Social media is huge – not only in our personal lives, but in our small business lives, too. What’s going to be big on social in 2014? Check out these five trends we expect to see this year:
Social Media is a Necessity
More and more customers are going to expect to find your company on at least one social media platform, and if you’re not there, they’re going to be disappointed. There’s no guarantee they’ll make the jump to your website or the phone book, so make sure you’re in front of them.
As we’ve said in the past, Facebook is a great place to start. We know you’ve heard the headlines that teenagers are moving away from Facebook, but consumers in their 20s and older are still there. A Facebook page for your business can double as a second website, especially if you haven’t made your website mobile friendly yet. Fill out your Facebook profile with your address, contact info, hours, and history so consumers can find everything they want to know about you in one place.
Looking for a second social media platform to try? Jump into Twitter or Pinterest. Both can be connected to your Facebook page so that activity on Twitter and Pinterest shows up on Facebook.
Images are King
Facebook posts that are image-based get more traffic than links or some plain-text status updates. Look at the rise of image-centric social media websites: Pinterest, Instagram, Vine, and Tumblr are huge! They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and on social media that seems to be true. You don’t need to be a professional photographer or Photoshop whiz to make it work, either. Cell phone snapshots and the simple editing tools available on your smartphone are enough to create click-worthy images for all platforms of social media.
Video Rules, Too
Interactive content is going to beat out static content. Have you tried video on your social media yet? It doesn’t have to be lengthy. In fact, microvideo is expected to be huge this year. What’s microvideo? It’s short, simple, and sweet. Thanks to the short video clips allowed by Instagram (15 seconds) and Vine (6 seconds), users are accustomed to digesting information in short bits. Challenge yourself – can you fit your message into 6 or 15 seconds?
Quality Content Matters
No matter how cool your images and video are, if they’re not relevant to your audience and fan base, they’re worthless. Know your audience and what they’re looking for and resist the urge to sell to them all the time. Tell stories, share insights, be funny, be topical. Jump on trends and breaking news. Engage with your audience, and they’ll love you for it – and even better, they’ll “share” your social media posts with their friends, increasing your reach. Brands can be most successful on social media if they focus on nurturing relationships with their customers, being entertaining, sharing deals and discounts, and offering help. Listen to your fans on social media and respond to their needs.
Not sure you can handle this on your own? Designate one or two people on you staff to be your social media voices, and work this task into their schedule. Scheduling services like HootSuite, which we use, allow you to preplan and schedule several social media posts across several platforms at once. Facebook will even let you schedule posts right on your business page.
Pay to Play
Social media has long been promoted as a free way for businesses to promote themselves, but some have seen gains when they pay for social media advertising. In fact, this is one of the biggest social media trends for this year. Whether you choose Facebook ads, promoted posts, or sponsored tweets on Twitter, paying a little for advertising can get your message in front of more people, especially when you carefully target your message. And be on alert for other social media to jump on the advertising bandwagon: Rumor has it there are paid opportunities coming to LinkedIn and Google+, too.