A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend Social Media Marketing World 2017 (SMMW) in sunny San Diego. Coming into the conference as an intermediate member of the social media world, I was excited to learn a lot. And, boy, did I learn!
The conference covered just about every corner of social media marketing, including tracks specifically dedicated to blogging, vlogging, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, analytics and more. With more than 100 sessions lead by some of the most experienced minds in the industry, I found myself wishing there were multiples of me to sit in on every session. Regardless, I still soaked up as much information as I could and came back to Colorado with some tools and best practices I can implement right away to improve our own business, and most importantly, improve our client’s social media strategies. There’s no way I could reasonably share all the information I learned in a digestible way, but I wanted to share some trends and takeaways that have stuck with me.
Computers Are (Seriously) Taking Over
The first session on the first day was led by Christopher Penn, VP of Marketing Technology at SHIFT Communications, who reminded us that computers are actually faster and better at doing what humans do. We often think of AI as robots building machinery or perhaps like IBM’s Watson – a talking internet with personality. However, humans are building AI to be even more developed and complex. We are building them to learn natural language, and in doing so, creating AI that can write articles, blogs, social posts, etc. Penn cited that the Associated Press has been using robo-journalists which can produce 250 articles a month for $1,000 (aka cheap!).
While these robo-journalists are still in beta (they can’t quite produce the quality content humans can and mostly write articles based on statistics), Penn mentioned that it is only several years before AI can write just as well if not better than humans. Before you have a mental breakdown about losing your job like I did during this session, Penn eases our fears. While AI can do the heavy lifting of writing, humans still need to play a part in monitoring the output. AI is only as good as we are – we created them! They will still be prone to errors and subject to revisions. While our roles may shift to monitoring, Penn also advises us social media managers and marketers to continue to think critically. Take the output AI gives us and turn it into something meaningful and valuable for your business. Critical thinking is the leg up we have on AI.
If you have Facebook, you have likely seen a Facebook Live video in your feed recently. While you may find these as another means for your friends to saturate your feed with content about their babies and pets, it’s apparently very effective and a way to break the algorithms (the backend math that determines what users actually see) of Facebook. This is according to Michael Steltzner, CEO and cofounder of Social Media Examiner, host of SMMW. Live video is the new baby of Facebook. They want it to proliferate and for it be the next frontier of social media. While it may be tricky for B2B firms (especially in tech) to find ways to use live video, it might be useful to try live streaming a demo of a product, an event you are sponsoring, or just a day in the life at your hip office.
Beyond live video, video in general is algorithm-breaking on any social channel. You see, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. all want to provide users with the highest quality content. Just plain text posts come in last place and will probably be buried in your feed with minimal impressions or engagements. Posts with images are better, but posts with videos are king. Video is fun, engaging and an easy way for users to digest your content. While sharing links to articles, blogs and any other text content is still a crucial part of developing thought leadership on social media, consider investing in producing videos to drip into your feed as well for optimal impressions, engagements, followers and interest.
A theme over multiple sessions was to have personality in your social posts. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. you don’t want to sound like a total robot. While it’s good to automate some of your posting using tools like Buffer or SproutSocial, make sure to throw in some GIF’s, quote images, memes, commentary on industry trends, engagement with trending hashtags, etc. This will help drive more followers, but most importantly grow your fan base.
The difference between a follower and a fan? A follower is idle, and probably the only notification you ever received from them is that they are following you. A fan is a follower that goes one step further and engages with your content by sharing, commenting or liking regularly. Never be too good to engage back with this fan. The simplest form of engagement would be to “like” a retweet or share, but that is often seen as passive and impersonal. Instead, tell them thanks for sharing, and maybe let them know to check out another one of your resources or products. People will remember you giving them a shout out and will be more likely to continue to engage with your content in the future. Plus, you never know if they have a friend looking for a particular product or service that you offer – that fan might just name drop you!
There’s certainly a lot in store for social media marketing in 2017 and beyond! Roles and strategies will continue to shift in this fast-paced industry and the best thing we can do is to stay on top of trends and adapt. Want more insights on social media and how it can support your content marketing strategies? Check out some of our previous blogs: