Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Web Marketing Today. Practical Ecommerce acquired Web Marketing Today in 2012. In 2016, we merged the two sites, leaving Practical Ecommerce as the successor.
2015 saw some significant shifts in how local businesses used social media for marketing, many of which will continue in 2016.
Below, I outline seven of the top trends taking place in social media and what local businesses can do to get their marketing message out using them.
1. Video Content
In 2016, expect to see a substantial increase in the use of videos for content marketing.
There are a variety of video types that you can employ to accomplish this task, which include:
- Educational video. When you create an educational video, not only are you instructing your audience, but you are also marketing to them at the same time. One example is “Whiteboard Friday,” published by Moz, an SEO software firm.
- Explainer videos. Explainer videos show viewers how to use your product. Pinterest, for instance, has an explainer video that demonstrates the benefits of using its social network.
- Entertaining videos. To keep your audience entertained and engaged, you can create a series of short videos whose sole purpose is for viewers to share. Buzzfeed has done an excellent job of this by combining entertainment, education, and shareable content in a series of short recipe videos — all without selling anything. The page that houses the videos has attracted more than 15 million likes on Facebook alone.
2. Pay for Exposure
In 2016, paying to advertise on social networks will become a must. Part of the reason is that organic social reach — those shares you receive from family and friends — are not as effective in marketing as they once were.
Paying for advertising allows you to reach a specific demographic rather than just relying on organic social reach alone. When you use Facebook’s advertising platform, for example, you can market to a particular age group, gender, location, and other parameters — something that a Facebook post shared organically cannot do.
3. Social Shopping
If patterns from previous years are any indication, social commerce — the act of selling via social networks — will likely increase in 2016.
For example, an Internet Retailer’s Social Media 500 report said that social commerce rose 26 percent from 2013 to 2014.
According to a report by MarketLive, an ecommerce platform, in Q2 of 2014, less than one percent of revenue could be attributed to social recommendations. By Q2 of 2015, that figure had increased 151 percent.
Additionally, Business Insider reported that ecommerce referrals by way of social media increased nearly 200 percent between the first quarters of 2014 and 2015.
Part of the reason for this growth is that “buy buttons” have been showing up on social networks such as Pinterest and Twitter, allowing consumers to purchase from these sites directly.
To this point, in his article about buy buttons, Recode’s Jason Del Ray said that the conversion rate will improve by using the buy buttons because consumers are purchasing products directly from the social site itself.
Lastly, an infographic by Shopify, a social commerce platform, breaks down which social networks drive the most sales and lists their respective conversion rates.
4. Marketing Automation
2016 is the year to create a marketing automation strategy for your business, to make your job easier.
Marketing automation is a software platform designed to help businesses market across multiple channels simultaneously. It alleviates the need to perform repetitive tasks such as sending emails or marketing on social media sites.
Local small businesses should consider using some form of marketing automation software to keep up with the growing amount of content they will need to deliver to their customers and prospects.
Numerous options are available, but choose the one best suited to your needs and that won’t break your budget.
Facebook will continue to be the dominant social media platform in 2016 but with some changes.
According to iStrategyLabs’ 2014 Facebook demographics report, Facebook’s fastest growing age demographic is people over the age of 55. Also, a PEW Research report on social media found that 56 percent of Internet users ages 65 and older now use Facebook, up from 45 percent in 2013.
If you are looking to market to those 55 and older, then Facebook is where you should focus your marketing efforts.
While most people still use search engines to find information, many are foregoing this route and are performing searches on social media sites instead.
Part of the reason is that users are growing weary of text-heavy search results and gravitating toward visual content such as images or videos, each of which you are more likely to find on social media.
Users also search on social media because they know that they will receive information such as feedback, comments, and reviews from actual users more so than with a search engine.
While search engines are not going away anytime soon, it is important for small businesses to think about how they can be found both on search engines and in social media.
7. Mobile Marketing
The need to have a mobile-friendly website is not a new concept. For years, marketers have been telling businesses that they need to optimize their sites for mobile users.
Today, however, mobile-optimization is the norm and no longer an item to place on the back burner, to address later.
This past summer, Google announced that, for the first time mobile searches surpassed desktop searches. Add to this the fact that, in 2015, Google’s algorithm started to penalize sites that were not optimized for mobile devices.
As such, in 2016, expect to see companies putting more efforts into marketing to mobile users.