January 07, 2014

What You Need to Know About Social Media in 2014

The surveys and expert predictions are all pointing in the same direction for 2014, directly toward an increase in the utilization of social media in business. In fact, according to a survey by e-mail marketing company StrongView, 46 percent of business leaders expect to increase their social media budgets in 2014.

Social media is already the number one activity on the web, making it a logical area for businesses to target potential customers. But as much as it has become increasingly popular in recent years, trends and strategies in social media are still evolving and will continue to do so moving forward. With that in mind, here is everything business managers should know about social media in 2014:

Social Media is Not Just for Youngsters

While social networking has long been popular among the 18-34 demographic, other age groups are making up ground quickly. Twitter, for example, is growing fastest among people ages 55-64, having grown an astounding 79 percent in that segment since 2012 alone.

That age group, of course, includes many top executives and business managers, making it a sweet spot for those companies looking to target the C-level suite. Businesses are always looking for ways to reach decision-makers, and as recently as a few years ago, social media was not seen as an effective means of doing it. A recent survey from DHR International and Modern Survey, however, revealed that 27 percent of executives use Twitter often and 44 percent frequent Facebook. These numbers make clear, that not only can executives be engaged through social media, but if marketers aren’t using these platforms to their advantage, they are likely losing out to the competition.   

Visuals Reign Supreme

Social sharing, which include some kind of visual element such as video or photos, is more likely to have a positive impact than text alone. Consider the fact that:

  • When Facebook posts include photos, engagement is increased 37 percent.
  • Twenty-one percent of people have purchased an item after seeing it on Pinterest.
  • Sixty-seven percent of consumers consider clear, detailed images to carry more weight than the product information, full descriptions, and customer ratings.

Businesses that fail to include videos or photos in their social media strategies are in many cases willingly forfeiting opportunities to increase brand awareness, exposure and ultimately, profits.

To fully grasp the value of visual content in social media, try thinking about it in a different context. On average, content containing compelling images attracts 94 percent more page views than content with no images. If you owned a store and read a study that said you could bring in 94 percent more people just by putting new posters in your window every few days, could you afford not to do it?

Third-Party Apps are the Next Big Thing

By now, you’ve probably heard about the importance of big data and analytics in business. With so much information being generated, gleaning any kind of meaning from data requires sophisticated tools. The same holds true for social media. To maximize the impact and reach of social platforms, a company needs to make sense of the information at its disposal. For example, what hashtags elicit the biggest responses? What time of day is optimum for a Facebook post? What ROI is my Instagram account generating?      

Third-party apps can help answer these questions, and more. Spredfast, for example, can help you tailor your posts to specific age groups, languages, or locations based on the information it gathers. These kinds of apps are especially useful for small businesses that don’t have the resources to put together an analytics or research team.

You Can’t Do Without It 

By now, this should be abundantly clear. If your competitors are using social media to promote products or engage customers at little or no cost, how can you compete if you are not doing exactly the same thing?

The short answer is—you can’t. Using social media is not about keeping up with trends; it’s about converting prospects to paying customers. So take a look at your current strategy and make the necessary changes, because if your business isn’t capitalizing on the opportunities social media presents, somebody else will.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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