Social media facts and trends
The digital age has shifted advertising in ways that we could have never imagined; and it just keeps evolving. Social media has by far been the greatest rising star which has handed us access to billions of people around the world. Billions! Social media is the means in which we use to interact with each other, digest news and stories, carry out research, seek recommendations and reviews, ask for help and advice, speak to companies, plan events and even shop.
2018 saw how we interact with social media develop further with more immersive and easier ways to make purchases, the evolution of stories and even more integration with video content such as IGTV. As of January 2018, there were 44 million active social media users recorded in the UK alone; but this intense popularity is also unearthing new challenges.
Social media is a crowded market
Businesses are presented with more and more opportunities to advertise, and social ad budgets increased by 32% in 2018, but the market is becoming crowded. 78% of respondents in a 2019 Hootsuite survey have already invested, or plan to invest, in social advertising in the coming year; but with the advertising demand increasing, so are the prices. Spaces in our social feeds are limited, which has driven Facebook’s prices of ‘cost per thousand impressions’ (CPM) up by an eye-watering 112%.
But after you have invested a sizeable chunk of your digital budget on ads, the next hurdle to overcome is standing out from the crowd. The more ads that users see, the more they become numb to them. Along with the increasing number of data scandals and fake news, users are starting to become more weary of ads; often scrolling past without paying any attention to them.
There are companies that have solved this problem, and are excelling in the digital marketing space, so the question is, how do they do it? It seems essential to spend on digital marketing to keep up with everyone else, but how do we leverage a return on our investment?
How to generate returns from social media
First of all, it is important to understand straight away that there is zero guarantee that anyone is going to pay attention to your social media efforts. You can’t just keep doing what you are already doing and start throwing money at it expecting to see a miraculous change. It just won’t happen. However much you chose to invest in your social media and digital marketing, you need to pair with it an equal measure of time, creativity and data-driven targeting.
It sounds dull but quality over quantity is a truer statement than ever which you need to live by. You can’t just post consistently once day and feel satisfied that you are doing enough anymore; it just doesn’t cut it. You need to give each piece of content your undivided thought and attention. Think of each post or ad as a fully-fledged, stand-alone campaign that will capture your audience’s attention and generate engagement and discussion. If your audience is entertained or truly engaged, only then will you start to see some real return.
Spotify and Netflix are great examples here; incorporating video, motion graphics, personalisation, adopting all the latest digital marketing trends and creating immersive stories. Content writing, graphic design and video editing are key skills that businesses are prioritising; either in-house or through the use of agencies and freelancers.
The likes of Netflix and Spotify are also optimising their ad spend by carrying out A/B testing using tools that create hundreds of variants to fine-tune their audiences and ensure their targeting is driving the highest results. This leads onto my next point; targeting.
Time needs to be put into researching exactly who your audience is, what their interests are, their challenges, and how they interact with you. If you’re not sure, keep researching. Every single time you pay for an ad on social media, you need to target it to a specific group within your audience. Your audience needs to be segmented so that the posts are entirely relevant and sent to the right people at the right time. If they’re not, your money will be wasted and your ad will be lost in all the noise. Getting it right is how you generate returns from your spend. If you lack the time and resource, this is where you need to bring someone like Aspurian Digital in to help.
Gain trust from your social media followers with personalised content
Another area where we are seeing change is the type of content that should be produced. Amidst all of the fake news and scandals we are increasingly seeing online, users are starting to trust brands less. Flashy clickbait promotions and shouty discount codes have become distasteful and users are starting to revert back to only trusting personal recommendations from close friends and family on social. To overcome this challenge, 50% of users surveyed have agreed that the answer will lie in personalised content. To optimise your content, rather than focusing on achieving as much reach as possible, brands will be focusing on generating transparent and meaningful engagement.
Adidas and the New York Times are leading the way in this new method of communication by building focussed communities and sharing insightful, thoughtful and helpful content that they know their audience is passionate about. It is a nurturing technique that will take time but also create the most value for your business. Trust is everything.
2019 also sees much greater success in communication through stories over more traditional methods that provide updates within their News Feeds. Once you have curated the perfect, meaningful and personal content, you also need to deliver it in a more intimate way. Sharing content through ‘Stories’ is growing 15 times faster than News Feed-based sharing and there are now more than one billion Story users across different platforms. News Feeds have always been the primary way that people share content with each other, but Facebook has announced that Stories are set to surpass feeds within the next year, so if you want to start seeing more results, utilise your Stories. The Guardian is a good example of a company who has already nailed this trend and have found that more authentic, real Stories generate the most engagement for them over more polished types.
Define your social media goals and metrics
Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment. The social space is so crowded and if you are just doing the same as everyone else then you really will just be lost in the noise. Now is the perfect opportunity to experiment as you are working in an environment that is constantly evolving. Stand out from the norm, embrace the technological curiosity that most users have (particularly if you are targeting Gen Z) and avoid the ad fatigue.
As you start planning your strategy and mapping out your content, don’t forget to define your goals and the metrics that you’ll be measuring. There needs to be a straight line between your social activity and your business objectives.
A well-thought out, data-driven social media strategy with carefully curated and delivered content is needed to leverage the most return from your efforts. It’s a time consuming business area, but completely worth it if done right. To unlock your social media’s full potential, a company such as Aspurian Digital can come on board to release the possibilities, and convert your followers into actual paying customers.