I was recently asked to present my ideas for where I thought Social Media was going in the coming 12 months. These are my ideas, thoughts, views and opinions on the subject. What do you think?
During my time as the MD of Square Media Solutions Ltd. one of my main ambitions has always been to work alongside, educate and inspire small business owners to leverage technology in order to achieve maximum return for their marketing efforts.
Social Media almost always forms part of this strategy as it is a very powerful tool for small and large businesses alike, that allows direct communication and sharing with a brands customers, clients and stakeholders. Increasingly, clients ask me “but what shall I put?” and I’ll give you the same responses that I give to them…
I ask my clients to understand that Social Media doesn’t immediately mean “sales”. As in, the simple act of using Social Media doesn’t guarantee an increase in sales at all. Simply gaining more sales should never be the sole rationale behind taking up the commitment to be a part of any of the social media platforms. Ever. Your adverts will just fall on deafened ears.
This usually results in a client staring at me quite wild eyed, as I then proceed to tell them that despite this, they should still invest their time and resources into it, without of course expecting too much financial gain at all. At least, not directly, or in the near future.
No, Social Media is much more than a sales tool and the businesses that can understand and grasp the full range of tools that are available will undoubtedly fair much better than those that simply post regular information about the “LATEST SPECIAL OFFERS” that are now available to them. Yawn.
We are now entering the age of the human marketers, and gone are the days of the corporate speak messaging and dull / boring campaigns. Brands must be clever and use “human style” writing that engages readers (hopefully similar to what you are reading right now!), whilst also posting relevant videos and pictures that readers will actually want to engage with.
It is also important to understand that digital customers, and in-store customers are the same people. Brands must offer a connected and personal experience that leverages the wealth of information available about their customers on social platforms, utilizing precision advert targeting and analytics. An offer online, should be an offer in store. The experience I have on a brands Facebook profile, should reflect the experience I have on their website, which should reflect the experience I have in store, which should reflect the experience I have on their Mobile Apps, and so on and so forth. The connected customer journey is the key.
Within 12 months I would expect to see brands adopting and applying the time old phrase “people do business with people”. I would expect to see the relationship between brands and customers becoming more of a personal, open and honest experience, with brands sharing and communicating helpful and honest advice, whilst also engaging with customers queries, problems and complaints, and clearly presenting their corporate identity, beliefs and values.
The time has come for marketers to go back to the basics, by re-evaluating their target audiences, determining what works and what doesn’t and prioritising investment and resources appropriately. It’s time for brands to start showing that they care about their customers by providing a personal service that their competitors won’t. It’s time for brands to communicate their message through engaging content such as imagery and videos that always provide a “use” or “service” to the end reader, whether it be some useful advice, a topic for conversation, something that gets them thinking or perhaps something that just makes them smile or laugh.
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