2018 Social Marketing Predictions: What the Experts Say
2017 End of Year Social Audit
On November 15th, Simply Measured hosted our Data and Drinks event, starring a panel of social media experts from a wide variety of industries. The theme of the night was 2018 Predictions, and our experts shared incredible insights.
Meet the Experts
The experts led the night by reminiscing about 2017 and lessons learned. Tisha Leslie, Director of Employee Brand at T-Mobile Careers, summed it up best when she said that 2017 was the year businesses realized the purpose of social marketing is to connect with, and build relationships with, the people within our communities.
In this past year, we discovered that the top of the funnel isn’t really about what you do, but it’s what you stand for. I really saw a transition from an entrenched B2B or B2C thinking into more of a B2P—Business to People—mindset that really focuses on building those relationships.
Our panel also discussed the increased importance for marketers in 2017 to advocate for larger budgets and make social a priority at the decision-making table. They discussed the networks’ constant changes to their algorithms and platforms to make marketing easier and how marketers are learning to adapt quickly.
Reflecting back on the previous year is always a good place for marketers to start when planning for the future. However, the heart of the conversation was 2018, so let’s shift focus to what the new year has in store for marketers.
2018 Social Marketing Predictions
Authenticity Is Key (And People Expect It)
Consumers are no longer interested in only seeing the latest and greatest products and prices, but they also want to connect with a business on a personal level. Hence, having an authentic voice is critical, now more than ever—not only for social marketers, but for the entire marketing industry. The messages we produce have to reach our customers where they are, remain genuine, and still align with our brand principles.
But what can we do to increase the level of authenticity in our social marketing strategies? Here’s what the experts say:
Ephemeral content will be a prime player in achieving an authentic brand voice. Jen Joyce, External Communications at Simple, shared her thoughts on ephemeral content, specifically Instagram Stories, and how it can be used to make content more authentic.
Instagram Stories is going to be huge in 2018. Content that is so quick to leave the space creates this urgency for people to consume it. It’s a great way to be more human, rather than a beautifully put-together Instagram feed. We don’t need to be perfect on Instagram Stories, and people connect more with that.
My hope in 2018 is that we will continue in the live route, because there really isn’t anything more authentic than live video.
Transparency in Paid Social
With the rise of influencer marketing and sponsored posts, brands are under a lot of scrutiny to be transparent in the way they leverage these strategies to promote their products and services.
Chelsey Nelson, Paid Media Strategist at Yesler, mentioned Facebook’s launch of an ad transparency feature currently being tested in Canada. With this new feature, any page running ads will have a “view ads” tab that anyone can click to see what that page is currently running. The tool could provide more information about who companies are targeting at any given time.
As far as competitor research, we don’t know what’s under the hood of everyone’s ads. While you won’t know who they’re targeting or what their budget is, you can see which concepts they’re using and what types of ads they are using. It will make it more competitive as you play off competitor strategies.
The panel also discussed how paid influencers may not be as effective as they once were, especially now that they have to make it known if their posts are sponsored. A more effective way to utilize influencers is to invest in your relationships with current customers—people who are already advocates for your brand—and leverage their authentic appeal.
I caution [against] using influence as a buzzword, and really look at influence on many different levels. People who use your product will give an honest review. We have people behind our brand that have used our shoes for 10+ years. Focus on these strong relationships.
There will be a trend where people who are really passionate about brands—not because they’re being paid—become really authentic influencers. Don’t let the term do damage to the work that can be done. People will go pretty far for you when they believe in what you do. They buy the value that you’re selling.
Social Channels Will Have Even More Defined Roles
The traditional approach to social content creation was to take content and make small changes to optimize for various channels. The panel discussed that social marketers are quickly realizing that not every piece of content is suited for every channel. It is important for marketers to always look back at their content—and social data—to determine what worked, what didn’t, and what information we have regarding target customers.
- What are your key pillars for each social media platform?
- What content should you scrap?
- What content should you continue to produce?
- Where is my target audience most engaged?
There are many different ways to tell your brand story on many different platforms. The panel predicts that marketers will have to clearly define the types of content they want to produce for each channel, keeping in mind whom they want to absorb that content.
Challenges Going into 2018
Don’t Fall Victim to “Shiny Object Syndrome”
As the conversation started around the challenges marketers will face going into 2018, all agreed that social marketers should be wary of catching the “shiny object syndrome.” Social media is constantly evolving, and it presents new ways for marketers to add diversity, creativity, and new technology into their social strategies. It is very easy to get into the mindset that we have to implement all of these new features and capabilities into our efforts if we are going to stay competitive in the social space. While it is important for marketers to experiment with new technology (like augmented reality or live streaming), it is equally important to know when to take a pass.
We often forget that we have the option to say no. If it’s not serving us and we work too hard, sometimes NOT doing things is the best decision you can make.
With the networks constantly changing and adding new features and capabilities, it can be very overwhelming for strategists. At the end of the day, the only way to determine what risks your brand is going to take and knowing when to take a pass is to have a strong mission, strong KPIs, and a strong direction going into 2018.
Limited Resources Are Now, and Always Will Be, a Challenge
Resources will now and forever be a challenge, until everyone truly buys into social media. Many marketers start out as a team of one, and advocating for growing social teams can be difficult until social media is seen as a vital marketing function. Andrew Grinaker, Senior Manager of Global Integrated Marketing at Tableau Software, gave some advice to marketers to counter the effects of limited resources.
Be as realistic as possible—this is always a good test against our strategies and plans. Don’t overwhelm yourself by doing too much. Consider the resources you have available, and feel good about what you can actually produce with what you have. Make sure that everyone on your team has a clear understanding of your goals and what the expectations are for each particular channel.”
The new year always provides that element of hope that things will be better, and that’s no different in regards to your social media strategies. Let us know on Twitter what you are looking forward to in 2018!
You can watch the full recording of our live-streamed Data and Drinks event on our Facebook page.
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Bryan is the Content Marketing Manager at Simply Measured. He spoils his dog, is a fitness fanatic, and loves research and writing.