Back at the beginning of March, I had the opportunity to attend the 2018 Social Media Marketing World, an event which hosts nearly 5,000 social media marketers from across the world and representing nearly every industry. While I returned with my head buzzing with ideas, I've taken the time to reflect and narrow down everything I learned to my top 4 takeaways from the event.
1. Despite Facebook's issues so far in 2018 (and most recently, the Cambridge Analytica scandal), they're still leading the charge as far as changes to social media go.
Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg may not be having the best of luck in 2018 (just take a look at how their stocks did from February to April), but that doesn't mean we can discount Facebook just yet. Facebook continues to lead the charge when it comes to major updates that social media platforms are making. From purchasing Instagram in 2012 to adding live streaming in 2015, Facebook is consistently making strides to maintain its lifespan. After all, when they saw that Snapchat was gaining popularity, they copied the story feature for Instagram (and Facebook), and it can be argued that Instagram stories sees more use these days than Snapchat does.
But, what's next for the social media giant? Well, if you've heard of Netflix and Hulu's popularity, then use your imagination and think about what Facebook might be exploring for their next step.
2. Prepare for more video content, and especially live video to be successful on social media.
On the topic of Facebook taking on the TV streaming world, videos are continuing to garner more engagement than plain text posts or links- in some circles, photos still reign supreme. And live video is even more successful than pre-produced videos (at least on Facebook). So, if you haven't started including live video into your social media strategy, what are you waiting for? As Brian Fanzo (@iSocialFanz) says "PUSH THE DAMN BUTTON!"
3. It's time to bring the "social" back to social media, and to remove the "marketing."
As Mari Smith, often referred to as the "Queen of Facebook," said in 2009, "when the marketers move in, the members move out." I don't know about you, but I still remember the days when my news feed was nothing but a clutter of posts from brands and pages, which is why I made the decision to be selective about which pages I wanted to follow. Admittedly, my news feed still isn't anywhere near perfect, but I am seeing more content from my friends (which can be a good thing and a bad thing), which is what many people would rather see.
Now, though, brands are being forced to figure out how to strike a balance between being human and professional on Facebook. Social media is all about building relationships, and people trust people, not logos and brands. And Facebook is working to prioritize meaningful engagement on their platform. So, if people have conversations on the posts you're sharing and share those posts for their followers, then Facebook is going to allow more people to see your content. Note, that's MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT. Mark Zuckerberg said:
In short, Zuckerberg's goal for Facebook in 2018 has been to change the way people use the platform in order to prioritize friends and family over businesses and brands. In order to stand out as a business or a brand, it's time to bring the social back to social media and drop the marketing. Social media is a story, it isn't a sales pitch.
4. Influencers are going to pave the way for brands (big and small) to build relationships with their customers.
Have you heard of social media influencers? No, I don't mean the Kardashians or any other celebrity influencers. Social media influencers are every day people like you and me that have a following on social media of people who are likely to listen to the influencer when they recommend a product or experience. After all, people trust people, remember?
Brands and businesses need to start identifying influencers whose content would mesh well with their own. However, if you want to get started with an influencer program, the quickest way to turn influencers away from your brand is by controlling the content and photos they post. An influencer already has a voice and a style that their followers expect from them, so trying to control their voice is going to be a turn off to their followers and will guarantee they won't work with you again.
Authenticity is the key to social media, and if it doesn't come naturally between you and an influencer, then you aren't doing yourself or the influencer any favors.
What social media trends are you keeping an eye on right now or trying out on your social media platforms?