As we sit, just weeks away from the New Year, it is becoming increasingly apparent that social media for businesses is going to experience plenty of change in 2018. Nothing will go away (including Facebook) but changes will happen.
The best thing we could do as a gift from us to you as the year ends is to provide you with a full and comprehensive guide on how to manage social media in the year ahead.
The campaign stuff
As we head into 2018, businesses need to be totally on top of the social media campaign approach.
Now, more than ever, a connected approach is needed in all social media. There are a ton of things that social media can achieve for a business and perhaps if we take a look at them as a kind of refresher the need for connectivity will become clearer.
The sales thing:
Social media is now very much a sales platform, but not in the way you might think. For years people have cautioned against overly sales-heavy content and that will probably never change. Instead, we’re talking about the need to focus on using the direct sales method that has come to the fore. Ensure clients are using Facebook and other platforms for promotions that link directly to the shopping cart. Social has morphed into a place where it’s okay to ask for the sale. So make sure campaigns include this key aspect
This is now de rigueur in social media, but the very best brands out there will succeed on a whole new level. If you’re not listening to your customers and reacting swiftly and sensitively to customer service issues, you’re toast. This year saw United Airlines treat customers terribly. Then, the response from the CEO was perhaps the worst example of how to respond to a customer complaint. Ever.
The thought leadership thing:
Thought leadership has had a number of changes of late. 2018 looks like it may be a banner year for the discipline. Medium, for example, is going from strength to strength, and brands are doing everything possible on social to show expertise.
All of the above need to be seamlessly knitted together into a social media campaign for 2018. And that’s just for starters. There are also areas that will feature massively in the year to come, and we’re going to start with something that is perhaps more important now than ever.
You’ll know what this is. It’s using social media to find out more about your audience and your competition.
Because of the uber competitive space that social media in 2018 will be, your ability to monitor brand mentions, comments and questions on all your channels will be crucial. It will be the year where social listening will give you the edge over your competition.
From hashtags you’re called in to tweets that complain about your competitor’s service, social listening is quickly becoming the only way to ‘stay current’ on social.
This has always been a concern for brands but it has jumped ahead of the queue going into 2018. Knowing which social media platforms to be on will make a huge difference in a social media landscape that is only becoming more crowded.
The three areas that need attention here are your resources (have you the people to cover a zillion channels?), time (there is no point having all those channels if you can’t post to them every day) and your audience (where they are).
Just ask questions around these areas and you should find that your choices are easier. But 2018 will most definitely be about being in the right places for maximum ROI.
Paid social traffic
This is going to become a major thing as the next few months play out. We have gone beyond the days when paid traffic was seen as evil compared to organic (Facebook kind of made that happen) but it is becoming a very powerful force.
However, we are still of the mind that a combination of paid and organic rules them all. Organic will bring you authority over time. Paid gets you quick results. Putting the two together still makes perfect sense.
This is still up for debate on numerous platforms and media outlets but we feel that 2018 will not change the good old rule of common sense. This general rule dictates that, when posting to social media accounts, the frequency should be as follows:
Twitter: Here, you’re looking at 15 tweets a day to get the best benefit out of social media marketing on the platform. You should be replying and talking to your users constantly.
Facebook: Once or twice has pretty much always been the golden rule, and that won’t change as far as we can tell.
Pinterest: Honestly, this one fluctuates and is always hyper dependent on the brand to an extent. But we think around 20–25 posts a day should be ample.
Instagram: Post no more than twice a day. Simple.
If you want to dig deeper and personalise this advice to your channels and your audience, do take a look at our Optimal Posting Frequency module.
This hasn’t changed much either. However, we will offer the same caveat that we always do, and that is to remember that posting times are also often dependent on what your client’s presence is like. There are different time zones in the world after all.
Anyway, outside of checking your metrics and our “Best Time To Post” module to see what works and when, the following times are often ‘optimum’ for the majority of brands:
Twitter: Brands are finding that the best time to post on this platform is on a Wednesday. If you’re looking for a time, try between 5–6pm in the timezone of your audience.
Instagram: This platform performs best for brands on Mondays and Thursdays, preferably early afternoons.
Facebook: Thursday, Friday and the weekend rest days are the best for Facebook (it’s still a ‘leisure activity’ basically). Do your posting at 9am, 1pm and 3pm for best results.
Pinterest: Again, a ‘fun’ platform still. Here, focus on the weekends to find the people who use it the most.
And finally, how to grow that audience in 2018
This is what every brand is fundamentally interested in. Engagement is obviously vitally important, but a growing audience keeps things moving forward.
On Facebook, go for live video. Video itself is the way forward with the platform, but brands are finding that live video makes the biggest impact every time. Get on top of that in 2018 and your clients will be in the right place. And if live video isn’t what your clients are all about, the video itself will make a big difference anyway.
At the same time, don’t ignore the fact that Facebook Messenger is becoming something of a golden child for brands. It is quick and ridiculously easy to use, with some comparing it to the earlier days of email marketing. Worth investigating in the months ahead, and the impact of Bots is a huge game-changer.
Twitter is kind of in a funny place in that it hasn’t changed hugely over the last couple of years. If you’re working on the platform, keep up the routine. With all that is going on around it, you have a situation where it is coming even closer to being a news feed. But be ready for some huge changes including the possibility of a paid element.
Instagram is getting bigger and is expected to go past a billion users in 2018. But for brands, we reckon that branded hashtags are where it’s at, and where brands will continue to see progress. Focus on these, if you haven’t already, for an edge.
Trends that we think will just get bigger in 2018
The year ahead will most likely see a huge increase in the role of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. This will happen, visibly, in gaming first. But we can see more commercial and marketing-based uses coming to light first in 2018.
Instagram Stories is growing quickly. Expect to see brands either scrambling to get to grips with it, or making it a huge part of their current social strategy.
Facebook Spaces, while a little scary, is going to be scaled up in 2018. We won’t all be using it, but you can safely say everyone will be talking about it.
And live streaming will be everywhere. Brands seriously need to think about including even small elements of this if they want to stay relevant in 2018.
It’s going to be an exciting year. Keep up with the changes for your clients, and be ready for some seriously intense activity in brand spaces in the year ahead.