Social media marketing forms a significant chunk of the marketing budget for many companies. Any change to the social media impacts overall marketing strategy of a business. Over the years, social media has evolved from being a place to connect with friends and colleague to an integral part of our life. Social media plays a crucial role in deciding the direction of national discourses today. The major national events are being broadcasted on Facebook Live or YouTube Live.
From politicians and celebrities to multinational organizations and one person companies - everyone is using social media to attain their goals and objectives. Social media marketers have shifted their focus from just engagement to ROI driven campaigns and customer support.
2017 is going to see a significant change in the way consumers will be using social media. Thus, you need to anticipate the shifting pattern of consumer behavior on social media and adapt your marketing strategy accordingly.
Here are major social media marketing trends that are expected in 2017:
Precise Target AudienceAlthough the techniques of marketing have changed dramatically over the years, the basic remains the same. You should know your audience well and target them effectively.
In 2016, we saw the effectiveness of the “Lookalike” audience from Facebook. It was a great tool to find prospects who share similar traits with your customers. We also saw some advanced targeting methods based on users' interests, behaviors, and online activities.
In 2017, machine learning and artificial intelligence are going to make targeting more precise. The insane amount of data and advancement of data science make it possible to forecast intent of users with a certain reliability. Thus, in the future, we might see the ad targeting based on users' intent
As a marketer, you need to observe users' actions and behaviors on your site closely. Also, you need to experiment with the various attributes (such as demographics, interests, etc.) associated with the target audience. Create highly targeted campaigns and try to reach a precise target audience. Understand your users’ intentions by the actions they perform on your site and create customized content to serve them better.
To generate better ROI in 2017, you need to invest significant time in defining the target audience with great accuracy.
Video Content MarketingThe live streaming through Facebook Live, Periscope Pro, YouTube Live and Snapchat has gained great pace in late 2016. However, it is still in the nascent stage. According to a recent research, 41% of the paid Television subscribers are planning to either cut down or close the subscriptions completely. It is clear that the consumers are moving from television to digital.
Brands are going to use video content extensively in 2017. You need to have a sound video content strategy to generate better ROI from your social media marketing. Combine various formats of videos like Live, Recorded or 360-degrees based on your budget as well as your business needs. Also, if you do not have a presence on Snapchat, make sure that you develop a sound Snapchat strategy in 2017. In 2016, Snapchat surpassed Facebook in terms of the number of video views. And this trend is not going to die down soon. Snapchat is growing fast and can’t be ignored for long. Its filter ads for businesses have drawn the attention of many businesses. So starting 2017, learn the art of ephemeral content marketing and use Snapchat to grow your brand presence on social media.
Some companies may decide to have an internal video content development team while others may outsource it to specialized agencies. It is paramount for full-service agencies to develop video content development as well as promotion capabilities to provide more value to their clients. While producing video content, keep in mind that people want realistic, funny or entertaining stuff. Blatant promotion of products and services will only disengage your followers.
Influencer MarketingPartnering with influencers is a great way to make your products noticed by social media users. The influencers help your product stand out in a crowded marketplace. You also get an advantage of the trust they have built with their target audience. However, influencer marketing will not be the same in 2017 as it was in 2016 or earlier.
Of course, it will become harder to convince influencers to promote your product just by giving free samples. After all, they need to maintain their trust with users and can't promote every product that comes their way.
Therefore, you need to have a sound influencer marketing strategy in place in 2017, especially when your product or service can't be differentiated by its features and benefits. Identify influencers not just by the number of followers they have on social media but the kind of engagement they have with their followers. An influencer with 10,000 followers is better than the same with 100,000 followers if the former has far better engagement than the later. Also, make sure that you provide as much value to the influencers as they are adding by promoting your product. And finally, do maintain a healthy relationship with them even after completing a campaign irrespective of its success.
Chat BotsToday, the customization in marketing has mostly been limited to the use of names in the email communication or showing ads to the users based on their broad range of interests, behaviors or online activities. However, this is going to change in 2017. Tech giants are in the process of developing chat bots that can converse with users on one on one basis. They can provide customized content based on users’ requests. Over time, the bots will learn from the users’ actions and behaviors and serve them better content in future. Of course, the mass content production based on every users’ request will be a major hurdle before these bots become operational on a large scale. Also, the cost of developing such bots are expensive today. However, given the huge benefits that companies can derive especially in the area of customer service, it is worth to invest in chat bots.
Facebook has already launched the messenger bot. This is going to change the way companies have been interacting with their customers. Given the mass volume of conversation required to handle customer support queries through various social channels, these bots can prove to be a major boost for the companies. Irrespective of the short-term implications, the bots are going to be a reality sooner rather than later.
As a marketer, keep a close eye on the latest development in bot technologies and prefer using them over other techniques to handle the mass volume of conversations. Meanwhile, use Messenger bot to connect with its over 1 billion members.
Organic ReachThere is a sharp decline in organic reach of social media posts. Brands are finding it hard to reach their fan base on major social networking sites. In 2016, the organic reach of Facebook posts have been around 2-4% or even less in many cases. Same goes with the organic reach on Twitter. This figure is expected to fall further in 2017. Since the organic reach has long been the backbone of social media marketing, marketers have no option but to pay to social networks to reach their fans.
According to a report, advertising spend on social media grew by 55% to an estimated $10.6 billion in 2016. And this figure is only going to increase in 2017. The social media has about 2.5 billion active users worldwide.
You can't ignore about 2.5 billion users active on social media and therefore be ready to step up your paid advertising budget on social media. The promotion of content holds the same or even more importance than the quality of content.
Virtual RealityVirtual reality was a buzzword in 2016. The venture funding has also gone significantly up in VR in past few years. However, we didn’t see a lot of action on the ground. In this space, we only saw the live and 360-degrees videos on YouTube or Facebook. One of the main reasons for less action is the requirement of a big headset to experiences VR. Consumers don’t feel comfortable wearing bulky headsets to watch regular stuff. However, things will certainly improve in 2017. The companies are investing heavily in producing affordable physical devices that will be user friendly and scalable. The Virtual Reality technology will only continue to grow.
As a marketer, you need to observe this space and pounce as soon as you find the right opportunity. Also, if you are working in education or other related field (such as architecture, tourism, etc.) be ready to embrace increased usage of VR in 2017.
AuthenticityIf you are a new entrant and want to make your presence felt on social media in 2017, then you need to invest in showing that you are authentic and real. Everyone seems to be selling or preaching something on social media. To be successful in social media space today is far more challenging than what it was a few years ago. So embrace for a stiff competition and get ready to fight a major trust deficit that has been created by sham companies.
As a marketer, you need to be more transparent and invest time in providing real value rather than involving in a monolog.
ConclusionSocial media marketing will continue to dominate marketing space in 2017. Marketers will have to find newer ways to engage their audience. However, the focus must be given to building communities. At the core of social marketing must be building vibrant communities with an active interest in a niche and catering to their needs by creating relevant content. As they say, quality will never go out of fashion. So by maintaining the quality of content as well as the fan base, marketers can get even better results from their social media marketing efforts in 2017.
Anthony Bergs is a project manager at writers per hour. He always keeps an eye on the marketing sector to implement the best innovations into the strategies that he builds. He’s always open for new connections and partnerships.