Our 2018 Social Media Marketing Predictions

In the Information Age change is the only constant and that’s especially true of the social media industry, where a seemingly endless line of innovators are waiting to take their shot at changing the world with their idea for the next big thing. In fact, it doesn’t even need to be a big thing. Even small, seemingly inconsequential changes can end up having a profound impact on the big picture, just like the advent of the Twitter hashtag.

So with that in mind, what changes can social media marketing professional expect to see in 2018?

A Great Year for Instagram and Snapchat

While Facebook remains the biggest fish in the pond by a considerable margin, Instagram (owned by Facebook) looks to be performing very well too. At present the number of brands using Instagram for marketing is roughly level with Twitter at around 69%, according to eMarketer, but that figure is set to rise 75% over the next two years while Twitter usage is predicted to remain level at 66%. That change is certain to bring an increase to Instagram’s already impressive ad revenues (expected to hit $6.8 billion by 2019).

Snapchat is nowhere close to matching that level of success, but eMarketer predicts that, thanks to improved advertising tools, the platform should make $1.18 billion in revenues this year – an annual increase of over 80% and by far the strongest growth in the sector.

Social Media Advertising Transparency

Facebook’s grip on the social advertising market looks set to tighten in 2018, with the social network predicted to account for 10% of all US advertising spend throughout the year, achieving ad revenues of $21.6 billion. As brands increase budgets in social advertising they’re demanding greater transparency into how that investment is performing.

The days when CMOs would simply hand over budget to the media agency and hope for the best are over, a new breed of tools (such as Sysomos Analyze) provides unprecedented real-time insight into how campaigns are performing. This means marketers can now see exactly where their budget is going and make quick, smart decisions about how to optimize their social campaigns based on live data.

There’s another kind of transparency issue at play here too. As we hear more about the use of social media advertising to influence the outcome of elections it seems highly likely that governments (and citizens) around the world will demand that these platforms be more open about who is paying for such ads, so expect to see the industry become more regulated in the coming years.

Visual Social Media Listening Adoption

Expect marketers to make visual social media listening much more of a priority, as it moves from a ‘nice to have’ to ‘need to have.’ The technology has matured and is edging closer to mainstream adoption, so more organizations are using it as part of their ongoing social media monitoring activity rather than just for experimentation.

The starting point is usually logo recognition, but image recognition technologies are now much more advanced, and marketers should think of more creative applications beyond mere brand monitoring. If you’d like to learn more about this technology, download our visual listening  eBook.

Video Content

Production costs continue to fall as new technologies make it easier and cheaper than ever to create high quality video content.  The rewards for getting it right can be huge, because consumers have demonstrated an insatiable appetite for video and, it seems, there’s growing demand for longer videos as people have grown comfortable with watching them on handheld devices.

According to research from entertainment industry consultancy, Activate, the average amount of time consumers spend viewing video content on social channels will double from 8 minutes per day in 2017 to 16 minutes in 2021.

There’s also still plenty of opportunity in live-streaming video now that the technology is firmly integrated into Facebook, Twitter and other channels. It’s not for everybody, but there’s potential for brands to really get creative with how they use this medium and differentiate themselves from competitors.

Influencer Marketing will get Tougher but Better

Reach won’t be enough for marketers as they try to calculate the value of influencer programs. Metrics will have to improve so that marketers can get a better sense of audience relevance and content quality, and some direct response marketers will look for a clearer return on investment.

On top of this, authorities in major economies are beginning to look more closely at the way influencer marketing works and shine a light on some of the more dubious practices. Expect to see increasing regulation and more transparency, which should be a good thing in terms of cleaning up the industry. Instagram has already begun to push its most influential users to be more transparent when posting sponsored content, for fear of being hit by FTC fines.

Research has shown that word-of-mouth driven by marketing activity generates double the sales that conventional advertising does, and those customers have a 37% higher retention rate,so it’s easy to see the enduring attraction of influencer marketing. You can download our eBook to learn more about influencer marketing KPIs.

Conclusion

The social media industry gets bigger and more complex every year, so these are just a few of changes you’re likely to see over the next twelve months. If you’re interested in getting a broader snapshot of the social media landscape, why not download our report on everything CMOs need to know about social media in 2018

Crisis Management: How 3 Brands Recovered Right Away

It might be a side effect of how many of us live online, but brand crises seem to be coming at a faster clip than ever before. Uber is a prominent example of a brand that stumbled, kept stumbling, and has yet to recover.

And while some brands have had a hard time coming up for air, others, seemingly poised for a crash, pull back in the nick of time and keep moving along as if nothing happened. By taking a closer look at how brands recovered, we might learn what makes an “almost crisis” peter off and turn into a mere blip.

Even though we believe tracking brand keywords through your media monitoring and social listening tools and keeping an eye out for early warning signs that trouble is heading your way is the best defense against full-scale crisis, it doesn’t hurt to pick up a tip or two from brands who were caught off guard.

Here Are the Ways 3 Brands Recovered

1. Wonder Woman and thinkThin®

It isn’t an exaggeration to say that Wonder Woman was one of the most anticipated action films of 2017. As consumers discussed the film on social media prior to its premiere, so did brands in conference rooms. Of course, those discussions would inevitably yield cobranded promotions.

While it’s certain that a variety of snack bars were competing to have the right to sponsor a campaign around the movie, the honor went to thinkThin. Unfortunately for thinkThin, it’s their brand name that caused a disconnect with audiences’ expectation.

Everything else being equal, if the bar were named thinkHealthy, (presumably) there wouldn’t have been an almost-crisis. So what ended up happening?

Condemnation rained from mainstream media and social media for a week or so, and by the time the film was released in June 2017, there was little mention of the ill-conceived partnership. Wonder Woman went on to become a huge blockbuster and neither brand was boycott.

Why did it blow over so quickly? Because 2017 was a hard yet empowering year for women. We started the year at the biggest international march in history and finished with large clap backs with the #metoo movement. And while they didn’t call off the campaign, neither brand promoted it on social media. There was no press release and the partnership was a trip to the premiere presumably, that continued, but there was no mea culpa or press release announcement of the winner(s). Without increased promotion of the partnership, it faded from social media, as the public moved on to other pressing issues.

brand RECOVERIES

According to Meltwater’s Insight Reports, negative sentiment around the Wonder Woman and thinkThin® partnership’ spiked and disappeared within a week.

2. Marvel and Northrop Grumman

Timed to launch at the NYC Comic-Con, Marvel and Northrop Grumman based their partnership on an existing template: slick, branded superheroes with superpowers that embody their sponsor’s corporate values and culture. In this case, it was a new team of “Northrop Grumman Elite Nexus” superheroes fighting alongside Marvel’s popular Avengers. The goal was to highlight aerospace initiatives, STEM education, and forward-thinking technology by Northrop Grumman. Turns out Northrop Grumman’s reputation as a defense contractor rubbed comic aficionados wrong. Tellingly, one person pointed out that Tony Stark’s company produced weaponry, forcing him to turn his back on it when he realized its affects on humanity. Within 24 hours of the very vocal outcry on Twitter, the activation campaign and relationship was canceled.

Admitting that they didn’t think the partnership through, Marvel pulled out. A quick mea culpa made the almost-crisis immediately dissipate and Marvel went on to enjoy their lauded position at the NYCC.

brand recoveriesAccording to Meltwater’s Insight Reports, the Northrop Grumman and Marvel Entertainment relationship afforded both brands a spike in social media, but that quickly died down within days.

3. Bedrock “See Detroit Like We Do”

Bedrock Detroit launched a campaign whose aim was to empower their namesake city. The tagline was “See Detroit Like We Do” and included images of urban professionals enjoying a downtown life of dining out, entertainment, and work. The thing is, in planning the shoot and booking models, the campaign forgot an essential aspect of Detroit, its diversity.

Considering the levels of planning and approval these images must have gone through before being placed on posters around the metro-area, it’s a wonder that someone didn’t say, “Hey, if we’re using this tagline, should we make sure it includes different aspects of the population, whether that is skin color, age, family structure, or other socioeconomic factors?”

Once the outrage popped up, Bedrock Detroit founder, Dan Gilbert, personally issued an apology and the ad campaign was pulled. Even as the mainstream media covered the issue’s eruption on social media, the general public moved on to other matters. The question that remains is, will Bedrock be more conscientious going forward? Will they show Detroit as “a city that is open, diverse, inclusive?” Hopefully using the data that their community and audience is sharing with them about their campaigns will guide their future campaigns.

brand recoveries

According to Meltwater’s Insight Reports, the Bedrock campaign caused tonality (sentiment) to dip negatively for the Detroit realtor, but within two weeks the brand was back in the green.

PR Takeaways

Using a media monitoring and social listening platform likely assisted these brands in quickly responding to their communities. Considering how quickly decisions were made, it looks like Marvel and Bedrock Detroit had crisis plans in place. Springing into action to stem the blood flow with succinct apologies and pulling the campaigns in question requires both an agile and prepared PR team. And while those responsible for the thinkThin partnership can’t necessarily apologize for their approach (since it’s the product’s name that caused the public to react), their ability to keep their cool and step away from the ledge also indicates that a crisis plan was likely already in place. Their decision to not promote (if not quite cancel) their #thinkWonderWoman campaign resulted in social media moving on by June 8, less than a week after the film’s premiere. Every one of these brands was spared a protracted crisis by their quick thinking and prepared comms team.

To make sure you have signposts in place before your brand is mentioned in social media, download our e-book on crisis comms. Being prepared for a crisis well before you’ll need it is the easiest way to recover quickly.

Brands recovered

Staying on Trend: The Importance of Monitoring Trending Topics Online

One of the most effective tactics you can implement for public relations (PR), social media and content marketing is real-time monitoring of trending topics online. Trending topics are what people are discussing online right now. For example, Twitter trends identify topics that are currently popular on the platform. What’s popular right now might not have been popular an hour ago or yesterday.

Trending topics are powerful, as they can reveal what people’s interests and intentions are – and also what is happening right now. If there is a surge in people searching online for the term ‘unemployment insurance’ for example, this could suggest that unemployment levels are rising. If you’re an expert on unemployment insurance, or if you’re in the business of providing unemployment insurance, this opens up an opportunity to share any information or advice.

At a basic level, real-time monitoring of trending topics online is a great place to start if you’re looking to brainstorm ideas for new marketing content (such as a blog post or online video) that is relevant and important to your audience.

Best-in-Class Media Outreach Is Informed by Conversation

Tech-savvy PR pros are especially interested in topics that journalists are covering. They will read articles and blog posts, listen to their podcasts, follow them on social media, and use media intelligence tools; all to help them identify the topics a journalist is interested in based on what they are writing about. If you know what interests influencers, journalists, and your intended audience, you can tailor your content to their interests.

Trending topics are effective for capturing the attention of a broader audience. Writing a blog post about a popular trending topic can give your website/blog a huge traffic boost. Every tweet, Facebook status update, comment, and blog entry can cover a whole range of topics. And if there’s a groundswell of interest in a subject online, you can easily monitor it with your media monitoring platform.

Conversely, you may be interested in a topic that you think is worth talking about, but there may not be much information online right now. Media intelligence can help you research the level of interest for that topic over time and help to decide whether you should create any content. It could turn into a trending topic if you create content that resonates with the audience you’re looking to reach.

Use Media Intelligence Outside of PR and Social

Monitoring trends isn’t only for content creation. Trending topics can help influence other marketing efforts and business decisions too. Back to my previous example about ‘unemployment insurance’ – you may decide to implement a sales and marketing campaign to connect with an audience that is interested in unemployment insurance.

Or, if you’re about to launch a new product – you could search for keywords that relate to your industry to better understand your market. You may find that certain consumers oppose certain ingredients, such as palm oil. Knowing this info can help you determine the ingredients you use in your new product.

To monitor what topics are trending (and also not trending) online can make a significant impact on our business and marketing strategy. The valuable and timely insights gained can really help us make better marketing and business decisions.

This article originally appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald, it is printed here with permission.

Top 5 Instagram Marketing Trends CMOs Should Prepare for in 2018

If your brand still doesn’t have a social media marketing strategy in place, you’re falling behind. Social media has become an integral element of every brand’s digital marketing strategy (and with reason). With major social media networks like Instagram growing at such a rapid pace, it’s hard to ignore the impact social media has in the marketing space.

Pictures are better than a thousand words… And no platform demonstrates this better than Instagram. Instagram is increasingly becoming the important social media channel in a comm pro’s toolbox. That’s why keeping up with Instagram marketing trends are fundamental. The visually-driven social media network has seen immense growth over the past year and isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. Its effectiveness as a channel for brands to reach their target audience, which will continue to be the case in 2018.

As marketers, we recognize the immense opportunity Instagram offers brands in being able to reach their audience like never before. In a digital world where social media carries such significance, CMOs simply cannot avoid integrating Instagram into their 2018 strategy.

Marketers Share Ultimate Instagram Guide for CMOs

To fully leverage the potential of Instagram, CMOs need to take a forceful approach in crafting their marketing strategy for the new year. However, experienced digital recruiters know a thoroughly-prepared plan isn’t merely enough – a strong team of marketers capable of supporting your strategy is what makes it truly effective.

While there may be no perfect solution to make your Instagram marketing efforts successful, there are a few key measures to take to drive desired results. Here are 5 trends digital marketing recruiters encourage CMOs to focus on in 2018 to ensure their team is fully equipped to take on the new year.

The Rise of Instagram Stories

When Instagram first released its Stories feature a little over a year ago, it received mixed reviews as some saw its potential while others thought of it as just another tactic to copy other social media applications like Snapchat.

However, its popularity has soared among both users and businesses over the past year. Instagram Stories allows users to share daily moments with images and video that disappear after 24 hours. This makes it easy for content creators and social media marketers to create compelling content and advertisements that are easy to consume.

Instagram is supported by Facebook and its forceful advertising features – this allows CMOs to take advantage of tools such as Power Editor and Ads Manager to control how often they target their audience and tools that provide insight into the performance of their campaigns.

Similar to Snapchat, Instagram Stories offers a feature that allows users to play with face filters and is the perfect way to have fun with your stories. In addition to advertising and promoting your brand, marketing recruiters encourage CMOs to use Stories as a way to present company culture and introduce members of your team in an entertaining and carefree way. This allows your audience to see that you’re not just a money-hungry company but rather a brand that they can personally connect with!

Video Content Is [and Will Be] King

Video is one the most effective forms of content in the digital marketing landscape. This type of visual content is extremely powerful and allows brands and marketers to create immersive content that will effectively drive engagement and create a unique experience for their audience.

In today’s competitive digital space, you simply can’t avoid implementing video into your content strategy. Thus, recruiters stress the need for CMOs to build a team of marketing talent who understands the power of video and is capable of producing dynamic video content. Whether you’re using video content to post to your Stories, or posting a preview of a YouTube video on your profile, high-quality content that is a thumb-stopper drive the most engagement so a team of experts is critical.

Influencer Marketing Continues to Thrive

Collaborating with influencers is still a powerful method of reaching core audiences you may never have had access to before, and will continue to boost brand awareness and engagement in 2018. When you find the right influencer to represent your brand, it can become one of the best ways to reach a wider audience organically.

Depending on how big their following is, the power Instagram influencers can have is incredible. Influencers with hundreds to millions of followers are able to introduce your brand and help you reach new communities of people you don’t have access to through other channels. However, the number of followers shouldn’t determine whether an influencer is a right fit for your company. That’s why marketing recruiters recommend identifying social media marketers that are able to seek out influencers whose values align with the brand.

The influencer community on Instagram is massive with an even larger cohort of followers that cross numerous demographics and groups. By combining the right offer with an influencer that accurately represents your brand image, you will see a significant return on Instagram marketing.

Marketing Is Nothing Without Data

Accounts that are business profiles have access to Insights, Instagram’s analytics tool. Insights allow you to access data that can be used to significantly improve your Instagram marketing efforts and campaigns. With access to insights regarding impressions, reach, website clicks, follower activity, video views, and saves, you have the opportunity to learn more about your audience and their needs. Understanding your target audience and how they intersect with influencer audiences can help you co-create engaging content they want to see. That’s why a media monitoring platform can give you additional insights about your followers, your influencers, their followers, your competitors, and your industry keywords.

Use these insights to learn about your consumers and engage with them. Ensure that you have a team of marketing analysts that can understand data and translate it into actionable information. The tools you use are only as good as the human intelligence you have to support them.

Engage, Engage, Engage!

Digital recruiters recognize that brands often neglect to pay enough attention to the engagement and interaction with users on their own page. This is a big mistake as abandoning great content is an unfortunate way to hinder additional engagement. Something as simple as a ‘like’ on a comment or a thank you reply will show that you are truly invested engaging with your audience.

Re-purpose content from the user – post pictures or video from users that involve your products or services. This is a fairly simple way to interact with your audience and post unique content. The more users see you engage with your audience, the more they will return that back.

Use relevant hashtags to boost engagement with your posts. By creating a trend of hashtags unique to your brand and re-posting user-generated content from those hashtags on your page – this will is a fairly simple way to drive user engagement.

Show your followers the human side of your brand – organically interact with them by following them back, replying to their comments and re-posting their content. This will do wonders in boosting brand loyalty and ultimately profit.

Final Words

In a highly competitive industry, brands need to embed themselves into their consumers’ lives to set themselves apart. Digital recruiters know there’s no better social platform to do that on than Instagram. This channel is a creative and compelling way to reach your target audience and create engaging interactions like no other platform can. Whether you’re a global brand or small business, focusing on these trends will increase your following on one of the biggest social platforms in 2018 and beyond.

While following these trends is key to ensuring that your brand sees success on Instagram, it substantially depends on your leadership as a CMO and the team you have to support your social media marketing strategy. Without the right support, your efforts on any platform are essentially pointless.

To learn more about Instagram marketing, download our on-demand webinar.

 

This article originally appeared in MarketPro, it was written by Bob Van Rossum from Business2Community, and is legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How to Design a New Brand Identity for Your Business

Are you finding it hard to develop a brand identity? Or have you been falsely under the assumption that you fully understand the identity of your brand, even though it isn’t really clear to the general public?

Developing a brand identity is essential to the success of your business.

The Internet has more than 2.5 million active users on social media and more than 3 billion people access the web from their desktop computers, smart phones, tablets, and other devices.

Many of these people may be looking for your products and services, but they’ll never know your name unless you create a strong, trustworthy brand that customers can identify with.

Here is a simple three-step process to help you design a new brand identity.

1. Undergo a Brand Audit

Before you can begin redeveloping your brand, it’s time to step back, look closely at your current brand identity, and see how your current clients view your business. While you’re at it, to truly achieve success during the brand identity development stages, it’s also incredibly important to discover your ideal customer.

What drives the growth of your company? Is it a particular product or service? Why do customers buy this product or service? How do they view your company?

By taking time to answer these questions, you’ll be able to discover your ideal customer by determining what they find appealing about your business and the products and services you have to offer them.

Once you have determined this valuable information, you’ll be able to use it to craft a marketing message that your ideal target audience will respond to very positively.

We’re not done yet, though, because, now, you have to spend time performing competition analysis. Thoroughly review your competitors’ websites, check out their advertising, look at the brand identity they’ve created, see how they fare with search engine optimization, and anything else you can think of.

By thoroughly analyzing the competition, you’ll be able to determine who you are competing against for valuable market share. This will help you differentiate yourself from the crowd and it will even help you determine the best strategies to employ to compete in your market.

If you’re wondering, “What should I choose as the PMS color for my logo?” Looking over your competitors’ color schemes can also provide valuable insight into this important decision as well.

So take time to conduct an audit of your own brand and the competition, and then use the valuable information you learn to develop your own corporate identity.

2. Develop Your Message and Unique Value Proposition

In this next step, you’ll find it nearly impossible to achieve success rebranding your company if you fail to identify your core philosophies.

By core philosophies, we mean understanding your company’s values, which you’ll use to create a mission statement for your customers to understand and for your team to live by.

But that’s not all because you also have to figure out your brand value proposition and know what you have to offer your customers.

Once you’ve determined your core philosophy, mission statement, and unique value proposition, you’ll then be able to create a foundation that will allow you to build a brand representative of your company mission and what you’d like to present to the world.

As an example, let’s say you own an HVAC company in Miami, Florida. Your core philosophy could be that you never want your customers to go without air-conditioning for more than six hours. So, you’d have to work hard every day to make sure you repair your customers’ broken ACs quickly and efficiently.

In turn, your company’s unique value proposition could be 24/7/365 emergency air-conditioning services no matter if it’s early in the morning or the middle of the night.

You’ll set yourself apart from the rest of the competition by showing up to your customers’ homes when other HVAC companies are sleeping or eating dinner with their family or doing any number of other things besides repairing air-conditioners.

Your mission statement could be as follows:

At XYZ Miami HVAC Services, we vow to repair our customers’ air-conditioners no later than six hours after being notified of a problem. If it turns out our customer needs an entirely new air-conditioning system, we will provide a temporary AC unit until we install their new system. We promise to live up to our mission each and every day and will do our best to make sure our customers are always comfortable at home or work and they always have some form of air-conditioning keeping them cool day and night.

With a strong brand identity and a message such as this, your company will definitely stand out amongst other HVAC service providers and customers will begin flocking to you in droves. It’s inevitable as long as you live up to your mission and stick to your message.

3. Refine Your Brand Identity

Now that you’ve discovered your value to potential customers, you should occasionally analyze your brand identity and make tweaks accordingly if it will help create a stronger business model.

You have to do whatever it takes to remain competitive in your market, so remember to check in from time to time and look at your unique value proposition.

Is it still unique? Or have many of your competitors adopted the same attitude? Is the competition now providing the same level of service?

If your current brand identity isn’t as unique as it once was, it’s time to make some changes. Refine the promises you make to your customers and do something new to stand out and attract their attention.

Your brand identity is much more than just a mission statement; it reflects your values, character, and the way you think, too.

As you can see, designing a new brand identity is crucial to the success of your business. Take this process seriously and follow the steps we’ve shared with you today. Once you’re through, you’ll have no trouble standing out in your market and you’ll be able to deliver unique value to your customers that they will truly appreciate.

When you’re delving deeper into your value proposition consider analyzing the data around your brand to help tell your story and where it is going. Downloading our free ebook, Make Powerful Impressions with Statistics, can help.

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This article originally appeared in Bookmark, it was written by Aleah Taboclaon from Business2Community, and legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.