Content management system Hootsuite released their annual report on the “latest global trends in social media.” The detailed report reflects on the recent success of certain social media initiatives and trends and the companies that effectively applied related strategies. Based on report findings, marketers embracing a spirit of ingenuity and commitment to establishing trust with their audience are on the right track to succeed in 2019’s social world.
Authenticity Is Important to Consumers as they Navigate Social Media
Consumers have trust issues with social media. A year of scandals and controversy for popular platforms like Facebook and Twitter has seen consumers turn inward, leaving them wanting more curated, user-specific content that understands each consumer is unique. Marketers can respond to this shift in online attitudes by creating a niche audience and optimizing connections. Facebook groups, industry experts or passionate brand advocates can be leveraged to gain trust and create authentic connections.
- A Facebook group created by Conde Nast for women who travel quickly grew to 56,000 members and was scaled across other publications. The output generated by the women in this group is valuable data within the travel niche, and it engenders good will towards the brand for creating a meeting place in a simple, effective way.
- Micro-influencers are often employees, industry experts or users of a brand that “focus on authenticity over reach.” They may connect via video reviews, community outreach, live chats or other quality engagement that isn’t one-size-fits-all, but rather researched and reinforced for the product and consumer.
Takeaway: Marketers should use outreach campaigns to discover who their audiences are and what kind of engagement they want. Develop a social media plan that creates trustworthy and consistent back-and-forth interactions with the audience. Avoid focusing on the sales pitch.
Experiment with Newer Social Media Platforms & Features
The news feed is waning, and stories are growing. Instagram Stories now has 400 million daily active users, and features like Instagram Promote are making “storifying” easier and more attractive to businesses. Stories are also available on WhatsApp, Facebook and Snapchat, reaching nearly a billion users across the platforms. While stories might not be right for every business, they can offer effective and fun opportunities for marketers.
Historically, marketers have been concerned with the quality and trackability of story content. But Hootsuite found “less polished, more realistic stories perform better than heavily edited takes filled with heavy-handed calls to action.” This finding supports experimentation and branding opportunities within the medium via how-to videos, user generated content (UGC), story takeovers and other approaches social media users are becoming increasingly familiar with.
- Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands are innovators in using stories and experimentation to drive sales. Warby Parker continues to be a leader across social media marketing, particularly when it comes to UGC and creating stories that encompass all aspects of their corporate identity, from office culture to the #wearingwarby campaign to traditional holiday ads translated into dancing glasses for Instagram Stories. Following Warby Parker’s lead, DTC brands can be the model for more established companies looking to move into digital, like Calvin Klein. The famed fashion house recently announced they are moving all their advertising online, a huge shift for a company once known for glossy fashion spreads.
Takeaway: Stories can help marketers connect with younger users and create brand awareness, but they should be made “shoppable” where appropriate. To measure the success of posts, urchin tracking modules (UTMs) should be attached to links, and stories should create a cohesive campaign from which marketers can derive data and identify future scaling opportunities.
Paid Media Campaigns Work Best in Tandem with Effective Organic Growth
Digital media is crowded. Social ad budgets were up 32% in 2018, and Facebook accounted for 23% of total U.S digital ad spending. Competition for digital media space is driving media costs up while creating ad-weary audiences who quickly skim over, block or ignore ads.
Hootsuite finds that paid social teams are aligning their ad money with an “equivalent investment of time, creativity and targeting savvy.” This includes boosting successful organic campaigns with paid ads that are personalized, entertaining and rooted in sound data. Successful implementation requires a social team with a long list of skills, including video creation, graphic design and social analytics, particularly since third-party ad targeting and A/B testing are becoming standard.
- Spotify is an example of paid media that uses all the components of a good social campaign, treating audience engagement and conversions as equally important. Their “Black History Is Happening Now” campaign gave voice to black creators using Spotify products to tell their stories. Spotify enlisted Janelle Monae for a platform takeover and partnered with Instagram to create a social campaign celebrating black female artists, linking back to playlists available on Spotify.
Takeaway: Marketers should use an all-hands-on-deck approach to make their paid media stand out in a packed digital landscape. Well-curated creative that reaches customers already familiar and friendly with a brand may be the best route to a successful ROI. Ads on messaging apps are also growing in popularity and should be explored.
When determining the best way to implement social media in 2019, the tactics may vary, but the message for marketers is the same: develop trust with your audience, and they’ll be more likely to remember and interact with your brand.
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