With the advent of social media sites, marketing, advertising, and sales promotion activities have significantly evolved within the modern operational expenditure business environment. The internet now presents many exciting possibilities for brick and mortar businesses to reach out to potential customers, and the use of social media platforms have helped countless business owners manage customer engagements and promote their products and services in an extremely targeted way.
Before looking at some of the social media trends that businesses can practice in 2016 to increase sales and manage communication, it’s important to look through existing statistics on the use and benefits of social platforms, and how one can harness the power of such networks.
Social Media Use
Facebook, Tweeter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and blogs are the most popular networking sites in the social media community. The use of each platform varies and so do the benefits. According to a research done by Google, about 90% of people who own smartphones have at least one account registered to any given social media site. This means sites like Instagram or Twitter host millions of internet users who are basically potential clients, and the fact that businesses can communicate to clients from all corners of the world is no longer a new concept.
From Inc 500 records, 94% use LinkedIn while Facebook and Twitter’s reach constitute 80% and 79% respectively. A large percentage of any business’ clients access social media sites on a routine basis too. The use of social sites has grown exponentially over the last few years and the implication for your business’s bottom line is huge.
Trends to Take Note of in 2016
For small and medium businesses, social media platforms present a cost-effective way to interact with a multitude of prospects, initiate marketing campaigns and promotions, and increase sales conversion. In 2015, some of the trends that can be applied to join businesses reaping advantages of social media and harnessing its full potential include:
Facebook is simply the most popular and top-ranked social media site. According to the company, it has more than 1.39 billion monthly active users. Facebook has a community and outreach unmatched by any other social platform existing today and it will continue to trend in 2015.
Most businesses already acknowledge opportunities therein. However, remember that most Facebook users are attracted to information about family, friends, and social activities rather than your advertisements, and the posts which garner the most “likes” are ones that engage users.
- Facebook Implications – The core benefits of using this social media platform lie in advertisement, marketing campaigns, and customer metric collection through interaction. By channeling targeted messages to your chosen demographic group, you’ll be able to learn a lot about customer responses to situations, speculations, and user experiences with your products.
- Social Media Use Tips – Establish a presence on Facebook and complete the profile with descriptions, pictures, and links. Be professional in all your communication but ditch the corporate marketing jargon – users dislike that because it doesn’t allow them to interact with you on a personal basis. Corporate talk is confusing and most people will just click away when they feel disconnected from your message.
With Facebook, you also have to keep constant interaction and distribute quality content frequently to engage customers and peers. To fully reap the benefits of Facebook, be sure to create fan pages, Facebook ads, and make judicious use of pictures, memes, videos, polls, and host giveaways or offer discount coupons.
This media has grown since 2012 to become one of the most powerful social media profiles for small businesses existing today. Its use has increased to 94% in 2014 and its reach looks set to increase in 2016. Using this platform presents your business as a legitimate professional who is both an apt businessman and skilled service provider.
- Implications of LinkedIn – For brick and mortar businesses, LinkedIn presents the core values and benefits of professional connections. Any business can use the media to increase connections with other service providers in the same niche. It also smoothes connections with suppliers, potential employees, and customers.
- Social Media Use Tips – Maximizing the use of LinkedIn will require building a strong complete business profile including employee profiles, so remember to design and help employees present complete portfolios with pictures and families. Once that’s done, ensure the profiles are optimized with targeted keywords and messages that attract relevant/desired businesses.
It’s important to join relevant groups in the niche you serve as this helps you gain more insights from peers and position your business as the best. Additionally, you can use presentations such as SlideShare to deliver illustrations and publish leadership content through the platform. This basically aids in pushing up potential clients’ perception of your business through strategic positioning and marketing.
Twitter is yet another social media platform that has been long considered a powerful communication and marketing tool. The network allows your business to create a profile and upload images, post short messages inquiring about your customers, respond to questions, and even using it as a customer support page in real time.
- Twitter Implications – At its best, Twitter offers a platform to broaden message outreach since it hosts nearly 288 million users (accurate as of March 2016). You can engage customers in any way you want using short targeted messages (160 characters) and especially as a tool to open up meaningful conversations.
- Social Media Use Tips – Tweets have a very short lifespan and Twitter heavily relies on traction/attraction (your followers and those you follow). You should use Twitter to engage potential clients and associate with reputable businesses by following them and retweeting their messages. Because well-established brands tend to have a lot of followers, engaging with such brands will get your Twitter account seen by the same group of customers you’re both targeting. This can prove to be an effective and cost-effective way of reaching out to potential customers.
Make use of relevant hash-tags (#) as you’re tweeting or retweeting to broaden visibility and outreach. Using images can also increase reach and intrigue customers.
Blogs are not only powerful marketing tools, but they’re also low-cost and very effective in getting your messages across. They’re basically websites that act as social media bases where your business has unlimited opportunities to post content, incorporate links, connect with peers and leaders, invite guests to give interviews, describe, promote or review products and services, and educate your customers about your products.
- Blogging Implications – With blogs, you’ll have control over all content and interactions as well as how you portray and market your brand. However, it requires you to update quality content on a consistent basis, and this requires resources and time to accomplish. Blogs should therefore be approached patiently and cautiously.
Many blogging platforms such as Blogspot and WordPress also do not allow blatant promotional pieces on their platforms. This is easily rectified by purchasing a domain name and hosting your blog on your own web hosting server, giving you 100% control over its content.
- Social Media Use Tips – Optimize the blog for search engines to improve visibility and ranking, and make sure to incorporate links which refer customers to resourceful content. You can make additional profit from advertising for other partners and appearing in their blogs as well to boost outreach. As a gateway linking to other sites, you can publish a variety of content targeted for specific groups.
There are many other social media trends of 2015 that look even more promising in 2016. These include creating high-quality videos and posting them on YouTube for clients to learn more about your business. Others include Pinterest, Google+, and niche forums which are all hosts to multitudes of internet users and potential clients. The goal of using social media is holistic designing and creation of content combined with broadening business/brand outreach – so be sure to engage the entire team and establish a complete optimized online presence on most, if not all, social media platforms.