The 2018 Social Marketing Playbook

6 Practical Tips for Digital and Social Marketing Success
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  • Digital and social media marketing evolves rapidly. Here are the top 6 priorities marketers should focus on in the coming year and my tips for optimizing their outcomes.

    1. Leverage Influencers

    Influencer marketing refers to brands and businesses contracting with individuals that have large, engaged followings on social media to create content that improves the visibility of the brand’s products and services among the influencers’ followers.

    There are 4 categories of social media influencers: Mega-celebrities and platform stars (1M+ followers), Macro-influencers (10,000 – 1M followers), Micro-influencers who are popular with a niche market of 5000- 10,000 followers, and Nano-influencers who are alpha-fans of a brand and are active on social media but have less than 5,000 followers.

    Most consumer brands have worked with Macro-influencers. A post or series of branded posts from a Macro-influencer may cost $5,000 – $100,000. Talent agents represent many of them.

    Micro-influencers are often bloggers whose followers represent specific demographic audiences. They can be found through influencer platforms such as Mention, BuzzSumo, TapFusion, Revfluencer, Neoreach, and Traackr.

    Small businesses find great success in partnering with Micro and Nano-influencers. These are popular individuals in a local market or industry niche who often reach a highly engaged, small group of followers. They work for lower rates and can help a company generate and test content ideas. New automated platforms are being developed to locate and reward Nano-influencers. This exciting development will help small business to participate in influencer marketing in a more efficient way.

    Pro Tips: Companies should identify influencers that have obtained strong engagement and conversions to purchases. Expect to promote influencer content with paid advertising. Make sure the influencer’s audience aligns with your target customers and that all of the desired deliverables related to the type of content produced and how long it will remain on a platform is itemized in a written contract. I expect the FCC to increase their efforts to enforce disclosure rules relating to sponsored content by influencers in the near future.

    2. Experiment with Chatbots and Messaging Apps –

    The New Frontier for Customer Communication

     The term Chatbot refers to a computer program that simulates human conversation through voice commands or text chat based on natural language processing and artificial intelligence. Chatbots can be embedded for use in any major messaging application. Since the natural language processing functionality is limited at this stage, the feature is often referred to as a bot.

    Marketers are experimenting with ways to use bots to reduce the cost and friction of providing service to customers online.

    Facebook introduced bots on Messenger in April 2016 for brands to customize and interact with customers on their Facebook Pages. At this point, the bots are based on menu selections rather than true artificial intelligence. In fact, online tools such as Chatfuel, Botsify and OnSequel are available to help businesses create Facebook Messenger bots without having to use computer programming.

    Despite the fact that chatbots are still in early stages of development, their substantial promise lies in their ability to easily deliver interactive messaging that answers frequently asked questions and enables users to receive alerts on offers and deals.

    Pro Tip: Invite customers to interact with your business through Facebook Messenger before you create a bot. This will allow you to establish a context for future interactive communication.Keep in mind that Facebook is anxious to have brands provide content to their customers and fans through Messenger so they can expand the distribution of advertising to this channel. Be on the lookout for advertising opportunities within Facebook Messenger and What’s App.

    3. Increase Paid Advertising on Social Media Platforms –

    It’s the Best Way to Get Your Content Seen

    Social Media marketing now requires paid media buys for most content from businesses to be seen on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Advertising platforms change their features frequently.

    Therefore, I recommend hiring a specialist to manage your social media advertising when your monthly budget reaches several thousand dollars.

    Be sure to test audience segments, offers and creative executions frequently when developing social media advertising campaigns. The test results will yield valuable data to improve your entire marketing plan.

    Pro Tip: Businesses drive more traffic and revenue by growing their email lists and using them as a Custom Audience for Facebook and Instagram advertising. Remarketing to website visitors through ads in social media home feeds is an extremely effective strategy.

    This approach works for converting customers into a B2B webinar or purchase funnel as well as for motivating ecommerce sales. Facebook partners with many third-party data providers to ensure that the targeting capabilities of the platform are superior to those offered by the other social media sites.

    I expect to see more experimentation in the use of video ads during 2018 as Facebook is trying to attract consumer advertising dollars away from television.

    4. Produce More Video Content – Lights, Camera, Action!

     According to Mark Zuckerberg, all content will be in a video format by 2020.   Human beings process images over 60,000 times faster than text. Clearly, your New Year’s resolutions should include hiring a videographer or skilled video editor along with obtaining basic training in the use of video editing software and easy-to-use video apps such as Animoto and Adobe Spark.

    Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat continue to iterate on their features to make video “stories” an integral part of an effective content strategy.

    Most Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat stories are shot on mobile phones. They are designed to convey excitement and information, so work on engaging the audience.5

    Pro Tip: Keep your videos short and be sure to add text overlays that relate a story if the audio is muted. Also, you need at least two staff members with cameras or mobile devices to shoot effective video for social media.

    5. Make Email Marketing More Personal

     By now all of us have received those templated email messages with our name inserted after the salutation, “Dear” ___. On the other hand, B2C and B2B brands that understand the value of “relationship marketing” actually adjust the content of emails to reflect essential personal details about our purchase behavior or professional positions.

    This customization requires a company to have a system capture relevant data. They use the information to personalize communications designed to effectively build trust rather than to sell.

    Marketing automation platforms offer many functions that can improve the communications in each sales funnel. Automation alone however, can lead to stiff, robotic communication rather than human interactions. People want to feel as though they are communicating with other people. This is why live-streaming video content and even podcasting is so popular. They allow us to interact with the producer in real-time.

    Pro Tip: Most companies use software platforms to manage email communications aligned with behavior triggers and to create sales funnels with lead magnets. Many digital marketers use Infusionsoft or Ontraport to manage the email sales funnels. I recommend trying the platform Drip as a first step when you are ready to move beyond MailChimp or Constant Contact.

    6. Expand Social Selling Activities –

    They Work Better than Cold Calling

     Professional service providers should ramp up their production of useful premium content to provide prospects with valuable insights rather than blatant sales pitches. A case study or e-book can be repurposed in numerous ways and distributed through social media platforms and employee ambassadors. I recommend using a content calendar to ensure that your business produces content on a regular basis. This practice will improve your sales and business development efforts throughout the year.

    Pro Tip: 2018 will be known as the Year of the Customer”. Successful businesses will collect and analyze data from digital channels to create authentic, personal messaging aimed at enhancing relationships with customers, clients and prospects.