Social media has produced tons of great trends in the past year; are you taking advantage?
Social media is a unique tool for marketers, advertisers, community managers, and sales professionals—it helps them appeal to and connect with customers.
But as far as marketing goes, there are still a few trends we see some brands not taking advantage of. We’re not talking about the kind of flash-in-the-pan trends that invoke shiny object syndrome and confused (and then alienate) our customers; we’re talking about the kind of trends that will really help you to harness the power of social.
It’s important to remember that not every strategy works for every company, nor should brands try everything all at once. But with social, there’s something for everyone. Here’s some of our top picks for 2016 social media trends that you should take advantage of now.
Live Video Streaming
2015 was the year of the live streaming. Periscope, Meerkat, and Blab were all introduced last year, while Facebook introduced ‘Live’. Does that sound like gibberish to you?
Let me get you up to speed.
Periscope and Meerkat are video streaming apps that connect with Twitter to let users create real-time videos for their followers.
Blab upped the ante with creating ‘chat’-like environments which allowed for multiple participants to jump into a video-streaming discussion, while followers could watch.
Facebook has been the latest to jump on-board with video streaming with its new Facebook ‘Live’ feature which allows users to stream video on their timelines in real-time.
How does this affect brands? Firstly, it provides several new platforms to increase engagement with customers and potential customers.
Increasingly, consumers are looking for humanized brands who have a real face; live video streaming follows this growing trend.
Live video streaming allows the opportunity for companies to provide ‘inside looks’ into their businesses and practices, provide video story-telling, or question-and-answer opportunities for executives and their followers, and puts a ‘face’ to the name of a big (or small) corporation.
Utilize video streaming in your marketing strategy to promote content like e-books and webinars, or conduct information sessions or free trainings through video streaming. ‘Ask Me Anything’ style interviews are becoming wildly popular, and help businesses to beef up their transparency.
Social as e-commerce
If you’re a retail brand - rejoice. It’s becoming easier than ever for customers to make purchases right inside social media platforms. One of the most notable new features that was revealed this year was the “buy” button.
Pinterest was the first platform to really utilize these new buy buttons, while Twitter and Facebook followed suit later.
For Pinterest, buy buttons just make sense.
‘Pins’ and ‘Boards’ are fantastic ways to show products and collections; buy buttons allow customers to make purchases without leaving the social network, creating plenty of opportunity to create brand awareness and new customers at the very same time.
Twitter and Facebook ‘buy’ buttons are still catching on.
These buttons appear in sponsored posts or ads, so you’re an online retailer already investing in Facebook ads or sponsored Twitter posts, buy buttons may be a good option for you to test.
Some say these buy buttons aren’t really working yet, but we say not enough brands have jumped onto using them yet. Add them to your campaigns early this year, and you might just be ahead of the curve.
Influencer Partnerships and The ‘Takeover’
Social media influencers have been around almost as long as social media has - there’s nothing new there. But brands are finally beginning to realize the potential audiences they can tap into by partnering with influencers.
This doesn’t have to mean a ‘celebrity endorsement’ of your products, but it could mean utilizing strategic relationships in your content marketing on social media.
What might these relationships look like? Consider those who follow your social media profiles, who may have strong followings themselves. Utilizing those people to connect with their audiences members just makes sense, and they could have something to gain from tapping into your followers in return.
One of the great ways we’ve seen this done in the past year (a trend we think will continue to grow in 2016), is the “social media ‘takeover.” Typically done on Instagram or Twitter, a ‘takeover’ is a great way to add new human interest elements to your social media while drawing in a new audience.
From clothing lines to video games to marketing companies like Hubspot, many brands are getting in on the ‘takeover,’ and it’s easy enough to implement in your own marketing strategy. It’s social media’s version of a guest blog, and also act to increase engagement amongst your followers. A ‘takeover’ breaks up the norm and adds a special element to your social media campaigns.
But who to choose for your takeover?
Whether you allow your platforms to be taken over by an internal employee or an external influencer, be sure that person is interesting, professional, and adds a new perspective to your social media. They should post announcements on their own accounts for followers to be on the lookout for their ‘takeover’ and to follow along on your handle. Posts can be created in ‘real-time,’ following a day-in-the-life narrative, or you can pre-strategize and create the content for sharing ahead of time for maximum promotional benefits.
Social Media Customer Service
Haven’t considered using social media as a customer service platform? You’re not the only one. This trend, while not necessarily new, is still catching on as consumers are becoming increasingly needy for real-time solutions to their problems.
This might be the year you want to take advantage of it, too.
Social customer service is becoming increasingly important, as more customers are going right to social profiles rather than websites to learn about brands.
We’ve long heard the stories of brands who have responded to customer’s (or competitors’ customer’s) needs at lightning speeds through social media, earning praise and viral sensation status. And we have also heard the stories on social media of the ones who don’t.
Increasing demand for quicker-than-before customer service responses are facilitating the need for brands to jump on the customer-service-on-social-media trend.
As such, customer service and marketing are beginning to go hand in hand. Taking care of your customers has the potential to produce good marketing material, and customer loyalty and brand advocacy is worth its weight in gold in the marketing world.
Some companies create separate Twitter handles or Facebook pages specifically for customer service; you can also utilize your already existing accounts as a way to show followers two things: that you are available to them through real-time social, and that you are great at customer service.
Use social media to conduct customer service surveys, or ask your followers questions about their experiences with your company. Both show customer appreciation, and transparency.
These four social media trends are really just getting started. Utilize them this year to make the most of your social media marketing strategy, and you’ll be able to fully tap into what social can do for your brand.
With an increasing number of people using social media, and new features being developed all the time, can your brand afford not to take advantage of emerging trends on social media? We’d say the answer is no.