The social media landscape is constantly evolving, but smart marketing pros can always be ready for what’s trending next
February 17 2020
Social media has been a key facet of good marketing strategy for over a decade, but the rules are always changing. With shifting demographics, new platforms, and a desire for more engaging ad formats, it’s an ongoing challenge to stay on top of what’s trending. What worked five years ago — or even one year ago — won’t be as effective today, and that’s not even taking into account what might come tomorrow.
So, how can marketers be ready for whatever comes next in social media? While there’s no crystal ball to consult, you can stay ahead of the curve with these four strategies.
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Make it Personal (and Shareable)
The use of advertisements that draw from user data to deliver a targeted, personalized message is one of the biggest shifts in marketing in the last few years. Though there’s plenty of debate on how much user data is too much, one thing’s for sure: Customers overwhelmingly appreciate a more tailored approach that appeals to their own interests.
This is one trend that’s not going away anytime soon — in fact, younger generations have grown to expect it. Marketers should continue to use any tools at their disposal, including AI and data resources, to create customized experiences that make each potential consumer feel like an individual, not just one in a crowd. You can build on this movement by finding a way to make that customization so special that customers feel they need to share it.
For an example of how this could work, take a look at Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign, which helped reverse a decade-long decline and give a boost to sales. You can’t get much more personal than your own name on your Coke bottle, after all! The names on Coke bottles, and the idea that you should share one with a friend of that name — whether in real life or by posting a picture to social media — has helped drive online conversation about the brand for years, which is why Coca-Cola keeps bringing the promotion back. By creating customized marketing that’s also uniquely shareable, you won’t just stay on top of coming trends; you’ll help create them.
Follow Your Audience
When Facebook was created in 2004, founder Mark Zuckerberg envisioned it as a way for college students to connect and it even required a “.edu” email address to sign up. Fast forward a decade and a half and its userbase is skewing significantly older than the original demographic. According to data gathered by Hootsuite, much of Facebook’s audience falls in the 25-29, 30-49, and 50-64 age groups, which means that advertising to college-aged users there will have significantly different results than it once would.
To advertise to your intended audience, you first need to know where they are. These days, Facebook and Twitter are dominated by adults in their 30s and 40s, while Gen Z can’t get enough of Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. Of course, we don’t know what the next decade will bring; perhaps Insta will become a boomer haven whenever the next great social media platform arrives.
It’s a lot to keep track of, but it’s necessary in order to stay on-trend and relevant to your customers. Show them that you know who they are by appearing on the social media platforms they use. That means continuing to analyze data year after year and keeping track of how these demographics change.
Turn to Influencers for #inspiration
When you need to know what’s trending, turn to the people who are driving these trends: the influencer. The rise of influencer marketing has been one of the biggest advances in social media advertising in the last few years. Forbes reports that as of May 2019, 70% of advertisers are already working with influencers, with 40% planning to increase their influencer budgets.
Partnering with influential figures in health and fitness, travel, gaming, tech, and other industries will continue to be an important advertising technique in 2020 and beyond, particularly as platforms become more visual. As new social media sites emerge, influencers will be the ones to set the tone, so good marketers should always keep an eye on these figures. Yes, keeping track of who’s popular feels a bit like high school, but it serves its purpose: These trendsetters can give you a good indication of what’s coming next. So, if you’re ever feeling stuck in the past, let influencers show you the future.
Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment
Sometimes the most innovative marketing comes from the strangest experiments. Take Old Spice, for example: The male grooming product manufacturer has been around for over eighty years, but in the last decade it established itself as a younger, cooler brand. How? A series of delightfully absurd advertisements, starting with 2010’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” which was an instant success. Since then, Old Spice commercials have only gotten weirder, but the experiment paid off. Part of the campaign’s viral success is due to the fact that Old Spice was an early adopter of YouTube; its ads have since been viewed hundreds of millions of times and shared widely across social media.
Filming a buff guy riding a horse might not be the exact strategy for your next marketing campaign, but that’s okay. The point is, you can’t be afraid to try something different. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should blow your entire budget on some out-there ad concept; start small, see what works, and scale up. That way, instead of following the next decade’s trends, you could be the one setting them.
Much like your bills and taxes, the evolution of social media is inevitable. With these strategies in mind, marketing pros can get ready for the new decade and whatever it brings.
Marshall Lemon is a writer, editor, librarian, and game designer. As the Content Marketing Manager at Fluid PR Group, he helps businesses craft engaging stories within the context of well-researched industry data. He lives in London, Ontario with his wife and two adorable puppers.
This article was originally published by our friends at PostFunnel.