Sometimes, in order to get clarity around a topic, it helps to narrow it down to a single phrase. As a business or strategic exercise, this is often done to focus in on what’s important, the next steps, or a company’s core values. Social media marketing is no different. Sometimes it helps to narrow down the distinctions between platforms in order to maximize your marketing efforts. With that in mind, we want to take a look at the single phrase that would summarize social media trends as we come to a close for 2013 and how that might impact your 2014 plans.
Before we jump in, we are going to make one assumption for this exercise. In some way or another, we are going to assume that lead generation or referrals are a part of all of your social media marketing efforts. We believe that building brand awareness, developing a strong community, creating a space for referrals or customer feedback is inherently involved in social media if you are doing it correctly. So as we boil these trends down to a single phrase, remember that the phrase is based on how those referrals or leads are developed most effectively.
In other words, it’s all about how you spend your time reaching out to your target audience to capture your best leads.
Facebook = Paid Referrals
Facebook is no longer free, at least not really. It is a great source of personal referrals, customer satisfaction, and brand advocates, but as we closeout 2013 and head into 2014, recent changes to Facebook make it clear that the trend here is money. It will be more and more important to add dollars into your Facebook strategy. Ads, in a variety of forms, are becoming essential, thus “paid” referrals. If your target audience is a Facebook user, pull out your checkbook. Read more about Facebook marketing.
Google Plus = Search Referrals
Google Plus (G+) use is picking up, both by the average person and by businesses and brands. It is not as conversational as Facebook, but it is significantly easier to talk about your business and not be viewed as spam. People don’t go to Google to share a lot of personal stories and pictures, at least not yet. They go to Google to get information and do searches for information that they need. G+ Pages are great if your business is one that people come across because they searched for your type of service. Talking about your business all the time is acceptable on G+, and when you consistently add links in your posts, leading back to your website, the trend is to see search results improving organically via a Google Plus Page. Read more about Google+ marketing.
LinkedIn = Leadership Networking
Do you have key players who speak or network on behalf of your business? Do you have staff writers? LinkedIn has moved from being just an online resume to being a source for leadership and trending thought. Yes, you can (and probably should) still have a professional profile on LinkedIn even if you “do nothing with it,” but by all means, if you network often, speak, or create intellectual property of any kind, you will want to beef up your individual efforts on LinkedIn. Note: Company Pages are good to have as well, but they are not yet showing a high marketing ROI other than job postings. This may change though, so pay attention to these, too! Read more about LinkedIn marketing.
Pinterest = Eye Candy
Pinterest is one of the only major social networks not to have undergone a shift in the last few months. 2013 to 2014 Pinterest marketing does not appear to be shifting. It remains a source of great referrals to your website IF your eye candy is enticing enough. That means that Pinterest may be advantageous to your marketing if you have great images of tangible products for sale. If your business is service oriented instead, Pinterest still has value for referrals, but you will have to gain the attention of Pinners by consistently creating meaningful content – blogs, articles, videos, etc. that can be attractively packaged in imagery for the Pin. The trend has been that conversions from blogs or videos are much slower in coming for the service-related business, and we don’t expect this to change in 2014. Read more about Pinterest marketing.
Twitter = Resource Relevancy
In a LinkedIn-esque move, Twitter has added a few features over the course of 2013, which allow your business, or an individual, to showcase the resource that you can be for others. Twitter Cards, for instance, let others see short summaries of tweets containing articles, which emphasizes your relevancy to viewers who can check you out without you ever knowing it. This lets them decide if you’re a good resource to rely on or not. Combined with the real-time nature of Twitter and the increasing number of daily tweets by users, this means that unless you are devoting real time to a Twitter strategy, your tweets will go unnoticed. However, if your target audience are customers who need current, trending, or the “latest and greatest” information in a timely manner, you’ll want to increase your attention to Twitter marketing in 2014. Read more about Twitter marketing.
What changes will you be making in 2014?