It’s that time of the year again, folks! Social media experts are clamouring to predict the trends and changes we’ll see across the major social networks over the next twelve months. Maybe we’ll see the launch of new platforms or functionalities that will change the face of digital marketing as we know it. For this article, we teamed up with Jerry from a social media agency in Birmingham (JCsocialmedia.com) to add some expertise and insight. Let’s take a look at what appears to be the best bet for developments this year.
Social media for business tips for 2017
1. Stay laser-focused
With so many new platforms popping up, it’s easy to lose focus on what you and your business are actually trying to gain from social media marketing. “It’s great to play around with new tools but always remember who your audience is and what your goals are” Jerry explains, “you can end up wasting too much time if those tools aren’t of real value.”
2. Instagram is your friend
If your business has even a hint of a consumer-facing element, you need to get on Instagram. The photo-sharing network is fast-becoming the most important social network and it might be the fastest way to get in front of your audience. “Insta is especially important for brands whose audience consists of teens and guys and girls in their 20s. It’s by far their most used network” Jerry explains.
Unsurprisingly, 90% of Instagram users are under the age of 35.
3. Facebook still matters for millennials
Whilst Instagram is now the platform of the younger generations, millennials still use Facebook regularly. That means if your audience is in their late 20s, right up to grandparents in their 60s, Facebook holds loads of value to your brand in 2017.
4. Use live video (at the right time)
2016 was the year live video got a real grip on audiences. The ability to live stream to Facebook captured the imagination and gave brands a great way to connect with their fans in real time.
“The danger with any trendy functionality is that it gets overused and we sacrifice quality for quantity. Most people’s Facebook feeds were littered with low-quality, low-value video and that can be damaging for brands.” Jerry’s advice is to wait for key events or product launches to use live video and make sure you’re using a decent camera and tripod.
5. Monitor your return, especially on Twitter
Social media reporting is still a bit of a mysterious art with few businesses really having a grip on what their return on investment is on each platform, but Jerry is most concerned about Twitter. “Twitter is going through a tough time and having to ask itself the difficult questions. For some businesses, their audience is simply not as responsive over Twitter as they used to be and you really need the right strategy to make it work.”
6. A rise in integrated campaigns
Social media has been one of the revolutions of the 21st century and its influence on society continues to grow and grow. This means social media is no longer a silo of isolated activity; it’s a fundamental element of broader marketing. With this, we can expect small and large brands to build in TV, traditional PR and other marketing to their social campaigns.
7. Be different, be bold
Businesses looking to gain traction amongst new audiences have to go out on a limb to impress their target market. So much has been done before and there’s so much content being shared every second, bog-standard content will get you nowhere in 2017.
“Identify who your super-niche audience is and find out what makes them tick. It’s much easier to shape your content into something those people will really engage with than try to entertain a million different people.”
8. Be a LinkedIn hero
“2017 might just be the year people actually start using LinkedIn properly” expert Jerry Carter says, “it’s a superb platform, especially for B2B businesses. LinkedIn lead-generation campaigns are some of the most successful we run in terms of ROI and too few people are making the most of it.”
We predict that businesses are finally seeing the light with LinkedIn as numbers of professionals on the network and the number actually using it regularly, continues to rise.
9. Consolidating efforts
By now, most of you will have been using the major networks for several years. This means you’ll have a good idea where you can best reach new audiences, direct traffic to your site and generate sales from. Jerry believes we’ll see companies hone in on those platforms and tactics that work and focus their efforts there.
“There really is no point in spending half your week managing eight different profiles if you’re really only seeing return from three. You don’t need to delete your account, just simply direct people to the networks you’re using most frequently.”
10. Collaborate and cross-promote
The final point on today’s list is the power of teaming up. It follows that if it’s becoming harder and harder to gain people’s attention with content alone, being able to grow your audience through engaged collaborator networks might be the fastest way to gain new fans.
“Your collaborators are those who share your target audience. Whilst you might not be competing with them, you are competing for that audience’s attention. You’re probably even bidding against them for clicks and impressions on Facebook. Peer-to-peer and business-to-business recommendations are great so get cross-promoting with like-minded brands in your area.”