2013 was a great year for social media, especially on the mobile side of the market, and 2014 is expected to be even bigger. With newer social networks emerging to compete for the top list, and older networks receiving timely reboots, it’s a great time to be a social media marketer.
If you’re a small business owner looking to leverage social media to increase your brand’s presence and overall profits, jumping in on growing trends isn’t simply a viable option; it’s almost a necessity. Understanding the trends in social media going forward will put you in a solid position to capitalize on an expanding market.
Various Social Marketing Strategies to Implement Next Year
1. Make Good use of Google+
Though you may be using sites like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook for business, you should branch out and create a presence on other bustling social networks. One of the trendiest at the moment is Google+. Now, don’t go neglecting networks like Pinterest and Instragram, either; but for what’s seriously trending going into the New Year, Google+ is at the top.
This particular social network stands more as a one-size-fits-all network. Let’s not forget that Google and SEO were dominant forces long before anyone had ever heard of MySpace or Facebook. Marketers in 2013 were using Google+ to unify their social presence, basically staking their claim in a network that’s drawing over 340 million users a month. Local search, for example, was a big benefit to many marketers last year who used the network to spread awareness about their live locations.
Steps to make your Google+ profile stand out:
- Forgo the personal page and select the business page. Make sure you’re very detail-oriented about your approach, filling in the correct details and making sure to take advantage of the local searching via Google+ Local.
- Make good use of the Google Hangouts feature for networking. This is a video chat area that allows up to ten people to chat at once. Vendors, similar businesses, other local businesses, etc – you can network, plan events, and even use Hangouts for customer support.
- Create different Circles for different contacts. You can make great use of the Circles feature by having a Circle for fans, having a separate one for loyal customers, creating a Circle for vendors or associates, etc.
2. Use 30-Second Video Spots
Visual marketing was huge in 2013, but not the way you may be thinking. Rather than feature-length videos popping up all over the web, social media was trending more with short video spots. A couple of sites popped up for the sole purposes of these short videos, and even sites like YouTube began featuring far more short blurbs by marketers.
Small business marketers had opportunity to really take advantage of this throughout ’13. Shorter videos were easy to produce, cost effective, and they really received a lot of engagement when compared to other brands of marketing. Twitter’s Vine, Keek, and Instagram are among a few micro-vid sites that marketers used effectively.
Steps to produce and release engaging videos:
- Make great use of multiple social sites rather than relying on just YouTube or Facebook. Join Keek, for starters, which allows videos of up to 36 seconds. This will give you a great chance to update people with important news, an ongoing short series, etc.
- Don’t be afraid to show a personal side of your brand. Use short videos to give people a behind-the-scenes look at the goings-on within your company.
- If there are any live events, themed parties or gatherings, or anything similar, shoot some video and break it down into short blurbs.
- Integrate your video sites into your other social sites; i.e. use a site like Facebook to promote your Keek and Instagram through backlinking, and vice versa.
3. Promote Your Posts on Facebook
It’s no secret that Facebook, once again, was the top dog of the social sphere. However, if speaking about particular trends on the site, one would be remiss not to focus on the Promoted Posts. Now, you still want to use Sponsored Stories, hashtags (more on that below), and gear your content toward a mobile audience, but Promoted Posts were trending big in ’13, and will continue on throughout ’14.
Facebook relaxed its guidelines and improved the basic user experience. So whether a small business or large corporation, promoting a post meant that the post would be available in News Feeds potentially for more than three days, and marketers could use posts which were more than three days old, allowing them to rehash their best material.
Steps for releasing a proper Promoted Post:
- Make sure that you have an ad-management app like Qwaya to help you improve your ad targeting while retaining more control over your post.
- Select a post that’s not only popular but that speaks directly to your audience; i.e. a post of yours that actually solves a problem in your niche.
- Make sure that, if using an image, the amount of text on the image doesn’t exceed 20% of the total area; if you need to sort through different options, create a better combination in your ad- management app.
- You not only want to launch the post to the correct target, but you also want to pin this post on your own page. Passersby on your page will see your post.
4. Give MySpace a Second Chance
As of 2012, MySpace was all but dead, Tom was rich and happy, and people had moved on to Facebook. However, after a complete overhaul dealing primarily with music, MySpace is now back and can be leveraged by marketers looking to make connections.
Instead of posting relationship details, horrendous-looking background themes, and poorly written dialogue with incredibly slow-loading graphics in abundance, the new MySpace is sleek and stylish, and small businesses have been using it for making connections and increasing their overall presence. You don’t need to post music. You can post any type of audio (e.g. a type of podcast), video, and images.
Steps for connecting with the new MySpace:
- Create a detailed, professional profile and create some type of mix. You can post some of your short videos here, some great images, some audio, or even go the social route and create a mix of the music you like.
- Reach out to popular profiles for the purposes of gaining traffic. You don’t want to spam here. Leave those old MySpace tactics where they belong. However, you do want to be the one who initiates contact with friendly feelers.
- Understand that using MySpace is just to leverage your position in social marketing as a small business. You’re not looking to perform the same type of campaign here as you would with Facebook. You’re just looking to develop a lot of contacts and to use your profile to inform people and to drive them to an alternate destination.
5. Inhabit a Hashtag Universe
Hashtags have been popular since Twitter first started using them a few years ago. After other networks like Facebook jumped on the wagon, they have since exploded on the scene and can be found everywhere from TV commercials to printed on boxes on food at the grocery store. Hashtags are a trend that’s just getting started, so 2014 will definitely see further expansion.
Small business marketers used hashtags on sites like Facebook and Twitter to become part of a niche that they’d otherwise struggle to fit in with. For instance, instead of having to create a slew of ads and network feverishly, using the right hashtag would ensure that small business X could be found when someone–perhaps looking for business Y–clicked on the tag. They were also used to show brand consistency, created to start trends, and used as a type of shorthand, so to speak, saying a lot by saying very little.
Steps to correctly use hashtags:
- When first looking to use a tag for your brand, you want to discover a tag that has minimum use yet is related to your market. The risk in using an unrelated tag could be extremely detrimental, as some businesses found out by using hashtags related to Hurricane Sandy and other natural disasters.
- Make sure that you monitor the tag you choose to use. It’s not at all uncommon for a tag to start out with one purpose yet take on a life of its own once people start using it in a different context. Also, monitoring the tag allows you to see the level of visibility you’re gaining.
- Show some brand consistency with the hashtags you’re using, and make sure that you limit the use of tags in your material. A status update, for instance, can draw plenty of attention and get its intended point across using one tag. Two or more and you start looking like a tag spammer.
2014 is going to be a big, exciting year for social media in general. Make sure you’re branching out to new sites, making great use of videos and hashtags, and also that you’re advertising properly on important sites like Facebook. Small businesses can gain serious visibility through social media, but following the proper trends is very important.
by Craig Robinson