hit somewhere.
I recommend that there must be a dedicated person in the marketing team who monitors, analyses and interprets key data from platform tools like Facebook Insights or third party platforms like Google Analytics. This analytics person should be on the look out for what's working, what needs to be improved and how to maximize the ROI.
Integrating social media in all departments
The use of social media within an organisation should not be reduced to a department, but rather it should be incorporated within all business units. For instance the customer service department should use social media accounts to interact with clients and HR should be using social media to recruit new talent.
This integration demands that a company transforms and becomes a truly social entity that engages with its customers with a human face and tone of voice. This kind of organisation truly listens to its customers and delivers products or services that they want.
Visual based marketing
Facebook and Twitter have re-engineered their platforms to display larger images. Fans of social media brand pages love visual content. This explains why over 77% of posts on brand pages are pictures, as the right image tells a story more effectively than a block of text. Visual posts attract 94% more page visits and engagement than those without.
Research has also proved that videos on a brand page increase conversion by over 90%. Additionally, 90% of content transmitted to the brain are visuals which are processed 60,000x faster than plain text. Visuals are social media-ready and easily shareable.
The other reason why marketers should take advantage of visual content marketing is that 60% of consumers are more likely to click on a business whose images appear in search results. Basically this means you need to find a way to show your products with an image.
I would like to encourage marketers to factor in these social media trends into the strategies to enable them to enjoy results that move them closer to the realisation of their business goals.