Thanks to countless thinkpieces, we know what to expect for social marketing in 2017—and the outlook glows with tech-savvy visions of bots and big data domination.
With natural social media evolution, we’ve gained smarter attribution models, platforms with Mercedes-level engineering and brand engagement master classes perpetrated during every major event. But these improvements haven’t made the lives of social professionals any easier; they've only led to more complex social decision-making.
But before we jab another hole into our Mark Zuckerberg voodoo doll, let's explore a few things we won’t hear a social media professional say this year.
Social media offers a multitude of ways to get campaign messaging in front of customers and prospects. But danger lurks around every corner of the news feed – push too much content and your customers may silence you. Share too little and risk no return on your social efforts. Like many marketing tasks, social content should strike a balance.
Use what you know about your audience and campaign goals to determine if content is needed or not. Social media is not a monolith; your LinkedIn network may crave info-heavy datasheets, while Twitter wants digestible tips they can use in real time.
It’s the rare marketer who has never held their head in their hands and asked resignedly, what do these people want from me? Even after hours spent defining customer personas, your content can seem like a wide-eyed kid on the first day of school, hoping the other kids will like him.
Your audience is a living, breathing creature; there is no one-and-done approach to understand, reach and delight them. Only an ongoing system of refining, testing and listening will determine what they need from you. You may even discover an untapped audience that wants to hear from you.
Is a social strategy ever actually finished? Shiny new networks and ad offerings enter the scene constantly, so a set-it-and-forget-it approach leaves a social marketer in a lurch when network favor (or algorithms) change.
Savvy social professionals practice what they preach, using social networks and content to stay up to speed on the latest social developments, to see which networks are rising and which have lost relevance.
You obviously need a social media plan, but it should include room for improvisation when a new opportunity emerges for customer engagement.
Social marketers have been chasing the unicorn of social ROI for years now. Some have it figured out, with social attribution metrics that track sales back to social campaigns. Many more still try to make sense of social data in a vacuum, but social ROI is often proven with external metrics like leads and revenue.
Social data also offers an opportunity to capture real voice-of-the-customer insights for content creation, product direction and customer service. The key is integration: social media, like social teams, works best when freed from the silo. Which brings us to our final example.
One significant shift in how businesses use social media has been the expansion of social functions outside the marketing department. With social customer service becoming a huge priority and social engagement tied closely to overall customer experience, brands are embracing social media across the enterprise.
While collaboration can be politically awkward at first, aligning disparate groups (customer service, sales, analytics) creates process interlock and transparency which are mutually beneficial.
The role social media plays within a business will continue to evolve as new technology emerges and customer expectations change.
Perhaps by this time next year, we’ll laugh at these archaic challenges as we train our virtual assistants to use machine learning to develop predictive lead scoring models while they whip up a chai latte. Until then.