Social media is the newest and most buzzworthy member of the modern marketing mix. Organizations in every sector have set their sights on expanding their presence and activity across many channels, in hopes of building a loyal following.
With the year winding down, now is the perfect time for marketing teams to think about what’s to come in 2016 on the social media front.
Analysts and experts are in the process of making predictions and forecasts, meaning that marketers have plenty of resources to draw from as they coordinate their budgets and strategies for the forthcoming year. To point them in the right direction, here’s a look at six of the biggest social media marketing trends to be aware of in 2016.
1. The big three stay strong: While a number of up-and-coming platforms have entered the social media stage in recent years, marketers should not invest too much time, money or effort in exploring these new channels as 2016 rolls around.
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn will continue to lead the pack as the channels that offer the most widespread visibility, analytics capabilities, advertising opportunities and overall return on investment. Forbes contributor Jayson DeMers recommended that marketers aim to master these big three channels before they even consider branching out to new platforms.
“I expect we’ll see fewer small platforms as the big players race to gobble up the promising small fry, meaning you’ll have to worry about fewer up-and-coming opportunities,” stated DeMers.
2. Content demands diversity: The content marketing trend is quickly solidifying into a strategic staple for brands of all kinds, but companies are realizing that their efforts need to evolve with the times in order to retain value in a changing digital world.
In a recent article for Digitalist Magazine, contributor Julie Ellis stated that while written content (blogs, papers and e-books) will still play a role in driving leads, the most effective strategies will also include an array of original videos, images and graphics.
“While some curated content is a good thing, consumers believe that custom content is an indication that a company wishes to create a relationship with them,” wrote Ellis.
3. More frequent updates: Unlike email and direct marketing strategies, success in social media marketing demands that brands be continually creating messages and engaging in discussions with individuals. In other words, planning over the long term will not do marketers much good.
The new year will see more organizations taking an “in-the-moment” approach to social media, creating a more dynamic and engaging experience for those who follow the brand on any given channel.
Companies that can respond quickly to questions, comments and critiques will be seen as more trustworthy and reliable, attracting more leads and greater opportunities for profit.
4. Social selling takes off: Generating leads may be relatively easy to do through channels such as Facebook and Twitter, but in 2016, brands will be aiming to nurture those leads with greater focus, leading to direct return on investment through social media.
A blog article from eClincher highlighted a number of opinions from thought leaders across the marketing sphere, including Madalyn Sklar. She explained that social selling is the next step for more experienced teams, and those who follow through on the plan will surely see profits.
“We’re going to see more on social selling in 2016 because people are getting a handle on how to manage their social media, now they want to monetize it,” Sklar told the source.
5. In-app marketing develops: Apps are becoming the norm for social media users, as more individuals access their accounts on the go. Facebook, according to Forbes’ DeMers, is leading the way in terms of app functionality, rivaling the abilities available on their standard interface. Twitter and Instagram also have hugely popular apps for mobile users on phones and tablets.
With apps on the rise, the challenge for marketing teams will be to create campaigns that generate leads through mobile devices. Tools such as Instant Article publishing and in-post search engines will be major assets for companies looking to create value through social media applications.
6. Ads will remain essential: Social media marketing may have ushered in a new era of brand engagement, but this doesn’t mean that advertisements are going anywhere. In fact, Facebook will continue to evolve into a go-to channel for today’s advertisers looking for clicks in 2016.
“To maximize the visibility of ads, social networks throttle back the organic reach of social posts, especially posts from brands,” Strategic Director of Orbit Media Solutions Andy Crestodina told eClincher.
It will be a big year for social media marketing, and brands should follow these tips if they’re looking to capitalize on these opportunities.