Social media accounts for a third of all our time spent online, and this will only grow this year together with a number of exciting social media trends such as artificial intelligence, live video and virtual reality (lots to keep up with!) So now that the festivities are truly and sadly over, pull out your social media content calendars*, as we have 8 tips to keep you on top of the trends and boost your start on social this January.
You can’t run a marathon without finding your pace, just as you can’t start on a social strategy before looking at your performance so far. So before racing ahead on social, we recommend taking a look through your social media statistics and comparing to previous years. What were your personal triumphs of 2016? What targets will you set yourself for the year ahead? Evaluate your benchmarks and use this information, together with the following tips, to inform your future strategy.
2. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
80% of Instagram’s 500 million users are under 35, while 70.3% of Facebook audiences are over 35. Though it’s likely that your audiences are a similar bunch across your channels, you should never assume this. Your Instagram audiences might be 16-25-year-old females while your Twitter audiences are middle-aged dads – they require different messages and different creatives – and you won’t know until you’ve seen the stats. Review your audience demographic across your channels regularly, so you know who you’re talking to and what appeals to them most (point 8 should help with this). Don’t treat your channels or your audiences in the same way; what stands out on a Facebook feed might not be that catchy one liner you need for a tweet.
3. EMBRACE THE TEMPORARY – GO LIVE
Were you amongst the 10% who went live last year? Following 2016’s live boom, the social media platforms are ready for this year – Facebook Live, YouTube Live and Periscope on Twitter – as ephemeral content becomes more and more popular. Facebook has just announced that 2017 will see its 360-degree video released for Facebook Live users while Instagram has recently released live video to US residents (keep an eye on this one). Live streaming offers you the chance to connect with your audiences on a whole new level. Is it time you joined Snapchat? Or have you considered Instagram’s temporary video feature? Identify opportunities to go live this year and plan carefully for the moment.
4. PLAN FOR FORMATS
When planning your content, make sure you are also planning your formats – simply the way your content will appear to your audiences. For instance Instagram requires a square image while a Facebook shared link thumbnail is exactly 470px by 246px; Instagram’s video limit is 60 seconds while Twitter’s is 2 minutes 20 and have you noticed Twitter only allows for more than one photo if it’s a live tweet? So how about photo-shopping four images into one? Think laterally and don’t restrict yourself with your campaigns. What will work seamlessly for each platform and what considerations are there for the size, length and volume of content? Drop us a line for help with this.
5. MAKE EVERY POST COUNT
Don’t post for the sake of posting – chances to be seen are getting slimmer and slimmer (unlike us last month). As more and more content is posted on social (42,000 photos per 60 seconds on Instagram and 136,000 on Facebook), the networks’ algorithms are working overtime to pan for gold to keep users engaged. This means that only the best organic posts are pushed to the newsfeed. Our advice is to create content that your audiences will want to click, watch, share and respond to. Make sure content is timely, relevant and always with high quality and accurately sized (if appropriate) media.
6. MIX IT UP
Ensure your social media plan incorporates a range of media types. Consider posting your own gifs, long-form content such as blog posts or interviews, short-form content such as quotes and questions (great for Twitter), images (square, panorama, collage), videos (slow-mo, time-lapse, live), sound bites, infographics, competitions, guest content… the list goes on. Make it a resolution to explore a new form of content.
7. BATTLE THE GIANTS
The social media giants want social media users to remain exactly that – users. Since they don’t want these users to leave, they’re developing more features to discourage audiences from linking away to your website. This means 2017 is the year to find new, alternative strategies for building website traffic. We suggest beginning to convert social media users using methods that focus on building engagement, developing audience relationships and encouraging user-generated content. This could be via live (interviews, rehearsals, talks…); by creating quality blog content shareable on your channels or simply by asking questions, hosting competitions on Facebook or polls on Twitter – whatever works to create conversation and engage those fans.
This brings us full circle. Analysis is key. What are audiences responding to? Regularly reviewing your most popular posts and engagement analytics helps you understand what’s working and what audiences are responding to, enables you to track your progress throughout the year, and ultimately, save the time you spend on social.
Good luck with your social media strategies! Remember, evaluate first. Let us know how you get on.
*contact Sarah for advice on your social media content calendar, or a personalised template to get you started.