The social media business landscape changes faster than practically any other. New social media channels, new audience segments, new customer trends. So we thought it would be a valuable exercise to interview a number of leading social media managers to identify the most popular social media strategies of 2017.
We only have to look back over the past twelve months to see just how much social media trends and technology have changed. Facebook Live exploded on to the scene, it was announced that Vine was to be turned off by Twitter, and Instagram launched its new Stories feature.
Even the experts have difficulty accurately predicting which new trends are set to stick and which are just passing fads. So before you invest in new tools, spend months devising a detailed new marketing plan or pin all your hopes on the latest shiny new social media craze – make yourself a hot drink and take 5 minutes to discover where leading brands will be dedicating their time this year
Social media to contribute to core Business Objectives
Unfortunately for Marketing Managers like you and me, gone are the days when social media success could be defined follower growth, sentiment or reach. As we enter 2017, and with social media now accepted as a key communication channel for business, Social Media Managers are now being asked to contribute to core business goals, such as sales growth, customer retention or brand management.
It’s time to rethink what social media success looks like. Speak to key stakeholders and understand what the wider business objectives are for the next financial year. Then identify what the metrics are that will allow you to measure how your social channels are contributing to these. Take a baseline measurement, start tracking and don’t be distracted by the latest shiny new thing.
Social is Decentralised
If you’re business with multiple sites, be that shops, leisure venues or bank branches, Social Media Managers now suggest that the only way you can effectively drive engagement and significant ROI at each of your locations, is if you decentralise your operation. Try and run this from centre / head office, and you just won’t have sight of what’s happening on the ground in each of these areas. Therefore your campaigns will not be able to leverage local knowledge, events, news and trends – and your campaigns will not be able to drive the engagement required for clear business impact.
But, get the creative, the targeting and the timing right, and you can drive some remarkable results. Sometimes that may be socially-driven sales, and that’s exactly what the UK’s largest bar and nightclub operator did, successfully decentralising their approach to social across 59 different venues and a portfolio of diverse brands – and generating 4 years of consecutive growth, record social media ROI and 282% uplift in sales.
Customer service goes Social
Identify the correct social channels where your target audience exists, create your social account and define your content strategy, and feed your newsfeed with a steady stream of warm, informative and entertaining content. The next thing, inevitably, people won’t just use your social channels to consume your content – they’ll start asking you questions or making complaints – essentially, using it like a customer service channel.
However, before you bury your head in the sand until they go away, forward-thinking Customer Service agents are now harnessing the power of social media to create powerful customer experiences. Leading brands now encourage their customers to use social media for enquiries, shifting contacts to digital channels and enabling fast and informed responses – and in the process, driving down their Cost To Serve, and driving up customer satisfaction and loyalty.
One of the best examples of social customer service that I’ve seen is National Express, who, over the course of 12 months, reduced their Cost To Serve by 50% – saving almost £300,000 p.a., reduced response times by 152 minutes and achieved a customer satisfaction rating of over 75% “highly satisfied”.
Use of Video
Video content exploded last year, in both live and prerecorded formats – and that growth is set to only accelerate in 2017. The savviest Social Media Managers now plan to make video a central component of their social strategy going forward, producing rich, warm, human stories that maximise the opportunities now provided by most social channels.
The convergence of social media and video is a perfect, powerful combination – bringing stories to life and building emotional connections with an audience – which can then be developed in meaningful brand experiences. Facebook Live and Periscope (Twitter streaming) allow video to be immediate, insightful and exciting.
Social Media Managers tell us that they are no longer hung-up on creating the most polished piece of content. Rather, speed is now the priority. By being quick on your feet you can capitalise on an opportunity and claim a white space around a particular subject as your own – driving organic reach, awareness and engagement.
We all want to get our content in front of as many pairs of eyes as possible. Boosting posts is one, potentially expensive, way of doing this. Another is to leverage the brand advocates that work at your organisation – which can appear far more natural, as well as preserving your marketing budget.
Many of your colleagues will be active social media users, and the chances are they are reading and potentially sharing your content already. If you have a strong company culture and the workforce loves your brand, they will be excited to play a part in helping build its profile and reach.
But don’t force it, share success stories of the people already doing this. Even better, get them to share their stories themselves. Run workshops to help overcome any fear factor. You can also monitor what they are saying using social listening tools, helping to manage your brand online and ensure you’re part of any important conversations.
Our research tells us these are the trends set to shape corporate use of social media in 2017. Those brands that are agile and progressive in their approach to social will be the ones that rise to the top. One thing is for sure, fast-forward twelve months and we’ll be talking about a whole new set of technology and trends. Ensure you are constantly speaking to your customers, benchmarking against your competitors and measuring all of the techniques that you’ve put into place. It’s only by doing this that your social strategy will remain aligned to the constantly shifting social landscape.
Discover how much a digital channel-shift could save your organisation with our free calculator.