Welcome to 2015.
I began blogging on Maximize Social Business in 2014 with my 6 social media trends to watch evolve post. I want to begin 2015 by both looking at how those trends have evolved as well as what new ones have appeared. What do those trends mean to your social media strategy in 2015. In other words, where should you focus your social media efforts in 2015?
Some might see this post as really an extension of what I spoke of a year earlier because, while some things have changed, a lot really hasn’t. It takes time for people and sometimes technology to catch up with some of the trends I see. Therefore, I don’t see this post as being repetitive. I see it as a confirmation of the further evolution of emerging social media trends in 2015.
Some of these trends have evolved more rapidly or have become more mainstream than others. Either way, there’s always room for improvement with optimization. Therefore, let me get started with my list of nine things you should focus your social media efforts on in 2015.
No. 1: Content. Content, content, content.
You can’t talk about marketing these days without talking about content marketing. You almost can’t talk about content marketing without talking about social media marketing, and you certainly can’t talk about social media marketing without talking about content marketing as well.
With the convergence of information and communication, brands and companies need to have content to engage with social media users. That’s just a fact. At a minimum, therefore, content gives companies something to talk about in social.
We all know about the central role that content plays in social, but I believe with most companies, whether it’s social media strategy alignment, choice of platform, establishing a voice, curating and creating the content itself, the frequency and timing of publishing content, or even the mere existence of a blog or not, there is always going to be room for improvement, and for some companies it will be a lot of room.
No. 2: The visual.
When we talk about content in 2015, we must talk about the visual. When we talk about visual, there are a few different things we can talk about.
You need to have a visual voice, a visual strategy, and visual content. You also need visuals to spruce up whatever content you post on social because it’s going to help you get more visibility in the social media news feeds. You also have social networks that are purely based on visuals, primarily Pinterest and Instagram, but also Snapchat and let’s not forget about YouTube or even Vine. Are you on these platforms? Is there potential for you to leverage them and maximize your social?
It’s 2015: The time is now for your company to create a visual voice.
No. 3: Mobile.
Snapchat and Instagram are purely mobile social networks. In some communities, or some target user audiences or demographics, people spend more time on mobile than on the web itself. Being active in social, considering that a lot of people do social from a mobile device, is actually the beginning to having a mobile social strategy. Obviously, any link you put on your website or landing page has to be mobile responsive as well: The more active you become on social, the more mobile-ready your website, or whatever digital assets there are, have to be.
Just by spending more time in social is going to help your mobile indirectly, but also spending more time on the purely mobile platforms are going to help you even more. The purely mobile platforms being primarily Instagram but also for some, depending on your target demographic, Snapchat. If you didn’t think Instagram was for you, wake up: It’s 2015.
No. 4: Process.
In 2015, not only are you going to be splicing and dicing your content for the different platforms, but you will end up doing the same for the visuals you’re going to be using: You’re going to have to recreate and reformat your visual content for each of the platforms, including mobile.
It’s going to get really complicated really fast.
What I am stressing in 2015 is the same whether you are already implementing social media marketing for your company, on behalf of your clients, or for yourself: We all need to scale. The only way to scale is if you have a process.
After all, if you don’t have a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.
You need to have a process around your social media so you can scale. You need to teach others in your organization to be able to fill in for each other to prepare for emergencies. If the person you have doing social on your behalf was to leave and go to another company, how are you going to manage and implement all of this? Your social media program has to be defined by process and always optimized.
We just might see the first Social Media Operations employee soon.
No. 5: Advocacy.
The other thing that’s driving the need for managing your social media marketing operations and creating processes is the growth of internal and external advocacy programs. I talked specifically about employee advocacy at the beginning of 2014, but I want to talk about advocacy in general here. Whether it’s engaging influencers who you hope will advocate for your brand, whether it is your present fans acting as brand advocates, or whether it’s employee advocacy, the whole idea is that advocacy is going to allow your organization to scale, gain access to, and generate brand awareness from networks and communities that might know little to nothing about you.
We’ve been talking about influencer marketing now for some time. These days the conversation seems to have shifted more and more from influencer marketing to brand advocacy. Beginning with 2014, we talked a lot more about employee advocacy, and what is really fueling the employee advocacy storm right now in 2015 from a lot of clients I have is the advent of social selling, i.e. the hidden gap between getting salespeople to be sharing marketing content into their networks in order to brand themselves as experts to generate more inbound leads and create deeper relationships with their clients, and the huge gap that still exists as to the actual creation of that content and voice that is appropriate to do so.
I hope to see a greater alignment between social media marketers and sales departments in 2015.
No. 6: Ownership.
Something that we don’t talk enough about in corporate social media is the concept of ownership: Ownership by the brand or business of your content, strategy, and social media process. If you don’t’ have ownership of your own social media content and engagement, your social media simply is not going to be as effective. You’re going to lack internal processes because you’ve completely outsourced it. When you get to advocacy, especially employee advocacy, it’s going to be a lot harder to have an authentic effort unless a great deal of your program was created in-house.
If you do a lot of work with agencies, it’s time to ensure that you have enough ownership of your program, beginning with your strategy. I’m not saying to stop outsourcing work, but to strive to get more ownership.
If you’re doing 100% of your social media internally, you need to have more ownership throughout the company, not just in one department or one person. It has to be by group because this is social media. It involves everyone out there in the public. It also involves every single department you have in your company.
No. 7: Education.
When we talk about advocacy and ownership, the need for internal education becomes even stronger. With every employee advocacy or social selling program that companies want to launch, there is a need to educate employees.
I do a lot of these employee advocacy, social selling, and general social media marketing trainings. My professional existence is all about education, whether it is my podcast (see below), the Social Tools Summit, the Social Media Center of Excellence, Maximize Your Social, or this Maximize Social Business blog. It’s all about that education. It’s what fuels my passion, passion about empowering others, and I hope that you will take it to heart that you will need to focus more on social media education and raising the social media literacy of your employees in 2015, especially if you haven’t done so before.
No. 8: Paid Social.
In 2015, you need to be putting more of your budget in paid social and leverage it to amplify your content, build brand awareness, bring users into your social media funnel, and to augment all of your other social media efforts. Remember: People can’t scale. Paid social allows you to scale.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a spend of $5, $500, $5,000, or $5,000,000 a day. Paid social helps your social media efforts become a lot more targeted and ensure that you’re getting your content in front of – and clicks from – the people you want to be engaging with.
No. 9: Automation.
We all know about the benefits of marketing automation. On the other hand, there are new marketing platforms emerging that are purely based on automating things you do in social media. I think we’re going to see a lot more of these platforms emerge in the not-so-distant future because, similar to paid social, automation allows you to scale your social media.
Two emerging startups which showcase the potential of social media automation are Socedo, whom I’m a proud user of, and SocialCentiv. These are two platforms that, based on different social listening triggers, allow you to architect and automate campaigns, communication, follows, engagement, or what have you.
Automation is not evil if it’s done right. It’s very easy to do it wrong, but there are savvy ways of doing it, and with the technology, and with the platforms I’m seeing, I think it’s a really great way to scale because we all know with social media marketing, there’s too much to do, too little time, and everybody is looking for results. That’s where these tools are going to come in handy. Like I said, I can’t wait to see them develop in 2015.
If you’re interested in the tools side of social media, you’ll definitely want to check out the Social Tools Summit that I’m organizing in Boston on May 12, 2015.
Want to hear me talk about the above in more depth? Listen to this episode on my Maximize Your Social podcast below!
That’s it. Did I miss any? What are you focusing on? Hopefully anything you’re focusing on in your social media effort is within one of these nine things, but if not, let me know by commenting below.