AKRON (Dec. 23, 2013) — I had the chance recently to sit with Megan Wentz, marketing coordinator at Kumho Tire USA L.L.C., to talk about how 2013 shaped up in social media and since that meeting, I have been researching what's coming down the pike for social media.
After sifting through a bunch of reports and predictions, I have broken down four predicted trends for 2014.
It's all about the SOLOMO
No, SOLOMO is not a new hip band or TV show. SOLOMO stands for: social, local, mobile. This is what social media is going to be all about in 2014.
This is a shift that has already started but is predicted to weigh even more heavily in 2014. The move to mobile is something we already know is happening. Even if we don't look at the statistics, we see it every day.
How many people in your shop do you see clicking away on their mobile devices? Are you targeting ad campaigns toward them? If not, why not?
Ryan Holmes, CEO of HootSuite, wrote an article in CCN Money that we should expect to see an increase in "geo-fencing" — a practice of putting highly localized ads on social media sites.
"You walk into a neighborhood, for instance, and suddenly Promoted Tweets for the local watering hole, dry cleaner, and McDonald's (MCD) pop up in your Twitter stream."
This is something Facebook has been doing since 2011, but Twitter is also getting on board. Tire dealers wonder how to reach those people who are on their phones all the time. This is a way. Create ads targeted to your geographical location so people in your community know about different promotions you are running.
Personal touch of social media, down with the call center
Kristen Muhlner, CEO of newBrandAnalytics, said it best in the Future of Social Media article when she said, "Any business that still thinks it can ignore online feedback will have to think again in 2014."
She said that some firms are turning social intelligence into "a bird's-eye view of which brands are outperforming competitors" so even if you don't think social is important, your competitors do.
With this, analysts are predicting that larger companies that have call centers may be turning away from that platform since people are reaching out on social media. Customers expect quick responses through these means and are not as ready to sit on a 45-minute phone call waiting to speak with someone.
If you think about it this way, on social media everyone who is looking up the company can see if someone is complaining, whereas a phone call is just affecting that one person. Businesses want to address these complaints so other customers can see the resolutions. Even if your tire shop does not have a long waiting line, you still want to address any positive or negative comments about your business online so that customers feel appreciated.
The free ride is over
Facebook's announcing that its organic search — how many people can see and search for your post without you paying anything for them to see it — is going to be changing will affect how companies create social media strategies.
An article on Inc.com explains that since Facebook changed its news feed algorithm that hurts organic reach, if a business wants its posts to be seen, it's going to have to "pay to play." However, this is not just true for Facebook, since Twitter recently went public as well and must drive revenue, so it is going to put an emphasis on paid ads.
I know that I get emails all the time from Twitter for Business asking if I want to create an ad and I am assuming this trend is only going to continue throughout next year. Google+ and LinkedIn also have ads and promoted updates.
However, with the free ride being over, it is important to note that analytics for social media are improving. Why is this important? Because so many dealers are apprehensive about social media because they want to know their return on investment (ROI).
Evan D. Escobedo, Practice Principal of Social Business at Zunesis Inc., said in the Future of Social Media article, "Now that organizations have access to this wealth of data, they will realize that social media marketing is not just about monitoring and managing your social media channels but also about analyzing all of this data and converting it to actionable insight to drive their business forward."
Tracking this type of data is going to help you, the independent tire dealer, to turn your engagement into lead generation and then make your social presence part of your investment.
Ms. Muhlner of newBrandAnalytics said that the more generic listening tools will be "replaced by tools that can provide the store-level customer relationship management (CRM) it takes to win and keep loyal customers."
That is part of what social media is all about—getting and keeping your customers. Finding new ways to reach them. These improved forms of analytics will hopefully win over even the skeptics on the importance of building a social media strategy.
Is Facebook dying? The rise of SnapChat
Facebook has been the No. 1 social networking site, but with its organic reach announcement, it's pushing businesses to use more ads. For people who use Facebook strictly to keep in contact with their friends, they may get turned off by the abundance of advertisements everywhere.
The other reason why Facebook may see a decline in 2014 is because younger demographics are starting to flock to other sites, such as SnapChat.
When Facebook first came out, it was a site for college students to connect with each other. Then it opened up to everyone and their grandmas (I know, my grandmother likes almost everything I post on my page) and it is not necessarily a place for them to connect to their friends anymore, especially not with their parents being able to see everything they do. This is great for parents, but younger demographics are starting to look at other places to connect.
SnapChat is one of those places. SnapChat is a photo messaging app that allows users to take pictures or videos and send them to other people; however, the recipient can only see the "snap" for a small amount of time.
So effectively, people can send messaging to each other that will then disappear shortly after the message is received. For marketers, this means finding effective ways to connect to these audiences, without being able to hold on to the message for long periods of time.
Richard Velez, client success manager at Command Partners, was quoted in the Future of Social Media article as saying, "New SnapChat Stories allow short clips to live for 24 hours, and we'll see this become a unique way for companies to market themselves while generating revenue for SnapChat."
Other photo and video platforms are also expected to be on the rise in the coming year, including Instagram, Vine and YouTube.
Twitter may start to inch forward in 2014 as it transitions into a bigger contender in the market as a public company.
Valerie Jennings, CEO of Jennings Social Media Marketing, said in the same article, "Twitter continues to be a melting pot for B2B and B2C companies to find relevant content, targeted customers or clients, influencers and new and improved ways to refer website traffic."
What does all this mean for you?
There are dealers who have been hesitant to enter the social media world. But it is becoming more and more of an engagement tool to customers. I know that I love when I look up a company and it has a Twitter or a Facebook. It means that I do not have to sit on the phone with a call center for 45 minutes or an hour. I can just leave a quick message and that company will get back to me soon.
With smaller dealerships, you might not have these large call centers, but you still want to be there for your customers, right? It is still a different way of reaching out, a different way of communicating. Although there seems to be more of a price of social media campaigns coming up than in the past, it can still be more cost effective than other marketing strategies.
It is about finding what is best for you and your brand.