Thursday, February 20, 2014

5 Social Media Trends for 2014: New Research

Based on new research from Exact Target’s 2014 State of Marketing Report, here are 5 recently developed areas that businesses should start paying attention to effective immediately for the new year. 

#1: Social Listening Becoming Important 
•We are seeing more brands beginning to truly listen to their customers. 
•Social listening offers opportunities to directly interact with consumers. 

•Tips for social listening: 
  • Don’t just listen; understand first.
  • Consider the context of online updates and conversations 74- Are consumers directly reaching out to your company or just talking with friends? It’s their context, not yours, that matters. Your response should fulfill their expectations.
  • Consumers have shown they’re willing to give up some level of privacy in exchange for better service and incredible value. Engage with the intention of delivering mutual value. 
  • Demonstrate how listening builds relationships, rather than 'intruding’ on consumers’ conversations. As previously mentioned, customers want to have a relationship with your brand. However with that, you must remember that people are still sensitive about their privacy. 

#2: 57% of Marketers Use Social Advertising 
•U.S. consumers spend an average of 37 minutes per day on social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. 
•Educate yourself and learn the most effective ways to leverage social ads in the current market.

Here’s a simple plan to get started with those ads: 
  • Establish measurable marketing goals
  • Set your budget
  • Know your audience’s needs. 
  • Pick the channel.
  • Research different ad types (how they work, how to leverage them and how your audience will then perceive them). 
  • Check out your competition and what tactics they are using. What is working for them and what is not. 
  • Optimize your landing pages. 
  • Experiment and create ad copy (2or 3 versions). 
  • Test and measure. Evaluation is key to success with any business. 

#3: Email and Social Integrate
Many people are under the false impression that social media has taken away email’s popularity. According to 68% of marketers however, email has remained the core to their organization. In fact, social media has made email more powerful now than ever before. There is a relationship between email and social media. Email marketing allows you to stay current with your existing customers. Then by encouraging your email subscribers to connect with you on your social media sites, their friends will then see your brand, thus creating more social visibility for you. 

•Here are some tips for integrating your email and social media marketing: 
  • Use email subject line testing to optimize Facebook ad headlines and vice versa. 
  • Incorporate your most popular email content into status updates and vice versa. 
  • Test image effectiveness via email and incorporate into status updates and vice versa. 
  • Just like sponsored stories, incorporate your fans’ enthusiasm for your brand into your email content. 
  • Tease upcoming emails via a Facebook status update. 

#4: Assemble Your Social Media Dream Team
Social media teams are becoming more and more common, with 57% of respondents having a dedicated team to strategize, execute and steward social media initiatives. Typically, these teams include 3 or less people. 

•Here are some basic tips if you’re a one-person show: 
  • Start with a strategy. Know what you want to accomplish from social media and choose your social networks wisely. 
  • Create a workflow process. Schedule some time each day for routine social media activities (listening and monitoring, posting updates, networking, and so on.)
  • Develop quality content. You’ll need to create original content on a regular basis (e.g. blog posts, images, videos, graphics, etc.) Even with a small budget, you can get other people to create high-quality content for you by using a service like Fiverr
  • Get the word out. Encourage friends and co-workers to engage with the company on these social media channels. It’s also a good idea to join an online community where you can tactfully get the word out to others (without spamming them). The more value you add to their conversations, the more receptive they will be to discovering and engaging with your online brand. 

#5: Social Media ROI Remains Elusive 
While marketers are dedicating more time and resources to social, they’re not 100% sure how effective it is in terms of ROI. Many small business owners are making the mistake of not measuring social media ROI. At this rate, you’ll never have an understanding of how your social media efforts are benefiting your business. Evaluation, as mentioned, is key to success. By taking the proper time to evaluate, you can spend less time and resources on useless tactics that don’t work. 
  • Start by defining clear, measurable social media goals such as brand awareness (Facebook likes), lead generation (email opt-ins or content downloads) or customer retention (compare cost of retaining a social media customer vs. a non-social media customer). Then develop a content strategy to achieve those goals (remember that content drives social). Focus on one or two social channels where your target audience hangs out and gradually scale as your audience and your resources grow.