We attended Social Media Week at the end of April to suss out the best tactics for publishing on social platforms this year. Throughout the week a few themes emerged and we’ve rounded up the top five trends widely discussed to help content creators, agencies and brands alike.

Personalization through social listening

The age of being able to personalize content for and target specific audiences is here. Take the time to do it. Ads can be targeted, returning customers are recognized, the technology is available to really give consumers the content they’re looking for, so take advantage. Be intentional with how you speak to your audience. Consider them before investing a lot of time in a campaign without taking stock of how your audience feels about you.

Frank Certa, Social Media Strategist at Rackspace advises, “Social gives you a real time feed of what people think of you, and you should engage with that.”

Understand how your audience is talking about you and invite different departments within your company to analyze that data and create what they’re looking for.

Diana Helander, Head of Marketing, Data and Enterprise Solutions at Twitter said, “The reason brands are so interested in Twitter is because 79% of Twitter users follow a brand. It’s not just for brand remediation.”

Yes, it’s important to catch a crisis as it happens, but prior to launching a campaign, by taking the conversation out of the silos of your social team and informing product development, you can begin “catching trends early, from the world’s largest focus group” and really personalize your content or product for the people you’re trying to reach. When you take social out of its limited silo and help other groups in the organization understand the customer, most importantly you can put the customer at the center of the creation process.

Changing up your content creation process

We all get stuck in the content cycle, particularly in an age where it feels like you have to be “on” 24/7. Content creators are dealing with demand for content (particularly video) increasing because it creates the most engagement, but the desired cost, budget and time is coming down. How can companies reconcile that?

Teresa Palagano, Global Director of Branded Content at The Economist says when “clients want better, faster, cheaper, we say they can have two of the three.” Have frank conversations about what can be done in the allotted time and what quality should be expected. Hire generalists, those you know can shoot, edit, and produce quick projects and focus specialized talents on larger work.

Robert Davis, Head of Digital at Oglivy brought up an important point: “There is a tremendous amount of video being created for no reason. Nobody really wanted to have stuff out there 24/7.”

Don’t create a video for the sake of creating one. Build out that strategy with intention. You want the engagement? Make the time and effort spent in creating a campaign worth it. Identify which platforms you have an audience on and personalize it for that group. Davis advocated for getting clients and your organization to get in the mindset of “we need this for x platform,” understanding why each channel is important, and what to create for it.

Influencer marketing: alter strategies and target smaller groups

It’s a simple idea, but what was most poignant throughout the sessions was the idea that just partnering with influencers isn’t going to create the changes you’re trying to see. You need to know what metrics and KPIs to measure and with influencer marketing and that has always been a challenge.
Some quick tips:

  1. Don’t ascribe to the strategy of “pay-to-play or post-and-pray”
    • Just because you put money behind it, doesn’t mean it’s going to drive the desired results
  2. So set a structure beforehand
    • Decide who you’ll be working with, ideally micro-influencers (10k -250k followers) that are dialed in to your audience. Their follower base came to them not because they were famous, but because they agree with those people and their opinions.
  3. “Qualify before you amplify”
    • Don’t just repost what your influencer did. The missing piece in most social strategies is a robust content qualification framework. What qualifies as a successful post for us? How can we utilize this partnership and make it fit on our platforms? Try different captions for each audience and tailor it for the platform.
  4. Understand FTC regulations
    • Most marketers don’t understand themselves what regulations are required when partnering with influencers. Do the work, be well versed and communicate your strategy the influencer. Reach doesn’t define or correlate to success, it takes planning and personalization to achieve the results you want.

Tap into the power of listening to your user base

Reddit has become a great resource for brands and companies to reach their audience through established communities. Key takeaway: Deep listening builds trust. Reddit has determined that while people love brands, they hate ads. Will Cady, Reddit’s Head of Brand Strategy, advised brands to build ads that listen to the people they’re trying to reach. While there have been people on Reddit for 13 years, brands have only been on Reddit for three. It’s important to remember if you decide to use this platform for advertising your brand or company, there are four recommended steps to take:

  1. Listen
    • Begin with an Ask Me Anything, invite people to ask questions
  2. Identify a need you can address
    • Acknowledge the problem, hear what your audience is saying, allow them to voice their concerns
  3. Make a unique contribution
    • Ex: Chipotle heard about a local queso problem through an AMA and actually resolved the issue
  4. Continue to demonstrate that you are present (set up a profile and allow your audience to communicate and continue the conversation)
    • Chipotle created a page and continues to have conversations with their customers there instead of just pushing advertisements on the platform; their audience feels heard

Debunk the 4 myths of video on social media

Jason Hsiao, co-founder of Animoto, had great advice for content creators trying to refine their social video strategy. He said “the ‘play button’ is the most compelling action on the web.” But in order to make the most out of the effort it takes to create social videos, he echoed what we heard in earlier panels: cater your content for different platforms.

When shifting your organizations mindset for video on social, forget about these four myths:

  1. Myth: Video is a whole new type of marketing
    • Nope. What already works for you? Start with what works and amplify it. Ex: Buffer picked their top five blog posts and turned them into videos
  2. Myth: Social is a “nice to have”
    • Don’t wait for people to discover you, take your message to where the conversation is already happening on social media; it is the face of your company
  3. Myth: “I have a video, I’m done.”
    • It is not something to check off your list – you need to learn to speak video, it is another form of regular communication with your audience
  4. Myth: Social is for driving awareness
    • Use videos to create interest or to convert leads; ask yourself, “What are the videos I can use to lead customers through the journey?”

If you need help understanding social and how it fits into your overall strategy, take a look at NewsWhip Spike.

Katherine Ellis

Katherine was a Content Strategist for NewsWhip working at the confluence of journalism + marketing. She was a prolific writer, whose wit and charm brought smiles to everyone in the office. We miss her terribly and hope that her memory lives on in the brilliance of the words she so lovingly wrote for us. Farewell, sweet Katherine! 

Email Katherine via katherine.ellis@newswhip.com.