Social media is a dynamic environment and a relatively new frontier for marketers. That said, social media is over ten years old now. Early adopters certainly had to experiment in order to see what worked and what didn’t. They paved the way for other businesses to follow suit. Over time, businesses have learned that their customers are quick to flock to social media with their praises and complaints; they learned that images get far more engagement than mere words; and they learned that social media posts tend to get buried and may not even be seen if there’s a lack of engagement.
While these are all good lessons to be aware of, the social media landscape continues to change. New social network sites often arrive unexpectedly, bringing new challenges and opportunities; social networks and search engines periodically change the rules; and users often tune out if their expectations aren’t met. Thus, settling into a social media routine and doing what you’ve always done may not be the best strategy. Are you evolving with the social times or is social media passing you by?
Below are a few of the more recent trends in social media and how you can use them to your advantage.
- Hashtags are the new search. Hashtags are commonly used in social media posts to tag a post in a special way. For example, if you are posting about major league baseball, you might use the hashtag #mlb to identify the post as being related to major league baseball. While that hashtag provides some meaning to viewers of the post, the true power of hashtags involves searchability. For example, let’s say that you want to see current tweets about major league baseball. By entering #mlb into Twitter’s search tool, you’d see a list of the most recent tweets that use that particular hashtag. These tweets would include tweets from people beyond your follow list. Other social media sites use hashtags as well so if you were on Instagram or Pinterest and interested in seeing photos related to major league baseball, you’d perform a similar search. What’s more, search engines can retrieve hashtag related pages when you use a hashtag in the search box. If you’re not using hashtags, your posts could be overlooked by a huge potential audience.
- Pull is the new push. Push marketing is on the way out as more marketers adopt an inbound strategy. The idea behind inbound marketing is to attract potential customers, to draw them in like a magnet. With push marketing, marketers would broadcast their messages to a large audience using marketing channels such as direct mail or television advertising. With pull marketing, social media, blogs, special reports, and tightly targeted promotions whet consumers’ appetites and bring them in for more – all while building relationships and making each interaction as personalized as possible. If you’re spending the bulk of your marketing time sending out generic messages to the masses, you’re pushing and not pulling. Switch gears and begin pulling the right customers to your social media sites.
- Content is still king. “Content is king” may sound like a cliche, but it’s a fact that bears repeating. Content marketing plays an important role in inbound marketing, and social media provides the perfect platform for sharing content. Not only can you share your blog posts on social media, you can also set up a separate tab on Facebook for enticing users to sign up for a special report, whitepaper, eBook, video series, mailing list, or some other form of content. Thus, the content marketing journey begins!
- Crowdsourcing provides access to expanded knowledge. Public agencies often use social media as a means of gathering information. For example, the US Geological Survey’s Earthquake Hazards Program’s “Did You Feel It?” tool gathers input from users to plot the intensity of earthquakes in real time. Businesses often post surveys and polls on social media sites to gain relevant insights on any number of topics such as customer satisfaction, logo design changes, new product launches, and more.
Social media has been in existence for over a decade now, and the story is far from over. Are you keeping up with the latest trends?