Great guest blog by one of our founding member:  Eva Jannotta with Simply Put Strategies

Another year, another cluster of social media trends to wrap your mind and marketing strategy around. December can be overwhelming for a host of reasons, not the least of which is planning your business and marketing strategy for the coming year!

Social media networks, and the algorithms that run them, change so often it probably makes your head spin. Staying up-to-date on the latest social media marketing trends is a big task, especially when you’re also running your business, serving your clients, and networking in your community. That’s what social media marketers like me are here for; our job is to stay on top of this stuff so that you don’t have to! Without further ado, I bring you the top social media marketing trends you should consider implementing in 2018.

Social Marketing Trend 1: Organic reach is STILL declining ?

Now is a great time to strengthen strategies that do not rely on organic placement in Facebook’s News Feed, or any other social newsfeed. Instead, consider:

  • Improving your relationships with micro-influencers
  • Revisiting “old fashioned” marketing tactics (blog post forthcoming)
  • Improving your capture systems for new leads and maintaining your relationship with old ones
  • Dialing up your Pinterest game (blog post forthcoming)
  • Experimenting with Stories. Stories (available on Instagram and Facebook and originating on Snapchat) are a great way to be casual, spontaneous and genuine with your audience.

I’ll go into more detail on these in future blog posts and later in this one. It’s important to start with this trend because it’s a reality that many social media marketers and businesspeople grumble about facing.

The truth is, we’ve been spoiled: the heyday of organic reach felt like “free” advertising (though it wasn’t truly free. It takes time and/or money to create content!) and it set up false expectations. Think about it: since when has advertising been free? And why would it be? Billboards, print ads, bus stop ads, taxi-cab ads… all pre-digital marketing options had a cost. It’s time we stop expecting social media marketing to be any different.

Social Marketing Trend 2: Video. Video video video video ?

Video is huge – so huge that my colleague Katie Goudie published an entire blog post on why you need to use video marketing in 2018 (featuring a quote from yours truly!). In particular, video consumption on mobile is on the rise. This year is a great time to try:

  • Short, 5-15 second “snackable” videos that feel good and are designed for sound off (Note: Instagram video limit is 15 seconds!).
    • Sound off? Videos on social are set to begin playing with sound off, meaning they start playing silently as soon as they scroll into view. A user must engage with the video to get sound. Make sure that when your video starts playing, it’s designed for sound off! That could mean starting the video with text slides or adding captions.
  • Square videos instead of landscape. Square videos take up 78% more real estate in mobile Facebook News Feed and have a 67% higher completion rate!
  • Storytelling videos that aren’t too polished or rehearsed. Consumer trust is declining, so the more you seem like a person and less like a brand, the easier it is for your audience to connect with you.
  • Facebook Live: you’ve probably heard that Facebook Live is a powerful medium for connecting with your audience, and that Facebook favors Live videos over other types of content for organic reach. If you haven’t experimented with Live, there’s no time like the present.

The bottom line question to ask yourself: people use social passively to fill their time – how can you contribute?

Social Marketing Trend 3: Social TV ?

According to Zenith’s latest Advertising Expenditure Forecasts, “’internet advertising will overtake advertising in traditional television to become the world’s biggest advertising medium, accounting for 37 percent of total ad expenditure.’ Internet ad spend grew by 18 percent YOY in 2016 and an estimated 11 percent in 2017” (Social Media Trends 2018, page 17).

Facebook recently announced that they will test 6-second pre-roll ads (also known as “ad breaks”) next year as well as restrict which creators are permitted to insert mid-roll ads and how the algorithm prioritizes video content in people’s news feeds. Marketing Land notes that “the changes underscore Facebook’s pivot from the one-off videos that popularized the medium on its social network to the episodic series that the company has been investing in to cultivate a more TV-like audience and attract TV-level ad dollars.”

In other words, video streaming on social is starting to compete with traditional broadcasting for marketing dollars. That’s amazing! Some brands are even creating video content that acts like TV. How could you apply this tactic to your brand? Perhaps you have a “show” you do on Facebook Live on the same day and time every week.

If you’re already an avid Facebook Live user, make sure you publish Live videos as posts on your Facebook Page, and that you give them a good title, tags, and describe the video in the text of the post. Facebook videos are indexed by Google, so it’s important that you choose your tags and text well. You can also download these Live videos and publish them on your YouTube or Vimeo channel, or your website. This is a best practice regardless since all videos made on Facebook Live are considered property of Facebook, not property of your business.

The Facebook Watch tab is coming!

Facebook announced in August that it will “begin rolling out a revamped version of its existing home for videos that caters to the original, episodic shows Facebook has been licensing to make people think of it as a digital video service on par with YouTube, Netflix and Hulu” (source). This is an even clearer piece of evidence that social TV is growing.

If all of this feels overwhelming, remember that social media is still social media. Hootsuite reminds us that “while social networks push video content, consumers will likely still favor interactions, relationships, and genuine brand interactions rather than streams and feeds filled with video advertising” (Social Media Trends 2018, page 18. My emphasis). Though it’s good to know what’s coming, you don’t have to hop on the social TV train (or any train!). It might be worth considering for your brand, but not necessarily. If your resources are limited (they usually are), rein it in and focus on only one or two tactics that make sense for your brand and your audience.

Social Marketing Trend 4: Who Do You Trust? ?

2017 was tough for The Powers That Be. It’s no surprise that the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer found that people in 2/3 of countries surveyed have under 50% percent trust in mainstream institutions of like business, government, media, and NGOs.

Yikes! But this is a powerful opportunity for brands. People are relying more heavily on each other than on “experts” to make decisions about what services and products to buy. It’s intuitive: who do you trust more, your best friend since first grade or the person in the ad you saw in your Instagram feed? In order words: empower your clients to spread the word about you!

A Word about Word-of-Mouth

Almost all my clients’ business growth has relied heavily on referrals. Mine certainly has. To make this work even better for your business, think about ways you can encourage your current clients and customers to spread the word about you.

Often it’s as simple as asking. Many people don’t think to leave reviews or testimonials when they’ve had an awesome experience with a product or service. Make it part of your process to ask clients to leave you reviews. If you have colleagues or contractors you work with, ask the same of them! When you publish videos, be sure to ask viewers to Like the video, Share it with their friends, or Tag a friend in the comments to spread the word.* Similar Calls To Action (CTAs) can go at the close of your blog articles and emails to your list.

*Be sure to ask your viewers to take action in the video, rather than in the text of the video post. Why? Because Facebook is cracking down on “engagement bait,” i.e. content that aggressively solicits audience engagement. It’s still a good idea to ask and remind your audience to engage, but it’s best to do so with your voice, not text.

The Importance of Micro-influencers

If you haven’t already, start thinking about micro-influencers you could partner with. Micro-influencers are people with between 1-10k followers. The ones you want to look for are those that are not your direct competitors but have in-kind audiences and followers to your own. These are great people to partner with in videos, webinars, blog articles, new Twitter threads, and even branded quote images.

As Hootsuite put it: “individuals are more believable than institutions. And a company’s social media page is more believable than advertising” (Social Media Trends 2018, page 21).

But building trust isn’t only about encouraging your community to refer you to their friends and family. It’s also about you. A mentor reminded me recently that “your brand is you when you’re not in the room.” For that reason, it’s important that your brand (logo, visual materials, etc) reflect you and your brand values well. This consistency builds trust with your audience.

But beyond that, can you “be in the room” more often? All the beautiful brand design in the world can’t replace your voice, facial expressions, laughter, spontaneity, and human warmth. Make an effort this year to show the you part of your brand more often.

Here are some places to start:

  • Your face: Consider using a headshot as the profile picture for all your social media profiles (as opposed to your logo). Your banner/cover image could show you/your employees/clients interacting with each other. People buy from people, not brands!
  • Videos: they do not need to be polished and perfect. The less rehearsed, the better. Facebook Live videos are perfect for this, as are Stories.
  • Groups: Facebook is investing in Groups. The News Feed is saturated with paid ads and pictures of your friend’s vacation. A group is a perfect place to hone in on a topic and build community with others who are interested. This can become a new source of organic traffic and a curated place to build connection.
  • Old-fashioned email: consider sending emails from your actual email address, as opposed to an email service provider (ESP) like Mailchimp. My client Sarah Wayland recently tried this: she downloaded her email list from Mailchimp and send a course announcement directly from her email address, using BCC. Her words: “Response (in terms of people replying) has been MUCH higher than the last
    [ESP] one.” It wouldn’t take much to give this a try. I dare you!

There’s more….Read full article here: