Using social media as a marketing tool reached epic heights in 2013. Due to its cost effectiveness and ability to connect with a large scale audience in almost any industry, more and more businesses are using it as a marketing strategy. With 2014 just beginning, it’s important to learn from the social media lessons that 2013 taught us. Here are four key takeaways.
1. Visual Content is In
When you look at the popularity of visual based sites like Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr, it’s clear that people are naturally drawn to images. This is primarily because of the ease with which users can extract and digest information from a picture and because a professional looking image serves as eye candy. Twitter understands this trend and is making strides to create a more visual based platform. According to Bloomberg, “Twitter launched a product update so that tweets with Twitter photos or Vine videos display a preview thumbnail.” The bottom line is that integrating professional looking images to social media posts whenever possible can enhance the user experience and bring more attention to your brand.
2. Facebook and Twitter Aren’t Enough
For a brand to truly thrive, it’s become somewhat of a necessity to have a presence across multiple channels. A couple of years ago, simply having an account on Facebook and Twitter was sufficient for keeping a business competitive. Over the past few years, more and more social networks have popped up and now have a steady base of active users. In particular, Google+ has seen a surge in popularity and the Google Authorship program has provided authors with a means of increasing credibility and boosting SEO. Pinterest is another huge success and many businesses are putting forth the time to build a following on this network. To succeed in 2014 and beyond, you will want to establish your brand on at least one platform outside of Facebook and Twitter.
3. Social Shares Are Increasingly Important
Likes, tweets, +1s and pins had more of an impact than ever in 2013. In terms of direct traffic, social shares can increase it exponentially when influential people share a piece of content. Their friends or followers will have it appear in their feeds, which can boost traffic significantly and some content may even go viral. From an SEO standpoint, most experts agree that the number of social shares content receives directly correlates to where it ends up ranking on search engines. If you browse through the first page of search results, it’s common to see that the top ranking content has plenty of social shares, while lower ranking content has fewer shares. As the Internet continues to evolve, it’s likely that social media and SEO will become increasingly intertwined. For this reason, it’s smart to make your content convenient to share by installing social share buttons.
4. Social Media Training is Commonplace
To run a highly effective campaign, maintain a positive reputation and ensure security, many companies are putting employees through a social media training program. This might include educating team members on the basics of creating posts and practicing proper etiquette. With content having the potential to quickly spread, employees are being instructed on which things are okay to say on their accounts and which things should be kept private. There is also the issue of security because of the ever increasing threat of hackers and corporate espionage, which can be detrimental to a campaign and damage a business’s reputation. For these reasons, you may want to design some form of training system for team members that will better equip them to use social media.
Stacey Waxman is a freelance writer with a focus on marketing. She can be found typing away on her laptop in cold Cleveland, OH. Stacey welcomes your feedback via email.