BLOG: Wrapping up 2014 on social media
AKRON (Dec. 22, 2014) — Another year is about to be in the books, which means it is a perfect time to reflect on social media in 2014. In the most recent social media blog post we reviewed some of the best tire industry posts on Facebook this past year. This blog's intent is to wrap up some of the biggest points about social media this year, while taking a look at 2015.
Here are my quick hits:
- Conversations go both ways
When businesses first latched onto social media, in a lot of ways, they did it to spit out information about themselves. This is no longer the case. As Business 2 Community said, there is a shift from “pushing out” content to “pulling in” conversations.
People go on social media to connect, and if you want them to connect with your business you have to relate to them on their terms. If people are going to your website, walking in your store or calling you on the phone, they are looking to speak with you directly. On social media, they may just stumble across your social media sites, and you want them to engage with you. If you think like a consumer, what are they more likely to connect with: an ad for a tire sale or a great quote about business or a fun, upcycled tire display you have in the shop? You want them to speak with you.
This goes both ways. One of the worst things you can do is to post all this great information and have people respond to your brand on social media, without any follow-up from you. Remember, once you post something up on Facebook, Twitter, etc., it isn't over, it is just beginning. Make sure you are interacting with your audience if they are posting, liking, etc.
- Visual is key
As social media expands, one trend continues to rise: the importance of visual content. Whether it is a photo, video, infographic, etc., that is where people's eyes are going toward.
Don't believe me? For the first time, Instagram recently surpassed Twitter in active users. According to a Fortune article, Instagram's active user base has grown more than 50 percent this year. Think of how much it can grow in the next year. It does not look like its momentum is slowing.
Socialbakers A.S., a Czech social marketing analysis company, wanted to take a closer look at this trend, and found that not only have active users continued to increase, but the top 25 brands on Instagram received on average 19.4 million interactions on the content they posted. In comparison, the top 25 brands on Twitter received an average of 502,102.
This is not saying that you should jump off Twitter and onto Instagram, but it is just another example of why locating your audience is so important to the social media platform. Maybe the demographics you are targeting are found more on Twitter or Facebook. You do not want to abandon these pages, but you and your social media team should be discussing which platforms will work best for you.
- Paid social advertising on the rise
Whether we like it or not, paid advertising on social media is continuing to rise. It is becoming more difficult to grow organically — without putting any money into it — especially on larger social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Business 2 Community published an article recently that gives 25 expert opinions on social media for 2015.
In it, Andrew Herrault, lead strategist at Connective Insights, was quoted as saying: “Social media will become a larger focus for advertising investment, especially with the news that Facebook will now block free adverts. This will force businesses to focus energy on maintaining the [return on investment] of social media, as opposed to merely observing the vanity metrics (reach, likes, etc). Vanity metrics are good, but ROI determines the viability of a sustainable marketing channel.”
I think this can be great or more difficult for the independent tire dealer as it continues to find its way on social media. For many, determining what the ROI is for the platform has been one of the biggest reasons why people have shied away, but now there are more concrete ways to determine it. I, personally, think it is about finding the balance. I wouldn't necessary throw a ton of money into a campaign without testing the waters first. Find a platform you feel most comfortable with and start putting in a little money and see what the results are, and then grow from there.
- What is to come
More businesses are beginning to flock to the larger social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, which means that people who are using social media just to connect with friends, etc. are going to continue to evolve and expand their reach. This list Forbes put together has some interesting up-and-coming sites. From ones that we knew were on the rise, like WeChat, a messaging app, to ones that are a little less known, like Unmetric, a social media analytics and competitive intelligence platform.
While some of these social media sites have not laid out how to connect as a business to customer, they may help you with your social media analytics, or just understanding better what customers' likes and dislikes are.
One way to decide if you want to add a social media site for personal or professional use is going on it and seeing how it works. If you like the platform, then start devoting more time to it.
Social Media Today does a great job of describing how to excel in social media in 2015. My favorite tip the article gives is to outperform yourself. Take a look back at the great job you did on social media in 2014. Check out those benchmarks and formulate a plan to top them.
One trend we will continue to see in 2015 is the move to mobile. People are becoming even more reliant on their smartphones, but this can help your business, as long as you get inside those phones.
As Lisa Parkin, CEO and president of Social Climber L.L.C.,stated in the Business 2 Community article, "For some businesses, having social media accounts isn't enough anymore. Many businesses are branching out and creating their own mobile app and increasing their mobile social media marketing. This is important, as 34 percent of cell internet users go online mostly using their phones, and not using some other device like a desktop or laptop computer." (Pew Research)
The important thing to remember is that social media is constantly evolving and it is always beneficial to look at your social media strategy regularly — I would suggest quarterly or twice a year — to make sure you are getting the most out of your social media efforts.
Interested in what other tire dealers are most interested in for 2015 on social media? Check out the Jan. 5 edition of the social media blog. Happy holidays and have a wonderful New Years! See you next year! Jennifer can be reached at [email protected], or on Twitter at @jenniferkarpus
Do you have an opinion about this story? Do you have some thoughts you'd like to share with our readers? Tire Business would love to hear from you. Email your letter to Editor Don Detore at [email protected].