Stacy Jackson is a founding partner at Jackson Marketing, Inc., a marketing firm located in Dunedin, Florida. In addition to her work at Jackson Marketing, Stacy is a co-host of The B2B Mix Show podcast. You can follow her on Twitter at @stacy_jax and connect with her on LinkedIn (linkedin.com/in/stacyjax).

Last month, Pew Research Center released its Social Media Update 2014 reporting findings from a survey conducted in September 2014. The survey confirms the rumors you may have heard about the slowing user growth of Facebook; however, it does reveal that engagement on Facebook continues to increase. Other significant updates include information about the increased participation among online adults on platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Based on these usage statistics and other trend reports, here are my recommendations for your social media marketing approach in 2015:

Facebook Marketing in 2015

You might be happy to hear that Pew Research Center reports an increase in engagement on Facebook — even with slowed user growth, there are millions of Facebook users to reach, right? True . . . but the question to consider now is how much are those targets worth to you? If you have been keeping up with the experts on Facebook marketing, then you know that organic reach via Facebook (unpaid reach) has plummeted over the past few years. According to a report by Social@Olgilvy last year:

“By February 2014, according to a Social@Ogilvy analysis of more than 100 brand pages, organic reach hovered at 6 percent, a decline of 49 percent from peak levels in October. For large pages with more than 500,000 Likes, organic reach hit 2 percent in February. And Facebook sources were unofficially advising community managers to expect it to approach zero in the foreseeable future.”

To continue reaching those prospects on Facebook, you may have to pay to play. Facebook advertising offers a couple of different paid promotional opportunities:

  • Boosted posts — helps improve reach of specific posts on your Facebook page.
  • Facebook offers — use to drive foot traffic to your store.
  • Facebook ads — use to drive people to your website or your Facebook page.

But I don’t wanna pay to play!

If you don’t have the budget or you just want to hang on to the glory days of free reach, there are some things you can try to make your Facebook brand page still work for you without paying to advertise:

  • DON’T push contests and sweepstakes if there is no real context for those posts.
  • DON’T focus on pushing people to buy products or install apps.
  • DON’T use your ads as post content.
  • DO post informative and/or entertaining posts that cause people to engage on your Facebook brand page.
  • DO cross post between your company Instagram and Facebook brand pages.
  • DO post about timely and trending topics to increase the likelihood of showing up in fans’ timelines.
  • DON’T click bait your post headlines.
  • DON’T share links in the text caption above photos.

Even with adherence to these tips, you may not reach enough people to make Facebook marketing work for your brand if you aren’t willing to advertise.

Another option: ask your employees, vendors, customers to share your messages via their own Facebook personal profiles. I can feel some of you getting uncomfortable already — squirming, not sure. Whether you like or not, your employees represent you online anyway when they list that they work for you. Craft a social media policy and find ways to “gamify” social sharing among your stakeholders. This may not be for everyone, but it could work for you.

Bottomline: If you already have a brand page, ensure you are keeping it informative and engaging instead of pushy and salesy. Ask yourself whether or not Facebook makes sense for your business. For example, reaching commercial real estate buyers or surgeons to buy your medical equipment may not be as effective on Facebook as it could be on other platforms. In those cases, it probably isn’t a big deal to ditch Facebook. However, if you sell to consumers or you do have an active B2B audience on Facebook, you should start testing one or more of the Facebook advertising options available.

Twitter Marketing in 2015

The Pew Research Center Social Media Update 2014 reports that 23% of online adults are now using Twitter — that’s up from 18% reported in August 2013. Here are some other key findings:

  • Twitter is very popular with adults under 50 and the college-educated
  • Other key demographics with significant increased use in 2014:
    • Men
    • Adults 65 & older
    • People with annual incomes greater than $50,000
    • Urbanites

The percentage of online adults using Twitter (23%) is still a far cry from Facebook’s dominance (71% of online adults), but you aren’t yet facing the issues of organic reach that Facebook brand pages are facing. Here are a few tips to up your Twitter game:

Extend the life span of your tweets:

  • Make it easily retweetable. Try capping it at 115 characters to improve the chances that it will be retweeted. Gives the retweeter a little room to add their own comment or flavor.
  • Make people want to retweet. Dan Zarella’s The Science of Retweets shows that presence of a link increases your tweet’s chance of being shared.
  • Use hashtags. It’s the shorthand that Twitter users use to tie a community of tweets together.
  • Get more followers. Enough said there.
  • Include photos and videos. Tweets with photos are 94% more likely to be retweeted (when the photo is visible in the Twitter stream).

Engage with users:

  • Take advantage of new group direct message features. You can have private group discussions with up to 20 people. Use it as a reward for your best customers who follow you on Twitter — link them up for a private Twitter chat with an expert, give them breaking news first on a new product, etc.
  • Use Twitter lists as a way to recognize influencers and fans. It can be a little ego boost when you are selected for a list. Make your customers and followers feel special.
  • Experiment with Twitter ads. While the cost per click is typically higher than that of Facebook, the click through rate is also much higher — 8 to 24 times higher than that of Facebook ads. Additionally, Twitter ads have been reported to boost offline sales by as much as 29% according to Hubspot.
  • In B2B? Twitter is a highly effective lead source among B2B marketers according to Social Media Today: they generate twice as many leads as B2B marketers without Twitter accounts. Social Media Today also reports that 19% of B2B buyers research technology and services through Twitter before they buy.

Bottomline: Don’t ignore Twitter. I have had clients say they “just don’t get Twitter.” That’s fine. You don’t have to get it, but you need to work with a consultant or hire an employee who does. Twitter has demonstrated its value when it comes to B2B and offline sales/foot traffic.

Other Platforms

Getting Started with Pinterest e-Book

Download the Getting Started with Pinterest e-Book!

Most people tend to focus on Facebook and Twitter when it comes to social media marketing; however, here are some stats from the Social Media 2014 update to keep in mind for 2015:

  • Instagram: 26% of online adults are now using Instagram. It is owned by Facebook, so cross posting could help your Facebook marketing. Additionally, it’s still a fairly new platform — more opportunities to make your mark in a less crowded space. It’s also where many younger users are heading instead of Facebook. 53% of adults 18 – 29 years old use Instagram, and it’s popular with women from various age groups.
  • Pinterest: 28% of online adults are using Pinterest. The majority of users are women (42% of online women use it compared to 13% of online men). If you have a product geared toward women, it’s definitely a platform to explore. If your product has visual appeal in general, it’s a great platform to highlight your product and its uses.
  • LinkedIn: 28% of adult internet users are on LinkedIn. It is popular among college graduates and those from affluent households. It’s also the only social media network where you are more likely to find 30-64 versus those ages 18-29.

Conclusion

The glory days of free reach on Facebook are behind us. It’s time to rethink your approach to Facebook to include employee engagement and paid ads. It’s also vital to expand your horizons to other networks like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. The days of eggs in one basket on social media will just leave you with a basket of rotten eggs. Contact us today to learn more about how to make the most of social media for your business.

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