Social Media

Top 5 Social Media Predictions for 2019

3.2 billion users – which equates to about 42% of the population – log in, peruse, and converse with friends on social media. In fact, people spend more than an hour and a half on social media every day!

Next to email, could social media be the most critical area to focus on for marketing in 2019? While it depends on your customers and your goals, social is a can’t-miss opportunity for 2019.

5 Predictions For What’s Next in Social Media

Here are 5 predictions for where social is headed in the year to come – and how you can jump the gun to amplify views, shares, clicks, conversions, and revenue from the World Wide Web’s most lucrative vehicle.

1. Expect the prevalence of influencer marketing to continue growing.

Influencer marketing is becoming the primary method of online customer acquisition – not to mention of awareness and brand building.

Influencer marketing campaigns/content earn about $6.50 for each dollar spent (Digital Marketing Institute), so they’re also well worth the investment.

MVMT

Watch brand MVMT partners with travel and fashion influencers to co-produce content. Source: MVMT

Influencer-contributed content can add value across every channel, too, whether to catch attention within emails, to add credibility and story tell on the blog, or to garner new audiences across social media.

In 2019, look for influencer marketing to become a more integral part of more e-commerce companies’ marketing efforts.

2. Look for more companies to tap into the rewards of social listening.

More brands will get more strategic in how they are using social media in the year to come.

Social listening is one area that will see considerable growth. Social listening is the process of tracking engagement, conversations, attention, and conversations around specific topics, mentions, hashtags, keywords, phrases, brands, categories, or industries.

Image source: BusinessWire.com

It means understanding not just what’s being discussed, but why – and how you can improve your customer experience, support, and connection with your followers. More in-depth monitoring – surveillance of your social ecosystem – will help gain a clearer understanding of where you can improve your brand experience overall.

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"Companies that listen to social conversations about their brand will continue to have the upper hand in 2019, where listening and engaging in existing conversations is more important than talking and driving the conversation. Smart brands will use tools – like Agorapulse, Brand24, or BuzzSumo – that allow their entire team to participate in those conversations in order to track social mentions, URLs, hashtags, and keywords. This allows more engagement that can help drive better brand awareness, customer experience, and stellar support."

Donna Moritz • Visual Content Strategist at Socially Sorted & International Speaker • @SociallySorted

3. Smarter social targeting and re-engagement – especially on Facebook, Instagram, and Google

Social media has always been a channel meant for more than just issuing post after post of company-related news, content, or announcements. It’s a place where you can build brand affinity, hop on popular trends, and attract attention of new audiences who may have never come to know you and your brand elsewhere. Moving into 2019, it’s this idea of new customer acquisition and re-targeting that will begin to come to the forefront. Facebook, especially, will continue – despite publicity around data-related issues during the last year – to be a prime spot for advertising.

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Image source: SocialPilot

The way by which these will begin to actually emerge is by using technology or related tools that integrate with a number of social and advertising networks such as Facebook and Google Ads.

The brands that do take advantage of such tech will be able to target not only look-alike audiences to get new customers, but also to retarget existing contacts already in their database.

4. More brands will use user-generated content and tie it into cause-related marketing.

User-generated content – especially from influencers, as noted above – will be used more and more.

B2C brands that survey their customer base for feedback, opinions, thoughts, and experiences, and then feature that material within their content will quickly forge more intimate relationships over 2019. If they can mix and match UGC with cause-related content, they’ll be golden!

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"Organizations in 2019 will continue to align their brands with values and causes that make the world a better place. That means that influencers and user-generated content are increasingly key to a successful social media strategy, because we all put more trust in third-party validation. Also, Twitter gets an edit button."* *Ha! That last one is crazy talk, isn't it? 😉

Ann Handley • Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs • @MarketingProfs

twitter“Orgs in ’19 will continue to align their brands w/ values & causes that make the world a better place. That means that #influencermarketing + #UGC are KEY to great #socialmedia strategies,” says @MarketingProfs       CLICK TO TWEET

UGC will allow brands to connect with customers who are truly satisfied – customers who want to contribute to the brand by taking an active role in co-creation of it. These will also serve as built-in testimonials to help prove credibility and create more authenticity.

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“In 2019, expect to see more companies featuring real customer experiences – UGC, testimonials, videos – in their social media strategies. Satisfied customers bring genuine enthusiasm and trusted feedback about your brand to life. Many of our users feature Trustpilot reviews and ratings on paid and organic social media posts because their happiest customers are often more convincing and relatable than a well-crafted caption. That proof of third-party validation is huge: 74% of consumers in the US say they find ads more trustworthy with the Trustpilot rating featured.”    

Lauren Lowman • Senior Director of Marketing, Trustpilot

5. We’ll pay more attention to data collection trends – and the evolution of related regulations.

Fallout from (or further attunement towards) the GDPR is lingering in many marketers’ minds. More marketing teams are acting more conscientious about – and appear to be more aware of – how they obtain and use personal information of people.

Social media is one, gigantic, thriving oasis of potential customers. And it should be seeded and cultivated… but within the confines of data protection regulations like GDPR.

So, as more marketers realize the ripe potential of social for customer acquisition and retention, so too will they familiarize themselves with how they can get opt ins via the social web.

It’s a Wrap!

Whether you’re a social media marketer deep in the weeds on the daily, or a CMO looking to get a step ahead on social for the year to come, these predictions will all come true… it’s just a matter of when and how.

Along with email marketing and your website, social media is the most important piece of the marketing puzzle. Are you ready to take advantage and use it to its utmost potential? ◾

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How Does Social Media Help with CRM Advertising?

For most competent marketers in 2016, social media is already a pillar of marketing strategy. The medium is only growing, and new users are joining by the minute.

Social media is a place where consumers and industry thought leaders alike are on a level playing field, with access to the same content at the same time. It’s also a hidden goldmine for marketers, as many consumers offer up deep personal insights and feedback on social that they wouldn’t share on traditional channels.

Together, social media and CRM advertising can help e-commerce organizations better understand existing customers, learn more about new ones, and capitalize on customer loyalty with measurable ROI.

People Meeting Connection Social Networking Communication Concep

Why is it Important?

Just as marketing technology advances, so do customer expectations. Today, e-commerce organizations are expected to know exactly what repeat customers are thinking and feeling at the right time. Order histories, returning customer profiles, and auto-fill forms are all components of this personalized approach. Social media adds yet another layer to this strategy, enabling organizations to leverage the place where customers spend the most time – social media – to actively manage and scale relationships.

At its core, CRM advertising means discarding one-size-fits-all campaigns in favor of personalized customer and sales experiences. For e-commerce organizations, CRM advertising is key to adapting and changing with growing customer bases, outside traditional advertising platforms. This means understanding core audiences at a granular level to build unwavering brand loyalty.

CRM advertising enables organizations to:

  • Meet and exceed customer expectations.
  • Tap into an unprecedented wealth of consumer data.
  • Receive real-time feedback from consumers.
  • Understand the complete customer lifecycle.

How Can Social Media Help?

Social media adds yet another layer of personalization to a CRM advertising strategy, enabling organizations to leverage the place where customers spend the most time – social media – to actively manage and scale relationships.

Leverage Social Targeting

When marketers understand who their top customers are, they can target these individuals across various networks. A connection on social usually means a customer is brand loyal, and this relationship can be leveraged to boost ROI.

With CRM advertising, marketers can compile similar audience characteristics to spot-target specific segments. This way, teams can extend social reach by interacting with like-minded customers.

Turn Social Connections into Customers

The data already housed in a CRM solution can quickly and efficiently supplement customer information, making new customer sign-ups from social media easy for both sides. Marketers can then weigh analytics from social platforms and CRM platforms to understand where customers are coming from, what the ideal customer looks like, and how to maximize customer database growth.

Generate Buzz and Credibility with Social Sharing

Let’s face it, thought leaders, celebrities, models, and athletes are some of the most-followed people on social media. Innovative brands should strive to leverage brand ambassadors to help spread the message and grow new audiences.

On the analytics side, marketers can monitor campaign performance, shares, likes, and audience engagement to refine campaigns and ensure messaging is always timely.

Final Thoughts

Customer care can take place on any channel, including social media. So remember: making sure you listen to your customers and actively engage them on social media can only help your brand’s CRM cause.

Want to learn more about the role of social media in today’s omnichannel consumer landscape?  Download our whitepaper, “Adapting to the Pace of Omnichannel Commerce.”

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Super Social Bowl: 6 Takeaways from the Super Bowl’s Most Shared Ads

So, Super Bowl LI is over, and if you’re not still talking about the game, you’re probably thinking about the ads, especially the images and messages that have stayed with you. Even if your company didn’t advertise during the game (and with a 30-second spot going for nearly $5 million this year, only a few companies can compete in this space), there’s a lot you can learn from these ads, particularly when it comes to the way people engage and share content through social media.

With 189 million Americans tuning into the game, what can social sharing do for your business? If you’re a consumer electronics brand, customers are probably already engaging with your tweets and Facebook posts anyway, as 25% of consumers look to buy a TV during the Big Game season, compared to 18% around Black Friday and 7% at Christmas.

But, in a larger sense, how does social sharing around Sunday’s game help spread the word about your products, and how does it win your brand customer loyalty long after the Big Game?

This article takes a look at the impact ad sharing can have on your brand, and what social media can teach you about your customers so that you can better target them in future. We’ll also cover how social sharing can improve your search results and, above all, increase your conversion rates.

2016 Data

While not all of the 2017 data is in yet, 2016 highlights illustrate some important social media stats.

  • In 2016, it was predicted that a total of $15.53 billion (up $1.22 billion from 2015) would be spent by U.S. consumers on Big Game-related purchases.
  • A 30-second ad went for $4.8 million (more than twice the cost for a 30-second ad during the Academy Awards).
  • Total spending on ads was $445 million (the equivalent of the combined ad revenue from the four major broadcast networks in an average week).
  • 9 million people watched the game, and tune-away rates (the frequency that the audience doesn’t watch the ads during commercial breaks) are five times lower than during regular TV programming.
  • With over 44,000 unique Big Game-related pieces of content created, total content grew by almost 50%.
  • Peaking at kickoff, mobile app activity increased 21% over 2015.

Fortify and Evangelize Your Brand

Brand perception can be difficult to nail down, but if we look at how often ads from the game are viewed and shared, you can see what’s engaging viewers enough to share through social media.

For this year’s game, nearly one-fifth (18%) of people surveyed said that ads make them aware of a company’s brand, and 10% said they would go on to purchase products from the advertiser, up a mighty 4% from when these stats were first logged in 2008.

Studies show that 53% of Americans who follow brands through social media are more loyal to those companies. In a 2015 survey, 18- to 24-year-olds said that commercials during the Big Game make them aware of a brand (21.7%), influence them to buy advertised products (16.7%), and lead them to search online for more information (14.8%).

Here are the top five ads from 2016 with the highest number of shares across Twitter, Facebook, and the blogosphere:

2016 Super Bowl Ads

Shares

Doritos “Ultrasound”

893,465

T-Mobile “Restricted Bling [full ad]”

346,854

Budweiser “#Give a Damn”

301,317

Pokemon “#Pokemon20: Pokemon Commerical”

297,706

Heinz “Wiener Stampede [full ad]”

295,805

With just under 900,000 shares, Doritos was the most engaging ad during last year’s game, and overall, 88% of viewers had positive reactions to all the brands running ads.

Some of the most successful ads during the game have come from little-known companies trying to get their names out there (Bai in 2016, Wix in 2015, Go Daddy in 2005), but in addition to brand awareness, you can connect with your customers, build up loyalty, and improve customer retention.

Wix, for example, was included in a Fluent survey of 2015 Game Day viewers to see the before and after reactions for five first-time advertisers. Across the board, advertisers saw an average “brand lift” of 12.7% (the number of viewers who recognized advertisers more after their first Big Game ad). Wix averaged 8.7%, a respectable first time out, and while other high scorers from 2015, like Mophie and Loctite, achieved positive reactions, only Wix returned for two more Big Games.

Here are the top 5 ads from this year’s game in terms of views and social engagement (and note Wix’s ranking).

2017 Super Bowl Ads

Views/Social Actions

Wix.com “Chef Felix”

4 million/65,000

TurboTax “Humpty Fall”

3 million/4,000

Mr. Clean “Cleaner of Your Dreams”

1.5 million/25,000

Skittles “Romance”

1.5 million/3,000

Mercedes “Easy Driver”

270,000/10,000

2) Establish Your Company as a Thought Leader

One of the most effective ways to get customers to visit your site is to provide them with high-quality, relevant content that acknowledges their pain points and guides them toward a solution. You become an authority for these customers, and other companies may come to regard you as a thought leader in a particular field. Either way, your content generates more traffic, and social media is a great way to publicize your content.

For the 2017 ads, thought leadership branched out into social messaging, in particular, immigration themes. Budweiser’s minute-long ad “Born the Hard Way” dwelled on the origin of Adolphus Busch, an 1857 immigrant from Germany. While there has been a fair amount of criticism launched on social media, there has also been a great deal of praise. Some people have pointed out that Budweiser is just trying to differentiate itself from the plethora of craft beer companies against whom they compete, but telling a human story about an immigrant who became an American success story goes well beyond plugging beer. There will be viewers who will see Budweiser as a thought leader in this ethical territory, and they’ll be a little more likely to purchase Budweiser products and follow them on social media.

3) Gain Customer Insights

With 500 million tweets, and 4.5 billion Likes on Facebook every day, social media harbors a vast amount of customer information. It’s a real doorway into the lives of your consumers that you can’t really duplicate in any other way.

You can see what interests them, how they prefer to interact with your company, and what they want from your brand. You can measure customer satisfaction and gain incredible real-time insights from the conversations that your customers are having about your brand.

For example, during 2016’s game, social media clearly showed that viewers were heavily engaged at the start of the game, driving food and beverage app use up 135% compared to average traffic for the same time-block on previous Sundays. This would be a prime time to get your social messaging out there.

You can break it down further, and identify specific points where viewers using social media are most engaged throughout the entire game. Tracking mobile usage during 2017’s game, you’ll see that most viewers aren’t on their phones during the pre-game show, but that mobile usage shoots up after the opening kickoff. App usage goes back down during the half-time show, but social media keeps exploding right up to the final whistle. Then, after the game’s over, some mobile viewers will continue to watch video online.

4) Improve Website Traffic and Search Results

When you share great content, customers will come to you, and this is one of the greatest results social media has to offer. You draw more traffic to your site, and the more your content is retweeted and shared, the higher your search ranking goes.

For 2016’s game, a Merkle report revealed TurboTax as the ultimate winner in digital media performance, especially in terms of a very strong SEO showing. Other notables? Doritos had a high search volume while its ad was broadcast, but Audi and Jeep spots generated the most searches for the entirety of the game.

This year Yahoo research shows that most Big Game-related ad searches actually took place in the week leading up to the game (21%) and the day after (41%), with a respectable 38% during the game.

Also noteworthy: In 2016, there were 7.5 million ad-centric searches, 40% higher than 2015, and 82% of searches were conducted using a mobile device, up 12% from 2015. By comparison, 11% of searches were via desktop computer, and only 7% used a tablet. That means the smartphone is the number-one search device and companion to TV viewing.

5) Target Your Ads More Efficiently

Think of social media as a relatively inexpensive way to market your business and push out content, but unlike some advertising, social media gives you great audience feedback that you can act on to better target your segments.

For people surveyed before the 2017 game, 78% said they would be on social media while watching the game, and that they used social media to share their thoughts on the game; so, you know when your audience is watching and ready to engage.

A Burson-Marsteller survey of consumers planning to watch 2017’s game suggests that over 40% of viewers feel that social media brings them closer to the game, and 33% said they’re most likely to post about an ad during the game. Beyond the commercials aired during the game, 60% of viewers said they’re interested in additional social media content provided by the advertisers; so, you know viewers want and will seek out your unique content.

Naturally, there are traditional ways to segment an audience. If you’re running a LinkedIn campaign, you can segment by location, job title, gender, age, and so on. For Facebook, you can segment based on demographics such as interests, behaviors, and connections, and you can do these things in real time. For the Big Game and its limited window of opportunity, you’ll need to leverage all social media channels to pinpoint your audience and get your message in front of their eyes.

6) Obtain Higher Conversion Leads and Retain Your Customers

When people like your social messaging, they tend to like your company, and are more likely to actually purchase from you. When you’re consistent with social content, they keep coming back and paying attention to your messages.

One study in 2015 showed that 75% of companies who engaged in social media said they experienced an increase in sales within 12 months. In the short run, many advertisers reported an increase in social shares and mentions for 25 days after the game.

This is great news for marketers! 2016 data from Marin Software shows that advertisers enjoyed large spikes in search of ad conversions, without a significant increase in cost-per-click. What’s more, this increase in conversions and decrease in cost-per-lead lasted the whole month of February.

While some researchers estimate that as much as 80% of Big Game commercials never boost sales or influence purchasing, Wix defies that norm. After their first Game Day ad aired, Wix saw a $2 million increase in their 2015 revenue outlook, going from $202 million to $204 million.

The following year, Wix partnered with DreamWorks Animation to promote both their website’s tools and Kung Fu Panda 3, and they reaped 100 million views.

Final Thoughts

It’s deceptively easy to watch the game without considering all the commercial implications of what advertisers are doing and how best to mine social media to reach your target audience. It used to be that advertisers wouldn’t know how well their commercials did until the Monday after the game, when they’d track how many new customers would visit their brick-and-mortar stores. However, with the advent of social media, you can see how people are reacting to your message in real time.

If you don’t have the budget to buy up those outrageously expensive ad spots, it can be tempting to minimize even trying to compete because it’s a once-a-year event. You have 364 other days to focus on, but no other event or holiday has such an extensive presence on social media. You’ll want to keep an eye on this space and discover how your company can best ‘win’ the Super Social Bowl.

To learn more about how to harness the power of social interactions to better understand your existing customers, get to know new ones, and capitalize on increased loyalty with measurable ROI, read about Emarsys social engagement.

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Top 5 Social Media Predictions for 2017

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Social media technology is evolving faster than ever. There are more and more platforms available, and their usage is expanding into new, uncharted territories. It seems as though marketers just get the hang of using one platform, or its features, before they change yet again.

Looking back at some of the more recent developments, as well as 2016 predictions, can help savvy marketers cut through the noise and stay up to date on what new social media trends will truly help brands succeed.

To help things along, below are five predictions for social media trends in 2017.

1. Expiring Content

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While this goes against most marketers’ instincts, allowing content to expire produces a sense of urgency. Snapchat was able to burst onto the scene with that very unique concept, and has been successful enough to turn down Facebook’s $3 billion buyout offer. Since then, other platforms have taken note, most recently Instagram with its Instagram Stories feature.

By encouraging users to act faster, brands can potentially take advantage of this trend in new and unexpected ways. Many have begun working with Snapchat campaigns, but as competitive platforms arise and new features develop, brands and marketing experts should experiment to find which variety of expiring content works best to motivate their audience.

2. Live Video

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Last year, Facebook more than doubled its daily video views to 8 billion, reportedly overtaking YouTube. In addition, Facebook launched a live streaming video service, Facebook Live, to compete with Twitter’s Periscope. YouTube also remains a strong competitor, now with high-definition 4K live streaming capabilities.

These go beyond the edited and produced videos many users now watch, to live, raw footage. Video already shows higher engagement than many other channels, so live video makes sense as the next iteration. Smart marketers should be keeping an eye on this trend for potential opportunities as it develops. For example, live video around an in-store event will allow brands to showcase their best products in real time.

3. Virtual and Augmented Reality

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Seeing virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) on this list is likely no surprise. It’s already happening. Take, for example, the Pokemon Go craze earlier this year. Users latched onto it in massive numbers, showing the way AR can be used and the appeal it can have. Industry leaders have been heralding the arrival of VR for years, and yet it hasn’t quite taken root. So what makes 2017 different? Most are still waiting to see the impact Facebook’s acquisition of VR technology leader Oculus will have on the industry.

Beyond gaming, the practical applications of VR and AR are still a little amorphous for many brands. However, the opportunity for engagement with VR and AR, particularly within physical stores, will likely be explored. Because of the relative newness, there may not be extreme movement in VR or AR, but brands will certainly begin to experiment with its usage – and it is certainly one to keep an eye on in 2017.

4. Mobile First

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Mobile is not new. Social platforms optimizing for mobile certainly isn’t new either, but even so it’s not an area to be ignored. This year, mobile usage overtook desktop traffic. Mobile will continue to be valued, and that value will continue to grow even more rapidly.

It’s more important than ever for brands to look to mobile as not just an add-on, but as a foundational aspect of their business’ marketing strategy.

5. Automation Goes Mainstream

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Digital multimedia and social platforms have transformed how marketers must behave and message their target audiences. Managing that transformation with a whiteboard, or even a team of human workers is inefficient and certainly not scalable.

Marketing automation software companies are growing and will continue to grow, as an essential tool for marketing experts. They are growing smarter, providing more data, and allowing marketers to do more with that data, creating better experiences for customers. And that, as expected, can lead to greater sales.

Final Thoughts

As marketers look to 2017, social media trends may ebb and flow in importance but can be instrumental to a brand’s success. It will take experimenting, pivoting, and constant learning to get it right, but it is possible. So, here’s to the future and the technology it brings!

To see how social media trends have evolved from the previous year, check out our 2016 social media predictions.

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What Were the Biggest Social Media Trends of 2016?

To learn more about the most recent social trends, be sure to check out our five predictions for social media trends in 2017.

As 2016 closes out, marketers across the globe are looking forward to their 2017 planning. Part of that planning should involve taking a look back to 2016: what worked, what didn’t, and where to pivot going into the new year.

Social media should be no different, reviewing the most successful trends for 2016, and how brands did or did not utilize them, can be the key to succeeding in social next year.

At the end of 2015, we published a list of top trends for 2016. They buy-now buttons, video, and channeling the message. The smart marketers and brands revisited those trends later in the year to share updates and recommendations leading into the all-important final four months of the year. Many of those trends held true throughout the entirety of 2016, but some did not. So, what floated to the top in the year-end roundup?

Two young women with tablet on street

Below are the social media trends that ended up as the biggest of 2016:

Buy Now / Install Now

Purchasing through social media is a trend that held true, and continued to grow, throughout all of 2016. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all created a feature allowing customers to buy straight from the respective social platform, and this added convenience greatly increased the potential efficacy and ROI for using social media marketing.

If a customer is already engaging with the brand, or a brand influencer, through social media, ‘buy now’ buttons made it easier than ever before to interact with the brand, and buy the product in just a few clicks on mobile devices.

Social media algorithms have also adjusted over the last year to ensure user feeds are tailored. That means targeted ads, including the purchase button, are served to those customers most relevant to the brand, and vice versa. While the pay-to-play era of social media marketing is slowing down, 2016 found brands no longer competing for space. Using Big Data and other information from their users, brands targeted specific customers, as opposed to whoever scrolled by at the time.

Video

Video was another area predicted to be big in 2016, and remained strong throughout the year, albeit in an evolved way. What were once carefully curated, edited, and produced brand videos, gave way to live video. Consumers gravitated, and will likely continue to do so, towards the raw, authentic, unscripted, and often unpredictable content that real, if not truly LIVE, video offers.

Many brands looked to their social media influencers to create this genuine content, but they also found new ways to utilize the moment-to-moment, script-free views of life. Facebook’s Facebook-live, Instagram video, as well as the later introduction of Instagram stories and Twitter’s Periscope, offered plenty of opportunities in 2016 for brands to capitalize on video.

Millions of users are visiting these platforms every day to consume this video-specific content. Marketing experts in 2016 understood that there were two key areas to focus on for continued success in video. The first is developing quick and responsive content strategies to deliver quality video content efficiently and with the right marketing messaging.

The other, and perhaps the most important, is to maintain the reality of the medium. If marketers try to ‘trick’ customers by making them think what they are seeing is reality, but in truth isn’t, they will get caught. And the blowback won’t be pretty.

Expiring Content

Whether it was through Snapchat or the new Instagram stories, expiring content grew exponentially in 2016, and will likely continue that growth in 2017. Expiring content creates a sense of urgency for users, inspiring quicker action and more frequent ‘check-ins’.

Take, for example, Snapchat. This platform was built specifically around the concept of expiring content. In a matter of five years, Snapchat has grown to the be the third largest social platform – and it’s still growing. In fact, Snapchat’s U.S. user base jumped by 27.2% to 58.6 million users in 2016, meaning one in five Americans engaged with the platform.

The popularity of Snapchat and expiring content also led to the development of Instagram stories, Instagram’s own version of expiring content with a 24-hour viewing window. Within two months of launch, Instagram stories boasted 100 million daily users.

Consumers clearly had a desire for the raw, temporary, and utterly imperfect nature of content with a short window of availability. Looking at the continued growth of both Snapchat and Instagram Stories, if brands think expiring content is something they can ignore, they’ll be very sorry they did so come mid-2017.

The Strength of Mobile

While mobile usage itself may not be new, the growth of the medium with regards to social media apps and platforms in 2016 cannot be left off this list. There are now more than 2 billion smartphone users in the world. Not only do 80% of internet users have a smartphone, but  nearly 80% of all social media time is spent on mobile, according to comScore’s 2016 U.S. Cross-Platform Future in Focus.

Take, for example, mobile Facebook users. In 2016, there were 1.57 billion mobile monthly active users on Facebook, showing a 20% rise from 2015. Mobile traffic on social media platforms long ago surpassed desktop traffic, particularly since the advent of mobile-only or mobile-intended apps like Snapchat and Instagram. This year saw an unprecedented growth in mobile, one that shows no sign of slowing down.

Multi-Channel Marketing

Social media marketing encompasses many different channels. Marketers in 2016 saw the increase in the necessity for multi-channel marketing. Not only did multi-channel marketing strategies increase the likelihood of content being viewed by target users, it also allowed marketers to achieve true one-to-one customer communication, with minimal effort.

Marketers were able to reach customers across multiple platforms with a consistent message, all the while strengthening relationships, building momentum, and measuring performance. At the same time, brands could also gather valuable data on what makes customers tick, through the monitoring of channels.

New platforms and channels are popping up all the time, and will likely continue to do so. There are far too many intricacies for marketing teams to keep up.  2016 saw these teams learning to adapt through multi-channel automation and marketing strategies. The future will likely bring continued opportunity to master these methods as much as possible.

Authentic, Personality-Filled Engagement

Be it a customer service channel, or just day-to-day social media interactions, users in 2016 wanted brands to be real. They wanted to feel like they weren’t interacting with just another bot, but a real, flesh and blood person. That desire became a requirement in the last year.

Brands had to find and cultivate their social media ‘voice’, and that voice had to resonate with users, as well as reflect the brand’s personality. If there was even the slightest inkling of insincerity or pandering, users could easily tell and the efforts severely backfired. As was seen in the first half of 2016, there were some disastrous examples.

Treating social media users with the same respect customers receive in a brick-and-mortar store was critical, and that desire will only continue to grow. Brands that succeeded in this area in 2016 allowed employees to act with humor and personality, as well as providing top-tier customer service on social platforms.

Final Thoughts

Social media trends grew, changed, and grew some more throughout 2016. From the rise of brand new platforms, to the expansion and growth of others, marketers had to stay on their toes, adapting as quickly and effectively as possible. It was a challenge, but by adopting new techniques and technologies, many marketers were able to continuously succeed.

While the above trends were key to success this year, they will likely continue to grow and be successful in 2017. By staying up-to-date on the trends of the past year, as well as seeing what will likely grow and evolve next year, marketers will be able to dominate social media in the most effective ways.

To learn how to harness the power of social interactions to better understand your existing customers, visit the Emarsys social engagement page.

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3 Social Media Marketing Trends That Will Forever Change Your Business

Marketers need to pay attention to the digital trends shaping and reshaping the marketplace. We shared with you our 5 biggest social media trend predictions for 2016, and highlighted the need to increase engaging content through the use of customer-generated videos.

We reinforced the need to channel the message, and mentioned the importance of allowing employees to use their social media platforms at work. We brought up the increase in influencer marketing, and how crucial this social media marketing trend is now and will continue to be in the future. We featured the introduction of the social “Buy Button” and the expected impact.

Strategic marketing using social media

Of these predictions, three social media marketing trends have steamrolled through with proven staying power that can massively impact e-commerce and retail organizations of all shapes and sizes. These are the 3 biggest social media marketing trends that will forever change your business.

1. Employee Advocacy via Social

An organization’s biggest influence group is sitting right underneath their noses. Or rather, right under their roof. An organization’s employees are living, breathing ambassadors for the brands they represent. Marketers love and appreciate employees for everything they bring to the business, and should let employees return the love by providing them with the means to be strong advocates!

According to a study performed by Cisco, employees cumulatively have more than 10 times the number of followers that a brand has across all social media channels. Additionally, their posts produce over 8 times more engagement than a business’ posts. Seems like a no-brainer to have employees share marketing messages on social media, right? But here’s the catch with this social media marketing trend; only truly authentic content in the employee’s genuine voice will create real engagement. Allowing employees to be advocates with their own flair humanizes a brand, and strengthens the relationship with consumers.

2. Influencer Marketing

Gone are the days where influencer marketing simply referred to a celebrity endorsement. Influencer marketing is the hot new term for word-of-mouth, and it is more powerful and critical than ever.

According to Nielsen, over 90% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family, even when it flies in the face of the advertising they see. In this communication, e-commerce and retail brands have no control over the dialogue. What they do have control over is ensuring that their customers truly love them by giving them something to talk about! Instead of allocating time and effort into controlling the messages being shared about a brand, marketers should invest time into teaching and preaching exceptional customer service practices.

This interaction between Samsung and a loyal customer is a spectacular example of a positive customer service experience spiraling into a viral advertising opportunity that impacted the brand. In short, a loyal customer messaged Samsung via Facebook asking for their newest, yet-to-be released phone and included a picture of a fire breathing dragon to sweeten up his request. Samsung politely declined by responding with their own drawing of a kangaroo riding a unicycle.

The customer shared the exchange on reddit, where it went viral. In response, Samsung thanked their him for the positive media attention he had helped them attain by sending him the free phone he requested, personalized with the very fire-breathing dragon drawing he sent in the initial exchange. In this instance, Samsung created an influencer through a very thoughtful and positive customer service experience. Take example from Samsung!

3. “Buy Buttons”

B2C e-commerce marketers are saying, “about time!”. Social media has long been a leader in driving traffic and awareness to B2C brands and e-commerce sites. Now, finally, social media channels can directly drive sales as well. Facebook has been testing their “Buy Now” feature for a little over a year. Users on Facebook can now make a one-click purchase from a sponsored ad without ever leaving their newsfeed.

Furthermore, the new social media feed algorithms are rocket-propelling the social media marketing trend into a leading channel. These algorithms take into account users’ browsing patterns, and adjust what appears on their feeds accordingly. These tailored feeds even include ads, which incorporate the critical use of the “Buy Now” button.

This massive step has the potential to revolutionize the entire space. Consumers are banner and pop-up blind, so accustomed are they to being accosted with marketing and advertising messages that this move into native advertising, within their own personal social media feeds, softens the ask. The “Buy Now” button has not yet been widely adopted by e-commerce retailers, so marketers can hop on the early-adopter train and reap the benefits!

Final Thoughts

These three social media marketing trends have the potential to forever change a business, and are shaping up to change the e-commerce retail space as a whole. Marketers should empower employees to be advocates for their business, enhance social customer service to create influencers for their brand, and invest big in the “Buy Now” button trend to catapult their brand into being a leader in social media marketing.

Interested in reading more about marketing predictions? Download our whitepaper to learn about five upcoming trends that will impact marketers.

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Social Media Marketing Trends: A Look at How We Got Where We Are Today

Hashtags, emojis, pop culture references, and even slang. E-commerce retailers have likely tried all of these as a means to connect with consumers and to relate with them. Social media marketing trends are difficult to ignore, and sometimes, hard to adopt and utilize with the right frequency and moderation in mind. 

Trends ebb and flow and change constantly. That’s why we’re sharing an overview of some of the social media marketing trends of the past and how they have shaped the trends in our present day market.

Group of people counting likesYouTube & Vimeo As the Only Video Sharing Tools

Videos are an extraordinary tool used to showcase a retailer’s products, uses, and even company culture. In the past, if a marketer created a video to promote its company, he or she would share it on the company’s YouTube or Vimeo channel.

With the ever-increasing use of (read: obsession with) phones as a social sharing device, YouTube has taken a back seat in this new day and age of social media marketing. If consumers are waiting in line or are bored, what are they doing? They’re checking Instagram and Twitter on their mobile devices.

Both platforms made a giant leap forward in the realm of video sharing this past year. Instagram extended their video time limitations to a full minute, and Twitter now enables users to embed videos in tweets.

The Big Three (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)

Many marketers for B2B companies have long been focusing all of their social media marketing efforts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. With the overflow of new social media platforms over the last five years, two 800-pound giants have come to the forefront: Instagram and Snapchat.

Instagram has become a new and impactful channel for marketers to share culture-related content. Consumers can feel a closer, more personal, connection to an e-commerce brand, if that brand utilizes Instagram as a means to share company-specific content.

Snapchat is still in the testing phase for commercial use, but has proven to have consistent traction with millennials. If a retailer’s target market lays in this age range, they should consider using Snapchat to promote company culture and other initiatives.

GIFs

Eye-catching and engaging graphics have always been used by marketers as an attention-getter on social media. With the rise of the GIF in 2015, we are hard-pressed to find a more engaging graphic moving forward.

Of course, there are best practices involved here, namely “everything in moderation”. In 2015, organizations were using GIFs that featured hilarious lines or actions from pop culture references, but 2016 is the year of personalization. Retailers can make this social media marketing trend their own through the use of Photoshop or apps like Giphy Cam, where they can now create their own GIFs.

The “Buy Now” Button

gapsocialmediaThere has been an increase in promoted posts with a “Shop Now” or “Buy Now” CTA, as illustrated in the GAP example to the right.

This is a new addition to the Instagram for Business offering, that further pushes Instagram to the forefront of enterprise’s social media marketing efforts. Online shopping has long been a key avenue for retailers, but this new spin could slingshot that initiative even farther. This up-and-coming social media marketing trend is new, and, therefore, not much data currently exists to attest to its success, but we expect impressive results.

Influencer Marketing

Word-of-mouth has always been an incredibly effective spoke in the marketing wheel. Influencer marketing has emerged from a variety of legacy practices (namely, word-of-mouth) and industry studies; the focus being on specific key individuals. Selecting industry-specific influencers will take time and research, but is guaranteed to make an impact on social media marketing efforts.

How Is Your Retail Organization Keeping Up?

While these aforementioned marketing trends are the here-and-now, e-Commerce retailers should remember the necessity to constantly re-visit and adjust efforts in accordance with new trends. After all, trends are to be done in moderation.

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3 Ways to Humanize Your Retail Brand on Social Media

Woman Using Digital Tablet in a CafeIt’s been said time and time again: the key to a good retail marketing strategy lies in an omnichannel approach, and within that omnichannel approach is very obviously social media.

Pushing the same products on social media over and over again isn’t going to do your brand any favors, however. Without a good content strategy to support your overall marketing strategy, your social media timelines and newsfeeds will read like catalogs. Now, what’s engaging or interesting about that?

Remember, your customers have actively chosen to follow your brand on social media, on sites that they more than likely visit for fun. They’ve chosen to be there and to see what it is you have to share with them. Shouldn’t you build your brand’s voice and make the brand more personable so that your followers want to keep seeing what you’re showing them?

If you can keep your customers engaged on social media, you’re more likely to build trust and keep them interested in buying what it is you’re trying to sell them.

So what are some of the best ways to keep your social media game strong? Glad you asked!

Here are 3 social media marketing strategies that any brand can implement:

Show products being used by real people

You can show your followers packaging. You can tell them what the product will be great for. But that’s all talk and no action. While there’s no fault in showing the newest product you’re releasing, you’ll do even better in the social media world if you share stories or images of your products being used by actual customers.

The benefits to this are two-fold. First, you show people what your product looks like in real life; doing so also makes the product seem more approachable, as it helps people identify with each other rather than just marketers. Second, you have the opportunity to crowdsource positive images and stories (with the proper approvals and protocols in place, of course).

Think about it, these people likely posted their images or stories to share a little love for a brand they’ve chosen to support – go ahead and give them a little attention back! I mean, don’t you feel a little giddy on the inside when a brand tweets back at you? You can make your fans and followers feel appreciated this way, too!

Show users how to use your product

Girl Making Her Video BlogYour new product has launched, the rest is up to your customers, right? It doesn’t have to be! Help your customers see the value of your social media accounts by posting little tutorials to show them how to use your newest products. Posting videos or GIFs as how-tos will help position your brand as more than just a distributor or seller of the items they want; you’ll become a thought leader as well!

For example, imagine your brand just released an awesome line of scarves. You could easily show tutorials on various ways to wear your scarves to keep your customers engaged on your social media profiles, rather than searching the internet for tutorials put out by other people or competitors. The same can be done for styling a new line of clothing or the latest shades of eyeshadow. The point is simple: don’t just be the seller of goods; be a resource for your customers as well.

Tell behind-the-scenes stories

Marketing paints a pretty picture of a brand at its best to help sell inventory and grow the brand. This is the case for every. single. brand. So, if you want to be different, show what’s happening behind the scenes that makes your brand different. That’s the easiest and most efficient way to show that a brand is run by people, not robots.

Did something funny happen at the office? Great, Instagram it! Did one of your employees do something innovative or thoughtful of others outside of work? Awesome, share that story on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn! Is there an opportunity to show something cool being made, developed, or crafted? Wonderful, create a GIF for Facebook or Twitter, or post a video on YouTube or LinkedIn! Regardless of the story or the social network, the point is to show that your brand is run by people and to hopefully be creative and have fun while doing so.

In conclusion

Now that you’ve mastered a few of the basics for building your brand voice on social media, your customers are likely to keep coming back for more. Remember, if they like what they see on social media, on channels that they have willingly taken the initiative to like and follow, they’re more likely to understand and appreciate what you’re trying to sell them. And if they like what they see, they’re much more likely to engage with the messaging that you send through your marketing automation efforts, too.

Interested in learning more? Check out our 3-minute demo video here.

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Not that Dress Again! Avoiding the Pitfalls of Social Advertising

“Wait, why am I seeing ads for that dress I just bought? And it’s on sale! What the heck? I don’t think I’ll be shopping here anymore.”

Sound familiar? Using social advertising to target your customers as part of your marketing campaign drives sales and results, but if done incorrectly you could be causing more harm than good. Your social ads need to be run in combination with your marketing campaigns. If done correctly, your social ads will exponentially increase the overall impact and ROI of your marketing efforts.

Are you making the most of what Facebook, Google and Twitter have to offer, to target the right customers at the right time? Many marketers still aren’t taking advantage of the opportunities. Well here’s a little secret, it’s not difficult to implement, and you can even do it yourself, starting right now with data you already have.

On average, Facebook users check their accounts up to 15 times per day. Why not engage with your customers where they are? You already have your website visitors, subscribers, purchasers, high lifetime-value customers, and your loyalty program members. You have all the data. It’s time to use it.

Facebook Custom Audiences, Google Customer Match, and Twitter Audience Manager are extremely powerful tools, especially if you use them to their full potential. Advertising on social media can be used for:

Pre-targeting: Create a brand awareness campaign, targeted to specific customer segments prior to an exclusive sale.

Re-targeting: Create specific social ad segments based on the level of engagement with emails, such as subscribers who have:

  • Never opened.
  • Opened but didn’t click.
  • Opened frequently but didn’t click.
  • Opened, clicked but didn’t convert.

Reactivation campaigns: Send compelling social ads to subscribers who haven’t opened emails in a while, or worse, unsubscribed. Include an offer to get them back to the website and update their contact details or re-subscribe.

Cart and browse abandonment ads: These targeted ads will usually be less expensive than regular ads. Recognizing that you have a pre-existing relationship with the individual, Facebook, Google, Twitter and other platforms reward you with cheaper rates because they want their users to have a good experience on their platform. Think of it like calling someone you already know vs. cold-calling a stranger.

These people know and like you; you’re not trying to get a new customer, you’re targeting existing customers. You know the person, you know your relationship with them, you know what they’ve purchased. Using social ads, you can group customers into segments to do very sophisticated targeting that people will respond to.

For example, you can target an ad to a custom audience who bought a particular item, let’s say that red dress. You don’t want to target them with ads showing the red dress they just purchased. You can target that group of purchasers with accessories or items related to the dress to encourage another purchase. Perhaps you sell an amazing pair of shoes, or products by the same designer that could get the customer back on your site and shopping again.

Targeting a social advertising campaign at your existing customers is relatively easy. All it will cost you is the time it takes to create your audiences, and the price of the ads themselves.

Keep in mind that your audiences have to be updated and refreshed constantly. If you don’t keep this information up to date, you can start to create a bad customer experience. Your customers might start to see old ads, ads that aren’t relevant anymore, or the same ads over and over.

Social advertising can be extremely targeted and highly effective. However, while it packs a lot of power, it does take a lot of time to ensure a customer experience that will engage shoppers and increase sales.

Learn more about Emarsys Social Ads, book a demo right now.

 

GET A SOCIAL ADS DEMO TODAY

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The Top 5 Social Media Trends That Will Totally DOMINATE 2016

To learn more about the most recent social trends, be sure to check out our five predictions for social media trends in 2017.

Scattered audiences; more diverse, yet fragmented platforms; an ever more competitive environment with marketing efforts that put the days of the TV networks to shame: social media sure is getting complicated! Brands have to be on their toes if they’re going to stay up-to-date with the newest and coolest apps and invest some serious resources to keep up with social media trends – and know which ones to jump on and which ones are just a flash in the pan. 

But, how are you going to cut through all that clutter? Here’s somewhere to start. We bring you our global perspective on the top five social media trends that we see dominating 2016.

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Channeling Your Messages

The question used to be “should we be on social?” Companies and brands weren’t quite sure they had a place on this new “chat platform” or that “friend space thing.” They dug their heels in crying “Danger!!!” …and ya know what? They were right. Not about avoiding having a social presence, but that it would be a Pandora’s box worth of trouble.

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There is no place more dangerous to miss your message than on social. Your customers will notice, and what’s more, they’ll be delighted to spread the word about your little mishap. Every social channel has a tone, has a cadence, and is more or less of a fit for that “Free Shipping Friday” message you want to blast out. In fact, the latest social app might not be right for you – do you know if your customers are using it or is it just the latest millennial craze? Right message, wrong channel is not where you want to wind up.

TREND TAMER #1: Know your channels. Build them strategically. Social may move at lightning speed, but you don’t have to. Quality wins over quantity because in the end, you’re interrupting your customers’ conversations, so make sure you have something important to say every single time, and you’re not speaking in tongues to an empty room.

Video Killed the Hollywood-Star

YouTube started it. They had the audacity to let anyone and everyone publicly post whatever video they wanted to. So we got Vlogs, then Vine accelerated it with micro-stories, with Instagram, Twitter and Facebook rushing to catch up. Now Meerkat and Periscope have taken us to the next level, the perfect example of the biggest trend we’re living in right now: RealityTV has finally gotten real.

That’s the root of it, the reality. Live Streaming every hiccup, sniffle, squeak and shuffle. The moment-to-moment unscripted view into life as it’s unfolding.

“Telling great customer stories is much better coming from the customer instead of the brand” – Meghan Litchfield, Head of Global Ecommerce, GoPro

Does it really have to be live? No. But it really has to be real. BatDad is a perfect example of this, every time, capturing the unfiltered genuine reaction to his antics. The critical ingredient over and over again is script-free, unexpected unpredictable reality. There’s still room for the big-budget, HD 3D Dolby Surround Sound production value. The difference is that while suspension of disbelief is an opportunity to be creative, tricking your customers into thinking you’re showing them reality when you’re not is just plain lying. So don’t do it. You’re going to get found out eventually.

TREND TAMER #2: Video is now the portal into anyone’s reality. The question is, whose reality do your customers want to visit, and are you willing to relinquish control over the script once you take them there? You’re not going to be able to disguise your ads anymore, so stop trying. Either be real and take them to a reality they couldn’t reach without you, or be fantastic.

o-BATDAD-facebookSearch + Social = Buy Now

Why on earth haven’t we been buying stuff on our social platforms all along? It’s the best worst thing to happen to the web since responsive design turned our phones into content portals. The experience of ogling a product, lusting after it, asking your friends if you’d be crazy to spend that money on it, right through to ignoring them and buying it anyway has finally made its way from the mall to your mobile.

Why did it take so long? Well, you could say the technology just wasn’t ready, and then by the time it was, we just used to the old messy process. More likely, since most of our social sites were designed and built by men and it’s women who are the social shoppers — it never occurred to the guys to put a “buy now” button on there? Cause yeah, that’s pretty much all this is: Pinterest’s “Pin It,” Facebook’s “Like” it, Instagram’s eloquent “<3” it, and Twitter’s “Retweet” now give you the option to literally put your money where your mouth is with a “BUY NOW” button. Like it? Prove it.

TREND TAMER #3: If you ever thought that social was a waste of time or a distraction from your bottom line, you can stop that nonsense now. Give your customers a reason to brag about the products they love because now, their friends can buy directly from that brag. Just don’t forget to track those purchases so you can thank your brand evangelists.

Chit-chat and Emoji Budgets

It wasn’t long ago that companies banned social channels at work. If your employees were spending time on Facebook or Twitter they were wasting your dollars, because chatter is chatter and the workplace is no time for idly socializing. Deadlines mean focus and slacking off with some random links and videos can’t be tolerated. Yammer introduced the idea of “internal social” but with the management dictating the topics and who got to chat with whom. After all, you didn’t’ want critical employees getting distracted by underlings.

“Emojis speak louder than words.” – ModCloth’s October social media motto

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The new generation of Slack and HipChat have not just rocked that boat, they’ve capsized it. Gifs and emojis are now right up next to budgeting plans? Yes. Letting employees start the chat rooms they feel they need, rather than proscriptive “official work channels” established from the top? Yes. It’s a realization that maybe, just once in a while, you have no idea of the wealth of the knowledge base that is your team. That the guy over there in cubicle four who’s been on Facebook all day? Maybe if he had a place to get some love back from his co-workers for his incredible curated animated gif collection, he wouldn’t be posting on Facebook all day.

TREND TAMER #4: Stop trying to force people to communicate in unnatural ways. Workplace communication that mirrors the natural social habits of your employees, allowing them access to the same kind of platforms they already use in their day-to-day lives, will increase productivity, as well as keep people happier. Work doesn’t have to be boring, so stop being a fun killer.

She Told Me To

We used to call it word-of-mouth. Now, it’s got the fancy new name of “influencer marketing.” Guess what? It’s more important than ever. According to Nielson, over 90% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family, even when it flies in the face of the advertising they see. Is that any different than before? No. But now, it’s more actionable than ever.

Not to sound like a broken record here – we’d rather be your favorite song on repeat – but that user-generated content that everyone’s been trying to tap into for years is only going to get stronger. If you’re going to succeed as a brand today, you’re going to have to learn to walk the fine line between controlling what’s said about you and letting the cards lie as they fall.

What’s the solution? Make sure your users really do love you! You’ll never catch every comment made about your brand – contrary to popular belief, not everything is posted on Facebook or Twitter – so stop trying. If the airlines have taught us anything (aside from the fact that we’re apparently all 5ft tall) it’s that bad customer service is really, really bad. Put all that time and energy you might otherwise throw at controlling the messages right back into things like customer service and making sure your product is top notch.

TREND TAMER #5: Make sure your customers actually enjoy being your customers. If they complain about something, fix it. Immediately. They’ll talk you up all the more. That kind of endorsement, not the ones from celebrities, is what’s keeping you in business. So give your fans the same attention. They cost a lot less and are way easier to work with in the end.

Did we miss something? Think we’re totally off base?

Call us on it! These are only our Top 5 social media trends, not the whole kit-and-kaboodle, but if you think #3 is really “The Rise of the Possum Gif” then hey, we wanna know.

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Learn more about Emarsys and how we can help you better manage and scale your social media marketing programs?

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