This article was originally posted in The Daily Herald, see “How will technology affect business in 2016?” here.
Rich Klicki, Director of Content Development at The Daily Herald, recently asked me, “How will technology affect business in 2016, specifically for social media marketing?” As Red Caffeine’s community manager, I had quite a lot to say on this topic and it was difficult for me to keep my answer short and sweet. There was, however, one social trend that stuck out ... social buying.
How do you see the industry evolving in 2016?
Over time social media platforms have morphed into super-platforms, offering the user much more than just social interactions. One trend that we’ve seen takeoff in 2015 and expect a full-adaptation by the end of 2016 from all of the major social sites—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest—will impact sales strategies, primarily for B2C companies. This trend is “social selling.”
Facebook and Pinterest are just two of the platforms that gained attention this year by introducing new “buy” features for their users and advertisers, but the other social platforms are not far behind.
In June of 2015, Pinterest launched Shop Pinterest which is now available via iPhone, iPad, and Android apps. Users can search clothing, jewelry, furniture, and other miscellaneous trinkets and purchase with the click of the little blue “buy” button. The app saves the user’s credit card and mailing address information for quick and easy transactions. Selling on Pinterest is no cost to the third party seller. Instead, Pinterest makes money by charging advertisers to promote their buyable pins.
Facebook has also rolled out a buy button in 2015, and Twitter has begun testing the waters by partnering with a few merchants and brands. We expect that by the end of 2016, all of the social giants will be in full-swing sell mode. This trend has major potential to shift how users interact with businesses, by turning “liking” into buying.
Now, how will this trend impact the industry on a greater scale?
The past decade’s social media strategies have focused on engaging with the consumer in the early brand awareness phase and then building up engagement and brand value. When social selling fully takes hold in 2016, we'll see more social campaigns specifically aimed at the convert phase of the customer journey.
What will be the industry's biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge companies on social media will continue to face is having their posts found organically. Organic reach continues to decline. Multiple reports, from sources including Forbes and AdWeek, claim varying organic reach statistics to be only 0.7 percent to 2.6 percent of your following. We can thank the social media filter bubble for this.
What is the social media filter bubble? The filter bubble stores your digital interactions. What information are you searching? What link did you click on and which do you quickly scroll past? Are you more interested in world affairs or celebrity affairs? All of this information is gathered over time and entered into an algorithm. The idea of the filter bubble is to ensure the social user’s newsfeed remains relevant to their interests.
This is bad news for companies trying to get in front of their target customers who are not regularly searching their products or services.
So how do you get around it? The answer is sponsored content. If you want your content to be found, you will have to pay-to-play.
This makes it increasingly important for businesses to invest in a social strategy to smart spend rather than random acts of media. Instead of sitting, hoping, and praying for organic reach, consider hiring a community manager to tackle this challenge strategically.
What will be the "hot" apps or channels to watch for? Conversely, what apps or channels are fading into the sunset?
Each social media platform has its own culture and etiquette — including best timing of day and frequency of postings. And when your company manages a Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., it can become overwhelming to post on multiple social networks. Not to mention, social media management is time-consuming!
With this information overload, you will be grateful to hear there are tools out there to help manage the madness for both B2C and B2B companies. A couple of our favorite tools include Sprout Social and Buffer.
These social media management tools offer services including: scheduling future posts across platforms to publish, recirculation of unseen content, providing content pieces of interest via RSS feed, and analytic reports to measure the engagement and impressions of your social posts.
Also, a good social media marketing strategy will soon be measured by how seamless your buying process is. And considering the inevitable growth of social buying, an integration of third-party e-commerce tools will be crucial for successful B2C social media marketing. Some of these tools to watch for include LIKEtoKNOW.it and shopify.
For B2B, social buying will be less impactful. Since these companies are less likely to utilize the click to buy strategy, it’s crucial to make your content strategy count. While last year’s marketing trend was content, content, content … and to write once, repurpose many, 2016 will focus much more on video and podcast series.
While it’s not quite fading into the sunset, one social channel that has taken a big hit is Twitter. Twitter is currently at 53 percent of its all-time high usage, which peaked in 2013. Yet, it still remains the third most popular platform, following Facebook and then YouTube.
Need assistance with your current social media strategy? Or do you need a strategy to get started? No matter - we can help!