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What’s New in Social Media?

Social media has come a long way in the past decade. When Facebook started, it was primarily for college students to connect with their friends; now it's one of the most powerful advertising tools.

These networks will continue to evolve in 2015 and beyond. Business-to-business keep prioritizing social media as an effective lead generation channel.

Here are some new developments to look out for in the coming year:

1. Facebook's Algorithm is Changing

This change has many marketers up in arms. Facebook is updating its algorithm to create a better experience for users, which some expect will limit branded content in people's news feeds.

Marketers are frustrated because the move may diminish how many people they can reach with their campaigns. However, it's important to remember the most visible ads on the social network aren't free, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The cost of paid advertising on social media is expected to increase, especially on Facebook. In the past, Facebook's algorithm only offered the capability to reach 16 percent of a brands' followers,Fortune said.

Now, this number has decreased to approximately 6 percent, and it may decline further. Marketers who rely on Facebook will have to determine if they are seeing high enough levels of performance from their ads to warrant the investment on this network.

Despite the changes, creativity and great content will still gain high visibility on the platform. Facebook is expected to maintain its position as a great advertising tool, but some of the organic nature of the network will disappear.

The algorithm will prioritize the content it thinks users want to read, rather than letting interactions take place in a more natural way.

The changes for advertising mean other social platforms, like Snapchat, Pinterest and Tumblr, may have discussions about ads.

2. It's Time to Start Paying Attention to LinkedIn

The professional-focused social network has often been overlooked as an advertising platform, but it made some big changes in 2014 that are expected to make it a more valuable marketing tool, according to Business 2 Community. It added a publishing tool for users, allowing people to post more long-form content.

LinkedIn gets a lot of attention in the B2B world, but the publishing feature may make it more relevant for other users. In fact, LinkedIn saw a 46 percent increase in paid users in the first quarter of 2014.

3. Dwindling Relevance of Google Plus

Google's social platform has struggled from the start, and this was even more pronounced in 2014. One of the key benefits of this network was the Hangouts feature, but now this is available as a standalone option in other Google programs.

In addition, Google got rid of the Authorship feature in Google Plus, which further decreased the power of the network.

It may be time to assess your strategy and put more time and effort into other networks.

Many are predicting Google Plus will lose even more users in 2015.

4. Social Media Also Needs to be Mobile

Marketing experts have been proclaiming the mobile revolution for several years, but mobile Internet usage exceeded desktop this year. People increasingly consume content from their smartphones and tablets, and marketers need to accommodate this trend to ensure their social media campaigns are successful.

For most businesses, target audiences want to read content or watch videos on the go. If you don't enable them to do this, they may not interact with your content.

Nearly every social media platform has a mobile application, and many users engage with their networks through their smartphones and tablets the majority of the time.

5. Better Twitter Analytics

Most social media marketers know that a lot more goes into a successful strategy than how many followers your brand has or how many likes it gets. Ultimately, you want to be able to determine if your ads are generating a strong return on investment.

Twitter is updating its analytics offerings to gain a better sense of performance on the network. In addition, there are a number of third-party tools that allow marketers to measure social media interactions.

Some of these analytics are sophisticated enough to provide an indication of the specific tweets that drive sales, according to Fortune.

6. Greater Potential for Niche Networks to Emerge

With the declining effectiveness of Google Plus and algorithmic changes on Facebook, there is a chance new platforms will spring up, Practical Ecommerce suggested. Networks like Path and Snapchat are exclusively mobile.

Whether marketers are looking to get rid of tactics that aren't delivering results, they may start to consider new networks in 2015. In addition, interest-based social networks are starting to be developed, such as food app Foodie, fitness platform Fitocracy and social shopping network Kaboodle.

Depending on your industry, this type of platform may help you reach a more targeted audience.

7. Visuals Are More Important Than Ever Before

It's hard to go on any social platform and not see images. Facebook's news feed is far more visual, and the network added an auto-play feature for videos, though users have to click on the content to hear the sound.

Twitter added lead generation cards to enable brands to create a better experience on the platform, while attracting a higher number of qualified prospects.

In addition, Instagram has experience rapid growth, and this network is entirely composed of photos and videos. While some marketers may turn toward Instagram to reach customers, Pinterest is a great tool for brands.

Unlike Facebook, Pinterest doesn't have an algorithm, so brands may be able to achieve better visibility. Content that doesn't include a visual may not receive as much interaction.

With the changes across a number of networks, marketers may need to adjust their social media strategies in 2015. Although some platforms are undergoing major new developments, social media is still highly relevant for advertisers, especially with high usage from smartphone owners.

8. What Are the New Social Networks?

During the latest SXSW we witnessed the arrival of a new social network, called Meerkat. Also, Twitter didn't want any new competition, so they ending up buying another new network called Periscope. Ok, so you’re asking, what’s up with all of this? Well, let’s take a look and see what these new networks can offer.

Meerkat and Periscope are currently the two front-runners in terms of live-streaming video apps.

Both allow their users to link through to their Twitter account to broadcast and watch videos from around the world. Both have moved up the success ladder really quickly and can already boast a wealth of celebrity users.

They’re very similar in terms of purpose and functionality: both apps allow viewers to comment on the video, monitor how many other viewers are currently viewing, and also indicate approval through a like on Meerkat or ‘heart’ on Periscope. Beyond that, they do differ wildly when it comes to features and look.

So, how can you apply these new networks to your Marketing Strategy? Well, there is a lot of uses you can give to these apps that may help you improve your marketing mix. Let's take a look below:

  • Announce a new product launch
  • Provide your audience a behind-the-scenes look at an event, tradeshow or conference
  • Demonstrate how consumers can use your product or service in a simple and efficient way.
  • Offer your consumers exclusive promotional codes they can only access by tuning in to your Meerkat video.
  • Use them to provide Interviews, demonstrate brand transparency and industry expertise.
  • Offer an answer to a range of FAQs in a more personalised format.
  • Videos that can be used to give fans a tour of the brand’s headquarters, introduce them to employees, or provide insight into a day in the life of your business.

What social networks do you plan to use in 2015?