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The Changing Landscape of Social and How Businesses Should Adapt

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by Hiral Kadakia

Since its launch in the early 2000s, the growth of social media has truly been astounding. Today, there are 3.8 billion social media users — more people than the entire world population in 1971 — and that number is only expected to increase. Social media has minimized the distance between people around the globe. They have become more connected with others and more open to sharing their personal lives. At the end of the day, users continue to log in and scroll, because social media platforms are taking note of what they are looking for, leading to constant optimizations and updates.

For businesses, however, to adapt to these changes is not always easy. As a modern means for advertising, social media has become an essential part of a company’s marketing plan, so it’s important that they stay on top of new trends and features. The Colangelo & Partners team was able to sit down with Ben Guttmann, co-founder of Digital Natives Group to discuss the changing landscape of social media and how businesses can navigate the ever-changing space. With his digital marketing expertise in websites, mobile apps, and of course, social media, Ben was able to provide his own best practices, which we’ve summarized below.

The Algorithm

It’s important to understand the changes in algorithms on Facebook and Instagram. After all, it is the true judge of whether or not your content is seen by your target audience. Think about your goals on each platform. Are you trying to show increased numbers of followers? Do you want your product to be sustainable long-term? Whatever it is, quality content is the answer. Creating posts that are genuine and unique is a bulletproof strategy. Simply following what other businesses are doing will only lead to a chase of what’s popular. The more engagement your post gets, the more likely it is to show up people’s feeds. To get engagement, you need to create quality content which audiences find engaging. But what is quality content? It means something different for different brands. For example, if you take a look at the Instagram account for the company Lemonade, you would never be able to tell that it was an insurance company just by looking at their content. No one goes on social media to learn about insurance, but their content is fun, playful, and original, making them memorable on Instagram, and inevitably leading to an increase in the purchase of their services.

Fan Acquisition

Unless you want your followers list filled with bots, gaining fans who are genuinely interested in your product or service and consistently engaging with your content seems like a daunting task. In order to increase followers organically, Ben suggests leveraging what he terms “borrowed” audiences. The best way to access these audiences is through collaborations with other brands. The more different these brands are compared to your own (while still remaining relevant and authentic in terms of the partnership), the better chance you have of reaching a diverse audience that isn’t already following you.

Influencer Marketing

Influencers are the best way to communicate the idea that “people like us use this product.” The more authentic this idea sounds, the more effective it will be. This authenticity comes by cultivating long-term relationships with smaller numbers of influencers. The most effective marketing strategy is combining these long-term relationships with supplemental stories or single posts. It’s also important to note that the number of followers an influencer has isn’t a make or break situation. In fact, sometimes influencers with smaller audiences can outperform those with larger follower numbers. When delving into the world of influencer marketing, always make your goal clear and use it to guide the influencer’s primary call to action.

Giveaways 

Everyone loves to win free things. But how many times have you followed an Instagram account just for a giveaway and then unfollowed them immediately after you realized you didn’t win? At the end of the day, do giveaway contests help or hurt overall engagement and growth? According to Ben, giveaways are a “sugar rush.” There are only a small fraction of people who are genuinely interested in your brand and product. However, if the giveaway/sweepstakes is something that is unique and fits your brand well, it can be quite useful. If your giveaway involves user generated content like photos or videos to enter, you can even use it for your own purposes. Not only are you generating authentic engagement, you are also borrowing audiences and receiving eyeballs on your posts.

Additional Tips

  • Don’t sponsor content with external links, tags, or hashtags directing your audience elsewhere. When possible, always take advantage of the opportunity to bring people back to your own page or website.
  • The quickest ways to turn around falling engagement numbers on social media are through good content, cutting back on post frequency, targeting content, and stopping audience fatigue by changing advertising to exclude your own followers.
  • Email is the most valuable platform within digital marketing and should be the top priority for companies looking for success in purchase conversions. Email marketing gives you more tracking capabilities and allows you to segment audiences based on behavior and automate messaging. It’s also a form of owned media, giving you complete control over the message you send out. Just be sure not to abuse your relationship with your email listserv and send messages out thoughtfully.

No one will ever fully understand the dynamic world of social media. However, as businesses, we can learn to adapt to the constant innovations. We can avoid aiming for numbers and instead focus on creativity. When we utilize unique and engaging content, it’s much easier to drive organic follower growth and engagement, eventually leading to purchase conversions.

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