Social media in 2014 was the year of mobile expansion, integrated advertising, content marketing and a variety of new social networks. Companies had to make decisions about what networks they would attempt to use, how much money they would spend on social media, and how to monetize their properties. So what is going to happen in social media in 2015? Here are a few predicted trends to look out for:
1.Stepping back and evaluating efficiency
In a recent article Techrepublic said “brands will spend less time investing in new platforms or developing content, and more time looking at metrics to sort out what's working and what's not.” Some networks work for certain companies but not for others. An electrical equipment manufacturer may not find much success on Pinterest, but a clothing company may find it to be a highly efficient outlet for spreading the image of their brand. Companies will have to take a moment and get rid of the networks that aren’t working so that they can extend the power of the networks that do.
How do companies evaluate efficiency? While there is a decent amount of debate about this, there are a few key ways to measure it. One key metric is the engagement rate. For most big social media sites, especially Twitter and Facebook, there is a way to look at how well your posts have been performing. Companies can also download this data and analyze it by their own standards. The engagement rate is the lifetime reach of the post divided by the amount of users who engaged with it (meaning liked, commented, shared, favorited, retweeted, etc). If companies see consistently high engagement rates or a steady increase over time, that particular network can be considered efficient and they will focus their energies there. If a company sees low engagement or a decrease they may decide to pull back on that network or perhaps re-evaluate their strategy and implement a new tactic.
2.Branding through storytelling
As avid twitter users, we love when we tweet at a brand and they respond to our tweets or engage with us in some way. Users want to feel like they know the company and can connect with them in some way. Brands need to tell their personal stories through their social media rather than just selling their products or services. Customers will connect with their favorite brands on a personal level and be more likely to buy from that company.
A great example of this technique is the clothing and accessory line Kiel James Patrick. KJP uses himself and his friends as models and spokespeople for his company which creates a personal connection to the product. His story is that all of his products are American made and he promotes a preppy, adventurous lifestyle. He also engages with his followers on Instagram and Twitter which makes his customers feel like they know him and are therefore more likely to trust him and buy his brand.
Back when Facebook and Twitter started, it was all about using words to update your friends about your day. Now, images are much more powerful and plain text statuses are often among the lowest performing posts from any given company. When we analyze a company’s posts, images and videos perform better and reach engagement levels 10% higher than plain text posts. Companies will need to curate photos and videos that will draw users in and make them engage.
Two other social media networks that will gain power in 2015 due to visual branding are Instagram and Snapchat. Instagram is an easy and quick way to disseminate images to your whole audience and present them in a professional but accessible way. Companies can use Instagram’s built in editor to make their photos stand out and help spread the word. Snapchat is a picture sharing app where the pictures disappear after you view them. No app is more in tune with the shorter attention span of the millennials than Snapchat. Companies can capitalize on this by uploading pictures to their Snapchat story where their followers can see pictures or watch short videos of products, promotions, or everyday life within the company. Snapchat is proving to be an extremely effective tool in social media marketing and will only get bigger in the coming year.
Every year the social media industry grows and changes. Companies have to work to keep up with the ever-changing landscape and sometimes it’s hard to keep track, but you don’t have to do it alone.
By: Molly Barson