Step back in time for a moment. It's early 2004 and you're sitting in front of your computer. How do you communicate with friends and family? Is there a way to reach out to long lost friends or people half a world away? Not really.
There's Windows Messenger which is simply a two way communication tool – it doesn't allow for group interaction and sharing, or there's Myspace, but this is more of a social sharing site focused on music lovers.
Social media was in its infancy. Fast-forward to the present day and most of us can't imagine life without Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Pinterest. Social media is an integral part of our daily lives.
Any business that doesn't recognize this is missing out on a huge opportunity, but how does a business take advantage of our love of social media? Here are ten social media marketing trends that will help you do just that.
1. Employ a Social Media Marketing Manager
If you want to be successful with your social media marketing strategy you need to have a clear focus. To do this you need to employ someone dedicated to the task.
This doesn't necessarily have to be a full time employee, many businesses hire Freelancers for the purpose found on popular sites such as Elance or freelancer.com, but you do need someone directing your social media efforts.
If you have no coordinated strategy you'll have little success marketing your business through social media.
2. Focus on Value not Quantity
Let's face it; it's easy to post on social media sites. It might be tempting to post constant updates to ensure the visibility of your business, but you shouldn't flood Facebook and Twitter every hour on the hour just to get your name out there. If you don't have something of value to offer your followers don't post anything.
Nobody likes to be spammed. If you follow this type of social media strategy you'll damage your reputation, not help it. If you put a lot of thought into your posts, and offer your followers something of real value every time, you'll have a lot more success. Businesses with a strong social media presence live by this strategy.
3. Use Visual Content
The most successful social media marketing campaigns rely on powerful images and videos to get their messages across. Think about it. What catches your attention better than a thought provoking image or a video with an interesting tagline convincing you to play it?
Posting a link to a written article may attract a few visitors, but not as many as visual content will. We are visual animals; savvy businesses recognize this and incorporate it into their social media marketing strategy.
4. Combine Traditional Advertising with Podcasts
We live in the information age and people can't get enough of it. We want information at our finger tips and available whenever and wherever we want it. Sometimes we can get our message across quickly, other times we may need to go into a little more depth.
Podcasts have become a popular way to extend a company's reach. These are audio files that can be downloaded to be listened to at a later time – perhaps in the car while driving to work.
By providing links to informational Podcasts through your social media accounts you’re providing your customers with another tool to help them make their decision. Sometimes a quick blurb isn't enough to get your message across. Podcasts provide you with a tool to provide your customers with all the information they need to make an informed decision.
5. Provide Active Customer Support through Social Media
It has become increasingly common for companies to provide customer support through their social media accounts. Not only is this a great way to get positive feedback from your customers, it's almost become a necessity.
Negative comments about your company can quickly go viral; by making yourself available to answer any troubleshooting questions about your products or services through social media you can lessen the impact of these comments.
You will never be able to satisfy everybody, but if you respond quickly to your customers concerns, on whatever platform they chose to voice those concerns, you'll establish strong relationships with the majority of your customers.
6. Optimize Your Message for Mobile
Home computers might not be obsolete yet, but they're rapidly becoming the second choice platform for most of us. More and more of us are getting our online fix through mobile platforms – in particular our smartphones.
In order to get the most of your social media marketing efforts, you have to optimize your message for mobile platforms. Create ads that are designed for mobile platforms. If you ignore this reality you'll quickly get left behind.
7. Use of Real Time Marketing
Recognize social media trends and adjust accordingly. Today's online world is extremely fluid because of the ability to access information in real time, you have to react quickly to change and be willing and able to alter your marketing message quickly.
You can't simply set up a Facebook profile or Twitter account and expect it to attract business. You have to actively participate in social media for it to be a successful tool in your marketing arsenal.
8. Target Appropriate Social Media Sites
Different social media sites attract different types of users. Facebook may be used by people of all ages, but it's not as popular with those under the age of 21. Young people tend to prefer platforms like Twitter and Instagram.
If you recognize this fact, you can focus your online marketing efforts on the platform that's more likely to attract individuals that will use your product. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't have a presence on multiple social media platforms, only that you should focus more of your attention where it will be most effective.
9. Using Social Media for Damage Control
Social media can be a great marketing tool, but it can also be a source of some bad publicity if you're not careful. When a customer has a beef, legitimate or not, it's not uncommon for them to vent their frustrations through social media.
Long gone are the days when dissatisfied customers would suffer in silence, or simply call your company to express their anger.
We all have a wide reach today thanks to social media. You have to constantly be on the lookout for disgruntled customers and be prepared to respond to their concerns honestly and sincerely.
10. Offer Free Materials to Grow Your Business
Who doesn't love free stuff? Social media sites provide us with a great opportunity to give back to our customers. You can use them to promote special offers, provide discount coupons, or provide free EBooks. There are numerous possibilities. It's a way to give something to your potential customers at little cost to your business.
The world has changed a lot in the last 10 years. Social media has become an essential part of our daily lives, providing us with instant access to a wider market. As it continues to evolve it's important to keep abreast of the changing trends in social media to ensure your businesses continued success.
Applying the principles we've mentioned above will help, but be sure to keep up on the latest trends in social media. Social media will continue to change and evolve.