As the marketplace becomes increasingly competitive, brands are increasingly looking out for avenues for growth. They are continuously making changes to their marketing strategies. One of the effective marketing channels for them is social media. Studies show that the number of social media users has increased by 10.5% between July 2019 and June 2020 and has reached 3.96 billion.
Brands can no longer stay away from propagating their targeted content to such a large number of users. However, brands must not continue with traditional marketing their products and services on social media. They must adapt to the changing requirements of their audience. Several newer trends are predicted to take over social media by storm. In this article, we are discussing some of these trends in further detail.
Influencer marketing is in
The advent of social media has thrown up newer communication channels, and influencers are a new breed of advocates for a brand. It is the strategy taken by renowned for amplifying their message by deploying well-known social media users. Studies show that at least 49% of consumers depend on influencers’ recommendations for making their buying decisions. The influencers have many followers that make it a lucrative proposition for brands to hop onto their platform and reach out to a broader audience with ease! And that too with the message sounding like coming someone whom the audience feels is one among them.
The trick for the brands is to get hold of an influencer with an audience that would be more akin to the target market. It becomes essential for brands to target influencers only after a thorough check about the industry they cater to and the type of posts they publish on their social media channels. It becomes imperative for SMEs to look out for micro-influencers and nano-influencers who charge a smaller amount than the macro-influencers. The trick remains to get the right influencers in their team to ensure a smarter outreach for brands.
Need for a secure social media communication
Mostly, users will be taken to the brand’s website after clicking on a link in the social media channel. Users must verify a website is legitimate or not. It is because there has been an increase in email phishing activities. What the cybercriminals can do is that they can lure you into leaving your personal information, and sometimes even your financial information. Very recently, there has been a lot of hue and cry with various governments accusing social media channels of having faulty security policies in place.
As social media opens up a new communication channel, businesses must adopt advanced security practices. Organizations choose from among the cheap SSL certificates to ensure that they enthuse a sense of trust in the audience’s minds. Web browsers like Google also mark non-HTTPS websites as “Not Secure.” Business must also request their followers not to mention their email IDs as they may be the victim of email spamming.
The advent of ephemeral content
The audience is looking for content that resembles their everyday life. It has led to brands making use of the story feature on Instagram and Facebook. The brands can resort to creating content that is live for a short period. They are engaging and creative and keeps the audience engrossed. It requires a lot of experimentation and insights research to understand what the audience is wishing to see.
According to the Instagram Stories Benchmark Study 2019 from Conviva Social Insights, the viewing of Instagram Stories has grown more than 100% over the year before. More than 500 million users were accessing the stories daily in 2019. Creating stories will require understanding the behavioral patterns of the different demographic segments. So, brands may have to create separate stories for the various sections of their audience.
The use of videos will increase.
The growth of the video channels is testimony to the increasing use of videos on social media. It gets compounded with the increase in influencer marketing. According to Smart Insights, 99% of marketers will continue to use videos as an integral part of their communication strategy in 2020. Marketers also prefer videos as they are known to provide the best RoI. There are many videos that users can view online, be it product videos, how to use videos, short interviews, customer testimonials, etc.
And the use of videos is not limited to the stories alone. You can use videos as your preferred communication medium across all social media channels. Twitter and LinkedIn are other channels that are common with users to post their videos. Your videos must be enthralling enough to ensure that you reach out to your audience and your channel on YouTube also has a large number of subscribers. However, to make these videos, you must understand the topics your audience is interested in, and you must create the storyboard accordingly.
Use of Augmented Reality
As technology changes for the better, we have seen increased uptake of several newer technologies in the course of business. Augmented reality (AR) is one such field that is seeing rapid improvement. Social media has been seeing many changes, and one of them is the increased use of AR. Most of us have been using AR without even knowing its existence.
Several brands use AR innovatively to promote their brand message. Some jewelry brands allow us to use your photo and check how some of their design will look if you wear them. Similarly, home décor solutions can let you take a picture of your room and check how some of their creations will look like in your house. AR allows brands to create a whole new dimension by allowing their audience to check how their products will look. Paints brands may let you check how their colors would look like in your house. AR imbibes a fun element and allows the audience a real-time feel of their favorite brands.
Increased use of chatbots
These days customers are biased towards brands that are responsive to their queries. It requires brands to be on their feet and deploy adequate software for better social listening and responding to their customers. It has also led to more usage of Chatbots, with studies showing that they can cut operational costs by around 30%. Moreover, by 2021, approximately 85% of interactions with customers are expected to be handled by chatbots.
The chatbots are usually propelled by artificial intelligence, and the customer feels that they are chatting with an executive from the company. They are generally able to find the responses to their queries. In most cases, the chatbots can connect the customers to the company’s executive for a detailed discussion. Of late, several easy workflows allow you to set up a chatbot easily. As AI workflows are enhanced, more and more brands are using chatbots in their social media communication.
Location-based targeting is becoming the norm.
Of late, B2C brands are increasingly trying to use targeted local posts to receive a higher organic traffic rate across all regions. They are using geo-tags with their posts, whereby their audience can visit the local social media page of the brand for a better connection. Apart from the national branding, it is equally essential to target local content too. It can help brands to boost their profile and reach out to a larger audience.
Brands can connect with their audience locally, and this has led to more targeted social media ads where the brands use region-specific ads to reach out to the targeted audience. It becomes necessary for the brands to understand the local customs more as it is more than just tagging their local stores. The culture and traditions may differ across different regions, and brands must understand this and create their content accordingly.
Increase in user-generated content
According to research, the audience prefers to listen from current customers rather than from a celebrity. Around 60% of customers say that they trust family and friends’ reviews and other customers. It is the reason that we are seeing several brands allowing customers, and even encouraging them, to post reviews and testimonials. Some brands even post the customer’s images and videos while using the product or providing their views after using the product.
User-generated content helps in enthusing a sense of trust in the minds of the audience. This content is expected to be without any extreme bias, which is different from what they hear from a celebrity. Most user-generated content can be found through the Stories feature on Instagram. However, some brands also post such content on other social media channels as they are now known to be a prime driver of the purchase decision.
Communities need a separate strategy.
Most social media channels allow users to form communities and groups, which requires brands to fine-tune their marketing strategy. While you can participate in the discussions as a business page, you can also take advantage of stories and live videos. However, it will require many social listening activities to ensure that your team responds to the discussions promptly and actively.
However, brands must not make the mistake of trying to reach out to the group as a whole. The reason is that the members participate in the group as individuals and have specific queries whereby they may start a separate discussion. It becomes necessary that the brand responds to those queries as if they address the user who raised the query. The conversations can also allow the brands to gather more insights about their audience that will enable them to fine-tune their social media ads.
Social media as a sales channel
Traditionally, brands had used social media only to reach out to their audience through targeted communications. As the number of users grows, brands are increasingly using social media as an added sales channel. Some channels have responded to this new trend, and the audience can buy from these channels. You have the Pinterest buyable Pins and the shoppable posts on Instagram.
Brands must approach this new trend with a specific strategy for every platform. They must also ensure an easy workflow that allows the customers to land on the page, select the product onto the cart, and make the purchase. Brands can also use the call-to-action intelligently and entice them to visit their website and make a purchase. There are also advanced tracking tools like Facebook Pixels that allow understanding of your customer’s stage in the buyer’s journey and create targeted ads.
Helps in customer servicing
Brands will not restrict social media only to spread their communication messages or to sell their portfolio. Increasingly, brands are using social media for customer service as well. This is because customers are visiting the brands’ social media pages and trying to reach out to them, and any delay in response is being taken negatively. Gradually, brands understand the need to respond to customer requests.
This will also require customers to listen greatly, and they must respond within a short timeframe. It is because they are exposed to the other customers and prospects too. Brands are also taking in customer requests for after-sales services through their social media channels. Customer complaints are also being attended to, with a separate Online Reputation management team in place. They use sophisticated software to pinpoint any customer issues immediately and respond to them directly.
Social media can help brands reach out to their audience and have a robust pipeline of prospects. On the other hand, it can also lead to several nefarious activities like Email Spamming. It becomes necessary that brands deploy advanced security practices for their website. One of the steps they can take is to procure one of the cheap SSL certificates. We have also discussed some of the social media trends that are predicted to be popular in the future.