Social media is all the rage now and everyone swears by its ability to generate traffic, increase engagement, boost sales but what is social media marketing? The definition is actually pretty straight forward: social media marketing is the use of social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc.) to connect with your audience in order to build your brand and drive traffic to your website in the pursuit of increased sales.
It involves engaging with, interacting and listening to your followers, creating targeted campaigns and content that aligns with that data. It actually sounds pretty simple, but in practice, it could get tricky. That’s because the way you employ social media marketing can greatly differ depending on factors such as your audience, your goals, and market trends. These factors will determine the social media marketing strategy that will best suit the needs of your business. Below are some of the most effective social media marketing strategies that will likely continue to be used successfully well into the future.
Vertical Videos and Social TV
Lately, many social media platforms are placing emphasis on vertical videos since we use our phones vertically most of the time. Vertical videos go hand in hand with something else that’s on the rise—social TV. An example of this is IGTV which has become a staple since its inception. It allows users to create channels and post longer videos (since Instagram caps it’s video posts at 1 minute).
Some other video platforms like YouTube TV and Snap Original have yet to gain as much popularity, but it’s certainly a trend on the rise. Video marketing statistics show that 9 in 10 marketers have landed a new customer from a social media video. Impressive, right? With the amount of competition today, it certainly won’t hurt to stay up to date on this newer tactic of social media marketing.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
Immersive experiences like virtual and augmented reality are gaining more and more traction, and not just as entertainment. There are loads of possibilities for marketing whether through complete immersion experiences that submerge you in a new world (VR), or by adding digital elements to a real view (AR).
Consider the potential for AR for restaurants, where you can place a VR headset on every table, which would allow customers to dive into another world while their food is being prepared or you can also develop a restaurant mobile app that will help you engage with your customers by delivering an AR experience. What about AR’s ability to show you what a home improvement purchase would look like before making a purchase. All of these technological features are things to draw people into your website. People appreciate visuals, so AR and VR are the perfect recipes for increased audience engagement.
Master Live Streaming
Live streaming has become a fan favorite for customers and social media users. Research shows that over 80% of shoppers prefer live video over blog and social posts. It certainly has a lot to do with the authentic connection that develops from viewing a brand up close without editing. Live streaming will boost the awareness of your brand which will lead to higher conversions. It’s also an affordable option for small businesses with a limited budget.
Podcasts have seen an enormous rise in popularity over the past few years. They are the new talk radio, and for business, can be a very useful marketing tool. They are an alternative to video which can be difficult to shoot and expensive if you don’t have the right equipment. It’s also a unique type of content that many businesses will not take the time to create, which will set you apart. Podcasts are great for reaching out to new audiences and can help build familiarity with your brand as listeners can subscribe and regularly enjoy your content. Though it is a one-sided medium it can help with building effective relationships with your customer base because it shows that your brand and the customer have mutual interests and concerns.
Set Up Rich Pins
If your brand has a Pinterest page (and it definitely should!), then don’t forget to include Rich Pins which give more information about your product right on the pin. Rich Pins provide more context about the pin because the information is directly on it. There are four types of pins you can include: app, product, recipe, and article.
Product pins make shopping easier for customers because they include real-time pricing, availability, and where the customer can purchase your product. If you are creating blog posts and want to showcase them on Pinterest, article pins help users save stories that matter to them. Each article pin includes a headline, author name, and story description.
Easily Shareable Images
People are drawn to visual content—it attracts the eye and helps direct the reader. Also, people are more likely to take action based on the subtle cues of visual content rather than text or audio. Visuals aren’t limited to platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat. Unlike videos which, depending on the platform may need conversion software, pictures are easy to share. This means that your followers may help you in spreading your brand awareness.
Shareable images are the key to creating engaging social media content. There isn’t a single network that doesn’t rely on compelling images to garner interaction and engagement. An easy way to integrate more visual content into your social marketing plan is to post images that speak to your audience. Try posting an image at the same time every day, and be sure to include a strong call to action.
Humanizing Your Brand
Interacting with your followers is extremely important for building and maintaining a positive image of your brand. Nowadays, people don’t just want to purchase the products they want to get to know the brand they are buying from, the people behind the logo.
Those who feel connected with your company and message will sometimes even post on your behalf on social media or other platforms promoting their favorite product. The best place to start is by trying to showcase your team members and telling their stories, signing off on your social media posts, and connecting each SMM effort back to your unique brand story.
Chatbots seem impersonal, but they can do wonders for your business while saving you money. This is especially important if you run an e-commerce business because you are likely fielding customer questions 24/7. Chatbots can’t necessarily answer all questions, especially ones that are much more intricate and complex. However, they will be able to answer queries that are redundant and sometimes even encourage unlikely sales. This frees you up to focus on other more pressing aspects of your business.
In general, social media marketing benefits are undeniable. Try out a few of the mentioned above and see which of these tactics work for your business. They may not all do the trick but they are affordable ways of building brand awareness and hopefully gaining more prospects.