A brand new year is almost upon us, and with it, advancements and changes on digital marketing platforms are inevitable. Social media has come a long way from just being a platform where users used to ‘hang out’ to an integral part of every business strategy. Recent studies reveal that a quarter of the world’s population has already jumped on the social media bandwagon. As important as it is to know where it has come from, it’s as crucial to know where it’s going too.
Here are a few key social media marketing trends that are poised to take the year 2015 by storm:
Brands will realize the importance of social media marketing and will subsequently increase ad spends
Facebook was the first to increase ad revenue by 10% in the first part of 2014. And in 2015, other brands and businesses are set to follow suit. Marketers are finally seeing positive results from their social media spends, such as increased traffic and visibility. They have attributed these positive results to the increase in paid social ads. In the coming year, small and medium sized businesses will be more likely to invest in objective-based campaigns, such as Twitter’s new beta advertising options, wherein user actions like app downloads, website clicks and email opt-ins set off payment.
Mobile- optimization will be finally make its way into digital marketing strategies
The year 2014 has focused largely on mobile-optimization, but in 2015, this realm is set to widen, with the focus shifting from simply having a mobile app or a responsive digital property, to actually stressing on the importance of social media marketing and mobile-optimized content. In the latter part of 2015, many industry experts have predicted that mobile will finally be incorporated as a key ingredient in digital marketing strategies. This includes mobile ads, a website that is fully responsive, as well as separate mobile-specific content for users. Many businesses will finally come to terms with the fact that having a mobile-centric social media strategy will assess how social media posts are consumed and interacted with.
Content marketing will be on the upswing
Reports from industry insiders have revealed that in the year 2014, a whopping 93% of B2B marketers claimed to have used content marketing strategies, and 42% of them considered their strategies to have been effective, having met assigned goals. In the coming year, budgets that were earlier allocated to SEO, search engine PPC and social media, will find its way into content marketing efforts, with marketers finally seeing how previous content marketing strategies have paid off. Businesses will finally be more open to pouring investments into understanding the mobile habits of their audience, creating short-form content can be read easily on mobile devices, emphasizing more on mobile-specific visual content, and generally inventing in mobile content as a whole. The challenge however, will be standing out from the competition.
Native advertising will be made more relevant and less promotional
Over the years, many brands and businesses have finally accepted the fact that banner advertising is largely ineffective in driving sales. Banner advertising may still provide benefits for increased visibility, but they don’t offer a calculable ROI, which is something small to medium businesses are actively looking for. In the coming year, there will be collaborations between brands and publishers to offer sponsored content and primary content together, therefore eliminating the promotional nature of native advertising.
Brands will become more human
People want to interact on social media with other people, and not with businesses and brand pages. Brands will finally realize this and will start to connect with their target audience on a more human level, to develop relationships with their followers and fans. This will meet their business goals, offer better brand loyalty, higher conversion rates and rapid audience growth.
An in-depth understanding of consumers and what makes them tick can be the answer that experienced marketers are looking for, to create compelling content marketing strategies. But even today, many marketers are focusing more on how digital platforms like social networks, email, and search work, rather than concentrating on how consumers grasp these platforms and why they use them. Keywords are still being optimized and content is still being created, independent of what consumers call irresistible content and are actually interested in, and what they prefer in terms of content consumption, discovery and engagement. This disconnect then leads to SEO tactics and content marketing not garnering the kind of results marketers thought them to.
The solution lies in understanding which social platforms consumers are using, which keywords are most relevant to them, and why they are using search to begin with. Comprehending the motive of the consumer and adding the keyword insight applicable will result in content that is more effective, compelling, and inspirational.
So how does a marketer find out the magic solution to influencing consumers and apply this solution to their content marketing strategies so that they are more effective?
Profile your consumers
The very first step in influencing consumers is to profile them first on the basis of their behaviors and preferences. Ask questions like – what motivates them, who are their main influencers, how will they object to the action your content is compelling them to take, what do they believe to be true and what results excite them.
Do your research
This plan of action takes a bit of primary and secondary research for marketers to arrive at qualitative answers to these queries. Capturing customer insights can be done by exploring 3rd party research and web analytics, and conducting interviews with customer service and sales staff. What marketers need to be looking for, are those instances when consumers made the leap from previous behaviors to the desired outcomes and behaviors.
Interpret the current scenario and how to overcome hurdles understand
Every aspect of a content marketing strategy should be an interpretation of the current scenario and should provide insights and practical steps on how to overcome certain hurdles and make changes necessary. What motivates one person may not motivate another, so keep that in mind. It is important therefore to have a structure which is versatile and accommodates variances such as these.
Take advantage of the steps to how content marketing strategies affects consumers
Consumers move through a set pattern when it comes to how content marketing strategies affect them. The first step is discovery of a certain piece of content, followed by engaging with the content in question, comprehending the strategy, internalizing it, enhancing it, being engaged by it, and finally, sharing the piece of content.
Create tales of success that are part of a bigger story for compelling content
A great way to promote the adoption of compelling content is to talk about success stories where consumers have transitioned from old ideas to new ones. Marketers should also create a process for conversion, engagement and implementation. It doesn’t matter how small these success stories are. What is important is that they are relevant.
Use compelling, relevant content to make the paradigm shift easier
The change can be made more seamless and simpler with the use of compelling, relevant content. Marketers should explore the option of including brand storytelling and customer insights into their content marketing strategies.
Comprehending the motives behind a consumer’s actions will help marketers influence them more effectively and positively, and therefore achieve their business goals.
A picture they say can speak a thousand words. In the online world, a good picture can be the difference between making a sale and losing a potential fan.
One of the biggest issues that web designers are always clamoring about is the lack of compelling photography that they can put to good use when creating a site. The Internet is a treasure trove of information for sure, but it would be a sin to forget that it is a visual medium as well. Good content will always sell, no doubt. But good content that is also easy on the eye will sell even better.
Photography is, therefore, the most underrated aspects of good web design. When you have pictures that have been taken for a purpose, you can support it with great copywriting and ensure that it brings visitors to your doorstep. It is not enough that only the text on your site is good; for many customers, it is the entire experience that matters and good visuals can enhance that feeling manifolds.
A good question to ask at this point would be “Why product photography?” If we’re talking great visuals, then surely the score of pictures available in online libraries are enough to design one measly website. Why should you spend more on getting an expert to click pictures when the same can be had from stock pictures or other free sources? The answer is pretty simple and not earth-shattering at all. Real product pictures serve two main purposes that make the task of a web designer much easier. The first is that it helps designers create a site without compromising on quality, and the second is that helps in forging a feeling of trust in your customers.
Designing without compromising
A designer may have grand ideas for your website but not none of them can come to fruition if he has to compromise on his design because the pictures weren’t right. Stock pictures need not always provide the best fit for the site’s theme. Also, one needs to remember that a responsive web design has to work across platforms and having a repertoire of flexible pictures allows a designer to show his skill. Where stock pictures may be hard to manipulate, real photographs that have been taken with a specific goal in mind can be altered to work on both the macro and microformats.
Web designers have always had one huge bone to pick with their clients – the unavailability of actual product photographs to put on the site. Many clients tend to think that compelling stock pictures are enough to make visitors to the site fall in love with what this displayed there. It’s true that stock pictures are beautiful, but when you are trying to make a sale the only factor that can win over your customer’s heart is if you show them the actual product pictures and not foist fake (even though good looking) photographs on them.
A website is only as good as its weakest link; don’t let the absence of real photographs become your Achilles heel.