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Lauren Lillis

Social Media: Stay Ahead to Stay Afloat, 6 Tips

There’s always something new in the world of social media. It can be challenging to make sense of the landscape, as subtle and major changes happen every day. Just recently, Facebook made huge adjustments that have changed the way we approach our advertising for our clients, removing the ability to edit the creative on organic and boosted posts on the platform in an effort to combat fake news. If you work in the industry and have invested money and time into social media marketing to build your brand, it’s critical that you stay ahead of the curve.

So, what changes and trends can we anticipate, and how can we set ourselves up for success in the future? Here are 6 tips to keep your social strategy focused and steady through the changing tides:

 

1. Know the role of each network and allocate your time and budget accordingly.

It’s easy to spread yourself too thin with so many networks to choose from. It’s best to pick 2–3 channels where you can effectively reach your audience and deliver on your goals. You don’t have to jump on the bandwagon of every new channel—some won’t have staying power, and others simply won’t be a fit. Here’s the rundown:

  • Facebook is the leader in the space, with 2.01 billion monthly active users. At Curiosity, we often call it the TV of social media—it boasts the most significant reach and most advanced targetability for marketers trying to reach their audience. You can reach almost every demographic on this channel.
  • Facebook is followed most closely by its sister network, Instagram. With 700 million monthly active users, this channel brings beautiful photography and snappy video content to the forefront. While not a great traffic driver, it is effective at engaging audiences with visual storytelling—whether in an ad or in less-polished, 24-hour Stories.
  • There will always be three or four other smaller, more supportive channels that come and go, and they will play a more specific role in consumers’ lives. Right now, and likely for the next three years, those key players are:
    • LinkedIn: With 500 million monthly active users, LinkedIn connects the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. While the platform can be slow to innovate, there are advertising opportunities that can help you reach your audience with thought leadership. If your brand can help people build their skills, this is a good place to play.
    • Snapchat: With 166 million daily active users, Snapchat isn’t just Gen Z—it’s aging up, similarly to when Facebook dropped their .edu requirements for sign-ups. Millennials and Gen Xers are also active on the channel, and they’re highly active: The average Snapchat user visits the platform 18 times a day. 46% of these daily Snapchat users are not on Instagram, so there’s an opportunity to reach consumers you may not find on other channels. Snapchat is all about cutting-edge technology and innovating the camera, which appeals to consumers looking for something fun and different to share. While there are lots of opportunities for brands to advertise, some are expensive, and the platform advises against building an organic brand presence, since it can be difficult to produce enough content to stay relevant and scale social media efforts.  
    • Pinterest: With 175 million monthly active users, Pinterest is where people go to curate content that represents their ideal lives. Consumers build boards with content that represents the foods they wish they ate, the wedding they wish they could have, and the homes they wish they lived in. If your brand is aspirational and appeals to women, this may be the place to play—but you have to have a lot of evergreen content in the pipeline to be successful.
    • Twitter: With 68 million monthly active users, Twitter is the smallest of the secondary social media channels. Its user base is declining as they’ve struggled to compete against their competitor’s innovations and visual-friendly feeds. However, if your brand is tied closely to real-time events, especially in entertainment or sports, it could be worth considering a Twitter activation, as users are much more active during major TV moments.

It’s important to use your time wisely—if your audience is spending a lot of time on one of the smaller channels that your brand can work within to meet a specific need, it may be worth the investment. However, it’s sad but true: If a new social media channel is going to have true staying power for decades, it will likely need to be bought out by Facebook.

While you can play in one or two secondary channels, it’s important to invest in the channels that have staying power. Facebook and Instagram are built to last, and Facebook is on pace to evolve into the rest of the world’s WeChat—making us fully dependent on the network for all aspects of our lives.

 

2. Do your research.

The key to successful social media marketing is relevancy. As consumers become more savvy and the algorithms become more advanced, it’s critical to ensure that you’re sending the right message to your consumers. Research where they spend their time—it may surprise you! Then, find out what they want and how your brand can meet that need. Ask yourself how you can bring that value to life in your creative.

Here at Curiosity, we have numerous tools to get to the core of what our audience’s affinities are so we can be smart about how we reach them. Roll up your sleeves and do some digging—it will make your budget work much more efficiently in the future!

 

3. Don’t be afraid to try out new features and lean in to social-first content.

In order to stay relevant, social media channels are always innovating and bringing out new features. Don’t be afraid to try them out and test them for your brand. Chances are consumers are paying attention to this cutting-edge content more in their newsfeeds, and the channel itself is supporting that content more for organic reach. Don’t be afraid to test live video, Instagram Stories, Snapchat Geofilters and Lenses, and Facebook Canvas Ads. Start thinking about how your brand can activate storytelling through the following up-and-coming trends in the future:

    1. Live Video: After closely watching Twitter’s Periscope and the now defunct Meerkat, Facebook launched Facebook and Instagram Live on its channels. While it’s hit some roadblocks, the channels have put a huge emphasis on these features, giving live content a boost to its algorithms for more reach. We expect to see more live, real-time content in the future, as consumers become more eager to get information quickly and as it happens.
    2. Augmented Reality: We’re already seeing this on Snapchat and Facebook, with interactive world and selfie lenses that consumers can interact with as a part of their environment.
    3. Informal Storytelling with a Short Lifespan: Snapchat made this popular with its unpolished disappearing Snaps, and Facebook and Instagram are both copying with their Stories feature. Because it is so critical to have a constant stream of fresh content in real time, we can expect to see this trend continue to grow—it’s more important to offer value at the right time than to be polished.
    4. Vertical Video: Let’s face it—we’re lazy. We’ve already seen that consumers are 67% more likely to watch a video to completion if it’s in a square ratio, simply because they don’t like to turn their phones horizontally. This percentage only increases with vertical video—it’s completely immersive and delivers the best possible user experience for video content. We expect to see the bigger channels grow their offerings in vertical video, and brands need to be prepared to introduce vertical video storytelling to their audiences.
    5. Activating Influencers: You can talk about your brand’s value all day, but the message can be much more powerful when coming from someone your target consumers already know and trust. We expect to see influencer marketing continue to be an important part of social media marketing and to see influencers to play an even bigger role in brand storytelling in the future.

One easy way to anticipate new features is to watch Snapchat’s ever-evolving platform. Snapchat is known as the innovator in the social media space, and the platform comes out with new technology faster than anyone else. When Snapchat rolls out a successful new feature, Facebook and Instagram are quick to react—and copycat. If you haven’t already, set up a personal Snapchat account and watch as the platform innovates, keeping in mind how your brand can activate storytelling with the new features.

 

4. Understand that social media is a pay-to-play outlet, so build it into your budget and be smart about how you spend.

Maybe you remember the early days of social media marketing, when organic content was king and all you had to worry about was building a following for your audience. Those days are gone. Social media is pay-to-play, and it isn’t necessarily cheap to reach your audience. It takes consistency and a lot of testing and learning. Luckily, social media channels are helping brands be smarter about how they spend. To guide your planning, most channels give you the opportunity to see a range of what you might get at different spend levels for your target audience.

It’s also critical to be smart about how you’re targeting and the objectives of your ads. If you’re still buying followers, it’s time to stop. It doesn’t matter how many fans you have—most consumers never leave their main feeds, and organic reach is a thing of the past. Instead, use smart targeting parameters (such as lookalike audiences or building a retargeting pool of people you’ve already engaged with) and objectives that will help guide them through their journey to purchase, using awareness objectives like driving video views and lower-funnel objectives like driving traffic.

 

5. Play into the strengths of each channel.

Your social media results are only going to be as good as your social media creative. To succeed, you have to know your audience and how to grab their attention.

Motion is critical to getting this attention on social media. Ads with imagery perform better than text-only ads, but videos perform even better. Build video content in repeatable formats. Maybe you’ve seen Buzzfeed’s Tasty videos, which have taken social media feeds by storm, encouraging consumers to watch a recipe from start to finish in 15–30 seconds. This fast-paced, actionable content works, giving consumers valuable information that they can apply to their real lives. We only see this trend growing and becoming more critical to a successful strategy.

Look to the interactive ad formats that the channels have to offer to maximize your efforts. Choose a carousel ad over a single static image on Facebook to drive more engagement and clicks, and pick a poll on Twitter rather than a plain text tweet. Newsfeeds are cluttered, so lean toward the formats that will stand out and cause someone to stop and pay attention. With each piece of brand creative, ask yourself: Is this personalized to our audience? Will they understand the brand’s message in 3 seconds or less? Is it impactful enough to make them stop and pay attention? Are we offering them something of value? Would they talk about this in real life?

 

6. Recognize when social media isn’t the right place to build your brand.

Maybe you don’t have the resources to personalize content for social media to support your brand, or perhaps your audience is too expensive to reach effectively on the channels. There may be more efficient ways to drive customer action for your brand—whether it’s through another content marketing tactic like native advertising, or through more traditional media channels. Social media isn’t one-size-fits-all, and certainly isn’t the right solution for every brand’s goals.

Interested in learning more about the role of social media in your brand’s marketing strategy? Contact us today.

—Lauren Lillis, Supervisor—Media Services, Content

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