Social media has seen a lot of change this year, and the coming year will be no different. Social media is only going to become more important in our personal and professional lives. A huge 73% of Americans have a social network profile!
Messaging. Messaging apps have taken off, enjoying huge popularity, especially with the younger adult crowd. WhatsApp (bought by Facebook for $16 billion) leads the pack with 900 million monthly active users. Facebook Messenger is second with 700 million. It’s an astounding number of people now communicating in a way that would have been completely foreign just 2 or 3 years ago. Back in the day at AOL, we used AOL Instant Messenger (aka AIM) to communicate with our coworkers and friends. It was easy to keep your buddy list open on your computer to see if the person you wanted to chat with was around. But now, with the proliferation of cell phones, and apps to make them even more useful, you can ‘chat’ with your friends/coworkers using your phone. Being near a computer isn’t important.
Popular Social Media Sites. What hasn’t changed much is the popular social media networks are still popular. The most used social media network is still Facebook with 1.55 billion monthly active users. In the US, Facebook is well ahead of the pack in terms of market share based on visits, at 45%. The next market share giant is Youtube, with half that market share at 22%.
Ebizmba just published its <slightly different> list of traffic rankings and found that:
Facebook tops the list at 900 million unique monthly users
Twitter has 310 million
LinkedIn has 255 million (though 400 million registered users)
Pinterest has 250 million
The remaining platforms fall well below these sites, but still have millions and millions of users:
Marketing Spend. In terms of marketing budget allocations, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn rank the highest for investment. Facebook introduced the ‘buy’ button this year, adding to its usefulness as a platform for marketers. Advertisers are learning how to use Facebook and other social media platforms to sell product. It’s not a fad people! If you haven’t tested Facebook in the last year, you really should give it a try. Facebook made almost $4 billion in ad revenue in 2nd quarter, 2015, most of it from mobile. It’s working.
Checking In. What is dead however is the concept of ‘checking in.’ The idea of using your phone to let people know where you are at the moment you are there, didn’t really catch on. In fact, only 3% of Americans say they have ever ‘checked in.’
Videos. But what IS happening with increasing frequency is people are posting and watching videos. Youtube isn’t the only place, though there are over 1 billion users there watching 4 billion videos a day (with a billion of those views coming from mobile devices). 81% of US Millenials use YouTube, followed by Gen Xers and Baby Boomers after that (source: expandedramblings.com). Vine launched in January 2013 and has 200 million monthly active users. 12 million Vine videos are uploaded to Twitter every day. In one article I found written by Molly Buccini, she sited that Videos trump photos for engagement by 62%! She also states that ‘video shares’ have gone up by 43% since the start of the year. If you aren’t already using videos in your social marketing, now is the time!
Social media spend by brands has seen dramatic growth. According to Statista, spend will go from $7.5 billion in 2014 to over $17 billion by 2019. Make sure you’ve allocated enough of your marketing budget for 2016 to Social Media to take advantages of the opportunities!
Most companies these days post on various social media, or keep a blog as a part of their website. Usually the most difficult part is trying to figure out what to write about. Last year I wrote a post about great places to find inspiration for your content. That article mentions sources like:
Talking to your sales team
Talking to customer service
Talking to other employees in your company
But there are other places to seek inspiration and here are just a few:
Senior Management. Interview senior management at your company and find out if it would add value to write content about something they know will be of interest later in the month/quarter/year.
Press Releases. Check press releases from your company and from your competition to see if there’s anything that would make a good topic for some timely content.
Twitter. Start participating in Twitter chats. You can search by subject for scheduled chats here: http://tweetreports.com/twitter-chat-schedule/. You can actively participate in chats or you can anonymously read the chat as it’s taking place. And most make transcripts available after the chat. Twitter chats are a great way to learn about a particular topic and can also provide great ideas for content.
LinkedIn. LinkedIn groups are another great source for content ideas. By joining groups relevant to your business, you can read conversations taking place and gain insight into questions being asked.
Your competition. Do some web searching to see where your competition is turning up in the press. Perhaps they are participating in a ‘conversation’ where you also should be at the table. Or maybe they do something really well. By writing a post on that topic, you can start to position your own company as the subject matter expert in that area.
The key is to get creative and imagine where you might find inspiration. I’ve overheard conversations in airports that have lead to some interesting blog posts. You just never know where your next idea may come from.
It’s been exactly one year since I posted my first article to this blog. It’s taken me down many paths and I’ve met some really cool people as a result. For my anniversary post, I thought I’d call out some of my ‘most read’ posts for your enjoyment…just in case you missed them. Next week’s post will return to the Social Advertising 101 series (Parts 1 – Facebookand 2 – Twitter can be found here).
Maybe it should come as no surprise that not all of the popular posts were marketing related. Enjoy the reads!
There are three types of media: Owned, Earned and Paid. All three of these media types may play an important part in your marketing strategy. ‘Owned’ media refers to channels that you control such as your company Facebook page or blog. ‘Earned’ media is in essence word of mouth. When someone shares your content, that’s earned. ‘Bought’ is media you purchase, such as an ad or event sponsorship.
Earned Media is the best kind of media because it carries with it an implied endorsement. It’s social proof when someone shares your content. But that also makes it the hardest media to garner. It’s easy (well, doable anyway) to write your own content or to pay for an ad to appear, but Earned media requires more work. A reader needs to feel compelled to distribute your content to their network.
Some Earned media examples include:
A shared Facebook post from your brand
A retweet of a company post
A review of your product
A quote from someone at your company included in an article.
This example showed up on my Facebook feed today because a friend of mine checked in using her Yelp mobile app when she arrived at this restaurant. Wow, looks tasty and I’m hungry…
Why is this important? Recommendations matter. In a survey by market research company Lab42, 69% of those surveyed said they ‘liked’ a brand because a friend did.
How can you make your content shareable?
Make sure your content is relevant to your audience
Post your content where your audience is likely to find it
If you are making a special offer, keep it brief and easy to read and understand
Encourage users to write reviews and share them with credit to the writer; ask for retweets or shares
Write tweets using the # and asking for the retweet. Both enhance the possibility of sharing.
Retweet others, share other content on Facebook, share articles on LinkedIn. You never know when that favor might be returned.
Use pictures in your Facebook post; according to KISSmetrics, posts with photos get 53% more likes.
I’ll have ‘earned’ your mention if you liked this article enough to share it with your network. So please share!
As usual, you need to start by solidifying your goals. You can then craft your content strategy around those goals. Your overall Facebook strategy might be to humanize your company, to position your company as a thought leader, to engage your customers or to show yourself as a company involved with the community. Maybe you want a particular piece of content to be widely shared, or your goal is to generate feedback on your page. Most ultimate goals focus around customer engagement in some way. Whatever your goal is, keep it in mind as you make all of your decisions for your Facebook page.
Some basics things to think about:
1. You’ll need to decide how frequently you want to post, but if you have nothing to say, best not to post anything that day. A reason often cited for why a fan ‘unlikes’ a page is because the company posts too much.
2. Decide how much time you have to devote to your page. Some business-to-business (B2B) companies feel they don’t need a Facebook page at all. Facebook can play a role in B2B, just a different one from business-to-consumer (B2C) companies.
3. You already can see that Facebook is a very visual medium. Here are some statistics from KISSmetrics that show the value of posting with pictures:
Posts with photos get 53% more likes
Posts with photos get 104% more comments
Posts with photos get 84% more click-thrus
4. KISSmetrics also states that posting with a question generates 100% more comments than statement posts. Get users to engage with your brand by asking questions!
Facebook is a natural if you are talking directly to your customer and brands use Facebook in a variety of ways. Most important to your strategy, know your target, know your goals and design your content around both. Consumers like to connect with brands. And brands like to put on a human face. Facebook is a great place to do that. Be honest in your communications and make sure they reflect the tone you want your brand to take.
Don’t be shy about asking your personal network to ‘like’ your business page. It’s a great way to get started and generate some immediate buzz and activity on your feed, and helps you to gain exposure to their networks.
Also ask your network to ‘share’ particular posts. You will generate more shares by saying specifically in your post: Please share this.
Advertising. I know a relatively new company who went from a fan base of less than 1,000 to over 5,000 fans in three months. They did it by buying Facebook ads that offered a cents off coupon for their product. Period. They had been on Facebook for around 6-months before they started buying ads. They fielded the occasional customer comment during that time but they couldn’t generate the traffic they wanted. Once they tried advertising, they were able to generate a much wider base. Now they are enjoying much greater customer engagement, with fairly frequent posts from customers on their page. Facebook has some easy to use methods to help you maximize return on your advertising. This post is a great read on the subject. (Little known fact from the folks at Hubspot: you can test your messaging in advance of running your ad by creating unpublished posts, known as dark posts. Dark posts appear in the News Feed but not on your timeline. This article tells you how to do it.) If you aren’t sure how to get started, here’s another gem from Hubspot explaining the options.
OTHER THINGS TO KNOW
1. It’s no secret that a big reason consumers like brands is because they are hoping for coupons. In a survey by market research company Lab42, they found that 77% of those who had ‘liked’ a brand saved money as a result. Tweet that stat! In the same study, 69% said they ‘liked’ a brand because a friend did.
2. Understand the Facebook Algorithm. Facebook’s goal is to keep users interested, and to do that, they show content they think a particular person will be interested in seeing. It’s important to understand this because it impacts how your posts will be ranked. How is rank determined? Through an algorithm, formerly known as EdgeRank. EdgeRank was created as a way to prioritize stories in a user’s news feed and referred to the concept of ‘gaining an edge.’ The key elements have remained the same over the years, although according to Facebook, they now use over 100,000 factors:
Affinity Score – This is based on an action the user took, his ‘closeness’ to the person posting, and how much time has passed since the posting. Commenting on someone’s posts, or ‘liking’ those posts, increases a fan’s affinity to a brand. Think of it this way: liking a brand’s page gives the brand an edge.
Edge Weight – Edges are weighted based on the effort required on the part of the user. For instance, leaving a comment has more weight than leaving a ‘like.’ A video view has more weight than leaving a comment.
Time Decay – This refers to the length of time that has passed since an edge was created. As time passes, it loses value. However, if a story is very popular, even if it’s a few hours old, it could be bumped to the top of a feed.
3. Promotions. Promotions are a great way to garner fans on Facebook. But there are rules that have to be followed. The rules around promotions continue to evolve, so make sure you are using the most current set. For instance, it is now okay to use the ‘like’ functionality as a way to collect entries. Here’s a summary of the <current> Facebook rules as of August, 2013. You also must follow local and national rules imposed by the government (check with your lawyer!).
There are a few ways B2B companies use Facebook.
Human Resources. A common reason a B2B company has a Facebook page is for future employees. It’s a place to gain some insight into the corporate culture and learn a little bit about the company in a more casual way.
Putting on a Human Face. It’s not unusual for someone to reach out to their friend base to gain information on a product or service they might be contemplating for their business. If a recommendation is made on Facebook, it’s a natural response to click over to see that company’s page. It’s also a great place to interact directly with your customers. And remember, it’s Facebook…photos are important.
Leads. Tough in a B2B environment, but to gather more leads some companies will offer a white paper or something else of value for ‘liking’ their page. The user exchanges their email address for information they want to read. As a business, it’s still a person who buys your product, and Facebook can help you to connect. You can also indirectly create leads by posting pictures of an event or something of interest. The key here is that every post can’t be a sales pitch. Think entertaining and/or educational. You can also buy ads on Facebook to reach others who are not yet your fans (see the Advertising section above under Business-to-Consumer).
Be prepared for trolls. Trolls are users who frequently post negative comments on your page. They may feel wronged by your company or just have nothing better to do. You need to have a plan for how to deal with this. In addition, it’s important for management to be aware they are likely to see some negative comments on the company Facebook page. Let them know you have a plan.