The only constant in the world of social media marketing is change. Looking back even five years means encountering an entirely different set of best practices that no longer seem relevant. Successful brands don’t rely only on what has worked in the past but also embrace the countless recent changes and updates that have required an almost constant updating in strategy and execution.
If your marketing strategy is like most, social media likely plays a significant part in your efforts to increase brand awareness and sales. You might have a good understanding of the core workings of each platform as well as your audience. Now, it’s time to go from good to great.
The change to 2020 is coming up, which means now is a perfect time to take a closer look at your social media marketing strategy. To get started, consider these 7 ways to rethink your social media approach in 2020 and beyond.
1) Embrace the Possibilities of Chat Functions
Over the past months and years, we’ve seen a gradual change in the way users behave on social media. In the words of Wired Magazine, “Private messages are the new social media.” That’s worth unpacking.
Privacy concerns on almost all major networks have caused users to be more cautious about sharing content publicly. Instead, they have moved to more personal means of communications like direct messages, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp. Businesses who embrace this trend can make major leaps.
The first and most simple step is embracing private messages from followers. More sophisticated organizations are focusing on chatbots driven by artificial intelligence, which are becoming increasingly available to smaller businesses as well. If, in 2020, you still ignore these chat functions, you might be falling behind your followers’ behaviors and expectations.
2) Build a Direct Sales Strategy on Social
Traditionally, social media has always been about brand awareness. Getting too promotional has led to downgrades in organic reach and credibility, leading most businesses away from embracing it as a direct sales tool. In part because of the move to chat, that trend is beginning to change.
Platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook offer a perfect tool for any direct sales business looking to gain followers and customers at the same time. Groups and demographic searches help to find the right audience, while private messages allow for a customized pitch designed to get attention and start the conversation.
Going into 2020, social media is increasingly becoming a sales platform. If you know how to leverage it in this way, and without alienating the portions of your user base who still prefer to use it for non-promotional posts and content, you can build a significant advantage over competitors who still focus on brand awareness only.
3) Tap Into the Power of Influencer Marketing
We’ve now reached an age where among some age groups, social media celebrities are more popular than more ‘traditional’ celebrities in Hollywood or Nashville. At the same time, the authenticity and credibility of individuals is outpacing that of brands, meaning that your audience is more likely to listen to their peers and celebrities than they are to you.
That, in turn, has made influencer marketing an increasingly popular tactic. You might now it as a tool reserved for global brands who have the budget to tap into these celebrities. As we move towards 2020, small businesses are increasingly able to jump on the same types of tactics on a smaller scale.
The key is to find ‘micro influencers’, non-celebrities who nonetheless have built credibility and a following among your prospective audience. They might be anyone from local sports reporters to the student association president of a university within your target audience. Build a mutually-beneficial relationship that results in reach and credibility through mentions, but outlines the benefits to the influencer you work with as well.
Done right, influencer marketing can be a powerful social media tool that magnifies your brand reach far beyond your followers.
4) Leverage Customer Service Opportunities
Just as social media has moved to offer and encourage selling opportunities, customer service has taken a front seat in the number of uses your followers take advantage of and expect. Gone are the days when a problem or question prompted a phone call. A post to your profile is now much more popular and common.
The statistics and surveys don’t lie:
- 59% of customers prefer to use service channels that don’t require talking.
- 45% of customers prefer social media to any other customer service channel.
- 21% of customers are more likely to buy from a brand they can reach online.
- Answering a question from a customer makes then 49% more likely to buy.
- 40% of customers expect a response for their question within one hour.
- Not answering a customer complaint reduces their brand advocacy by 50%.
The clear conclusion: customer service has to become a core part of your social media efforts. At least part of your time needs to be devoted to responding to questions, following up with complaints, and understanding what your audiences are saying about you on social. Larger brands are now building entire social media accounts solely devoted to customer service as a result.
5) Connect Your Online Shopping With Social Media
Even if you don’t engage in direct selling on your preferred platform(s), you can still use social media to enhance any online shopping you might offer to your audiences. Networks like Facebook and Instagram have become smarter about connecting their networks to anything from shopping carts to product pages, making 2020 a perfect year to leverage the new capabilities.
On Instagram, you can now create ‘shoppable posts’ that link parts of the visual directly to product pages. On Facebook, meanwhile, you can create retargeting ads specifically highlighting items that the user may have viewed or left in their shopping cart. And those are just two of the many possibilities as we enter the era of social shopping.
Marketers who don’t sell their products online can still leverage social media in the buyer’s journey. Almost one third of all consumers now do at least some online research before making an in-person purchase. An active social media presence, supported by positive customer reviews and content related to the products, can go a long way towards making a convincing case.
6) Test Out New Content Types
You know about links, images, and videos. Traditionally, this trifecta has made up the bulk of social media posts. But while that’s still the case in many respects, the tides are beginning to shift.
External links on Facebook, for example, no longer receive nearly the organic reach they once did as the network aims to keep users on its own platform. In the meantime, new types of content are emerging and ready to be leveraged moving into 2020:
- Live video, already a core feature on many networks that tends to be prioritized in reach.
- Polls, which are by nature interactive and tend to get good engagement as long as you ask the right questions.
- GIFs, used as standalone posts and in the context of larger posts such as Instagram stories.
- 360 degree videos and photos that change the perspective of your audience and show more comprehensive looks.
They don’t completely replace what’s worked in the past. But as we move into the new year, it’s time to integrate these newer content types into your larger strategy. Testing them will allow you to see what works, what doesn’t, and how you can gain more audience engagement.
7) Consider Custom Audiences in Your Advertising
Of course, organic marketing is far from the only opportunity presenting itself to marketers looking forward into the next year. Networks like Facebook and Twitter have long offered immensely successful advertising opportunities as well. One tactic that’s worth considering as you build your budget for 2020 is Facebook’s Custom Audiences tool.
This option, available in Ads Manager to all business pages, allows you to go beyond the standard geographic and demographic targeting. Instead, you can get more specific:
- Upload an email list of customers or leads and let Facebook match it to user accounts, showing ads only to those matches.
- Place a retargeting pixel on your website or individual pages and show ads only to recent visitors on those pages.
- Create lookalike audiences from your current ads, showing your ads to users who share characteristics or preferences with those you already know to be interested.
Ready to Prepare for the New Normal in Social Media Marketing?
The only constant in social media is change, but you don’t have to be surprised. Understanding the trends and changing preferences of your followers helps you prepare, building more relevant strategies designed to get your audience’s attention and continue to grow your business.
You don’t have to do it alone, either. The right marketing partner allows you to stay up to date without having to become a social media expert. From planning to execution and evaluation, that partner can be by your side as you use social media to grow your business in 2020 and beyond. Contact us today to start the conversation and prepare for the coming year.