The time to start planning out your social media plans for 2016 begins right now!

 

Social media success doesn’t have to take long. It only takes one campaign with enough funds, incentives for its audience and creativity to vault your small or medium-sized business’s account from a middling page with a few hundred fans to a booming page with thousands.

 

Of course, there is some give to the take. As stated before, you’re going to have to spend some money, so organic content won’t cut it anymore. If you’re serious about establishing your position on social media, then get serious and devote some of your marketing budget to implementing a quality campaign.

 

You can handle that part. Meanwhile, we handled all of the research that’s meant to help you, dear loyal reader, set up the foundation for 2016 and to build from there.

 

1. Have a Platform for Research 

 

If you’re not complementing your content with research, then I regret to inform you that you’re doing digital marketing all wrong.

 

Using an analytical platform that allows you to implement your campaign for further insight and research is imperative to improvements that can be made in the future. Without statistical evidence, you’re left on an island as to what direction you go next either during the duration or the completion of a campaign.

 

Eye tests won’t tell the whole story. Simply looking at the amount of likes, comments or shares barely even scratches the surface when there are countless other metrics used to measure campaign success and failure. You can have a bunch of likes or retweets, but it won’t matter if nobody is clicking on what you’re selling, which you can easily find through click-through rate (CTR) as a part of the platforms that are specifically designed to help you.

 

Google AdWords is an excellent example of this. Not only does it allow you to launch a campaign on one of the most popular search engines, processing more than 40,000 search queries every second on average, but it also allows you to monitor each individual post, or campaign as a whole, through statistical analysis.

 

2. Get in Touch with the Key Demographics

 

“The North American Consumer Payments Survey….also found that Millenials and respondents with household incomes of at least $150,000 lead the charge, with 13% of milennials and 19% of high-income consumers using digital currencies. Retailers will have to adapt to the preferences of these two demographic groups that often lead trends.”

While that quote focuses on preferred payment methods (which we’ll address later), it’s also indicative of who we should be paying attention to as digital marketers.

 

Naturally, there are going to be exceptions. If you run an account geared towards arthritis pain relief, you’re probably going to want to appeal to an older demographic. For the majority of accounts, however, you will likely need to create content that’s geared towards the all-too-important milennial demographic.

 

Media and companies bow down and listen closely to what the young, impressionable generation desires, which is why you see a number of obnoxious Twitter accounts (Looking at you, Burger King and Denny’s) using terms like “on fleek” or “squad” as a part of their flavor-of-the-month phrases to appeal to the kids.

 

Struggling to speak in their vernacular like you’re a musty politician wanting to “kick-it” and “hang-out” (I literally used quotes with my fingers as I wrote those) is a strategy that you fortunately don’t have to employ. There are other ways to reach that key audience without alienating the older portion of your audience or using dank memes that will result in commenters telling you to deactivate your account or calling you out on your transparent pandering.

 

Their results are hollow, either retweeted by high schoolers who speak in memes or anybody else that realizes the obvious marketing ploy Burger King is trying to pull.

 

Trust me, the younger generation isn’t as dumb as Burger King and Denny’s want you to think. There are ways to speak to them without trying too hard to seem “hip” (There go the quotes again).

 

3. Versatility in your Content

 

Posting on social media isn’t nearly what it used to be. We are far from the era where you can post organic content, reach thousands, and get excellent results, sometimes without even paying a cent. Because of the growth of social media, especially as an advertising platform, bigger companies have made it impossible for any sort of organic content to thrive.

 

There’s just too much money being thrown into marketing departments towards social media now. Because either larger marketing agencies, or in-house agencies for large companies, are investing more of their budget into developing campaigns, a lot of money is now being thrown into social media, which is diverting more attention towards paid media, rather than organic as it was previously.

 

So, how do you compete if you’re a smaller company? By researching and locating the popular trends that users are paying attention to, which you can, once again, discover through statistical analysis and research.

 

For you, you’re going to have to spend money. It’s inevitable now. Social media is now on the same advertising plane as television, radio, and print. You pay to advertise there, so you’re going to have to pay to advertise on social media.

 

The easiest way to generate attention to your account will be through giveaways, discounts and offers. A majority of your followers are following you solely because they’re interested in your next sale, so keep them loyal and hungry for your products or services by staging a giveaway.

 

You could even have fun with the giveaway. Don’t just make it a “Comment here and you’re automatically entered”. Make it a ‘Caption Contest’ or a ‘Fill-in-the-Blank’ contest that will entice your audience into engaging. This strategy creates a greater sense of community, boosts your engagement numbers, and is guaranteed to bring in new eyes.

 

If you have the funds, though, make a shift towards videos, which have quickly become one of the most widely-used mediums for promotion:

 

“Facebook revealed that the number of videos posted to the platform per person in the U.S. has increased by 94 percent over the last year.”

If you’re going to employ this strategy, you have to go all-out, less you accidentally create the next viral sensation that has more people laughing at it than with it. Spend the money on a quality camera, spend the time to write out a quality script, and spend the patience on making something creative that’s going to be attention-grabbing.

 

I highly recommend Samsung’s Facebook page for video inspiration. They do an excellent job at making short, creative videos that usually focus on one feature at a time of a product they’re selling.

 

4. Discover New Social Media Accounts

 

While milennials say Facebook is making a comeback, it’s evident that there are other platforms out there that are bursting at the seams. Twitter is becoming more engaging and universal by adding polls and hearts for likes instead of stars for favorites, LinkedIn is becoming more user-friendly for analytics and blog posting, and Instagram is starting to adjust to being an advertising platform.

 

But there are two platforms in particular that I wrote about a few months back that are also establishing their footing among some of the current top social media platforms.

 

One of those is Periscope, a video-based platform that allows users to live-stream where they are to anyone who wants to watch. The basis for Periscope preys on the curiosity of others, who wish to receive an insider look behind-the-scenes of daily activities we’re interested in.

 

In the first ten days of its launch, Periscope had already acquired 1 million users.

 

Periscope’s potential is limitless and could affect the way we take in events. At the moment, it’s just a behind-the-scenes incentive, but it has the potential to be used as a live, streaming platform to watch concerts or sporting events. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if attendees are one day banned from using it at those events, and the platform is put in the hands of those associated with the event to give an extra inside look.

 

The other platform is Pinterest, or what should it be known as: Your Company’s Best Friend.

 

Because what Pinterest does that no other platform allows is essentially free advertising. Without even having to setup a website, you can put your entire product line on your Pinterest page, even using Pin-boards to categorize and separate them, and organize all of it so that the user never even has to leave the page.

 

They can find everything they want just by looking at your Pinterest page, which is absolutely and completely free to set up.

 

And the best part? There is no social media platform that bounces more users to your company’s website than Pinterest:

 

“Pinterest users were bouncing from Pinterest to company websites at a rate almost seven times higher than they were in 2011. In fact, the Shareaholic study reports that 5% of all traffic to the 300,000 websites came from Pinterest.”

 

And the even better part? It’s growing:

 

“The number of Pinterest users more than doubled in the second half in 2014…in the last six months of 2014, active users increased by 111%, and members increased by 57%.”

 

My advice is to start taking advantage of this now, before Pinterest finds a way to monetize this for their gain, instead of it being all for you.

 

5. Creative New Ways of Payment (Loyalty Programs)

 

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been doing research and writing blogs into the new-age phenomenon known as mobile payments.

 

Stick around for this lesson because mobile payments aren’t going to fade. In fact, if the countless hours of research into it indicate anything, it’s that mobile payments are going to become advanced to the point that your smartphone will replace paper and plastic currency.

 

Retail, and this applies to social media, is all about the customer experience and making everything more accessible so that their process between discovery of the product and payment of the product is streamlined. Obviously, there needs to be an incentive for the customer, besides receiving the product.

 

This is where loyalty reward programs come into the picture. These incentives, such as frequent flyer miles or ‘Buy 12 burritos and your 13th is free’, have been around for awhile, but only now is it becoming technologically advanced to the point that it provides instant gratification to the customer.

 

Considering social media is focusing more on becoming a platform for advertising, you need to make the adjustment to making your page more user-friendly when it comes to making a purchase. Facebook already has features such as a ‘Call-to-Action’ button that directs your straight to the company page, as well as an ‘Offers’ tab, but there needs to be more in it for the user.

 

Enhancing the customer experience allows you to create greater engagement and have them coming back for more, in order to continue redeeming their loyalty rewards.

 

Before the ball drops for 2016, start considering ways to improve your followers and fans’ experience straight from your social media page. Create an incentive, such as referring to our social media page gives you a 5% discount, that will leave users no choice but to return to your social media page for further deals.