If I were to summarize the state of social media in 2016, the sound bite would be that it is strong and getting stronger by the day. But for those of us who weren’t born with a silver iPhone in our hand, the task of understanding how to navigate social media to our best advantage can be overwhelming. Fear not! Social media can be mastered and once you dig in to the resources below you will see it’s not so scary after all.
What do you need to know to make social media work for you? Here are the basics to keep in mind:
1. The state of social media requires a consistent commitment of time.
To reach your target audience, you first need to figure out who they are and what social media platforms they are using (e.g., Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn). This requires some research. You could survey your customers or put out some test content and analyze the data. Then, of course, start posting content in the right places. A robust social media plan might consist of 45 social media posts a week across multiple social platforms. All of this takes time, but social media is the most efficient way to reach your audience, making it time well spent. As more small businesses realize they need help managing their social media schedules, we are seeing the rise of marketing firms (like Spring Insight…you know, just off the top of my head) offering this service to their clients.
2. The state of social media is mostly automated.
Since social media is built on consistency, shortcuts are welcome. There are a whole host of social media scheduling programs out there (e.g., Buffer, Hootsuite, and Klout). These programs allow you to create the content ahead of time and schedule future posts in advance. Be careful with these though. Shortcuts are great, but only if it’s not obvious to outsiders you are using them. It is important to have relevant material to post on your social media accounts BUT the most successful social media campaigns are those where businesses directly communicate with their followers (and other potential followers). Take for example one of my favorite Shark Tank success stories, the Red Dress Boutique. The owner grew her business by getting feedback on her clothing line from her social media audience.
3. The state of social media is a networking goldmine.
Most social media websites have groups and communities that can be followed in areas specific to your business. It’s worth your time to checkout the directories for groups on LinkedIn, Google+, and Facebook. Most companies and entrepreneurs are not taking advantage of these groups making them an easy way to get relevant information out to an expanded customer base. Are you currently just pushing your blog post out to the basic social media platforms? Why not also try submitting that blog to some social media networking groups within your targeted markets (for example, there’s a LinkedIn group for Event Planning and Event Management)?
4. The state of video social media is continuing to rise.
YouTube still remains the king of video media dominance. But others are starting to use Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram to make their video messages heard. Just as we are seeing more use of video to convey content on websites, we are seeing the creative use of video on social media too. The fact is, people respond to video. And there is a lot of new software that makes creating, editing, and publishing videos easier than ever (one program I just recently discovered, Echo360, is really simple to use).
5. The state of social media is ever changing.
I think we can all now safely say Facebook is here to stay (all that talk a few years back about Google+ replacing Facebook seems rather silly now). But there will be new social media platforms (for example, the rise of Snapchat in 2012). There will be social media that phases out (anyone remember Tom from Myspace?). There will also be design element and algorithm changes to social media platforms. Make sure you are staying on top of the trends or that you have a marketing team who can stay on top of them for you (Hmm. Now let me see, do I know anyone who does this kind of work?).
Social media is complex, but it is no longer just the trendy thing that the kids are doing. It is a powerful marketing tool and one that you should get to know and love. What successes have you had with social media?