Tips, interactions, parties, connections, ideas… all flying high speed in every direction. That best describes the whirlwind of working behind the scenes at Social Media Marketing World. But when the winds die down and I catch my breath (yes, two months later; don’t judge), it’s time to write my annual blog of takeaways from SMMW18.
Every year there are some major trends that stand out. This year it was video marketing, influencer marketing, and marketing through bots.
Video Storytelling is the Future
You’ve seen this already in action. All the platforms have integrated video into their mix. Facebook in particular is banking on the fact that video will grow. Mark Zuckerberg recently claimed Stories will overtake video in the newsfeed as the way people share on Facebook.
But not all video is the same. In the opening keynote, Mike Stelzner, CEO of Social Media Examiner, pointed out there are three types of video. First, “On the go” videos are like Stories. Second, “Lean forward” videos are live videos. Finally, “Lean back” videos include longer episodic storytelling. An example is Social Media Examiner’s The Journey Series*. Videos range from quick bursts of information to long sessions of captivated attention. If you are still cursing Facebook’s last algorithm change, videos may be your new tactic. Facebook’s algorithm now favors interactions, so because live video leads to more discussion, Facebook favors live video.
Influencers of all Types Can Amplify Your Message
Influencer marketing-themed talks peppered SMMW once again this year. Influencers are people of influence on social media who stand out as leaders with a large following and engaged community. Rather than trying to break through to niche communities themselves, businesses tap into these “influencers” to reach their communities.
From small businesses to big brands, people are turning to influencers to get their messages out, gain credibly, and tap into niche communities. Influencers come in many types, however, and bigger isn’t necessarily better. Often influencers with small but highly-engaged followings make a bigger impact. These people are called “micro-influencers” or “nano-influencers.” Navigating the social media influencer landscape can be overwhelming, and the number of influencer tools and platforms is dizzying. Neal Schaffer gave a wonderful talk on how to research influencers, create a plan, and nurture the relationship.
Marketing with Bots is on the Horizon
Have you heard of a bot? Maybe you’ve already interacted with a few. If not, you will soon. A bot is a piece of software that interacts with your customers. Social media works better when you have a one-to-one experience with individuals in a meaningful way, rather than a mass media blast. Bots can help provide that one-to-one.
Is it ironic that your company’s one-to-one customer experience could be with a computer? Sure. But as the bot industry grows, you will find that it can help answer your customers’ questions when you are unavailable.
Several sessions plus a keynote focused on chat bots at the event. Each speaker dove into the bot world at a different level. Messaging apps are becoming the new way to communicate and email marketing is crowded. Chat bots are touted as the new way to stand out and connect with customers through short messages containing images, video, and emojis. Just like in email, you can set up bots with a drip campaign and customize the experience based on their answers. Andrew Warner led one of my favorite talks for bot-newbies and offered step-by-step instructions on how to set up a bot.
Your business hasn’t plunged head-first into any of these trends yet? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Only 15% of marketers are using Facebook Messenger bots. Just over a third (35%) of marketers are doing video. And only 39% of marketers are working with influencers. Keep your eyes out for blogs on Social Media Examiner, and here on my blog, for covering the how-to of these social media trends.
*Which I finally made it into, by the way. Episode 21, at 1 minute 26 seconds. Sitting at a table wearing a blue shirt and black sweater, thank you very much. Yes, you can high five me later.