What will the future of social marketing look like? To help you navigate this ever-changing landscape, CEO and Founder of real-time social curation company Livefyre, Jordan Kretchmer, shares his top tips for making sure your strategy is future proof.
With seven times as many users on social media as there were just five years ago, record amounts of content are being shared and created each day – more than is realistically possible to consume. As a result, news feeds look very different to what they used to, thanks to a combination of more advertisements and lower organic reach.
This means that the future looks vastly different when it comes to marketing your business on social media. As marketers, we never know what ‘the next big thing’ will be. Yesterday it was Ello, today it’s Meerkat, tomorrow it could be who knows what?
Whilst it doesn’t look like Facebook or Twitter are going anywhere anytime soon, don’t forget there have been a slew of other social networks that have burst on to the market and before promptly fizzling out – MySpace, Friendster, and Bebo to name a few. If you combine the level of uncertainty about the specific rules and algorithms of popular social networks, and the changing face of social media as a whole, it stands to reason to ensure that your social marketing strategy probably isn’t future proof right now.
Here’s how to do it:
Know your audience like the back of your hand.
Computer-driven data for projects such as media buys are all well and good, but at the end of the day, these numbers won’t give you a crucial human-driven insight into your audience. A combination of both computer and human research will allow you to examine your audience deeply and honestly.
Some key questions to ask include: how does your audience naturally interact with your brand? Are they leaving reviews, or sharing pre-made content? Where do they go to make first point of contact with you? How do they mention your brand in their online chatter? You can look to successful campaigns as best practice to find out which behavioural trends might work for you.
Critically reassess your social marketing investments.
Relying primarily on social networks to build and engage your communities is becoming more costly and less reliable. What used to be free – for example, Instagram – is now monetised in Australia . Also, in the last year Facebook changed its algorithm making a brand’s organic reach just two percent – if you don’t pay up, your content will become under-prioritised in news feeds.
What if, instead of merely outsourcing your content, you built and engaged your community yourself, set your own rules, and controlled your own results? Leading brands are now focusing their energy into their owned properties (websites, mobile apps, and other digital assets) to ensure they are just as enticing to fans as a social network. This provides a double solution – you can set the rules on your own turf, and you can also understand how the future will look.
From little things, big things grow.
Start small.There’s no need to redesign your entire website based on your new objectives. I suggest segmenting the places where communities gather – live chats, rolling comments, or user reviews – and assess where the community is thriving. Think about what additional context or features you could implement to enhance the user experience in these areas? This same notion can be easily applied to the areas where the community voice and interaction is lacking, too.
That social media is here for the long haul isn’t the debatable notion. What needs to be assessed is how your social strategy will be future-proofed for a landscape that will serve a different purpose to what marketers have become used to. These external channels will continue to evolve and change their rules, and they won’t be asking your permission before they do so. The sooner you start adjusting your strategy, the better off you’ll be.