At the end of the year, two things tend to happen: You look back over the past year to evaluate its lessons, and you try to predict the future. You can combine these two processes by taking the lessons and patterns of the past and applying them to the future, if you can extrapolate the patterns. That’s how trends are predicted. And 2012 has been an eventful year, for both search optimization and social media marketing.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most important developments of the past year, and how they should continue to play a vital role in social media campaigns in 2013.
Many people are active in social media these days. Brands that want to engage customers, websites that hope to gain traction through social media, and marketers who need to create viable social media campaigns have all recognized one important trend: To achieve success, you have to humanize your brand and website.
The social space is more like a personalized space. Users choose what they like, what they want to see, and what they interact with. In other words, users connect with social media on a personal level. As a result, users aren’t likely to respond warmly to a distant, cool media campaign approach on social media channels.
If you use social media just to post links to your blog or website, you aren’t going to gain much. It’s essential to provide a name, a persona, a human being in all your social media marketing and campaign efforts. Don’t go out there with just your website or brand; be there as a person.
Share links, post videos and photos, interact with communities, comment on other people’s statuses. Do what a person does naturally on social media. The level of interaction between individuals is enormous on social media websites like Twitter and Google+.
People will more readily interact with profiles that feature people on them than the ones that are only brands. And people trust other people much more than brand names, even when both operate the same way.
While it’s important to personalize your entire approach to social media marketing, it’s also important to engage. Without engagement, you leave your audience out of the equation. If you do that, you are nullifying the effect of your social media campaign.
If your marketing efforts on social media amount to no more than just posting links, you’re doing it wrong. You need to engage users, customers, and curious visitors so you can change them into potential customers.
Engaging users involves:
- reaching out to them by commenting on relevant activities
- providing valuable input in discussions on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, etc.
- giving more: sharing links from websites other than your own
- having answers (or if not, finding them) for people’s queries, even when they are not addressed to you
- asking for feedback and acting on it
3. Be Transparent
It is becoming clear that people value honesty and transparency online amidst so much noise. Brands have made mistakes and continue to do so. But a brand that is transparent, apologizes, and moves on is the one people will remember positively.
The social space is littered with fake profiles, misinformation, and quite obviously not-so-useful information, too. People expect honesty from brands and if one responds to this expectation seriously, that brand will stand out from the crowd.
Building trust is very important in marketing your brand/website/blog. And trust comes through transparency.
4. Go Mobile
More people are logged into Facebook, Twitter, and other social profiles through smartphones and tablets these days than through PCs. Supporting mobile devices is no longer just an option; it’s mandatory.
If you want to leverage the power of social media completely and profitably, you should:
- optimize your landing pages for mobile screens
- place ads that appear on mobile apps
- invest time in observing the user patterns in mobile advertising in your industry
- understand the dynamics of the mobile user: what drives him to click your ad?
- optimize your social profiles so they look good on mobile platforms
5. Mitigate Information Overload
The problem of information overload is persistent, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. When people look for information, they have to sift through tons of garbage to get to the real deal. Search engines aren’t very helpful in this respect, and that’s one of the main reasons the social space is becoming enormously important.
How can you sort through this information overload and provide useful content to your target audience?
Value, quality, and context. Apply these three litmus tests to what you share, what you write, what you post, and what you comment on and you will have the best shot at achieving a balance between being active and generating valuable material for your prospects.
6. Content, Content, Content
Naturally, success boils down to the quality of your content. Links, posts, videos, images, comments, retweets, mentions … the list goes on. Content has always been the pillar of all marketing efforts. There are clear indications that content is going to be even more important in the social media context.
The success of websites like Quora proves that people value those that produce genuine, useful, and high-quality content.
But you’ll have to combine that with exceptional social media positioning. This means you must:
- publish on multiple channels, probably several times for reach
- provide material that is unique
- offer vital information directly on social media; people are less likely to click a link through to a website if the information is not very useful
- employ a variety of media to circulate content
7. Become a Social Media Superstar
There’s stiff competition in social media for marketers. It’s the hottest place, brimming with people from almost all walks of life, so naturally there’s a ton of competition already.
By doing many things at once, you can make your presence felt and become a social media superstar.
To do this, you’ll have to:
- engage in many social media channels consistently
- be very active (but not at the cost of being noisy)
- also be interactive, much more than being active (comment, reply, mention more than just posting things)
- engage audiences
- be insanely useful before trying to market anything
- become a leader, a troubleshooter, a helper, and a friend
2013 is going to be a critical year for social media campaigns. The influence of social signals in search results will only grow. Create a master plan for your social media efforts in 2013, and stick to the successful policies you implement.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / pupunkkop