Last week, we attended Social Media Marketing World, an annual conference hosted by Social Media Examiner in San Diego and attended dozens of sessions about social media trends, techniques, content and more. For those of you who could not attend or are curious to learn more, here are our top five takeaways:
1. Video, video, video
SO many sessions were about the increase in video consumption from users, Facebook’s goals to become a leading video platform, the success of video in paid social advertising, and techniques to create engaging video content efficiently.
Takeaway: Brands should aim to have 60% or more of their content video–based, including both paid and organic. The old days of video being a branding tactic exclusively are gone, and video is more effective in many cases at driving traffic and conversions on ecommerce.
2. Embrace User Generated Content (UGC)
Whether you have a small local business or you are a large international brand, UGC is a trend you cannot ignore. Marketing is no longer about your story, it’s about their story. They being your consumer. Your brand is no longer what you tell customers it is, it is about what your customers tell each other. When it comes to your content strategy, stock images and staged scenes are becoming antiquated and overlooked, especially on social media. I like to equate UGC to the new “word of mouth” advertising – but instead of talking, people are sharing content, and lots of it.
Takeaway: Incorporate UGC into your content strategy, whether it be on your owned properties or your paid placements. One way of doing this is creating and sharing a hashtag for a specific product launch or promotion and offering people a chance to be featured on your social media pages if they use your hashtag. (Don’t forget to ask for permission before using people’s images!) Another tactic includes tapping into a UGC network like Insense to create custom content from a network of talented micro–influencers.
Here’s a great example of a campaign from Aerie that effectively engaged with shoppers, generated UGC, and raised money for charity at the same time:
3. Understand Your Data
We all know that leveraging data is important, whether that be target market and shopper information, website activity, or measurement and performance from your advertising channels. However, many brands have yet to embrace the important data coming from social channels that could have an important impact on your budgeting and marketing decisions. We learned about several (free!) tools from Facebook that help marketers accomplish data–driven projects, such as creating customer avatars and understanding the role social plays in your customer’s path to conversion.
Takeaway: Check out the new Facebook Analytics tool, which tracks how people interact across all your channels and properties. When it comes to analyzing our clients’ social strategies at Adlucent, we find the Funnels and Lifetime Value features particularly useful.
4. Human Interaction is Still Important
Well, digital humans at least. Customer service is now re–defined and brands should embrace social media networks to interact with customers and build community. We already talked about UGC, but there are other ways for businesses to engage with people online. Promoting certain causes that align with your brand, embracing social technology, and highlighting people are valuable in building your brand by creating conversation and connection.
The North Face, for example, posts excellent videos on YouTube and their other channels that don’t have dialogue, don’t showcase products and don’t even include a call to action. They just show people – people connecting to each other and the environment and doing awesome stuff:
Takeaway: Revisit the ways you interact with shoppers now. Do you rely on them to fill out a form on your website, email or call you for customer service? If so, consider incorporating chat bots into Facebook messenger to answer customer service questions in real time. Your users are on social, and it’s not going away, so meet them where they are spending time. Is all of your social content product–feature– and benefit–focused? If so, consider ways to engage in a more authentic and touching way with your community, with topics they care about. Make it about them, not about you.
5. Explore New Advertising Techniques on Social
OK, maybe we’re a little biased on this one being that we’re an advertising agency, but a good chunk of sessions at the conference were around building a strong paid social program to expand your brand’s reach and drive specific goals, such as an event signup or a website conversion. With all of the different social channels, placements and measurement available nowadays, if you’re not investing in social ads, you’re likely handing market share over to your competitors who are. Similarly, if you are still relying on Facebook newsfeed ads alone, you may be challenged with scale, since Facebook is serving Stories content and video more and more.
Takeaway: Audit your paid social program – how are you measuring results? What attribution model are you using? What types of content are you serving? Which ad placements are you NOT testing? Right now, Instagram Stories has top inventory available, but, proportionally, very few advertisers are leveraging it. Pinterest Shopping Ads are another new, high–converting placement for ecommerce brands where we’ve seen strong results with our clients so far.
At Adlucent, our motto is "Better Every Day," and we believe that learning is an ongoing journey, so in the ever–evolving world of social media, a conference like Social Media Marketing World is a fantastic way to learn from other social media experts, marketers and business owners. If you need help building your digital strategy and implementing these takeaways, let’s chat!