It's the time of year when everyone starts making their predictions for 2017. In social media, we read list up on list of what will be new and what will die next year. And while I enjoy those lists as much as the next person, I don't want to throw another one of "those" lists at you.
Instead, I've rounded up my thoughts on the most practical things you can do with your social media next year to stay on trend.
But before I give you my tips for social media success in 2017, I should point out that I don't expect to see any major shifts in the major social media platforms, except maybe Twitter - although I think Donald Trump is single-handedly saving Twitter 😉 Facebook will still dominate (duh!). Paid social will continue to be the "thing" people need to learn more about. All the major platforms will continue to grow - adding more users "daily".
Of course, some things will change and evolve. And I'm sure we'll see more from virtual reality and augmented reality services. Artificial intelligence will continue to drive progress forward (have you seen the new proposed grocery stores from Amazon?). And new technologies and devices will alter our current reality in a swift movement towards the future. This is all inevitable.
But, what you can do right now, and for your own social media success in 2017 includes these practical tips.
When I say "in-app integration" I'm talking about ways that social media sites can keep you on their sites while performing "external" functions. For example, buying something from a company directly through their post on Facebook. Using Messenger to send money. Reading blog posts within the social media platform and not leaving to the original post's website.
We're already seeing this from Facebook and it will likely quickly expand to Instagram. Once other platforms get their engineers on the application side of things, I'm sure more will follow suit.
This is actually good for both the social media platforms and for marketers - and of course, the consumers.
Social media platforms are happy because you don't leave their site, and they keep you longer - increasing the opportunity to advertise to you and capture your attention elsewhere. For us marketers, it's also beneficial because we can capitalize on spontaneous conversions immediately, without losing valuable time or pending other distractions between navigation from social media to our website.
Expect to find more and more of this integration and ability to function within social media throughout 2017. As these tools and functionality roll out to various accounts, consider experimenting with this tactic and find strategic ways to incorporate this into your social media plan and budget.
Instagram Stories Exploding in Functionality
I think we've only seen the tip of the Instagram Stories iceberg and we'll be amazed at what's yet to come. They're already introducing the ability to add links directly to your website into your stories and Live video will be coming to Stories in the near future.
Instagram is fully invested in this new aspect of Stories and I expect to see them push more and more tools, features, and innovation through this application.
If you're not yet using Instagram Stories in your Instagram strategy, you will want to seriously consider this for your 2017 strategic plan. Figure out how you can use Stories, what your message should be, how often you will post, and what you want your outcomes to be using Stories. Just like anything else, you need a fully executable plan for Instagram Stories.
Snapchat Isn't Going Anywhere
Even though I expect big things for Instagram Stories, I honestly don't think Snapchat will disappear in 2017. I actually think the battle between the two platforms will only fuel more innovation and provide more desired features for the end users.
Does that mean you have to jump on the whole Snapchat bandwagon? Maybe, maybe not.
If your target audience is under the age of 35, then yes, you should be using Snapchat. That's pretty much a no-brainer right now. This is the platform that the younger millennial and younger generation is using on social.
If your audience is over that 35 year demographic, you might want to consider Snapchat depending on your audience's demographic behaviors and how your brand aligns with the Snapchat culture. With everything else, if Snapchat sticks around, older users will continue to jump on the platform over time. And if you have a solid footing and loyal audience built early on, you set yourself up for success as those others in your industry try to catch up.
Video, Video, and More Video
Yes, we say this every year, and every year it's more and more true.
Video. Is. Taking. Over.
Personally, it drives me crazy and I hope we don't eventually turn into a society void of the capacity to actually read a paragraph 😉 but the reality is that more and more people want videos. And, social media platforms are pushing the crap out of videos. So if you're not creating videos yet, you better buckle up and get committed to the process!
I've heard rumors that the day will come when Facebook will only show videos in the news feed. Can you imagine?!?! Ugh! But anyways, that's the direction things are moving and you really need to commit to creating videos in 2017.
It might be hosting Facebook Live videos or posting short videos on Snapchat or Instagram. It could be tutorials you share on YouTube and your blog or newsletter. It could be whatever you want, but you need to have a video strategy next year. Period.
Post Less for Bigger Results
I've been preaching this most of 2016 and I won't stop for 2017. Stop the saturation of crappy content!!!!
In an effort to combat algorithms and diminished reach, marketers have gotten into this horrible habit of slapping out tons of half-ass content in the pure hopes that some of it will reach a few people. But they're only hurting themselves - and their audience!
Instead of pushing out more boring, half-relevant content, post only the best content you can find.
And post less of it.
If you currently post once a day, go down to 3-5 times a week. If you're posting 2-3 times a day, goodness, slow that down! Of course, Twitter is probably the only exception to this, but even then, you should only be sharing the best stuff 😉
If you read something and you're like "wow, this was amazing!", then you share it. If you read it and were like "well, it was ok...." then you don't share it!
Why? Because if you don't love it, do you think your audience will? No!
And if they don't love it, they won't click on it, they won't like it, the won't comment on it. And if they aren't engaging with it, then the algorithms stop pushing out your content as much/high in the feeds.
But.... if you only share the best stuff and every time you do, your audience engages because it's so dang awesome, guess what? The algorithms realize you're a genius who shares awesome stuff and they promote your content more. It's a hugely winning cycle of engagement!
So take notice and revamp your strategy for 2017. Then you can be like me and my clients who are seeing serious boosts in our post reach.
Did you know that nearly 70% of consumers will use social media for customer service purposes?
And when you look at millennial consumers, social media is their preferred method of communication for customer service.
That means if something is broken, service goes down, they need support for something, something didn't deliver, a product isn't what they expected, or even if they want to leave a compliment, these people will go to your social media platform before calling, emailing, or otherwise contacting your company.
Are you ready to handle that response?
Who's managing your social media for you?
You? An intern? A long-standing employee? An outside agency? Whoever it is, does that person have the capacity and knowledge to respond to that customer service issue, and more importantly, actually offer a resolution?
If they don't, you need to determine what that solution looks like for your social media activities in 2017. Because customer service issues will only continue to grow in popularity for your company's social media presence.
It's All About Strategy!
This isn't "new" for 2017, it's been true every day of every year, but if you aren't currently implementing and executing a decisive social media strategy, you need one now!
I've already used the term "strategy" 5 times in this article (and that's trying not to overuse the word!). Because the single most important thing you can do is have a strategy.
If you don't know your goals, if you don't have a strategic plan for reaching those goals, then you're wasting your time trying to "see what works".
Every single post should have a purpose.
And that's what a strategy gives you. If your post does not enhance your brand message, does not increase your brand awareness, does not generate leads, does not produce revenue, or does not meet whatever other goal you have set, then it is a waste of space in your highly precious posting schedule.
If this worries you or makes you wonder what you could be doing differently this year, I have a few solutions for you!
First of all, you can grab my book on Amazon.com with all my step-by-step instructions on creating your own social media strategy.
Secondly, you can schedule a consultation with me and we can talk through your individual social media strategy for 2017.
Or thirdly, you can work with me and I will create your own fully customized social media strategy for your business. But these packages are limited in availability right now, so let me know if this is something you are interested in and we'll get you on the calendar as soon as possible.