Do you have an actionable plan to accomplish your New Year’s business resolutions? Simply stating that you want to grow larger doesn’t detail the steps required to get you there. Create concrete goals, such as increasing your customer base by 25 percent or reducing your customer churn rate by 5 percent.
Once you know exactly what you’re working towards, you can break it up into the steps required to accomplish your goals. For example, if you want to get more customers, you would look at marketing and advertising strategies that would build awareness of your brand and improve your conversion rates.
One area to keep an eye on this year is social media. While social channels already play a key role in many campaigns, there are a few major innovations that will shape how you use these sites.
Welcome Your Chatbot Overlords
Conversational commerce is the latest buzzword to add to the jargon pile in 2017. Companies are starting to use artificial intelligence alongside social media chatbots to do everything from providing customer support to processing orders.
Advances in AI technology make these versatile chatbots possible, as natural language processing promotes a conversation with the client rather than going through a list of prompts. Facebook Messenger is the most popular platform currently for this purpose, with tens of thousands of bots and plenty of vendors jumping into the fray.
The biggest advantage for consumers comes from the convenience factor. Trying to get customer service from a company over social media was often a gamble. Some businesses don’t pay attention to their direct messages, while others respond weeks later. The automated approach with chatbots allows you to handle most customer inquiries without allocating human resources to it. Your staff can step in when someone needs more assistance than the bot provides, but otherwise their time is better spent elsewhere. It’s a win-win for both sides.
Live Streaming Is Getting Lively
Periscope, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram are all on board with live video streaming, and businesses are using these services for deep engagement with their followers. Behind-the-scenes videos, ad-hoc interviews and live event streams are a few ways to leverage this technology.
The primary draw for consumers comes from the authenticity provided by live streams. These videos aren’t polished, scripted productions that are far removed from the people who created it. Instead, you provide an in-the-moment experience that helps viewers connect with your brand. They’re looking for quality experiences that align with their interests. When you pull back the curtain and show them what your company stands for, the values you live by, your brand story and other details, you form a strong connection. Live streaming complements other video content strategies, and the competition between social media platforms gives you plenty of choices. Finding the best option for your company may take some trial and error, but start with your preferred social media channels.
Businesses that nail the live streaming game will stand out above the competition in the next few years, especially if you back it up with a solid video content foundation. Video product descriptions and how-to guides are especially useful for improving customer loyalty and conversion rates.
Social Paid Ads Expansion
More businesses are searching for a way to reach mobile users, and social media sites attract plenty of this traffic. Facebook and Twitter are staples for your paid social ads, but more platforms are getting in on the action. Pinterest’s Buyable Pins capitalize on impulse shoppers who would happily purchase products as long as they don’t have to go to another site to do so.
Snapchat rolled out an API that makes it much easier to buy ads, which is welcome news. Much like Pinterest, Instagram has shop-able content that streamlines the decision-making and purchasing process. Instagram and Snapchat are the fastest growing social media sites, so if you haven’t taken a look at them for your business before, now is the next best time to do so.
Social media influencer marketing remains an important facet of social media marketing in 2017. Due to an increase in consumer awareness, more influencers are adopting practices that promote 100 percent transparency when they’re getting paid or otherwise compensated for mentioning products or services. Customers don’t mind that influencer marketing happens, as long as they think the influencer is giving their honest opinion about the products.
Businesses are expanding beyond social media accounts with high follower counts or popular celebrities for their influencer marketing campaigns. Smaller brands and social media users that attract niche communities are the trending options for 2017. After all, you don’t need to reach everybody; you just need to connect with the right people who need your products and services.
Are you ready to take on the social media landscape of 2017? Keep these trends in mind and stay on track with your plan to make this year the best one for your company.