As you probably already know, social media marketing has changed quite a bit over the last few years.
With different platforms being created on a yearly basis and the many ways that some of the major platforms are changing, it can be difficult to keep up with what will and will not work in the social media realm.
Not only that, but marketers and business owners are just beginning to scratch the surface of the massive marketing potential that exists with social media.
According to Social Media Examiner, about 60% of marketers are using social media for 6 or more hours every week.
The popular blog also says that over 80% of marketers have made it clear that they believe social media is important for their business.
Looking at these two statistics, it is quite clear that the use of social media for the purpose of marketing will only continue to rise in the near future.
The problem for most marketers, however, is developing an understanding of the best ways to use social media as time goes on.
For that reason, this guide is going to take a look at some of the main social media marketing tactics and strategies that will work in 2016 and beyond:
#1 – Mobile Social Media Marketing – Geo-Targeting for the Win!
One of the biggest ways that social media marketing has changed, and will continue to change, is how it works on mobile devices.
Marketing professor Jeremy Harris recently pointed out in a Huffington Post article that there are currently over 500 million monthly users making over one trillion annual transactions through mobile apps.
In the article, Harris also points out that mobile app users in the US are expected to increase to around 64% by the end of 2016, which is a 4% increase from the end of 2015.
With these numbers in mind, it is quite clear that businesses and marketers have a great deal of opportunity when it comes to reaching consumers through mobile social media apps.
But what is it about mobile devices that provides so much potential for growth?
To put it simply, the geo-centric technology included in modern day mobile devices.
The technology that is available to businesses and marketers today is absolutely astounding and even scary to many consumers.
When users are downloading modern day social media apps, they are then asked to agree to settings that are, in most cases, blindly agreed to.
For the majority of platforms, you are agreeing to allow them to track your habits based on where, when, and how you are using your mobile app.
From there, they have the ability to track your behavior and tailor marketing messages and ads to best fit the brands, products, and services that you are most likely to purchase.
This results in significantly increased conversion rates and puts consumers in a position where they are constantly puzzled as to how their ‘phone’ knows them so well.
As content specialist Pat Hutchinson puts it, this geo-targeting allows businesses to do three things:
- Find the exact customer base that they are looking for
- Cater content delivery to the desired audience
- Generate leads in a specific and targeted location
While the privacy invasion discussion surrounding geo-targeting is something that has been going on since it started, there does not seem to be any real threat to the increase of its use in 2016 and beyond.
For now, businesses and marketers are simply finding that it is one of the most efficient and effective ways to increase sales and revenue.
At the end of the day, if your business is not utilizing geo-targeting you are leaving a significant opportunity on the table.
#2 – Authentic and Personalized Social Media Personas
One thing has been clear from the beginning of social media is that authentic and personalized social media profiles generate far more attention than those aimed at nothing more than promotion.
As Socialmedia.biz blogger Adi Englander says, “Personalization is not just about using names and customizing content, it’s about being relatable. People go on social media to talk to their friends, so that’s what you want to be…a friend.”
The message that Englander is sending here is an important one for marketers and business owners everywhere; you need to maintain an authentic and human-like persona.
Be helpful, share things that matter to your target audience, and do not be afraid to go against the grain a little bit when it comes to supporting your loyal and ideal customers.
One of the best ways to ensure that this is happening, and that your persona is remaining consistent, is by giving someone that understands the culture that you are trying to create the task of maintaining your profile.
This should be someone that has been around your business and understands the culture and audience that you are trying to cultivate.
If you are a business owner with few employees, sometimes the best way to go about this is to do it yourself.
While it may seem like a hefty task, it is only really necessary to interact 20-30 minutes per day and this can generally be done in your free time.
The trick here is not to waste time and get stuck in a cycle where your social media activity is taking away from revenue generation.
Unfortunately, as Neil Patel points out in his Buffer article about saving time on social media, wasting time on social media is an issue for over a third of CEOs, business owners, and proprietors.
What Patel points out as a potential solution to this problem is using a social media management system.
Having one of these systems in place allows you to automate much of the heavy lifting associated with posting on social media and frees up more time to actual interact authentically with your audience.
Either way, making sure that your social media persona is authentic and personalized is essential if your goal is to develop a loyal audience.
#3 – Use of Data and Analytics for Improvement
Way back in 2011, Unica’s annual State of Marketing report made the claim that 57% of marketers said that “measurement, analysis, and learning” were some of the biggest challenges that their businesses faced.
Since then, dozens of businesses have been created with the sole purpose of helping business owners and marketers understand and utilize data to improve their business.
Even Google has significantly increased the options and technology associated with their Google Analytics tool to help improve data analysis.
On top of these companies popping up and improving the ease of finding and analyzing data, a shift began to happen where marketing analytics were being prioritized over web analytics.
Marketing analytics, as defined by HubSpot’s CMO Mike Vople, involves the measuring of business metrics such as traffic, leads, and sales as well as the events that influence whether leads become customers.
Optimizing all of these things is obviously essential to further business growth.
While marketing analytics have been used heavily within other marketing strategies for the past 3-5 years, we are beginning to see a significant shift towards using marketing analytics with social media.
As Judith Aguino of Destination CRM notes, many organizations are also transforming this social media data into predictive analytics that can help them get a better gauge for the future.
Overall, all of these things point towards the necessity of finding ways to continually improve both the effectiveness and efficiency of your social media marketing efforts.
Utilizing the data analytics tools available throughout the web to seek out areas of improvement can help your business do this.
You can be assured that this trend of using marketing analytics with social media marketing will continue to be an effective way to grow businesses through social media in 2016 and beyond.
#4 – Live Streaming
Building off the second strategy outlined in this guide of building authentic and personalized social media personas, using live streaming offers an amazing opportunity to do just that.
While Meerkat, Periscope, and Google Hangouts were the first to jump on this new type of social media, major platforms like Facebook are also beginning to invest in this.
The real value of live streaming, as Forbes contributor and entrepreneur Brent Gleeson says, is that it can be used to effectively engage with your target market no matter what type of business you are in.
Whether you are a B2C, B2B, non-profit, or even entertainment focused, live streaming gives you the opportunity to be in front of your viewers and show your true personality.
This can be a huge step towards building real life human connections with your audience and creating the loyalty every organization strives for.
One of the main keys to jumping on this live streaming bandwagon, however, is consistency.
Whether you intend to use live streaming as a way to provide advice, answer questions, or even just tell your story, consistency is absolutely vital.
Scheduling your live streaming appearances can be a great way to create this consistency.
Just as with webinars, however, when your audience builds an expectation around seeing and hearing from you that expectation needs to be met every single time.
While this can create a lot of work as far as coming up with content to discuss or information to present, it can be well worth it in the long run.
Not only that, but there are endless possibilities when it comes to live streaming which allow you to truly be creative in the way that you attempt to separate your brand from the pack.
With multiple social media platforms now committing to live streaming, now is a better time than ever to see how it can help your social media marketing efforts.
#5 – Develop Relationships with Social Media Influencers
Neilson performed a study in 2012 saying that 92% of consumers trust earned media above all other forms of advertising.
While this statistic is probably not that surprising, it speaks to the necessity of doing everything in your power as an organization to work towards developing word-of-mouth and earned media opportunities.
One of the ways that many organizations have found is a great way to do this is by engaging with and potentially even partnering with social media influencers.
According to innovation consultancy Fresh Minds, the definition of a social media influencer is someone who, “transmits messages, through social media, that have an impact on other peoples’ ideas and practices.”
These influencers generally post on a regular basis and provide their followers with information and insight that is trusted.
While it is actually quite easy to define exactly who is and is not a social media influencer, the real difficulty lies in figuring out the best way to engage and eventually partner with these influencers.
As Kristina Cisnero of Hootsuite shows us, there are four steps to the process of engaging and creating lasting relationships with social media influencers. They include:
- Step 1: Defining Your Specific Social Media Influencers
- Step 2: Finding Them
- Step 3: Engaging Them
- Step 4: Maintaining Relationships With Them
Defining the influencers that are the best fit for your particular organization is one of the most important parts of this process.
When narrowing your list, you should take a look at things like relevance to your business, reach of the influencer, and the type of resonance that they would have with your target audience.
Cisnero goes on to talk about finding these influencers, which can be done fairly easily by checking out social media analytics sites like Klout or simply performing targeted searches through Google or Bing.
Engaging with influencers can be the hardest part of this process.
The key here is to create value to not simply bombard them with requests to promote or help your organization.
Instead, figure out a variety of ways that you can provide value to them up-front and therefore create a need or desire for you to be a part of their inner circle.
From there, you should focus on authentically maintaining that relationship to the point where it can become a mutually beneficial friendship in the long run.
At the end of the day, the idea of building relationships with social media influencers is not a new concept.
It has, however, become more of a necessity than ever for organizations looking to expedite growth and build their own social media following.
The Final Word
While it can be difficult to predict exactly what will work in social media marketing for 2016 and beyond, a strong case can certainly be made for all five of these ideas.
As you move forward with your planning for 2016, you would certainly be wise to look into how you can make each of these a part of your overall social media marketing strategy.
Like anything, however, you should be prepared for change and be versatile in the way you approach your marketing.
Hopefully this guide will serve as a strong starting point for your 2016 strategies. Good luck!
If you have any other strategies you employ for social media marketing and areas you are going to focus on in 2016 then go ahead and share them below. If you have any other comments, leave them as well as I love to hear from you…