Gather round the social media crystal ball and see what’s coming next.
For the last few years, if you haven’t been on TikTok, you haven’t been on social media. Former heavyweights such as Facebook have been losing their luster, and TikTok has rapidly usurped its role as being on the cutting edge of digital communication. Things can change quickly online, especially within social media.
What are forward-thinking businesses supposed to do? How can one effectively plan a social media strategy when the space is continually in flux? If you are asking yourself those questions, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s explore emerging trends in social media and what they mean for business leaders who want to leverage them for competitive advantage – now and in the future.
As mentioned, while older social media platforms have waned in popularity of late, others have emerged to take their place and a chunk of their market share. Here are a few of the top sites that have left a mark in recent years and are worth keeping an eye on going forward:
- Clubhouse: Clubhouse emerged during the first year of the pandemic, offering users a way to form synchronous, audio-only connections between the audience and the speakers. Businesses can consider leveraging the platform to increase the profile of high-performing content pieces or host a dialogue between an industry thought-leader and their target audience.
- CaffeineandTwitch: Both Caffeine and Twitch have built steady followings since their launches in 2018 and 2021 respectively. Each of these platforms are video-based, giving users and businesses a powerful way to connect with audiences, position their brands and generate engagement. The success of Caffeine and Twitch also highlight that video is the future when it comes to social marketing – particularly if you need to appeal to the Gen. Z market.
- BeReal: BeReal has been adopted with great gusto by Gen. Z. While the full scope of its business applications has yet to be determined, this is a good application to investigate if you’d like to cultivate a highly authentic social presence for your brand.
Paying to Play Will Continue
Last month on this blog, we discussed whether it is now necessary to supplement your organic social media activity with paid promotion. The conclusion we drew is that it has become increasingly difficult to gain the results you may want to see through organic marketing alone. Going forward, this will likely continue to be the case; however, where you spend your marketing dollars is likely to shift. Studies show that consumers prefer ads on sites like TikTok far more than others.[i] Pinterest is another site that has proven itself to be a good bet for advertisers, generating strong ROI for those who choose to deploy its advertising functionality.[ii]
Using Social for Customer Support
While it varies amongst different demographics, customers increasingly expect to interact directly with brands via social media. The gravitation of customers away from the phone and toward online platforms for customer support has been in the works for awhile now, but it truly went into overdrive during the pandemic. To succeed with customer service in this space, businesses must familiarize themselves with how different platforms support one-to-one customer interaction and then make a customer care plan.
The data on this subject robustly backs up these claims. 64 percent of people claim that they would prefer to message a business digitally than hop on the phone.[iii] Despite this, a huge number of businesses have not yet invested in their online customer care, which can be detrimental to their brands, operations, and future profitability.
Embrace the Future
Nothing lasts forever, especially not in the digital sphere. But while that can be intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. New trends are emerging in social media that will allow businesses to accomplish strategic goals far more easily, whether that be hosting authentic online content, advertising more effectively, or improving customer care. Keep your finger on the pulse, and don’t be afraid to experiment with new and emerging technology. That will continue to be key to social success.
[i] Kantar finds ads on TikTok are seen as more inspiring, trendsetting and enjoyable than on other platforms | TikTok For Business Blog
[ii] Advertising on Pinterest: How to Get Started | Pinterest Business
[iii] 5 Reasons Travel Brands Should Focus on Messaging | Facebook IQ | Meta for Business
Do you have a content marketing plan in place?
Modern business runs on content. Without it, you’ve got no publicity for your products or services. And without publicity, you’ve got no sales. To avoid shooting yourself in the proverbial foot, business leaders must prioritize having a content strategy in place, including an acute understanding of how, when and where the content will be produced. Here’s how to get started.
First off, what do we mean when we say content? Well, content is merely a shorthand for any piece of media that helps promote your business or position your brand. It can have many uses, from intangibles like raising awareness to concrete actions like driving conversions. Your content can take on many forms – including blogs, social media posts, infographics, eBooks, videos, search engine ads and much, much more.
Establish your business objectives
You should never create content haphazardly or just for the sake of it. Instead, connect it to clear, specific and concrete business objectives. Anything less is just a waste of time and money, and let’s be honest, no small business owner has an excess of either!
Think strategically about channels and audience
Once you have your business objectives fleshed out, you need to think about your audience and channels. Ask yourself how your target audience gets the information it needs? Where do they spend their time? The days of customers coming to you are long gone. You must bring your content to them.
Next, determine what type of content you are going to create. Remember, not every asset will work well with every channel! For instance, putting together and sharing a long-form, all-text post is not a good idea on Facebook, which favors smaller amounts of text paired with engaging media assets like photos and especially videos. Similarly, it can be tempting to jam your corporate newsletter with everything and anything your firm is doing, but resist that temptation. Focus instead on who the actual audience is and tailor your messaging accordingly. If you operate B2C, your newsletter should focus on customer tips, educational resources and content that drives an emotional response. Conversely, if you do B2B marketing, you should feature items like industry news, technical information about your products and services and content that drives a logical response.
Gather your resources
Now for the fun part: It’s time to write. Of course, this can pose significant logistical challenges. You must ask yourself the question of whether you have the external expertise already in house or if you need to obtain outside support.
Remember, it’s not enough to have someone who can write but can’t wrap their mind around your company or industry. Similarly, having the best subject matter expert in the world won’t help you much if they can’t put pen to paper and express themselves clearly. You need both, and luckily there are a lot of options for businesses to explore. We live in a world of flexible work and side hustles; there are a ton of highly skilled freelance writers out there if you know where to look.
Here are a few things to consider if you choose to look outside your firm for writing support:
1. Go to where the talent is: Seek out sites dedicated to freelance work, such as Upwork and Freelance Writing.
2. Do your due diligence by looking at their portfolio: A good and experienced writer will have samples of their work readily available for interested prospects.
3. Look for past experience that overlaps with your business: Keep in mind that it doesn’t need to be an identical match; but something in the same ballpark will help the writer get up to speed faster.
4. Ask for referrals or ask them to produce a paid test piece: It is perfectly appropriate to want to look before you leap. But remember, time is money, and if you want a writer to do a trial run, it needs to be paid.
Never discount the power and value of effective content in helping promote your business and increase your revenues. Remember the adage: “If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around, does it still make a sound?” Well, the same holds true for your company. You can have a fantastic business model and an unbeatable team in place, but if nobody knows about it, it’s like it doesn’t exist. Adhering to these best practices can help you build out an effective content strategy and start producing assets to build better customer relationships and drive more sales.
Want to take things further? Learn about building a content calendar to further enhance your marketing strategy!
Participating in events is a shrewd way to promote your business. Here’s how to fully leverage your presence.
Despite the importance of digital marketing in today’s economy, sometimes the old ways are still best. Person-to-person marketing is often the most impactful method for spreading the word about your business. Participating in events or tradeshows is a great way to deploy this type of outreach. Here are a few tips for making the most out of these opportunities – before, during and after the event!
Before the Event
While participating in events is about person-to-person marketing, digital marketing still has an important role to play. Let’s be honest, if you don’t let people know your business will be at an event, people won’t seek you out and you won’t get a chance to have the type of conversations that can drive eventual business gains.
Start promoting your attendance at an event well in advance. First, determine your goals, audience, messages, channels and budget. Then, structure these items around a realistic timeline. Next, establish some effective strategies and tactics to get your message out, such as:
- Creating a social media campaign communicating where you’ll be located at the event site and a value proposition for why attendees should visit your booth.
- Putting notices about the event in your newsletter.
- Establishing an email marketing campaign.
- Connecting with the hosting organization behind the event to inquire about joint-promotional efforts or opportunities.
- Writing related content like a blog entry.
As with any other marketing plan, you’ll want to ensure that you also attach evaluation metrics to the campaign to gauge your efforts. It’s difficult to over-emphasize how important this step is. Without metrics, you will be unable to make real-time adjustments to your marketing efforts or fully assess your ROI.
During the Event
One of the most important things to remember is that your marketing efforts don’t end once the event begins. When you’re on-site, you will have three new marketing priorities:
- Continue to attract people to your booth
- Leverage news from the event
- Build prospects
Just because the event has started doesn’t mean you should stop building out and disseminating event-related content. Continue to use social media, blogs or emails to promote your participation in the event and to discuss its highlights to position yourself as a thought leader. Doing this will serve two purposes. In the short term, it will remind people to visit your booth while the event is going on. In the long term, it will enhance your firm’s standing for those who couldn’t attend but may be following via digital channels.
Once you have people paying attention to your presence at an event, however, there are other steps to take. Ensure your business is represented in a way that is professional and unified by creating a fully branded booth with consistent colors, logos and lettering. Including an interactive element is a great way to deepen the impact of your booth and your overall presence at the event. A photo backdrop is just one example of something you could do. Event attendees will be naturally drawn to your booth to commemorate their experience and may even share their photos on social – further extending your reach.
If you pull all of this off, you can effectively grow your business’s brand awareness. Best of all, if people have a positive experience visiting your booth, they will be more inclined to engage with you and share their contact details.
After the Event
Once an event has come and gone, it can be tempting to rest on your laurels; but you can’t stop just yet. After you’ve put away your booth and left the venue, you still need to do something with the contact information you’ve gained. All the business cards you’ve collected or email addresses you’ve compiled need to be sorted and organized.
The next step is to follow up with your new prospects. But before you start emailing contacts or calling them over the phone, just think for a moment. Is that the right approach? Where do people actually spend most of their time these days? Where do they feel the most comfortable interacting with acquaintances? Social media, that’s where! Seek them out on LinkedIn first and build authentic connections before you start marketing to them more directly. People are much more inclined to buy from you if they have a strong sense of who you are and what you can do for them.
Events require a lot of work, even if you are merely a participant and especially if you look at them as a golden opportunity to promote your business. But by adhering to best practices and solid marketing principles, you can fully leverage the unique platform offered by the event environment.
Video is the gold standard of modern marketing. Here’s how you can start leveraging it without breaking the bank.
Think about when you browse online or spend time on social media. You see a lot of content, don’t you? What type speaks to you the most? If you said “video,” you are not alone. 78 percent of people watch online videos every week, and 55 percent view them every day.[i] Marketers have unsurprisingly taken note of these preferences, and 86 percent of businesses now use video as a marketing tool.[ii]
Smaller agencies have a lot to gain by incorporating video into their marketing repertoire. For some, this may feel daunting; after all, isn’t video notoriously expensive to produce? The answer: not anymore! In the last few years, the hardware and software you need to create your own marketing videos have become a lot less expensive. Here’s everything you need to produce video content to increase your brand awareness and engagement.
First thing’s first, if you want to shoot video, you need a camera. The good news is that you are probably walking around with a high-quality camera right in your pocket. Don’t believe your iPhone is up to the task? Well, what if I told you that filmmakers have already used iPhones to shoot not one, not two but well over 10 feature films? Best of all, the iPhone’s camera keeps getting better and better with each new iteration.
The quality of marketing videos also hinges on elements adjacent to the camera, including tripods and/or stabilizers, lighting and sound, which have each become quite affordable in recent years. Let’s look at a few details of each:
- Tripods: When looking at tripods or stabilizers, ask yourself what type of marketing video you envision making. Will it be a sedentary shoot? Do you need to move around? Will your subject be standing? Sitting? Determine this ahead of time before investing in any equipment. But rest easy in knowing there are many affordable options out there that can meet your needs.
- Lights: One of the unsung heroes of the filmmaking process is lighting. Think about a shot from a movie that stuck with you; it’s more than likely the lighting had something to do with making that shot special. Now, before you start envisioning your offices filling up with heavy-duty lighting equipment, pause and take a deep breath. There are so many unique, manageable and innovative lighting systems out there – many of which have been built specifically to complement small-scale smartphone videography.
- Sound: Another critical piece in the filmmaking puzzle is sound. While it’s possible to rely solely on the microphone built into your camera, it is highly recommended to up your game with an additional microphone. Aside from lighting, investing in your sound equipment may be the best thing you can do to improve the production quality of your marketing video and give it a more professional feel.
Of course, you must also edit your video footage to remove things like dead air and bad takes. Keep in mind that the ideal length for marketing videos is very short – no longer than two minutes. Many social media platforms confirm this, with Facebook, for example, encouraging users to keep videos to 15 seconds or less.[iii]
But what should you use to edit your video? You could rely on one of the applications that come pre-loaded on different operating systems. For instance, you can make basic video edits in the “Photos” application that comes with Windows. There are other programs out there that offer more functionality for quite a reasonable price, allowing you to add transitions, titles and music much more easily.
Lights, Camera, Action! In our fast-paced, highly competitive market, the adage “give people what they want” has never been more urgent. Internet-savvy consumers want video content. While it’s normal to feel intimidated by the prospect of shooting your own video content, the combination of affordable equipment and potentially massive ROI make it
[i] 135 Video Marketing Statistics You Can’t Ignore in 2022 (invideo.io)
[iii] How Long Should Videos Be? FB, IG, YT & More in 2020 – Animoto
The talent market is tighter than ever. Here’s how to best spread the word about your opening.
You’ve likely heard the labor market is tight these days. A countless amount of digital ink has been spilled recently describing what is now known as “The Great Resignation,” and the data shows that it’s not mere hysteria or hyperbole. 4.5 million people voluntarily left their positions in November of 2021 alone – an “all-time high” according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.[i]
These numbers have had a sizable impact on the labor market. Not only has the value of labor increased, but many companies are finding that their ability to recruit and retain necessary talent has become severely restricted. So how should companies attempt to break through the noise and find the workers they need?
Recruitment Has Never Been Easy
Anyone who has ever attempted to hire knows the process can be enormously complicated and expensive. Even before the pandemic and the rise of The Great Resignation, businesses often struggled to find, attract and hire the right people. This was and remains particularly true for smaller firms, which often lack the resources to invest in job board postings or contract with recruitment specialists. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t alternative options for maximizing the reach of your opening. In fact, there are several.
Leverage Your Social Networks:
Social is a superweapon for spreading the word about a job, and there are many ways to leverage these platforms for your recruitment purposes. You can start with a simple organic post and request that your networks share it with relevant applicants. Major platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn also have specific functionality for posting jobs. This includes the ability to support your posting with a minor ad spend or associate it with your company’s business page.
Put Your Job at the Center of Your Website
Your website is your biggest piece of digital real estate – and it is a valuable resource when trying to fill a new post. Not only can you create a career page on your website and post your job there, but many CMS systems let you activate modals or place a promotional banner image on your homepage. Of course, this functionality differs wildly from platform to platform. But many CMS systems – for example, WordPress.org – offer easy-to-install plugins if such features are not already supported.
Conduct Community Outreach
As powerful and convenient as digital channels are, sometimes you must also go directly into your community. For example, businesses, regional colleges, universities and trade schools are a goldmine for potential talent. These institutions will also likely be happy to showcase your posting to their students free of cost, as they have a vested interest in helping their students secure internships or employment.
Take Advantage of Your Existing Staff
Keep in mind that each member of your current staff has their own professional network, and they may know several quality candidates for your open role. A great way to access this talent pool is to set up a small referral program. Not only will you gain potential candidates, but they will likely be more invested due to the pre-existing relationship they have with your team.
To Attract the Best, Cast a Wide Net
When you need to hire a good candidate for an important position, it’s critical to get your posting in front of the maximum number of people. With close to 11 million job openings available near the end of last year,[ii] it’s safe to say that The Great Resignation is far from abating. To beat the competition, you must rely on both your digital and traditional channels. And with a little luck, you’ll find the perfect addition to your growing team.
[i] Statistics for Great Resignation (fastcompany.com)
[ii] Job openings near record high, with 11 million vacancies – CBS News Job openings near record high, with 11 million vacancies – CBS News