Feb 21, 2018 | Editorial Team
We’ve reached a stage of online evolution where brands cannot afford to miss out on social chatter. You’ll see many doing the mandatory routine of posting on various social channels every day. The other end of the spectrum showcases case studies where brands are unlocking the true potential of social and becoming trailblazers for others.
In a constantly changing scenario, it is difficult to differentiate between fads and trends. Every other day there is a new report on what brands must be doing, or not doing, on social. As online marketers, we are all too eager to experiment with what can work for our brand.
With all the experiments we did through 2017, we discovered a few trends that are most likely to be adopted by social players in 2018.
1. Connecting social metrics to business outcomes
When social media, and by that, we mean Facebook, took off, the biggest currencies that brands wanted to own was ‘fans’. Fast forward to 2017, everyone was talking about measuring engagement. Companies, especially popular ones, were spending millions to engage with their customers, connect and communicate with them directly. But was this translating to increase in business? In some cases, yes. But there isn’t a foolproof way to measure this for many brands who are into the service business or B2B sales.
Social still is an indispensable part of digital. But companies are now demanding accountability from the dollars spent on social i.e. there is more emphasis on ‘Social ROI’.
There is a lot social can do for a company. It can reduce customer service costs, attract talent, showcase product offerings and be used to narrate stories. But it is important to connect these aspects with business goals.
How to work on your social ROI: Decide what business goal your social campaign will be aligned to. Then pick out the activities you can measure. From event attendance to direct sales, create your campaign keeping in mind how the outcomes will effect the business. Of course, engagement, following and traffic can be metrics that can be additional frills.
2. Move from being a publisher to broadcaster
In the last couple of years, video took over all other forms of online content. The consumption on video within social feeds has also exploded. Because of this brands are slowly moving from being publishers to broadcasters of TV-style program.
The advantage of such content is that it allows brands to use the power of storytelling (link) to help customers connect with them. Stories are the age old way that humans use to remember details associated with an event or thing. When brands use stories, they manage to engage customers with an emotional connect. It allows them to propagate benefits more than features. It is also true that not all companies can be broadcasters and this isn’t a one size fits all.
How can you make broadcasting work for you: Both Facebook and Twitter offer Live videos. On the surface, this, in itself, is a great opportunity for brands to create a hype around short events. Once this is done, Facebook live videos are indexed by Google too. With the right keywords, the videos can continue to drive incremental views.
3. Rise of the planet of influencers
Though customers subscribe to brands on social, they still consider social messages to be a type of advertising. To circumvent this problem, brands are now making use of social influencers. These influencers build a community and gather a following based on their profession, lifestyle and preferences.
Now, when they subtly mention a brand or product without the overkill of an ad, it leaves an impression in the mind of the consumer without them even realizing it.
Influencers aren’t just the ones that have a community following. They can be peers who have left the old ‘word of mouth’ technique and instead use social platforms to voice their opinion on products and services. In 2018, brands will need to work to identify such influencers and make sure they don’t do an ‘ad’ but a PR like promotion.
How can you use influencer marketing this year: Find a way to identify influencers across a spectrum of community builders, customers, and even employees. Then work towards connecting your influencer campaigns with business goal metrics. Currently, influencers tend to promise eyeballs, traffic and brand mentions. But it is also important to analyse how these eventually connect with overarching business goals.
Get a mix of social and Artificial Intelligence
Ever since the discovery of AI, it has been propagated that it will take away human jobs. But the core part of an AI strategy has always been about being as close as possible to their human counterpart. There is a lot of discussion on how AI and machine learning will impact the future of digital. While things are a little unclear on this, you can go with tried and tested AI techniques for your social experiments.
How to use AI with social
Here are a few scenarios where you can mix social and AI:
Deriving insights from social data
Brands will notice that each social platform gives out tons of data about customer interaction. From social mentions to comments, social data is valuable. But brands are still wondering how to connect the dots. Brands will have to put in efforts to derive insights from social data and the influence it has on the overall business.
2018 may be the year when this aspect may change. Brands need to keep their eyes and ears open and watch out for early adopters.
How brands can derive insights from social data: Start by digging around your own brand’s social channels. There are a bunch of external analytics tools that allow both social listening and provide access a new level of social insights.
Before you delve into this unending world of analytics, it is very important to determine what you are looking for. Digging into analytics with a particular question can give you a better chance at finding an answer.
You’ll notice that a lot of 2018 trends are a natural extension to the developments that happened in the last year. You don’t have to spend huge dollars to experiment with any of these trends. They just require dedicated time and effort for analysis to see what fits with your current social strategies.
Would you like to stay on top of social trends in 2018?
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