by Rachel Strella, founder of Strella Social Media
As 2018 nears its conclusion, business owners and marketers should be thinking about what they can do to make their companies more successful in the New Year. Hopefully somewhere near the top of their priorities list is finding ways to leverage their social media channels more effectively.
Gone are the days when companies can treat social media as an afterthought or a supplemental marketing channel. Today, social media platforms are where a business has an opportunity to consistently demonstrate its value and reinforce its voice. They are the go-to places where customers ask questions, offer accolades, and air complaints. No business can ignore the significance of its social media presence because it influences how people perceive its brand. So what can you do to bolster your brand’s success through social media in 2019?
I’ve always been cautious about making social media predictions because the ideal social strategy is unique for every business. However, there are some online marketing trends worth considering as you evaluate what tactics will grow your business.
1. The growing importance of personal branding to business branding.
Especially for small businesses, putting a real, human face to a business name helps build loyalty. A brand that’s more relatable and has the human element naturally garners more trust — and trust is essential for building relationships.
One way to humanize a brand is to promote the personal brand of the business owner or a high-level leader. This tactic has become a staple for many organizations, as demonstrated through guest blogging, podcast and webinar appearances, and other publicity opportunities. Through allowing people to get to know the character and expertise of company leadership, a business can strengthen its brand reputation.
Businesses that embrace this in 2019 will have a distinct advantage over companies that hide behind their logo.
2. Long-form content for making an SEO impact.
While word count is not the only thing that can impact how prominently an article will appear on the search engine results page, SEO experts say long-form content will be able to give you an edge. Although Google doesn’t penalize blog posts if they fail to reach a certain word count threshold, it stands to reason that a high-quality article with 1,600 words will likely outrank a high-quality article with 500 words. It’s for that reason we’re seeing more publishers requiring guest authors to submit articles with a minimum of 1,000 or more words.
We’ll see more company blogs embracing long-form content and incorporating it into their content strategies. Therefore, businesses that have found they aren’t getting SEO traction with short posts may want to “go long” and add longer articles rich with information and insight that will attract readers and give Google a reason to rank them more favorably. This trend will definitely make a difference in your results in 2019.
3. Acceleration of personalized marketing.
With more companies digging into their data and using it to create customized marketing campaigns that target individuals’ interests at different points in the buyer’s journey, the pressure is on. Customers have come to expect brands to tailor special offers and discounts to their wants and needs.
To accommodate that expectation, more businesses will need to consider targeted advertising and retargeting campaigns on social media channels. I anticipate that social platforms will continue to refine their targeting offerings as the demand for individualized content grows.
4. Video’s prominence as the preferred form of content.
In a survey by Wyzowl “The State of Video Marketing 2018,” 97 percent of marketers said video has helped increase user understanding of their product or service and 76 percent said it has helped increase sales.
Additionally, live streaming video will continue its emergence as a powerful way to engage people on social media. In fact, according to statistics compiled by Go-Globe by 2020 82 percent of internet traffic is expected to be live video.
Video’s prominence tied closely to the first trend, personal branding’s influence on the business brand. Video allows for a company to put a face to the business. It enables prospects and customers to get to know who leads and works in a business. Video gives businesses an opportunity to show not only what they do but also “who” they are.
Also, keep in mind that social media algorithms might give video posts better organic reach than other types of posts.
5. “Pay to play” — the path to more exposure.
In 2012, brands could expect, on average approximately 16 percent of their fans would see their updates according to an article on Hubspot. Fast forward to today and that reach has plummeted even more.
With the diminishing organic reach of business content, most companies will need to invest in sponsored posts, boosted posts, and social media ads if they want to stay top of mind. Fortunately, social media advertising doesn’t have to break the bank; a small amount of money can go a long way and this trend should continue well into 2019.
Change: An Ever-Constant Trend.
The one trend you can always count on resurfacing year after year is that businesses must — to some degree — adjust their social media approach to gain broader awareness and increase engagement with customers.
Mark Zuckerberg once said, “Figuring out what the next big trend is tells us what we should focus on.” While that might be true for Facebook, realize it isn’t always so for every business. The thing about trends is that following them doesn’t guarantee success. Pay attention to social media trends, but before you jump on the bandwagon, carefully evaluate if incorporating them in your marketing strategy will be consistent with your brand and practical for your business.
Rachel Strella is the founder of Strella Social Media, a social media management company serving dozens of clients nationally. She is a regular contributor to Small Business Trends and Social Media Today and has been featured in Forbes, ABWA Magazine, and numerous other major publications. She’s also a well-respected speaker having delivered dozens of social media presentations to businesses, colleges, trade groups, etc. Follow her on Twitter.