The social media landscape is constantly evolving, with advances in technology leading to new platform developments and alterations to enhance user experience. Social media marketing is no different, and new advertising options that help simplify workflows while maximizing results seem to be announced every week.

It can be nearly impossible to keep up with, and for smaller businesses without social departments, even learning the basics can seem overwhelming. Here’s what you need to know in 2017.

How Social Plays An Effective Role In Marketing

Whether your business is B2C or B2B, social is key for driving brand awareness and getting your name known within your sector. For B2B the focus is generally on Twitter and LinkedIn, as these are the channels most used in a professional capacity.  Social listening is also crucial.

By monitoring social conversations for key terms and purchase intent, you can identify and engage with these conversations before your competitors – but only if you have an active social platform. In the B2B sector your social profiles can be an indicator of ‘social proof’, letting potential customers know how you respond to enquiries, whether your content demonstrates thought leadership, and how proactive you are in offering advice to your clients. Lots of online B2B companies also use Twitter as way of responding in to client enquiries. Essentially, your social presence must support any claims made within your advertising.

Providing interesting, useful content through social profiles is now more important than ever. It doesn’t need to all be about products either – in fact, this is one area where the focus should be on interest rather than selling. Have a look at what larger companies are doing for some initial inspiration: food stores are competing with each other to offer the best recipe and culinary how-to resources on their profiles, online giants like Gumtree find success with ultimate guides and how-to pieces, and even security companies can liven up their social profiles by encouraging customers to participate in light-hearted competitionsThe key is that social is being used here to cater to customer interest – not sales.

How Social Is Measured & The Key Metrics To Know

Measuring social starts with what your objectives are. It’s important that you define your objectives in order to be able to measure the success of social media. There are some things you should consider; for example, are you using social:

• To discover a new audience? Then reach/impressions will be a key metric to measure.
• To drive traffic to your website? Then social referrals via Google Analytics or other analytics package are vital.
• To retain your current audience? Then engagement rate is a good metric to report on.
• To better understand your audience or potential audience? Then you’ll want to measure conversation analysis using a monitoring tool such as Brandwatch.
• To be seen as a thought-leader in your industry? Then time spent on page is a good metric to analyze, particularly on blog pages.
• To increase sales or generate leads? Set up your goals as conversions in your chosen analytics package and measure this activity via social referral

Google+ In 2017

The importance of Google+ in 2017 has polarised opinion, but it’s important to understand the role that Google+ plays outside of social. Google itself says that Google+ is more than a mere social network. You should definitely have a business page for your company and organisation, and then verify your website with your page and add any social media channels to your page too. This tells Google to attribute channels and social signals to your website, which in turn can affect your search rankings.

Also, another thing to do that not everyone knows about is to post fresh content from your website onto Google+ immediately – it sends a message to Google’s bots to index the new pages straight away.

Start A Conversation

Many small businesses admittedly don’t have hours to spend each week online, so it becomes even more important to choose your social media strategy wisely. It’s important not to post too many sales messages – the idea is to ‘start a conversation’. The best small businesses understand the importance of engaging in the world of social, and there are dozens of social media marketing success stories that you can learn from and be inspired by.

Whatever your social media strategy, remember that in 2017 the aim of the game is to join the conversation, be genuine and build lasting relationships.

Ella Jameson

Ella Jameson

Contributor


Freelance writer specialising in business, marketing, tech and finance.