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Social media platforms and channels continue to evolve, challenging businesses to adjust social strategies to capture the attention of target audiences, build brand visibility and generate leads. As business owners and entrepreneurs look to harness the power of social media in a changing digital landscape, they will need to have an excellent understanding of social media fundamentals and keep abreast of evolving social media trends.
The sheer number of social media users makes a compelling case for companies to increase their social media acumen. As of April 2021, the social media platform’s users have reached a global total of 4.33 billion – equivalent to more than half of the world’s population of 7.85 billion at the beginning of April 2021.
On average, users spend approximately 2.5 hours on social media. Much of this time is spent on the larger social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. This captive audience provides business owners and entrepreneurs with a powerful opportunity to reach out and connect with key stakeholders. The most effective way for business owners and entrepreneurs to do this is to adhere to best practices when it comes to the basics of social media and make it a priority to keep up with evolving social media trends. Here are some of the social media basics and trends that every business owner should master or be aware of.
Related: 8 simple ways to make social media work for your business
know your audience
Today, competition is fierce to capture the attention of target audiences on social media platforms. Considering that according to one of the much-cited studies, the average human attention span is eight seconds which is less than the 9-second attention span of a goldfish, brands don’t have much time to gain attention.
Competition for mind share and diminished attention span make it crucial for brands to understand who their audience is to communicate and interact with them more effectively.
The process of audience knowledge involves identifying which social media platforms they use the most and researching their “pain points”, what their needs and desires are and what content is most engaging to them. Surveys, customer data, and social media analytics can help companies improve their social media strategies to ensure that the right audience is targeted with relevant, personalized content.
Related: A beginner’s guide to social media marketing
Find the brand’s voice
Brand voice is defined as the distinctive character that a brand takes in its communications. A solid social media strategy starts with companies that know who they are and what they stand for. According to a Sprout Social Index survey, the brands that stand out most to consumers on social media have memorable content (40%), personas (33%) and compelling stories (32%). Sprout Social noted that “in all these three aspects, brand voice plays an important role. You cannot have a distinct personality without a distinctive brand voice.”
Developing an authentic voice that aligns with the company’s brand develops trust and audience recognition, allows key stakeholders to have a clear sense of company values and connects audiences more deeply to the brand’s messages.
Constantly posting content
An intentional social media strategy that focuses on posting content consistently keeps audiences engaged, grows loyal followers, and boosts brand awareness. In the world of social media, inconsistency is a surefire way to lose an audience’s interest.
Research from Hootsuite revealed the ideal number of posts per day (or week) for each platform:
On Instagram, I post 3-7 times a week.
On Facebook, I post between 1 and 2 times a day.
On Twitter, post 1-5 tweets per day.
On LinkedIn, I post between 1 and 5 times a day.
To stay up to date with posting regularly, business owners can develop a social media content calendar as a tool for scheduling social posts each month. This strategy can help companies plan social engagements and associate them with upcoming holidays, certificates of appreciation, and events. Using a content calendar to develop a consistent cadence for publishing also allows businesses to analyze what content is working and what isn’t so that content strategy can be adjusted across platforms to ensure that posts resonate more effectively with and engage target audiences.
Engage in social listening
Social listening allows companies to monitor and analyze digital interactions and conversations related to the company, product, competitors and industries mentioned across social media channels. Talkwalker notes that listening to social media gives companies insight from 30,000 feet by “pulling conversations from social media and analyzing conversations in aggregate for insights.”
Social listening can help companies understand if signals are increasing or decreasing in a given month, whether people are engaging with the content, what trend is associated with a particular industry or topic, and whether sentiment/feedback is positive or negative.
Related: 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing
Now let’s take a look at some of the evolving social media trends.
The popularity of video content on social media will continue to grow. Keep in mind that, on average, more than 100 million hours of video are watched per day on Facebook and according to data from Limelight Networks, the popularity of user-generated content such as videos on social media has grown exponentially, doubling over the past year to four hours. In the week.
Video content is also in short form. The truth is that most social media users do not have time to watch videos that are longer than a few minutes, which makes the optimal length for such short videos around 90 seconds or less. Audience preference for short video content is a major reason for the rise in popularity of video sharing app TikTok which reached 1 billion active global users in September 2021.
Immersive and interactive stories remain one of the most popular features on social media. The personal and fleeting nature of these 10-15 second photo or video posts makes them more persuasive to an audience than newsfeeds. It’s usually a way for brands to share the inside scoop on company updates and casually showcase products and services.
Instagram is one of the most popular platforms for this feature, reporting 500 million daily active story users worldwide in 2019. Currently, 9 other social media platforms have their own version of stories available including LinkedIn business networking platform.
Live streaming is trending on social media now. Companies use this approach to stream behind-the-scenes content, announce new products, showcase products, offer tours of facilities, and host live question-and-answer sessions. Live streams also allow businesses to inject more personality into their social media through challenges and giveaways as well as surveys and polls.
As a real-time engagement tool, live broadcasts are a great way to increase brand awareness, improve and enhance communication with target audiences, and gain a deeper understanding of audience interests.