11: Paid Media Becomes Necessary
In 2014, we witnessed several changes in the way businesses are forced to approach Facebook marketing—first with the drop in organic reach, then the death of the like-gate and now the announcement of how Facebook plans to reduce the amount of promotional content coming from brands in the news feed. We should not be surprised if other networks eventually follow the same path.
In 2015, we’ll see the rise of paid media. Small businesses will have to get more educated about how to accelerate the distribution of different types of content at different stages of the sales funnel if they want to survive.
But we’re past the like-collecting days and more businesses are understanding the need for a well-designed structure that delivers different types of content to segmented groups of their audiences at the right moment in the marketing cycle. The best way to control the potential reach and manage the segmentation is through paid media.
There are two key things we learned this year that we need to consider in 2015: you can no longer rely solely on organic reach to make a significant impact, and paid media leads to more conversions than organic media.
Your focus should be on learning more about the individuals in your audience, as well as understanding how to segment your prospects, whether there is already a connection with your business or not. Plus, establish who needs to see what and when, and determine how you’re going to deliver each specific message.
12: Republishing Grows Reach
Facebook spent 2014 tightening the noose on social marketers, and with an algorithm change taking effect in January, shows no signs of stopping in the new year. On top of that, other networks like Twitter continue to grow more crowded, which means getting noticed in a feed or a timeline gets harder and harder all the time. Therefore, reach for individual posts is dropping.
Anyone with a Facebook page can tell you that reach has plummeted, and the reach on any given post is a fraction of what it would have been a year or two ago. That’s why in 2015, marketers will focus on getting cumulative reach by republishing their updates multiple times. Instead of posting an update once and hoping for the best, they’ll post an update again and again. Instead of trying to take out one large slice of pie, they’ll take multiple smaller pieces that add up.
Republishing updates like this may improve reach in more ways than one, because it can afford marketers more time for one-on-one engagement. By spending less time writing unique updates that may or may not hit their targets, marketers will be able to dedicate more time to interacting live with their fans and followers, encouraging the type of engagement that Facebook values and rewards with more consistent organic reach.
13: Campaigns Become Platform-Agnostic
We’re going to see marketers shift their focus back to “platform-agnostic marketing.” Savvy marketers are realizing that the social space is becoming increasingly fragmented, and creating unique campaigns for each channel is difficult and expensive. For the last few years, you could create a campaign just for Facebook and get good results. But now your audience is everywhere—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and others—each with different reach and engagement.
Along with increased fragmentation, marketers are seeing increased costs to just to have their messages seen. There isn’t a free ride anymore. To get the most from your marketing dollars, you’ll have to be in more places at the same time.
The best bet is to have one clear goal (increased engagement, sales, data collection, etc.), and then be “everywhere.” In 2015, marketers will create centralized platform-agnostic campaigns that achieve these goals, regardless of where the audience comes from.
14: Fans Demand Personal Interaction
Next year will see increased demand for personal interaction with fans and followers. This means that fans today want to get to know the people behind the logo or brand and want to see who it is they’re engaging with.
Companies that have already grasped this concept are not only seeing a lot more interaction on their content, but also building up a higher level of trust. This approach lets their fans know there’s a real person behind the company who cares about what they have to say and is there to respond.
A great example of this is demonstrated by Gary Vaynerchuk, who started up a new online video series called the Ask Gary Vee Show.
The aim of the show is to highlight current topics in the world of social media and answer questions submitted by fans through the hashtag #AskGaryVee. Where the show separates itself from others out there is that Gary presents the whole show face to face, with the camera giving his followers that personal interaction as he reads out loud and answers user-submitted questions.
This is a great way for Gary to consistently engage his fans, since they can submit questions through using the hashtag and then tune in to see if their question got answered. The key to building these stronger relationships in 2015 is going to come from personal-style content. More importantly, companies will need to respond to their communities in a timely manner.
15: Social Media Goes Niche
In 2015, I foresee the rise of a smaller, more personal social media trend that focuses on niche groups and specific, shared qualities or interests.
We’ve always shared with specific people or to small groups through “dark” channels like email or text messaging right alongside our broader social media sharing. In the coming year, I predict that this type of sharing will begin to get more notice from marketers and app developers.
The emergence of new, more focused social media networks like Ello and This—even Facebook’s experimental Rooms—as well as the explosive growth of apps like Snapchat that allow users to target a specific social media audience, indicate that this groundswell may have already begun.
Combine this with the increasing challenge of getting noticed in Facebook’s crowded news feed and the announcement that a Twitter algorithm is likely on the way soon, and the stage is set for some big changes in the way we communicate socially.
16: All Social Networks Offer Paid Visibility
The majority of the social networks will copy Facebook’s model for displaying information to their users. That means other social networks will begin filtering what posts your friends or followers see.
Why? Because there is a lot of noise on these social sites, which causes users to decrease their engagement. Sure, as a user, you can unfollow or unfriend certain people. However, if the majority of their posts are great, you still want to see what they have to say. You just don’t want to see the junk.
In addition to improving user experience, this model can help these social sites generate extra income. For example, any additional revenue that publicly traded companies can squeeze from their users means higher stock prices.
Although most people or companies won’t pay to guarantee all of their posts are seen by others, larger companies will. Paying for the visibility of their content will ensure they are getting traffic and the brand exposure they’re looking for.
If you want all of your content to be seen without having to spend any money, share high-quality content or updates on a regular basis. Also make sure the majority of your followers are interacting with your content. For example, if you don’t know half of your friends on Facebook, you can’t expect them to be as engaged as your real friends would be. For this reason, you may be better off unfriending those users. Having interested followers will produce higher engagement rates, which will prompt the social network to show your content to more people.
17: Marketing Requires a Combination Approach
No longer will there be social media marketers who focus on only one network. They will be extinct!
Integrated social media marketing will become a “must” for implementation. For too long marketers have been doing “Facebook marketing” and “Twitter marketing” plus other marketing in isolated silos. As we’ve seen in 2014 with Facebook reach, if a business focuses on only one social platform, changes to that platform can be disastrous. Therefore, the importance of integrated marketing will headline 2015.
Smart marketers will need to use a combination approach. They’ll need to focus on multiple social networks and the ways to use them in power combinations. For example, sharing on Twitter a video or image your brand posted to Facebook can add value to the Facebook post. Marketers will have to find ways to weave together and drive social traffic from one network to another.
Brands need to think cohesively about their “online social marketing plan” that uses their website as the foundation for great content and then integrates cross–social platform sharing to enhance reach and boost engagement from one platform to another.
Below is a great example from Peg Fitzpatrick. She starts with a great blog post on her website, which is then socially shared.
In this example, Peg shares to Google+ and refers back to the post on her website. It also incorporates a “Pin it for later” convenience option that when clicked allows the user to pin the image to his or her own board on Pinterest. So it includes multiple social networks for sharing, all of which drive back to her website where she has email opt-in forms to grow her email list.
This is the integrated, synergistic online marketing approach that marketers will need to implement in 2015.
18: Visual Content Ups Its Game
Visuals, visuals, visuals! This will be the year we see marketers take images and videos to the next level. Over the past couple of years we’ve seen visual platforms like Pinterest and Instagram skyrocket in popularity. Plus, more recently, videos have become more popular on Facebook.
We’ve also seen tools come on the scene that make creating awesome visuals super-easy and fun to do. Canva has made image creation a breeze and mobile apps such as PicStitch and Wordswag put the power of creating interesting images and videos for Instagram right in our pockets.
No longer are great images limited to businesses with huge budgets for professional photographers and graphic designers. Now, businesses with the smallest budgets can create images for their content. This is a good thing because consumers will expect higher-quality images. In the early days of Pinterest and on Instagram almost anything could get attention with repins or likes. Now there’s so much competition on these platforms, not just any image will do.
Great visuals also go a long way in helping people establish trust with your online presence. Have you ever been to a doctor’s office with outdated furniture and old magazines in the racks? Unless you’ve been seeing that doctor for a long time, you might question his or her professionalism. Not using images in your content or using bad outdated ones can reflect negatively on your business. People could think of your business as less professional or less reputable.
On the flipside, when it comes to videos, I predict that we’ll see them become less produced and more relaxed and natural. There’ll no longer be a need to set up a studio with a production crew for every video you create. Social media audiences will find the spur-of-the-moment videos created on a smartphone more relatable and engaging.
19: Marketers Take Control of Content
We are tribal by nature. As such, I believe there’ll be a continual move toward common-interest communities that fuel our innate need to tell stories and communicate as a group. This includes Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, group boards on Pinterest and Google+ communities. Hashtags will also continue to shine on Instagram and Twitter as a way to stake our claim to a topic or niche and build community by curating content around that topic.
When you establish a group on any of these platforms, both the founders/admins and the people who join the group actually want to find each other. They are looking for conversations about mutual interests. They want to see your content in a place where they’re not distracted by main news feeds.
It’s not surprising that many businesses are reporting the benefits of establishing a Facebook group separate from their Facebook page. As pay-to-play becomes more of a necessity for having your content seen on Facebook, the popularity of groups brings a degree of control over what content we share and how we communicate with each other.
In my experience, the best communities are those that focus on sharing content and helping each other instead of being about promotion. If you build trust as someone who brings people together and guides them to share and support each other, you’ll build relationships with the people who matter most to your business, without giving “reach” a second thought.
20: Hashtags Build Collaborative Communities
This will be the year of the collaborative community. On- and offline there is an opportunity to build relationships and expand our sphere of influence from communities outside our own. We should become more relaxed about sharing what we do and who we know. I call it “lead with giving.” In this evolution of how to do business, everyone wins.
The hashtag is the anchor of the social media revolution. A single hashtag connects a conversation across Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. From these conversations, a community can quickly be formed; people with common interests are united. These conversations are also the place where businesses conduct their most powerful market research.
Today, even when you can’t physically be at an event, you can still join the conversation, thanks to the hashtag. Be a part of the conversation before, during and after the event to get the total experience!
Build your community through your expertise and your experiences. This mindset will help transform how we receive information and how we communicate our knowledge. Make 2015 #InstaAmazing.
Next: 28 Social Media Marketing Predictions for 2015 From the Pros (Last Part)