It is one of the most powerful tools for businesses ever invented. Social media has transformed how we market ourselves and, for SMEs on limited budgets in particular, it’s an invaluable platform to set out a brand and sell a product or service.
Things are changing, however. Reaching customers is becoming more and more nuanced. Here are just some of the changes that are happening this year and are important if you want your business to succeed on social media.
- Social Messaging for Beginners
Forget standard Facebook and Twitter timelines. Millennials want the personal approach. Businesses are starting to engage on platforms such as WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook Messenger and Viber.
Why? Evidence is beginning to show that users are loyal to a greater degree with brands that engage directly on these platforms. How are businesses doing this? Many are linking their ads on social media to chat windows which means users can engage directly with a brand and get the personal touch. It’s more labour intensive but it could also be a lot more profitable too.
- Live Feeds
They’ve taken a while to gain popularity but live feeds are starting to become an integral part of social media platforms, including Facebook. Across the provision, social media live streaming is growing and creating more engagement than standard marketing practices. Millennials are one major demographic who are attracted to live video feeds and sharing the right kind of content is going to be the challenge of 2017 for many businesses.
- Chatbots and Automation
There’s been a big conversation in recent times about how automation can be introduced, particularly for businesses that are struggling with the time needed to successfully engage on social media. Artificial intelligence is improving quickly and the latest chatbots can make users think they are talking to a real person. Putting aside the ethics of using automatic responses, there’s no doubt that many businesses are improving their customer service operations by introducing this kind of technology. Chatbots on social media can have numerous benefits and boost confidence in your brand particularly among those all-important millennials.
- Augmented Reality
It’s been around for a good few years now but is, at last, beginning to catch on. Facebook is starting to experiment with it following the recent success of Pokémon Go and the growth of Virtual Reality devices and apps. Basically, AR puts digital images onto the real world and there is a lot of potential for social media, and businesses, to make good use of this technology and provide a more immersive experience for fans and followers.
- It’s All Fake News
Made popular by new President Donald J Trump in recent months, the notion of fake news is one thing that your business shouldn’t ignore. Social media platforms such as Facebook are looking at ways of reducing the amount of fake news that is disseminated through click bait sites. For businesses, it may well be a case of keeping a look out and being sceptical about information they intend to pass on via social media. A lot, of course, depends on what your business is all about but quick retweets of interesting news snippets is going to be a lot more hazardous for your brand from now on.
It’s vitally important nowadays to have a coherent strategy in place for social media, including policies for what can be shared and what definitely shouldn’t. There’s no doubt that 2017 could be an interesting year for businesses, and leveraging your brand in new and exciting ways is going to take some deep thinking and a good deal of experimentation to find what works for you.