As we’re approaching the end of the 2010 there are numerous developments with businesses using social media. I had predicted that brands will need to figure out how social fits into their overall brand strategy by identifying where the leverage is with social media and how to manage it.
Online communities are now everywhere there is access and common objectives. Even social networks are interconnected themselves pushing and pulling content across various channels.
For business owners, bloggers and marketers, we have to realize that the landscape is changing and will continue to shift towards attentive reach, not frequency.
Instead of trying to reach broad targets of demographic groups, investing in paid media we find valuable organic content becoming more powerful, ranking higher by search engines and shared by passionate communities.
Need more facts to back up the growth of social media? According to Harris Interactive:
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- 9 out of 10 (87%) online adults use social media
- Highest percentage (22%) uses social media less than 1 hour per week
- Highest percentage of 18-34 yr-olds (17%) uses social media 6-10 hours per week
It’s indicative that the evolution of social media is not just with the tools. The real “leading indicators” will be how social media gets utilized in the real world, not how marketers want it to be used.
And because we’re living in an over-communicated society with competing and conflicting information, true engagement in this on-demand world will be the biggest challenge moving forward.
I’m not just talking about getting people’s attention in marketing; I’m referring to real meaningful conversations that open up the communication channel that leads to authentic actions.
There is so much noise and deception across all media channels that it only makes sense for most people to ignore them.
Here are 4 internet marketing trends that will be maturing in the coming year:
1. The Return of Direct Marketing
The meaning of your communication is the responses you get especially on the social web where people can simply close a window, ignore a tweet or click away to other attention grabbing links.
Everyone’s got a blog, a website, Facebook page, Twitter account or YouTube Channel. So how do you stand out in a sea of sameness?
As it turns out direct response marketing is still the most effective way to test your marketing campaigns. The difference with social media is that you need to be measuring the right metrics.
It’s essentially the same concept as great salesmanship. Great marketing is great one on one sales focusing on finding out what customers want, their pain, urgency, desire and needs.
Done right you will get insights about your customers that tells you not just what they clicked on but from where, why and how. Remember, greater marketers don’t make assumptions!
Once you have meaningful data, it’s easier to craft your direct response campaign that converts better because you’ll have a list of “high quality” leads that are more likely to buy.
Without qualified leads, you’re basically playing the guessing game, driving in the dark and often a waste of time and money.
Concentrate on appealing and selling to the top 20% of the prospects that are more likely to convert. And if you can integrate your email marketing efforts with social media, you’ll gain further insights on your customer’s media habits, which can be used to optimize your next campaign.
2. The Raise of Social Metrics
Since majority of your prospective customers will not convert immediately upon getting your communication, it’s important to follow-up with email and social media because not only will you know when someone opened the email and what they’ve clicked on; you’ll also learn their social habits and sphere of influence.
The goal is to find out your customer’s “from” and “to” path to your web properties. It could be your online store, a product(s) page, your opt-in page (landing page), a sign-up to webinar or simply a Facebook page.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Where are my source of traffic? How much does it cost me? (time, money and resources)
- What are the demographics (age, location, habits etc…) of my traffic? Are they on social networks?
- What does my customers want? Do I have the same customers online and offline?
- How much time does it take for my customers to go from the original source of traffic to my web properties? And what can I do to get them to take the action I want that aligns with what they want?
- What social media metrics can bring clarity to the habits of my prospective customers?
There are some nice free tools out there that will provide you with social data to get you started.
One of my favorite way to view my engagement performance is using Hootsuite’s statistics with Google Analytics and email marketing data. This allows me to view the engagement performance across social media from blog articles to emails.
For example, in the past 12 months, I generated 16,000+ clicks from my Twitter account which allows me to see what sort of topic my followers are interested in.
I can then tailor my blog content to target further engagement and sharing. The same can be applied to email and this is particularly useful if you have an ecommerce site that allows you to track sales conversions.
The key here is to link metrics to actionable options that you generate for them. That’s why you want people to visit your web properties because you will have control of the environment. Everything is a test in marketing.
3. Focus Shifts from Tactical to Strategic
From the mix of clients and prospects I’ve talked with this year, most of them fall into one of the three buckets: those still experimenting with social marketing, those using social media as an add-on tool with existing marketing tactics and those integrating social as part of their efforts to be more customer-centric.
The challenge will be how to strategize, streamline, automate, budget, and measure social media and social marketing. Simply put, the one-size-fits-all volume marketing will no longer be effective.
You want more consistent, predictable campaign that can be efficiently replicated instead of one-off campaigns that requires lots of resources and attention to operate.
So how can you achieve that?
The best way is to conduct split testing across integrated campaigns. You must become gradually efficient at implementing and optimizing your campaigns focusing on frequency and delivery of real-time value.
It also requires the big picture marketing strategy, NOT just tactics. At the end it is about getting the highest return on the value you create for your customers. Start thinking about how you can earn engagement that leads to conversation that leads to revenue.
4. Video Marketing Becomes Mainstream
Are you doing any videos? Do you know that a YouTube channel is the equivalent of a Facebook profile? Do you know that online video, yes video can help with your SEO?
Let’s take a look at some data here for you to think about.
At the 2010 Search Engine Strategies Conference & Expo, Greg Jarboe, president and co-founder of SEO-PR revealed that:
- Americans watch more videos a month on YouTube than they conduct searches on Google
- A video is 50 times more likely to get a first-page Google ranking than a text page
If those finding aren’t stunning, coming from an SEO perspective check out Pew Internet Research’s recent study indicating that “7 in 10 adult internet users (69%) have used the internet to watch or download video. That represents 52% of all adults in the United States.”
Something to keep in mind is that while online video is exploding, other media channels are slowing down or shrinking!
According to a recent Edison Research’s study indicates that “during an average day, Americans age 12-24 spend two hours and 52 minutes on the internet, making the web the media format American young adults spend the most time consuming. Television closely follows with a daily average of two hours and 47 minutes.”
In addition, as opposed to TV ads, online videos are trackable and can be viewed repeatedly attracting the “long-tail” viewers while allowing you to measure the exact impact of the video and participate around it in the comments section or on blogs.
The bottom line is that although video (YouTube) marketing isn’t anything new, it’s gaining more momentum now because the cost of video production are dramatically reduced today than it was a few years ago.
You can now purchase high definition cameras (such as the Flip HD) for under $150 which creates amazing looking videos. Even the new iPhone4 has HD videos that enable everyone to become a video producer at all times.
Keep in mind that you should consider video marketing tactic to support your overall marketing campaign not the other way around if it doesn’t fit into your strategy. Success video marketing strategy focuses on attracting the right audience with a topic or theme that’s video-worthy and can be compelling!
The take away: We’re in the middle of a media evolution where technology has fundamentally changed the way we consume media and interact with one another. It’s not about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Google, iPhone or iPad; it never has been.
It’s about how these tools and platforms support what you want to achieve with your business.
Social is just a label, the real challenge is figuring out how to deliver optimal customer experience that builds meaningful relationships between you and your customers.
Am I missing anything here? Please leave your comments and questions, I’m interested to hear how you’re using internet to market your business, products or services.