3 Social Media Marketing Trends to Watch

Social Media Marketing Trends
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What trends should social media marketers be aware of? Here are three social media trends that your brand should be paying attention to.

1. Good-bye, organic reach on Facebook.

If you manage a Facebook page, you've probably already noticed this trend: You can say good-bye to a comfortably broad organic reach on Facebook for your average post. Facebook admitted back in December 2013 that brands would see a gradual decline in their organic reach. Their announcement got some businesses up in arms, swearing that they would leave Facebook, but try to see this issue from Facebook's point of view. Facebook is now a publicly traded companies with a responsibility to its shareholders to make money. Facebook also has a responsibility to its users to give them the content they really want to see, which -- let's all just admit it to ourselves -- is primarily going to be content from their friends.

That doesn't mean that you'll never be able to get a post to go viral again or that you should stop posting on Facebook. You can still expect about 10 to 15 percent of your Facebook fans to see your posts without paying a dime, which means that Facebook remains a numbers game, just like it always has been. Obviously, you would rather get 10 to 15 percent of 20,000 fans to see your post than 10 to 15 percent of 5,000 fans to see your post. And 10 percent of 20,000 is still a couple thousand people seeing your brand's message, which is nothing to poo-poo. Therefore, you still need to pay attention to growing your fan base on Facebook.

You also may just have to play along with Facebook to a certain extent and stop seeing the social media giant as a place to get a free lunch. As the adage goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch. It doesn't cost much to boost a post and earn a few thousand extra eyeballs on your content. For just $5 to $10, you can triple or quadruple how many people see (and potentially interact with) your posts. That seems fair enough, don't you think?

If you do want to stay focused on content that spreads organically, then you should see Facebook's new algorithm as a challenge for your content-creation skills. Here's your chance to stop producing mediocre content that no one ever shares or comments on and really put the time and energy into figuring out what kind of content your fans will respond to.  

2. It's time to build a social media team.

The days when you could get away with making social media an add-on task within your marketing department are long gone. If you're a small business, you need to have at least one person dedicated to social media. If you're a larger business, you need to invest in a whole team. If you complain that extra staff is not in your budget, then consider shifting money out of marketing tasks whose profitability is falling in this new era of inbound marketing to create the money you need for a social media team. Here are the most basic tasks your team needs to fulfill:

  • Overall strategy, direction, tone, and coordination between channels: Make sure that one person in the team has a clear vision of the overall social media strategy and goals. Without someone directing the team, you're likely to have willy-nilly social media posts that lack cohesion and fail to accomplish anything.
  • Content creation: You need a stable of graphic designers, writers, and clever fast thinkers to constantly create fresh content. If you don't have this bull pen in-house, outsource it.
  • Analyzers: Your analyzer doesn't need to be creative. Your analyzer needs to know how to measure the ROI of all the content you're creating. This person is a number-cruncher who also knows how to listen to social chatter. The old social media strategy of businesses could have been summed up as, "Throw a bunch of stuff against a wall and see what sticks." Today, with vast improvements to the way social media efforts are measured, you need someone who's actually checking carefully to see if you're getting your money's worth.

These three tasks can be consolidated into one person if necessary, but you'll be more successful if you can get at least three to four people for your social media team.  

3. Hashtags are getting bigger than ever.

Hashtags used to be only for clever Twitter users, but Instagram followed Twitter's hashtag example and now Facebook is in on it, too. Using a hashtag correctly means that you can keep a consistent conversation going about your brand across multiple social media networks. Given how audience fragmentation is only continuing to increase, a well-chosen hashtag can make a big difference in linking audience members together across different channels. However, just because more companies are using hashtags doesn't mean that everyone is doing it right. Educate yourself about what makes a great hashtag and what leads to an #epicfail before you jump into the hashtag pool.

What Other Trends Matter This Year?

We could have gone on and on about social media trends for 2014, but we think that these three are among the most important. What other trends should marketers be aware of this year? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

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