Whether you’re just starting out with using social media to grow your brand and business or you’ve been doing it for some time now but are struggling to get a return on investment (ROI), in both time and money, then this post is for you.
In this post, I’ll show you where you should focus your attention when it comes to your social media marketing and growing your social media community, or as I like to call it, your tribe. You will also learn what’s working now and where the industry is heading in 2018.
I’ve spent years doing social media marketing for clients, as well as coaching and training people on how to effectively leverage social media for growing a business and connecting with prospects, customers, and brand ambassadors.
In addition, I run social for my own business, BentoBox Media, as well as my personal social media channels, too.
I admit, I’m even guilty of putting my own social media on the back burner, especially during client launches and events, because client work always comes first.
Trust me, I know the struggle!
But thankfully, during busy times, what helps me is having the right tools and systems in place to streamline and automate the process.
The main problem I see with small business owners and entrepreneurs who are just starting out, is that they…
- Never have enough time for social media
- Don’t have a social media marketing strategy and plan to guide them
- Aren’t sure where they should focus their attention
- Are getting little, or worse, no ROI on their social media marketing
What happens? They do their social media haphazardly with little to no real results. If this is you, keep reading.
Social media isn’t easy. But it seems easy. Right?!?!
It can be a HUGE time suck and before you know it, you’ve wasted time, gone down too many rabbit holes and then you look at your analytics and realize you’re getting little to no traction.
Then you consider throwing in the towel. Does this sound familiar?
Don’t give up. There’s a better way!
Let me show you where and what to focus your attention on and help you ensure that you start seeing an ROI from your social media marketing.
I’ve created a checklist to help you know what to focus on daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly. It’s the exact checklist that I use to grow engaged communities for clients, which in turn, consistently brings customers through their doors, so I know it works.
It will help you stay ahead of the curve, better connect with your target audience and grow your business using social media marketing.
And more importantly, it will help you rise above the noise, get noticed and start turning conversations and connections into customers. Hello ROI!
Isn’t it time that you start seeing ROI from your social media?
Can I get a “hell yeah!?” Sign up to access my FREE Ultimate Social Media Checklist PDF download.
Before you dive into the checklist, you first need to know what’s important in 2017 in the world of social media marketing and understand where things are headed for 2018, so you know where to focus your attention and the new strategies to implement.
Social media is a critical component of any marketing plan. The days of social media as a free marketing tool are long over. Gone are the days of posting randomly when you have the time or simultaneously posting the exact same content across all your social media accounts.
Social media is a serious marketing medium that nearly every business owner and entrepreneur should be leveraging and using strategically to grow their brand and business. But that’s not to say you shouldn’t still experiment. Experimentation will always be a key element in the ever-evolving social media landscape.
If you’re pressed for time, then download the checklist now. In addition to the checklist, it also contains a summary of the what’s important as we head into 2018.
However, if you want the full enchilada with all the fixings… I know, I should have used a bento box analogy but I’m not convinced that everyone knows what one is. If that’s you, you must try one the next time you eat at a Japanese restaurant.
Before I digress any further, let’s get to what’s important now and the year ahead.
What’s HOT in Social Media Marketing
More consumers, especially Millennials, are embracing mobile e-commerce. As more people become comfortable shopping through their mobile devices, we will see an increase in e-commerce transactions through social media networks on mobile.
Social media users can already buy products and services through the mobile apps of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, and soon Snapchat.
Instagram is the best example of social selling on a social media platform. It has been a popular place for social selling. Millennials really embraced Instagram in the early days and started selling their goods even before there were Instagram ads or tools to sell on Instagram.
Many niche makers began developing followers and turned those followers into buyers by posting enticing photos of their goods and telling people how to buy in the caption and then using the link in their profile to direct buyers to their website, Etsy or Amazon store or another online store.
Social selling on Instagram continues to grow in 2017 with Instagram ads and the “Shop Now” button. Services like Foursixty or Yotpo transform your Instagram photos into online stores. These in-app purchasing tools let you capture impulse purchases, especially with Millennials because they do more impulse buying than others.
Watch this video to see how social media is changing the shopping experience for everyone, especially Millennials.
Another tool that I use is Linktree. With Linktree, you can link to an online store, a sales page, a free download, a blog post or anywhere else you want people to go. What’s nice is you don’t have to keep changing the profile link to match the latest Instagram photo and caption like we did in the early days of Instagram. Now, you can simply add links to your Linktree account and all posts stay relevant.
Before I move on to the next hot item of 2017, I need to call out that the term social selling is also used by sales folks, which basically is referring to relationship building by bringing together CRM and social media into one place to track, engage and eventually sell, once trust and value is established between seller and buyer.
There are many services that bridge CRM and social. If you want to learn more about this area, check out Nimble and Salesforce. You can also use social media management services like AgoraPulse and SproutSocial. Both have a CRM component.
If you have physical or digital products and you haven’t started selling through social media, it’s time to start.
Community is King (and Content is Queen)
I’m sure you’ve heard the term, content is king, and that has been the case for many years, but it has shifted a bit. Nowadays, everyone is a publisher, which has led to a sea of content that people are drowning in. In 2017, it’s about rising above the noise through niche audiences, connections and micro influencers (more on that in a minute).
Content still matters. To grow your business online, you must create content that provides value. This hasn’t changed. What’s shifted is curating and creating content for a micro audience. It’s more important to cater your content to a niche audience, aka your tribe (or the tribe you want to have if you don’t have one yet), and connect around each other’s content.
Get in the habit of engaging regularly with others around their content, and if you’re connecting with the right people, they will naturally begin to know who you are and will more likely start sharing and engaging around your content, too.
Too many people–both personal brands and business brands–are only pushing out content on social media with no real engagement around the content. They’re not taking the time to engage or the content isn’t resonating with people or the people seeing it aren’t the right audience.
If this is you, it’s OK. Change it by focusing on creating content that drives engagement. Sure, not every piece of content is going to be a hit. But aim to provide content that connects and spurs emotion and conversation by serving others.
For every piece of content that you produce, have a goal of what you want it to achieve. It could be more signups for your email list or sales for a new product or course.
Whatever it is, make sure you are serving your readers (or viewers) value and then offering them a way to get more.
Also, you must make time for social listening and be consistent, so you don’t miss opportunities. Look for opportunities to have a real dialogue, which doesn’t always have to be a long, time-consuming conversation. It can be a simple comment or tweet that’s genuine and mutually beneficial, or simply supportive.
Content still matters, but it’s secondary to your community. You will increase traffic to your site and gain more loyal customers through community than you ever will through content alone.
Micro Audiences and Small Tribes
Focus on building a small tribe. Sure, that small tribe can grow into a large one, and that may be your goal, but going big is not always necessary. You can still be successful with a small community of engaged people who are your ideal customer and core audience.
If you’re just starting out or haven’t leveraged your social channels strategically in the past, focusing on building a small tribe is less intimidating and easily manageable. Everyone starts at zero and builds from there, so don’t be intimidated.
The key is building a tribe of the right people on the right social networks/platforms. Research and identify where your ideal customer hangs out, then focus on that platform.
Connect and build relationships with people who have like-interests, who have a need for what you offer or complement your offerings (think partnerships, guest blogging, groups, etc.), and provide value and support to them on a regular basis. That’s real engagement.
Remember, people buy from people they know, like and trust; and social media is one of the best ways to connect and engage with like-minded people and those who you can genuinely help.
Engagement and community have always been a key factor in social media, but what’s changed is that it’s more important to focus on one or two social media platforms versus trying to be on all of them, or worse, jumping on every new one that hits the scene.
Forget catering to the masses and going for lots of followers who never engage. You don’t need tens of thousands of people following you to be successful. You just need the right people who find value in your content and enjoy engaging with you. Focus on finding and connecting with the right people and building your tribe.
Influencer marketing has been around for a long time now and will continue to be important. What’s new in influencer marketing is the rise of micro-influencers. What is it? It’s as its name implies.
Micro-influencers are people who have smaller followings than the traditional influencers, which have tended to be celebrities and top bloggers and experts with large followings. These smaller followings, which can range between 1,000 to 10,000+ followers, are made up of people who are highly engaged with the micro-influencer around a shared interest such as food, fashion, fitness, health and so on.
As we’ve come to learn in social media, engagement is more important than reach because it’s action-oriented. That’s not to say that reach isn’t important. Of course, we want to get in front of as many people as possible, but we want the right people. In this case, less is more.
To demonstrate this point, here are two scenarios:
The first one, you pay a lot of money to a celebrity to showcase your product in a social media post of theirs and have it seen by hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of people who follow the celebrity on social media.
This will result in some conversions; however, when compared to a micro-influencer campaign, the traditional influencer results tend to be lower in engagement and conversions because many of their fans and followers are not your target audience. Celebrities and top influencers tend to attract mass audiences with broad appeal and are not niche focused.
In the second scenario, you conduct a micro-influencer campaign, which will cost less. Instead of working with one major celebrity or big-named blogger, you work with many micro-influencers whose followers are your exact target audience, which will result in higher engagement and more conversions.
Of course, the latter scenario is the most desirable and it’s why there’s been a shift to micro-influencers.
Here’s a great example of the two scenarios from Markerly, an influencer marketing company, as reported by Digiday1:
Sarah Ware, CEO and co-founder of Markerly, said that when her company engaged with the Jenner and Kardashian sisters on Instagram on behalf of a weight-loss tea company, the celebrities helped bring hundreds of conversions. Which was nice. But by activating 30 to 40 “micro-influencers,” the brand was able to convert at an even higher level.
It’s simple math. If a sportswear company, for example, collaborates with a social celebrity with 2 million followers, it can reach a big pool of audience, but 90 percent of them may not be sports fans. It would make more sense to activate 100 self-proclaimed athletes whose followers are actually interested in athletics.
To further drive this point home, Markerly conducted a study of 800,000 Instagram users, most with at least 1,000 followers. They looked at five million total Instagram posts. What they uncovered is that as the follower count rises, the engagement (likes and comments) decreases2.
In another study done by Experticity, it found that “82 percent of consumers reported they were highly likely to follow a recommendation made by a micro influencer.” And that “these influencers have up to 22.2 times more conversations each week regarding recommendations on what to buy versus an average consumer.” 3
If you want to explore influencer marketing, try a micro-influencer campaign. If your budget allows for it, you can work with an influencer marketing company. But if you cannot afford an agency and you have the time, you can do it yourself by doing some research to find micro-influencers in your industry and reach out to them directly.
One perk of doing it yourself: it’s a great way to develop a direct relationship with micro-influencers and become a part of each other’s tribes.
Chatbots are all the rage right now and will only continue to grow in 2018. A chatbot is basically a software program that is able to converse by text or audio with humans through conversational language, such as English or Spanish.
Apple’s Siri on the iPhone is one example. Amazon’s Alexa is another one. A third example is when you land on a website and a window immediately pops up to answer any questions you may have or help you find what you’re looking for.
I’m no chatbot expert and am still in the learning phase of this brave new world of artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots, but how I understand them is that there are different levels of chatbot intelligence and functionality.
Scripted bots use a document retrieval system and can converse and answer questions based on keywords, but they don’t understand context and nuances that humans do.
I know I’ve challenged Siri on multiple occasions with difficult or trick questions only to get the wrong answer. Of course, those questions are intentionally challenging just to see what funny thing Siri comes back with.
Then there are chatbots that are powered by more sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI). With these ones, you wouldn’t be certain that you were conversing with a live human or a chatbot. An example is Mitsuku, which won a Loebner Prize for being most humanlike. The Loebner Prize is an annual AI competition.
Using chatbots for your business is like having a virtual assistant that works 24/7 and helps you connect with customers and potential customers when it’s convenient for them. Some chatbots can even help customers shop and make purchases, but at the most basic level chatbots help with answering common questions that a business gets.
Many brands are jumping on the chatbot bandwagon and are using them in social media for marketing and customer service. The most popular use of chatbots in social media is with Facebook Messenger.
If you’re posting the exact same content across all your social media accounts, it’s time to stop. Native content is where the industry has moved to. Nowadays, it’s what’s expected.
Even though cross-platform auto-posting is a feature on many platforms and apps, resist using it. It’s a tempting feature to use because it saves time. If you want to use cross-platform auto-posting on your personal social channels and you’re not using them to grow a brand for business, then sure, go for it.
But if you’re trying to grow your personal brand or business brand to ultimately make money and grow a business, then it’s best not to use cross-platform auto-posting.
If you’re not sure what cross-platform auto-posting is, here is an example: You’re posting a photo on Instagram, and in the Instagram app, it lets you select the other social networks, say Twitter and Facebook, to post the same photo and caption; and as soon as you hit the publish button, it automatically publishes to your Instagram, Facebook and Twitter channels all at the same time.
Seems like a great idea to save time, right? Unfortunately, it’s not.
The reason you shouldn’t do this is that it won’t be optimized for each social media platform, only Instagram in this case. It publishes the exact same post, at the exact same time on all networks selected. This is a rookie move. Don’t do it. Native and optimized content and scheduling for optimal publishing times is the way to go (more on this in the next section).
Content created specifically for each platform will perform better. By considering each social media platform’s features, specifications, variables, and culture, you have the opportunity to create content that’s not only native to each platform but feels more authentic and genuine.
The goal is to make your tribe feel special. To give them something they’re not going to get on another platform. Sure, they may also follow you on your other social media channels, but by giving them original native content on each social channel, you give them a reason to follow each one, pay close attention and check each regularly.
If you’re going to post the same content across all your social accounts on the different platforms, then there is no reason or incentive for your followers to follow all your social channels. Again, give them a reason and then delight them with engaging content that provides value and is unique. Your audience will notice and appreciate it.
That’s not to say you can’t ever post the same content across all your social channels. You can and should, BUT, optimize it for each social media platform.
Also, if you’re not already repurposing your content, you should be and that brings us to the next section.
The Smart Way to Repurpose Content
Posting native content that’s optimized for each social media platform is the way to go, but there are some instances and pieces of content that you’ll want to repurpose again and again. But, be smart and strategic about it.
As mentioned in the previous section, you’ll want to optimize your content. This means reformatting the content, especially images, to make sure the image displays properly for each social media platform’s specification, writing the copy slightly different and using hashtags the proper way for each social media platform.
In addition to unique culture and demographics that each social media network has, each platform also has its own specifications around character length for the text copy, image size dimensions, video specifications and best practices for hashtags.
Knowing the specifications and best practices not only enables you to optimize your content, but it helps you improve the performance of your social posts.
Now you can see why you don’t want to do cross-platform auto-posting.
You might be thinking, “who has time to do this” or “sounds time-consuming.”
It can be, but it doesn’t have to be if you batch schedule and use a social media management service.
By using a social media management platform such as AgoraPulse, Hootsuite or SproutSocial, you can optimize the same piece of content to make it feel native for each social media platform, and then schedule it all at once so each publishes at the best times for reach and engagement.
Batch scheduling is a huge time-saver and I highly recommend it.
Now that you know why it’s important to re-purpose content to make it feel native and how to do it, let’s move to an example of how to re-purpose content in a different medium.
One way to give repurposed content a native feel is to take the main message and points of the content and deliver it in a different medium.
For example, take your blog post that has a call to action (CTA) in it to drive signups or downloads or sales, and share it on Twitter.
Next, take the contents of the same blog post and talk about it in a live video on Facebook.
See, same content, but delivered in a different medium on a different social media network. It makes each feel native.
Sharing your blog posts on social media is all about driving traffic to your site – and it’s something you can still do with live video using Facebook Live or YouTube.
Here’s how: In the live video, hold back one key element or tip that’s in the blog post. Or if the blog post has a CTA, and I hope it does, tease it at the top of the live video by telling your viewers that you have a freebie to give them or an exclusive with special pricing that’s only available for a limited time to anyone watching, but they must stick around to get it. Doing this encourages viewers to watch until the end.
Then at the end of your live video, mention your giveaway or another call to action and tell viewers how to get it. It could be a special code that only works for the next 30 minutes or a link to a landing page.
If it’s a website link, verbally tell them the URL (for anyone who doesn’t know, URL stands for the “Universal Resource Locator” and simply means the website address). Show the URL as a lower-thirds graphic on the video. You can add graphic overlays using Be Live or Ecamm Live, both integrate with Facebook Live.
You can also put the URL link to your offer in the comments after the live broadcast is over. This way it makes it easy for viewers to get your freebie or limited-time offer.
Now that you know how to repurpose a blog post using a live video, you can do the reverse, too. Repurpose a live video.
One live video can turn into many new pieces of content.
Pull quotes from the live video and create quote graphics or edit the video into short video clips for use on other social media platforms.
For example, you can do a live video on Facebook, and then edit it and share shorter video clips on Instagram or Twitter. Or do a live video on Periscope, also called a “scope,” and re-purpose it on YouTube or Facebook. Or do a live video on YouTube and edit clips to share on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and so on. One caveat: you probably wouldn’t want to upload the repurposed video to Snapchat.
Snapchat does allow you to upload photos and videos from your phone’s camera roll, which is fine for messaging a friend. But if you’re using it for Stories then it’s best to do live videos instead of uploading pre-recorded videos as Memories.
Plus, Snapchat’s video limit is ten seconds so you would have to edit the videos down to ten seconds and do multiple ten-second video clips if your video was longer.
If you want to use photos and videos from your phone’s camera roll, simply upload videos and photos to Snapchat by saving them to your Snapchat Memories and then you can share them as Memories. You can also add lenses, filters and emojis, which will give it the Snapchat feel.
After all, it’s those elements that made Snapchat different than other social media platforms and so enduring and why people love it.
Facebook saw how popular lenses and filters were on Snapchat, and it now offers them, too. Basically, Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories does what Snapchat does, so we’ll see how Snapchat fairs in the long run.
Speaking of live video, that brings us to our last trend, which is the biggest of them all, especially on Facebook.
Live streaming video is by far the hottest trend of 2017, and I suspect it will be in 2018, too. Online video has been gaining steam for a while now, which is why both live and pre-recorded video should be a part of your overall social media marketing strategy.
According to Cisco, video traffic will be 82 percent of all consumer Internet traffic by 2020, up from 70 percent in 2015.4 YouTube is the second largest site on the Internet followed by Facebook5, according to Alexa.
Not convinced yet? Considering these social video statistics reported by Greg Jarobe in Tubular Insights:
50% of social video views currently take place on YouTube, 36% on Facebook, and the remaining 14% is split over networks like Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat.6
More importantly, 74% of consumers said there was a connection between watching a video on social media and their purchasing decision-making process. In addition, 46% of consumers said they’ve actually made a purchase as a result of watching a brand video on social media, and another 32% said they’ve considered doing so.7
Given those facts, you can clearly see that video is a powerful medium that cannot be ignored.
However, before you dive in and test the waters, you should thoughtfully consider how you can use video in a compelling and creative way that will capture the attention of your target audience, engage them and keep them coming back for more. Test out a mix of both live and pre-recorded videos and see what performs best.
As you map out your live video strategy and content, another factor to take into account is that Facebook favors live video. This could change as more people start doing live videos, but as of now, Facebook Live videos stand a better chance of being seen by more people than recorded videos or any other type of Facebook post, so keep that in mind.
If doing video is intimidating to you, then you may want to start out with live video because that’s easiest given there’s no editing involved and you can simply use your smartphone.
One benefit of video, especially live video, is that it humanizes a brand and gives you the opportunity to have authentic and direct communications with viewers. Nothing captures emotions better than video. It’s the perfect medium for powerful storytelling and connecting in an impactful manner with your customers and potential customers.
There are a few things to consider while developing your video marketing strategy. Decide which platforms you will leverage and types of videos you’ll do, such as educational, entertainment, sneak peeks, behind the scenes, question and answers and so on. Then set your goals and track your results. As you test each element, you will soon learn what works best for your audience.
One thing you must know is that you cannot control whether your video, or any piece of content for that matter, goes viral. Nor can any social media expert do this for you. If anyone promises you that they can create a viral video for you, run the other way. They can create a super creative video that has a high chance of going viral, but there’s never a guarantee that any piece of content will go viral.
There is no exact formula to follow to guarantee your content goes viral. The more creative and entertaining a video is, the better chance of it going viral, but there are no guarantees.
You only control the final content you put out there. After that, it’s up to your community. They decide if your content is shareable; and they, along with their friends and followers, will be the ones to make your video, or other content, go viral.
Don’t focus on trying to make something go viral. Instead, focus on producing quality content that’s creative and compelling while building your tribe. With consistency and time, you will see the fruits of your labor with social media marketing.
Now that you know a few of the hottest trends, it’s time to grow your business using social media marketing like a social media pro.
Don’t forget to grab your FREE copy of my Ultimate Social Media Checklist. It is a comprehensive checklist that includes daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual activities that address strategy, community management, social customer care, crisis management, social advertising (paid social) and reporting and ROI.
The checklist will help you stay focused, consistent, engaged, growing and getting ROI from social media.
Are you ready to grow your social media and business like a pro and get ROI?
Holler at me below in the comments or on Twitter at @MiikoMentz with any questions.
AUTHOR: Miiko Mentz
Miiko Mentz is a social media marketer, public relations pro and co-founder at BentoBox Media, where she helps brands, small business owners and entrepreneurs with social media strategy, content marketing, and community engagement.
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