As technology continues to develop, marketing opportunities
and tools will continue to change. We are a “know it now, on the move society”, and companies will continue to develop marketing strategies to place their products in front of consumers.
Chris Marentis provides his prediction of the evolution of social media marketing. He proposes:
Big data will continue to be a critical element of marketing. “By marrying personalized customer information with the power of social media, you can create incredibly targeted and robust data-driven marketing interactions in real time.”
Mobile will dominate how we communicate. This will move beyond smartphones, and tablets to cars and “wearable technology like Google Glass”. Companies will need to be ready for this by making sure marketing content is ready for this shift.
Content marketing will continue grow with the help of technology. “It is through relevant, useful, and informative content that companies can reach customers and even increase SEO results”. New technologies will make it easier for all business, including small businesses to coordinate and automate content creation.
The growth of eCommerce will make it even more critical for businesses to be visible to consumers through social media. Keeping pace with changing technology will be a critical element of a company’s success.
Social media is a part of our everyday lives. Businesses have embraced the medium to positively impact customer engagement and loyalty. However, companies have not been as eager to use social media for internal communications to employees. As companies continue to look for ways to engage employees, social media is the next logical step.
Ayaz Nanji looked at this issue on a global basis and discovered that across all companies, “security concerns (68%) and productivity loss (58%) are the top two reasons social tools are restricted”. This is in contrast to employees’ perceptions, who find value in these tools, with 42% saying “that social tools have resulted in more workplace collaboration”.
Shel Holz of PR Daily discusses the social media trends that some companies have adopted to increase employee engagement. He suggests using the following strategies:
You-Tube like Approach to Video – Creating a video library where employees can source information on the various company policies or benefits that interest them.
Migrating away from Email to Internal Social Media for Employee Communications – Although available in many organizations, internal social media has yet to be truly adopted by employees. Studies have shown that “only 13 percent of employees participate in the social internet on a daily basis, and 31 percent rarely or never do”. Yet organizations that have fully embraced internal social media have seen “productivity improve by 20 to 25 percent”.
Activity Streams – Changing the intranet site from a magazine style to an activity stream (similar to Facebook), where employees can comment, follow, like and interact with the company information that is presented. Companies that have adopted this approach have seen content views increase three or four times from previous formats.
Digital Signage – This is not the “old-school looping power point deck”, but video streams with tailored content based on employee needs and location.
Since social media is quickly becoming the norm on how people communicate today, it makes sense that social media strategies are integrated into workplace communication tools. Employees respond well and inclusion can positively impact employee engagement.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an important part of an online marketing strategy, and one that should not be overlooked. SEO needs to be combined with a strong landing page and good website content, but can provide positive ROI for a company.
Vinny La Barbera confirms the importance of SEO by providing a number of statistics regarding online searches. He includes:
Firstview Online also discusses the importance of SEO. They detail how SEO brings traffic to a business, and can provide business credibility. Credibility is created when a company’s name is generated by multiple related searches. If a customer searches various keywords looking for a particular product or service, and a company’s name appears prominently in all or most of the searches, this will create recognition and credibility for the brand.
Another point that Firstview Online makes is that SEO is “an inbound marketing strategy”. This means that unlike tradition advertising where a company sends out a message hoping that it resonates with potential customers, by searching for the product or service online, customers are usually looking to buy. Strong SEO puts a company directly in front of the customer who is ready to purchase. This increases ROI and makes SEO a valuable marketing tool.
Social media has significantly expanded a company’s ability to communicate directly with their customers and create more personal interactions. Fred McClimans of Social Media Today describes real time engagement as creating relationships “where building a community is possible and where brand ambassadors are shaped, empowered and activated. It’s about connecting with your fans on a regular basis, listening to what they are saying and reacting in real-time with information, advice, humor and acknowledgment.”
A part of real-time engagement is responding to customer inquiries. In today’s fast paced world, social media marketing has changed consumers’ expectations regarding the responses they receive from the companies they do business with. Alex York of sprout social describes real time engagement as less of a “nuance and more of a staple in any business to customer (B2C) strategy”. He predicts the following consumer expectations for 2016:
- 24% of customers expect brands to respond on social media within 30 minutes.
- 42% expect a response within 60 minutes.
- 57% expect responses during regular business hours, after hours and on weekends.
Real time engagement takes customer service from a company responsibility to part of the company’s culture. This engagement requires companies to listen to customers and respond quickly. McClimans proposes that real time engagement changes marketing from a “push” model to providing “an ongoing foundation of a brand community”. As consumer expectations continues to increase in this area, companies must focus on their customer relations to remain successful.
As the emerging media landscape continues to change, social media is now accepted as an important part of a business marketing strategy. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube are just a sampling of mediums being used to market products. Stefan Shumacher of the Payroll blog indicates that “58% of small business owners said they see value in Facebook advertising, while 33% actually spend to advertise on the social network”.
Yasmin Bendror discusses social media advertising in her blog, Y Marketing Matters. Bendror discusses that social media provides small businesses the opportunity to “reach out and communicate on a personal level with their target audience on a daily basis”. This significantly changes the dynamic between business and customer.
With all of the social media advertising options, what makes Facebook the leader?
For small business owners who may not have large advertising budgets, or significant social media technology skills, Facebook’s reach in addition to its ease of use makes it a logical choice for their advertising.
For a complete social media marketing campaign, small business needs to look to other social media sites to maximize their online presence. But if the integration of a variety of sites seems overwhelming, perhaps starting with a number of “likes” is a great place to start.
Social media networks such as Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter are an integral part of today’s culture. With the use of these networks, there is a massive amount of consumer data being stored. Business Insider discusses the unstructured data being stored on these networks and how companies are trying to utilize this data for predictive modeling. Unstructured data refers to the data that is “spontaneously generated and not easily captured or classified”.
The BI Intelligence Report includes some interesting facts including that “Facebook ingests approximately 500 times more data each day than the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)”. Twitter stores at least 12 times more data than the NYSE. Companies that can mine this data for consumer predictive modeling will be able to efficiently market their products to customers.
Although additional insight into consumer behaviors will continue to advance target marketing and add ROI, as data analytics advance and allow companies to understand consumer behavior, we will be living in a world where our everyday lives can be tracked even more easily than today. Is our society ready for this?
Crafters of all disciplines have been able to expand their businesses through online sales. There are many websites dedicated to handmade items, including Etsy, Shop Handmade, Artfire and even Amazon has joined the handmade marketplace with Handmade by Amazon.
With so many crafters online, it can be difficult for a crafter or artisan to be seen online. Pinterest is an ideal medium to have products noticed. Selling handmade items is a very visual transaction. What better medium than a board pinned with images?
Pinterest has associated tools that help to create pins with a professional look. Jeffbullas.com discusses the various tools available to Pinterest marketers. ShareAsImage allows users to create picture quotes. This can be a very useful tool to make the ever important reviews easy and interesting to read. Although not built for Pinterest, PicMonkey is an online image editor that can turn product images into visual marketing tools. Jeff Bullas lists a number of other tools that can help to market and build a Pinterest community.
In 2015, Pinterest launched buy-it buttons so Pinterest users can do more than catalog an image, and can purchase products they are interested in buying. Shopify has partnered with Pinterest to make it easy for small business to offer the buy-it button for customers. The combination of imagery and buying convenience makes Pinterest a valuable online marketing tool for small business.