2016 is almost here and as with this time of the year, it’s time to find out what trends in social media are most likely to get bigger and what possibilities the New Year may spring up on marketers.
Marketers and entrepreneurs alike understand the impact of what are likely to happen in social media next year to the company’s budget allocation and crafting what strategies would best serve their companies. Being in the know can help you make calculated marketing decisions.
This guide will ultimately show you where social media marketing is headed in 2016. We’ve provided you with several lists – from trends you need look out for in the coming year, social media platforms you have to consider for your marketing, tips on how to create a strong social media strategy and how you can leverage social media tools to bring your marketing to the next level.
Chapter 1: 6 Social Media Trends to Watch out for in 2016
1. Social commerce and mobile marketing
Mobile marketing has established itself as a must for any business in any industry. In fact, influencers are strongly urging businesses to immediately adapt mobile marketing to avoid being left behind by their competitors.
And while online shopping and advertising had been a familiar activity on social media for the past few years, it will only get more competitive in 2016 with brands partnering with bloggers, vloggers, Instagrammers and other social media influencers in promoting products and pushing their brands.
With Facebook taking the lead in adding the “buy” button on their business pages, other platforms will soon follow suit, thus, social media will soon start functioning more as search engines rather than simply being social networks.
Web users will be using social media more to search for discounts, sales, services and gift ideas.
And since towards the end of the year, the percentage of people using mobile devices for their searches has risen to 80%, companies whose websites are not yet mobile-friendly should immediately adapt to this trend to avoid losing potential customers to other companies that had already done so.
2. Twitter’s Project Lightning and other quick-publish content
Twitter launched its most anticipated project this year dubbed as Moments. Moments is a lightning-shaped option on the Twitter app that people can use to browse the biggest, most important events shared on the social site.
Twitter’s Project Lightning signifies that more and more web users are using social platforms to find rich and relevant content as much as they are using them for ecommerce.
In fact, Facebook now allows direct clicks to the sources of the content directly from the news feed. This development means that you must be up to providing a continuous stream of rich content on social media such as articles, commentaries, reviews, video tutorials, podcasts, and photo blogs.
3. Live streaming
Who hasn’t heard of Periscope, Whatsapp or Snapchat? They are the biggest things in the current world of live streaming. Videos had always been considered effective marketing tools, but doing it live has taken brands to the next level.
Facebook and YouTube are still excellent channels, but with the new live streaming tools, brands are able to engage their followers in real time without the complicated process of using online conference tools.
What does this mean for businesses and marketers? It means you that you need to be ready to show the human side of your company to the market.
Let the people in your organization share their expertise to your followers. Or let your top executives provide tips for on how to be productive and effective in your niche.
Whatever your concept is, the bottom line is still to provide people with content that will help them achieve what they came to you for.
4. Marketing with storytelling
Marketing and advertising have evolved in such a way that it is no longer the brand that dictates to the audience. Your audience knows what they want and they go after them.
Web users want to be able to connect to the brand on a more emotional level. Today’s market patronizes brands that have stories and advocacies that resonate with them. If they can identify with you, they will remember your brand.
Take for example, the Millennial generation are known to champion environmental campaigns. Organic products and recycled products created in third world countries interests them. If environmental preservation is something your company upholds, then you are in a good position. All you need to do is to tell your story. But do not fake it. Do not try to dupe your audience. They can see through fake advertisements and sellouts. And social media users are ruthless to brands that try to deceive them.
Know your story, stay true to it, and share it.
5. Data security sssues
Data vulnerability has always been a pressing concern for most web users, but with the break out of the scandalous Ashley Madison issue in 2015, web users are now more cautious than ever when it comes to trusting sites with their data.
The fact is that no website is impenetrable, especially not the ones that lax on their security. Web owners need to be on their toes and to upgrade continuously to keep hackers at bay.
Even as data security tightens, hackers also upgrade their skills. The best way to fight this is to always be a step ahead. Keep layers in data security and adapt updated security practices.
This is most advisable to online shopping sites and websites that ask for their site users to register or sign in to enjoy their special offers and features.
6. Social Giants: Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram
2015 did not leave us clueless for 2016. Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram have established themselves as the web’s biggest, most influential platforms. They will stay that way unless another social platform makes it just as big; otherwise, we will see the smaller platforms breathe their last as this year has proven that the three social giants are most formidable and cannot be edged out easily by new but small platforms.
YouTube will still dominate among video channels, but you will definitely see more brands utilizing Facebook’s video feature.
If there’s one word to sum up 2016’s social media marketing, it’s dynamic. Social Media marketing for business will certainly be more dynamic between brands and their followers. Engaging audiences will be directly influenced and dictated upon by the constantly progressing social media trends.
Chapter 2: Social Media Predictions
The seven social platforms most used by marketers are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google plus, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram. But among them all, only Instagram saw an increase in marketing usage with its number jumping from 28% to 36%.
Twitter suffered a 10% decline with now only 79% of marketers using it as a lead generating tool, which explains the significance of launching Moments as a feature.
These numbers are based on the Social Media Industry report published by Social Media Examiner in 2015 which also stated that 64% of the marketers that participated utilize social media for more than 6 hours weekly. 66% of who still consider social media as an effective lead generating tool.
In line with the growing trends, 66% of the respondents are poised to increase their use of Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn in 2016; and newer players Periscope and Slideshare will be competing head on for their share of the market with the more prominent social platforms.
So what are the experts’ predictions based on these statistics?
1. Facebook is going for the kill
The web has been talking about how Facebook’s demographic has shifted and how there are less users between 20-24 on it.
True enough, the older demographic has taken over Facebook and it is actually a good thing for the leading social media platform. Here’s why: Facebook has effectively tapped and hooked the demographic that has a lot to do with mass brands and retail.
Not only had Facebook hooked in the buying market, web users have provided the social platform enough data for their advertisers to swoop in with high targeting posts, the kind that shows you where to get what you want when you need them – which is most likely very soon.
2. More Instagram advertising in 2016
Advertising on Instagram is inevitable considering its rapid increase of users in the past year with 60.3 million recorded users in the U.S. alone. You will definitely be seeing more advertising campaigns on Instagram in 2016.
This means that clicking on posts can lead you directly to the brands’ websites. Expect a few more changes to be introduced such as multi-ads, most likely similar to Facebook’s carousel ads.
3. More promotions on Pinterest pins
Pinterest has always been considered as a social platform with rich content and loyal users. Each content is ranked on the basis of the quality of each post and the level of engagement it makes with Pinterest users.
Advertisers will pay more attention to Pinterest in the coming year as Pinterest pins offers good exposure for the brands that they carry at a very low cost.
4. Advertising will be smarter than ever
Despite threats to data security, social platforms remain rich with it and will utilize it for their advertisers.
Think ad retargeting wherein you will find the ads of the sites you visited appearing on your social media sidebars and more. With expanded video and ad options on Instagram, social platforms will be one step ahead in terms of narrowing certain posts to target a specific market.
5. Politics will be more prominent on social media
Publicists for politicians have realized the huge impact social media has in connecting to the people and will leverage platforms more to push their advocacies and campaigns.
This should not come as a surprise as politicians have already been tweeting updates on their candidacies this year knowing how more and more web users are tuning in on the news via their social platforms.
6. Google Hangouts will rise anew
Google Hangouts have yet to prove its worth as an effective platform and tool for marketers, but changes are being made. For example. Google announced that comments on YouTube will no longer be in sync with Google plus. Google may be cooking up something and Google plus will come back stronger and better.
7. Real time is real
Twitter has set the bar high in terms of updated posts with Moments. From hereon, social platforms will be going neck to neck with each other, providing their users with real time updates on the news, trends and topics.
This also means that there will be faster sharing of videos with Twitter keeping everyone on their toes again with the acquisition of Periscope, the hottest live video streaming app.
A good year for marketing
2016 is going to be a good year for digital marketing, but it will take a lot of work. Fresh content will pour in and social media will be integrated more heavily with traditional advertising as marketers will work on getting social media to fit into regular day-to-day activities.
There will be no room to overlook the metrics.
Entrepreneurs and marketers will need, not only to get familiar with the social tools available, but to know the right ones to use for your type of business and industry.
Chapter 3: 7 Social Media Platforms That Can Potentially Succeed in 2016
It looks like Facebook will continue lead the long list of social platforms this 2016, and as mentioned in the first chapter, there may not be a new social platform that can make it against the social giants unless that new platform has a fresh take on what’s already been made available in the market.
Take a look at the following list of social media platforms that have the potential to sneak in between the formidable ones.
Ello is known as anti-Facebook which is probably what caused it to get edged out, but may also be the reason why it can make a huge comeback. Ello is against having a platform that is dictated upon by advertisers. It bluntly claims that it will not ever sell users information to third parties for the latters’ promotional purposes. While Ello lost to its most popular counterparts, it can rise up again and give these social platforms a run for their money this coming year.
Bebo is not a new app but it has recently relaunched as a new app. Bebo came out alongside Facebook and MySpace but did not become as popular and accepted as the other two. This time, Bebo is letting its users create avatars and custom illustrations. Like most social media platforms nowadays, hashtags is a way to connect and communicate with other Bebo users.
Hyper is the combination of the different ideas used in popular social platforms, such as that of Instagram, Reddit and Pinterest, rolled into one. It is similar to Instagram in a way that it is a platform for sharing photos with other users, and like Reddit because the visibility of its posts. It also includes geographic tags that points users to locations of events and places. As of the moment, Hyper is only available on iOS, but who knows what’s to happen in 2016.
Wanelo is a social shopping app that allows users to browse through millions of products offered online, from branded ones to products created by independent artists and retailers. Wanelo’s closest competitor at the moment is Pinterest, but only because of its similarities in both visual elements and the type of subscribers; however, Wanelo edges out the competition with its wish list and product management tools.Wanelo is clearly created with online shoppers in mind!
Slideshare perfectly complements LinkedIn by providing a platform for professionals to create business videos and presentations. It is a very useful for any business. This coming year, we will most likely be seeing more professionals using Slideshare and integrating it with their LinkedIn accounts.
Shots is a platform created primarily for people who like taking and sharing selfies online. Users can scroll down and chat with other users, but they are not allowed to leave comments on each other’s posts. The Shots app only lets you use the front end of the phone camera. Many say that it is similar with Snapchat in a way but the social app has also introduced a few more features that may help it find its place in the social media industry.
Here’s why we think This could be the next big thing. First, every post has bigger chances of visibility and reach because users are only allowed to post once a day. Second, it’s a fresh take on social media wherein you are not bombarded with the usual barrage of mixed updates on news, viral posts, click-bait ones, and personal. This presents a more de-cluttered, simpler and visibly concise news feed.
Social media is here to stay
Many marketing experts say that it’s impossible to compete with the current top social platforms. We say that it will be difficult to do so, but not impossible. When it comes to the web, change is always welcome.
One of these social platforms may be acquired by the bigger players, Facebook or Twitter, or we can expect many of them to get completely annihilated by their more established counterparts. Or some of them will actually make it. Whatever happens, the one thing that is sure is that the influence of social media is going to be stronger than ever.
Chapter 4: 5 Tips for Creating an Effective Social Media Strategy
Marketing on social media is more than just posting regularly on your social platforms.
Just like anything that has to do with marketing, you need to know who your target audience is, be updated with the trends, know how to utilize your tools and resources for it and be capable of changing along with it.
Here are five tried and tested tips for a stronger social media strategy:
1. Get your hands dirty – audit!
Whether or not you had a good year, go back and do some auditing. Which of your strategies worked, which did not? Can you identify who your key players are? What are your current resources for business?
Have you been able to utilize them to their fullest potential?
In doing the auditing, it is important to gather feedback from your subscribers to know how their experience had been with your brand. Perhaps they also have great ideas that you can consider for the coming year.
Do you know who your ideal buyer is? Have you been able to hit your target this year?
Case studies are great for learning what you have done right and what you need to improve. Identify both your most loyal customer and the cause of your biggest bump in the past year and have an open discussion with your team.
Unless you know the year that was, it will be difficult to prepare for the year ahead, so audit and know your business inside and out.
2. Plan and strategize
Winston Churchill said that “he who fails to plan is planning to fail.” When it comes to any department in business, in this case, social media marketing, you need to have a plan and a strategy in place.
There is a plethora of tools and resources online, and many social media platforms to utilize for business; but effective marketing is knowing exactly who you’re targeting and the right tools to use in aiming your target.
Plus, it can also save your business a lot of money and resources if you invest them in the right place.
So sit down and craft a plan based on facts and data that you have gathered when you did your auditing. Get your team together and let the ideas flow.
The best strategies are those that have all the right tools in place, whether in public relations, advertising, customer service, marketing research and sales, ready to be utilized when the opportunity strikes.
3. Be human and relatable
How do you appeal to real people? If there is one thing that is consistent about social media marketing, it is that users do not buy into anything that they do not feel any personal connection to.
You may have an excellent line of products, but if your followers feel that you only care about making a sale and have no interest in what is relevant or of interest to them, they will immediately turn their backs and look somewhere else.
Be accessible and be relatable. It is all about identity. If you know who you are and what your brand stands for, then tell your story. Do not be afraid to show the humans behind the brand.
4. Utilize technology
One of the reasons technology and the web are available is to help businesses push forward. There are many tools online that help ease the load off marketers through automation of posts and payment processes, but be sure to balance it well with being human. There are certain tasks that cannot be accomplished by a machine, but requires human touch.
5. Be flexible
The web constantly evolves, you must be prepared to make adjustments as the situation and circumstances call for them. Make sure that you have your resources and your tools in place and when the time for opportunities to use them is ripe, go for it.
The idea is that there will always be changes when it comes to social media marketing because the market dictates the culture of social media. You need to be ready to face these changes head on.
Have plans A, B, and C. If the three do not work, go for D. Don’t be too fixated on one plan. If you need to abandon your previous plans to make room for another idea, do so.
Social Media retains its impact in marketing
Many other marketing tools will come about, but there is no denying the power and influence that social media has. So get to work and get on board.
The competition on social media is stiff but if you learn the art of letting your voice be heard above the noise of many different brands, then you are on the right track.
Chapter 5: Checklist to Maximize Social Media for Marketing
Every marketer knows that there is a huge difference between a personal page and a business page on a social platform. Unlike your personal page where you can just post anything you feel like posting, you need to have a direction for your business page.
In order to maximize social media for marketing, you need to do more than just regularly post updates on your business pages.
Here’s a basic checklist of what you ought to be doing to leverage social media for your brand:
1. Optimize Social Media profiles
One of the things that is overlooked by brands is the importance of customizing their social media platforms. This is vital because your social media channels must be identified with your brand. It also gives your business page a more professional look that can help assure your subscribers that your page is officially connected to your company.
Start with a custom-designed header and make sure to include your brand logo. If there is a way for your business to be verifiable on your business page, employ that tool. For instance, a grey badge will appear beside your logo on your business page when verified.
2. Be clear with your business objectives and goals
Who are you and what does your brand stand for? What are you trying to achieve with your social media efforts? What is your brand message? Know your KPI’s and craft social media initiatives based on data. Your posts and updates must be a clear representation of your company and the values that you uphold.
Also, make sure that there must be cohesiveness among all your social platforms in terms of brand message and image.
3. Allot 2-3% of your marketing budget to social media efforts
Posting relevant content on social media does not guarantee that your brand will be widely visible to your target market. Take for example, in Facebook, an organic post can only be seen by 3% of your subscribers at a time unless you pay for your post to reach more.
With leading social platforms poised for ads this 2016, you should be ready to compete alongside brands that will surely leverage on this new advertising opportunities.
4. Develop unique, relevant and engaging content
The best way to ensure that you are providing your market with unique and engaging content is to produce them. Create content that will provide value to others. Do video tutorials, answers their questions, provide solutions to their problems. Make your content simple and easy to understand.
An engaging content is content that addresses the needs of the audience.
5. Ensure content is mobile-ready
Double-check that all the content you share on your social platforms, from your ads to your business blogs, can be accessed easily in mobile devices. And while at it, run ads that target users within the vicinity of your brick and mortar shop or your office.
6. Utilise ad targeting and retargeting options
Ad targeting is great for aiming your ads towards the clients and buyers that your products have been designed for.
Facebook offers a lot of customization options for you to choose. You can narrow down your target demographic according to location, status, interests, purchase, and even by income.
Ad retargeting, on the other hand, is great for reminding potential clients of your brand. Both Facebook and Twitter already offers website retargeting on their platforms.
7. Use analytics to track the progress of your posts
One of the most important things that marketers need to do is to track the progress of the strategies they have implemented. Facebook has insights and Twitter also offers internal analytics. There are other ways to track the analytics of your social pages. There is Buffer, Hootsuite, Followerwonk, SumAll, SocialBro and Iconosquare among others.
Social Media analysis will show you which among your posts work and which of them do not, so you can immediately adjust your strategy as needed. It shows you what topics your page fans are interested in and who your avid buyers are.
It also helps that you get to know your followers, have a deeper insight into their social media habits and gives you a good idea on the hours that they are online and when they are not.
Keep yourself updated
The not-so-secret way to hook in your audience to your brand is through the quality of the content you provide them on your social platforms. And when you do, don’t forget to add your CTA’s.
Don’t assume that just because your content resonated with your subscribers, that they know what to do next. Let them know what their options are and make it clear to them. Tell them to share, subscribe, follow or like.
And finally, keep yourself updated with the trends and practice flexibility not just this 2016 but in the next years. Social media is one of the most impactful tools for digital marketing, so don’t go into it blindly. Have a plan and craft a strategy in order to accomplish your goals.