by Steve

Keeping up with social media trendsAs social media trends seem to change daily, how can local businesses keep up with what’s deemed as best practice.

For example,not so long ago, the recommended length for a video was approximately two minutes. Today Vine and Instagram have altered the playing field; they emphasise micro-video from six to 15 seconds in length.  The train of thought is that video posts are about  abbreviation – the shortened form of something larger. They’re little windows into the people, settings, ideas, and objects that make up your life.

Both Vine and Instagram have blossomed in the past yearv due to a couple of reasons. Firstly, the videos are short and to-the-point. Secondly, they often feature memorable moments such as a person blowing out birthday candles or creative stop-motion. Thirdly, they’re easy to create and share on mobile.

Which social, micro-video site is right for your marketing?

The trend toward micro-videos doesn’t negate the role of longer videos; YouTube remains one of the most visited sites on the web.   YouTube has approximately 1 billion unique visitors per month and reaches more adults aged 18-34 than any cable network.

When it comes to video, it’s important to let the content dictate the length, not the popularity of the format.

Advertising goes Native

Social media’s early days clamoured with cries of ‘free’. Most businesses quickly realised false prophets, under the guise of social media experts, ninjas, gurus and rock stars, were delivering the messages. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, even if they didn’t require a membership fee, required time, strategy and know-how, which meant either adding to an employee’s already full to-do list or hiring anew employee.

Social media has never been free. If you want to get noticed on social this year, you’re going to have to advertise. Today, all three of these networks feature native advertising or other forms of paid advertisements. Facebook has taken the route of almost 100% pure advertising for businesses. Even Google+ is testing an advertising platform.

The networks are attempting to capitalise on a captive audience, and why shouldn’t they? They are forprofit companies.

The difference between the two is that businesses can’t penalise their audiences for not buying a product or service. The social networks, though, can penalise businesses for not advertising because they control the algorithms.

It’s a fact, effective social media engagement is no longer free. To guarantee visibility and reach, you’re going to have to pay to play.’

 Hashtags increase and multiply

If anything unites Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest, it’s hashtags. The tags are sometimes used for humour, but they are meant for cataloguing news, events, topics and conversations. Marketers, in turn, use them to track and measure their earned social mediamentions and reach. Anyone searching for a specific subject, product, community or event simply looks for theapplicable hashtag.

The challenge for businesses is finding a hashtag that resonates with their audience and is easy to use. If it fails on either point, their audience members will use any hashtag they come up with, which not only makes data harder to capture but also results in fragmented information and conversations.

Businesses need to use discernment with their hashtags. They don’t want to go the way of McDonald’s or Wendy’s. Both fast-food chains learned that public response can go badly, quickly. McDonald’s hashtag ‘#McDStories’ produced a swath of tweets that ranged from people saying they’d been high to saying they’d become horribly ill after eating at one of the fast-food restaurants.

Wendy’s ‘#HeresTheBeef’ hashtag produced equally unpleasant results.

Social media is mobile media

Mobile is growing exponentially and shows no signs of slowing. According to a comScore study focused on online retail, more than half of the traffic in June 2013 was attributable to mobile devices. Today’s consumer is on the go, and he or she will access information whenever and wherever it’s convenient.

People aren’t distinguishing what they’re doing on different screens, so advertisers should be moreagnostic about where they reach the user. The fundamental tenet is not to speak about mobile, mobile, mobile. It’s really about living with the users. What device are you on? What’s your question? How can we assist you? That’s a much broader and richer set of activities.

If you want to attract new customers, you need to speak to them where and when they are.

Don’t get stuck on what device they’re using.  2013 saw many brands really shift focus and place mobility at the heart of their web strategy for the first time – but this really is just the beginning. We are now starting to understand the reliance consumers have on the mobile web, and the importance of both the device and the context it is used in when delivering mobile experiences.

Flurry, a mobile measurement and advertising platform, found that overall app use in 2013 grew by 115 percent, withsocial and messaging apps showing the greatest growth. Businesses that are interested in growing should be building mobile into their strategies. Social apps and customers are both dictating this.

Keeping up with social media trends

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