I’ve harped on it before, as you know from my prior blog posts on the growth of social media, but I figure it would be nice to share another voice on the topic of social media marketing and social technology in business: Hootsuite CEO, Ryan Holmes. Check out this quote from his recent article on FastCompany.com:
There are now more than 2 billion active social media users worldwide, and that sum is growing at a brisk clip of 25% each year. Businesses haven’t failed to notice the runaway expansion of social media. Nine out of 10 U.S. companies are now active on social networks. The same overwhelming percentage of those are reporting seeing increased exposure as a result, and more than half say their social media efforts are boosting sales.
Nine out of ten U.S. companies are now active on social media. That’s pretty big news. Many businesses — especially B2B — dug their heels in hard against social media marketing. The tide has definitely changed. However, the influx of all these marketers means that social media marketing strategy and tactics have to change, too. It’s no longer enough to pop up a brand profile. Mr. Holmes has some important insights that you need to be aware of for 2016.
Ryan Holmes’ Social Media Trends for 2016
Internal Social Media Networks
Holmes points out that internal social networks are ready to take business by storm in 2016. He points to the rise of Slack as proof of the readiness of organizations to rely less on email and move toward collaborative networks where employees can work together more effectively and have greater access to information they need or want to know.
While internal social networks aren’t necessarily owned by the marketing team, they do provide marketers with access to engage with employees and pinpoint those people who may be perfect employee brand ambassadors. It also provides marketing and product management teams with a place to listen for insights from those frontline employees who may be able to shed light on issues facing customers. This can translate into creating better products and services and/or developing more efficient and effective ways to serve customers.
Employee Amplification on Social Media
Nearly 80% of businesses now have a dedicated social media team. But many still struggle to reach an audience.
Employee advocacy, employee brand ambassadors programs, employee brand evangelism . . . no matter what you call them, they are poised to be big in 2016. The old-school mentality of “do not let employees post about your company on social media” is fading as companies began to realize the powerful influence that employees can have in helping get the word out on social media. Social media teams alone cannot accomplish what a well established employee advocacy program can:
When done right, the payoff can be impressive; companies not only expand their social media reach dramatically, they also get measurably better results. Content shared by employees, by one recent measure, gets eight times more engagement than content shared by brand channels.
As a Hootsuite Brand Ambassador and Hootsuite Solution Partner, I am really interested to see how Hootsuite’s Amplify product will be part of the employee advocacy boom. I’m sure it’s a great solution that can help enhance an organization’s efforts to empower employees. With that said, it’s up to people to make the program happen. A strong employee advocacy program needs executive-level buy-in, planning, employee advocate coaching, and ongoing encouragement and content for advocates to share. The content also has to be something they would want to share. Don’t approach advocacy as a way to get employees to share your latest offer. The content has to meaningful, relevant and valuable to the employee and his or her circle of influence. Sharing a white paper on how to improve ROI or a template for better project management (or whatever makes sense for your business), is more likely to be shared by an employee than your latest push to get free trial signups.
Social Messaging as a Marketing Tactic
Holmes says that social messaging (Facebook Messenger, Kik, WhatsApp, etc.) will be a bigger deal for businesses in 2016 although he does point out that so far, it’s not a highly used — not to mention, hard to measure — channel for marketing at this time. He does see Twitter’s loosening up limitations around direct messages as a win for social customer service, and he references Facebook’s pilot program with Hyatt where Hyatt is using Facebook Messenger as a social customer service app.
Social Media Advertising on the Rise
Marketers have begun doing some serious dabbling in social media advertising in 2015: spending on social media ads increased by 35%. That spend is just going to get bigger over the coming years:
By 2017, social media ads may account for a full 16% of all digital ad spend globally. Fueling the growth is a host of new tools that let small businesses design and pay for social media ads in a few clicks, simplifying a process that was once the exclusive domain of high-priced media buyers.
One of those new tools that I really love using is the Ads module in Hootsuite. You can set up Facebook ads to help you meet a variety of goals: drive website visits, attract people to your Facebook page, etc. Below is an example of what the Ads module looks like when you click the Ads icon. You get a snapshot overview of your most recent promotions.
When you click Promote Post in the upper right-hand corner, you can identify your goal, what Facebook brand page (if you have more than one in Hootsuite), and which post you want to promote.
Select the post you want to promote by clicking the big Promote button, and then get started with your targeting criteria selection. It’s incredibly easy to use and fairly inexpensive to test out a few promoted posts this way on Facebook.
I hope Twitter and LinkedIn promoted posts will be added to the Hootsuite Ads offering soon!
Social Media Video Gets Bigger
For some of you, this may be a “no duh” point. After all, people LOVE video. They love making them. They love sharing them. But before you brush this off as that “no duh” moment, consider what Holmes says about companies embracing video: they’ve been scared to go that route. For most it has to do with costs associated with shooting a professional video. After all, businesses don’t want to look like they shot an amateur video — especially in B2B marketing scenarios where the price tag for products and services warrant high-quality production values for video content marketing. With that said, there are some ways for brands to create relatively low cost video for social sharing:
- Recorded webinars
- Blab sessions
- Vine and Instagram videos
- Animated presentations using services like PowToon and VideoScribe
- Desktop tutorials using tools like Snagit and Camtasia
- Live streaming with Periscope or Meerkat
One thing that all these social media trends collectively point to is how social technology is permeating the modern business. It’s beyond just marketing. Social media is evolving into social technology that fuels social business. How we interact with prospects, customers, and employees is changing. Social media has gone beyond the realm of just marketing. It’s going to be the way to recruit, conduct research, serve customers and much more in the years to come.
Which of these trends are you most excited about? Are there any that you think are bigger or more important that marketers need to be considering?