Social media has matured into a marketing force to be reckoned with. Here's what to watch for in 2015.
We’re way past arguing over the longevity of social media. It is not only here to stay, it has evolved into a necessary forum, filled with incredible data and the opportunity for countless leads. While consumers may not exactly be hungry for brand invasion on these networks, they are certainly receptive to it—if done correctly.
As existing social media sites continue to offer more trackable avenues for advertising, and marketing continues to evolve storytelling and native advertising strategies, we are witnessing a major shift in how we interact with our audience.
If 2014 was all about creation, then 2015 is the year of integration and socialization. Your 2015 strategy may be well underway, but knowing what is coming can fine tune your goals. Get actionable by integrating these social media trends and strategies into your 2015 content plan.
Shop on Social
It’s no secret that content accompanied by visuals gets 94% more views, so it makes sense that this trend would extend into social shopping. In 2014, social started to integrate shopping when Pinterest began displaying five types of rich pins: article pins that include a headline and description, product pins that show basic shopping information, film pins, place pins and recipe pins.
Article pin showing title, article source and description.
Product pin showing item name, price and store.
In 2014, Facebook unveiled call-to-action buttons that redirect to any URL and truly, call users to action. While both the Facebook CTA button and Pinterest rich pins redirect rather than allowing for instant purchase, social shopping will differ in its ability to enable consumers to make purchases without ever leaving a social network, thus eliminating the struggle of getting prospective customers to your website. Twitter and Facebook have been beta-testing “buy” buttons that will appear alongside content like tweets and paid posts.
Facebook page with “Shop Now” call-to-action button.
Social shopping is posed to be huge for B2C markets, as storing purchase information and allowing for on-site shopping makes for more clear analytics on social ROI, enabling companies to see a real value in paid social advertising.
Consider these questions when outlining your sales goals and processes for 2015:
- What does your consumer-buying journey look like? Where can you integrate social purchasing into their journey?
- Do you have a product that is easily visually represented? How are you utilizing solely visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest? Find a way to easily represent your product and test, test test.
Data-driven Integrated Social Advertising
While in 2014 we saw auto-play videos on Facebook and the emergence of new Twitter cards, 2015 will see even more personalized integrated social advertising on the top networks. The power of social advertising from a brand perspective is the ability to gather extremely specific data from those ads, and then the ability to target your marketing, website, email campaigns, etc. based on that data. The better your data and the more developed your audience personas, the better ROI on your marketing efforts.
Get ready for social advertising by:
- Familiarizing yourself with your audience on each social network. Rather than simply posting, join groups, communities and converse with your prospective consumers. See what they respond to.
- Getting familiar with the analytic setup on each social network.
- Running ads, gather data and integrate that data into your strategy. As the power of social advertising and their accompanied analytics grow, note how your strategy develops.
A promoted tweet from MailChimp.
A targeted, lead-generation Twitter ad.
Targeted ad tracking on LinkedIn.
B2B Domination on LinkedIn
2015 is definitely the year to utilize LinkedIn for B2B connections. LinkedIn has been the professional networking platform of choice for the B2B community for years, and with the recent advances, the network continues to offer an incredible opportunity for brands to interact directly with potential clientele. In 2014, LinkedIn enabled users to become publishers via the LinkedIn publishing platforms, making users profiles a destination for relevant, self-produced content. LinkedIn also introduced Showcase pages, allowing brands to create multiple pages based on their offerings and varied audiences.
LinkedIn became our top go-to social network in 2014 for the same two reasons that will likely cause its massive, continued expansion in 2015: 1.) Groups and 2.) Sponsored posts. LinkedIn offers the ability to join groups relevant to your brand and then to socialize directly with the members of these groups. While on some networks, group conversations can be overly advertorial or spammy, the conversations on LinkedIn are highly personalized based on your interests, and are intellectual and professional.
LinkedIn Groups foster professional, authentic conversations.
Our second favorite social feature is the ability to specifically target posts on LinkedIn. LinkedIn analytics offer targeting based on job function, seniority, age, sex, school, field of study, skill or even by groups. Such complex targeting advertising cannot be ignored! 2015 is certain to bring the masses advertising on Linkedin, so be an early adopter and employ these features before the network becomes over-crowded.
Start dominating on LinkedIn by:
- Adding all relevant information to your brand page. Nothing looks worse than an outdated LinkedIn profile.
- Joining relevant groups and start interacting with those interested in your offerings. Rather than being promotional, act as a resource, offering helpful information.
- Posting content often and sponsor the posts. You don’t need a huge budget, but LinkedIn allows you to very specifically target your content, so take advantage.
LinkedIn targeting may look complicated but it’s worth your time to understand it if you have a paid social advertising budget.
Sick of seeing Kim Kardashian endorse products on Instagram? Influencer marketing is definitely not going anywhere in 2015, but rather than big brands paying big money for big-name celebs, we’ll see influencer marketing infiltrate our social networks. Why hire a writer to learn about your product when you could hire the person who, literally, wrote the book on it and already has a massive social following? As evidenced from the recent wipeout of fake Instagram followers, having a real following has real power, so identify influencers within your vertical and get to creating.
Up your influencer marketing game by:
- Searching sites like BuzzSumo for influencers in your field.
- Evaluating them and see where their influence extends. Are they more popular on Twitter or on Facebook? Do they have an engaging audience?
- Brainstorming great content that will hit your target audience as well as theirs. Blog posts, social mentions, photos, videos … the possibilities are endless! Use your analytics as a proposition (site visits, average time on page, etc) and make sure to include amplification in your arrangement.
For more info on influencer marketing, check out this informative article on Moz by our senior content strategist.
Social media is becoming as esteemed as search and thus, it is essential to find what networks resonate best for your brand. While the networks discussed are certainly not going anywhere, there are also new social sites popping up daily. We can’t say for sure which are going to take off, but the opportunity for early adoption is something those looking to increase brand awareness shouldn’t ignore.
We’re keeping our eyes on:
- Ello is an invite only, ad-free social network that promises users that it will never sell their data. While we can’t say for sure if brands will be able to infiltrate the network despite the anti-data policy, or what the benefit would be if so, we are still monitoring the up-and-coming platform.
- Medium is a microblog publishing platform brought to you by the creators of Twitter. While some big names (heard of Barack Obama?) have posted on the platform, there has yet to be a huge rush of brands. Medium is available to anyone who wants to blog, so why not get on there as a brand before say, Starbucks? Oh wait, Starbucks is already on there.
- Unmetric is a social analytics startup that offers a database of 25,000 brands to compare your content efforts, as well as creative inspiration and detailed metrics. The end goal: Unmetric promises to help you become inspired. At prices starting at $490 per month, it certainly isn’t free, but it’s worth watching.
What social networks are you setting your sights on in 2015? Do you need help determining where to focus your efforts? Let us know with your comments below.