Social media isn’t the newest marketing channel on the block, but it’s certainly one of the most effective. In a recent survey by Infusionsoft, more than half (56%) of small business owners said they planned to increase their social media budgets this year, with Facebook coming in as the top social channel where businesses expect to increase their spending.
In order for business owners to maximize the impact of their expanded social media budgets, they need to think outside the box and try new tactics for reaching consumers online. This means taking full advantage of the new technologies that popular social platforms are putting out there and also rethinking the way they utilize existing technologies in their customer acquisition and retention campaigns.
Here are seven examples of fresh new ways that small and mid-size businesses can use social media for marketing in 2017.
1. Using live video. “We find uploaded and live video segments on Facebook are really picking up traffic for local business owners. It is clear Facebook is investing in video sharing capabilities and pushing it hard to business page admins. [This is] a trend SMBs should not dismiss. Videos can make you some serious money. Adding a product video on your landing page can increase conversions by 80%. For example, we have been watching Dr. Phillip Chang’s practice in Loudoun County. Dr. Chang is plastic surgeon who started filming his procedures and sharing them on his social media network and YouTube. One video featuring a mini-facelift and has had 73,000 views. These numbers for a local business are deemed very successful. According to the practice manager, the videos have resulted in clients coming from all over the world to have surgery with Dr. Chang.” (Hulya Aksu, ListenPort)
2. Double dipping on Snapchat and Instagram. “One-third of all online activity is spent watching video. Snapchat and Instagram Stories allow you to easily create engaging and real content to connect with your followers. But, it’s a lot of work. Don’t do double work, keep your social presences in sync by uploading your snapchats to your Instagram stories to keep your brand top of mind for all of your followers. For example, Texas sweet tees uses video to remind email subscribers about new promotions. Who has time to check their email these days without being reminded?” (Katie Swett, Weebly)
3. Taking advantage of influencer partnerships. “At Simply Measured, we’re seeing an ongoing shift towards brand advocacy and influencer partnerships on social—moving beyond awareness and community-building campaigns. It’s the next logical step in the evolution of social, especially as brands begin to understand that community engagement and reach matter, but personal connection sells. The evolution of the shift towards brand advocacy and influencer partnerships is mirrored in the accelerated growth of Instagram, Instagram Stories, Snapchat and live video on every major social media channel.” (Lucy Hitz, Simply Measured)
4. Tying social efforts to analytics. “The concept and practice of tying social efforts to business objectives and analytics will be one of the biggest social media trends this year. Businesses have realized the value of social media but up until now, they haven’t successfully benchmarked it against broader goals. In 2017, businesses can and will take a concerted effort to marry their social analytics to their business goals, get more technical by appending UTM tags, and start being able to talk about the ROI of social with confidence.” (Rachael Samuels, Sprout Social)
5. Turning customers into spokespeople. “Without a doubt, more and more SMBs are using social media, but much more so in a visual way. For example, posting videos of customers in a spokesperson situation—like a live review—can be very powerful. Once [businesses] receive a comment card with high grades, they approach the customer with a request for a video response of their experience. Merchants are basically doing a selfie video and merely recording the interaction themselves.” (Dana Ward, near9)
6. Creating a relevant calls-to-action on Instagram. “Instagram makes it very difficult to link to specific places—like pages, products, and blog posts. A new tool called Later, now lets you automatically keep the current profile link up to date with your most recent post.” (Katie Swett, Weebly)
7. Leveraging earned media. “Earned media is free, but it’s hard to get. It means your customers trust in your brand enough to engage with it authentically. When customers in your community engage, you must act. Weebly customers like MetaBrew, are leveraging their community to create content and showcase their brand in the real world. Allowing customers to submit pictures on their website that show them using or embodying their #livemeta community allows them to capture earned media and showcase their biggest brand advocates.” (Katie Swett, Weebly)
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.