What. A. Year.
A lot of words have been used to describe 2016, but “boring” isn’t one of them. 2016 brought us Chewbacca Mom, Pokémon Go, the #MannequinChallenge, and, of course, the most social media-soaked presidential election of all time.
That’s a lot to process, so we asked four social media experts for their take on 2016’s biggest surprises, which brands are doing it right, and what we should all expect in 2017.
Say goodbye to 2016 with these savvy social marketers:
Peg: Instagram ended the year really strong with lots of amazing updates after remaining essentially the same for years.
Bernie: I was surprised and disappointed when Blab shut down. It was very popular for live video broadcasts supporting up to four presenters at once. This opens the door for someone like Twitter or Facebook to replace it. I hope to see that happen in 2017.
Petar: The continued decline of Twitter as a major force in social media. We expected 2016 to be the year that Twitter found its voice again under Jack, and instead it seemed to lose even more relevance and was only notable for 1) continued issues with online harassment, 2) that none of the big player wanted to buy it, and 3) Donald Trump’s Twitter account.
Julie: The revamp of dual/multi-user social video platforms. Google Hangouts and Blab both went away. It feels like there is still a gap that leverages the power of social media to replace the standard “webinar” communication.
Peg: It’s always smart to listen to the things being said when you’re not tagged on social posts. Many people “complain,” but really just need help, so your social listening can help you surprise and delight while earning bonus brand points for being available and helpful.
Bernie: Social listening is complex. The sentiment behind the dark data requires strong technology combined with human intellect to glean insights for decision making. Social listening takes work. That said, what choice does a brand have? To not listen is to literally ignore potential decision-making insights that can impact a brand’s business.
Petar: Increasingly, there is a lot of noise in social listening and that tends to make it harder to see the real insights. Locally (and I think it is true in the USA and other markets), there has been a massive increase in the number of fake accounts or bot accounts…in some instances over 30% of followers are bots or fake accounts. These often add a lot of data to social listening in terms of volumes, but not in terms of genuine engagement. It is becoming increasingly harder to find the signal in the noise.
Julie: When I was working at Little Bird, Marshall Kirkpatrick wrote a blog post about the political scene by analyzing a candidate’s followers and their tweets. It was polarizing, earning 45,000 pages views in three months with four follow up articles. There is so much untapped power in social data.
Peg: Pantone, Dry Bar, Benefit Cosmetics.
Bernie: Even though I work in B2B, I study certain B2C brands to learn from them. I like how the New York Rangers engage with their fan base in an omni-channel way including Snapchat. On the B2B side, GE and Cisco continue to impress me with their rich content storytelling approach.
Petar: For us, a favorite social media brand was the Instagram account of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. It showed the power and variety of what one expects from a leading social media brand. There were clear promotions of his films and sponsors (e.g. Under Armour, Ford), but also glimpses behind the scenes.
Julie: I work a lot with the Saastr.com community. They do a great job with social media and really extend the footprint of their knowledge to startup leaders in a very consumable way. On the consumer side, I think a lot of brands focused this year on customer service more than building a social community around their brand. The ROI is so hard to calculate but it can have a significant impact when it’s done authentically.
Peg: Live video and more, more, more video!
Bernie: The biggest trend I see in social media strategy is the blurring of the lines between influencer marketing and employee advocacy. Some brands are realizing they can create influencers from some of their employees, including sales staff. The brands who embrace this strategy are developing stronger bonds with employees and amplifying their reach and engagement significantly.
Petar: For many years, business just asked “Should we be on social media?” The question we are hearing more and more now is, “What is the ROI of being on social?” As more money gets pumped into social media, businesses are looking for the return. The measurement of ROI is also moving beyond simply the number of followers or views of the content.
Julie: I think people are waiting to see what happens with virtual/augmented reality and Snapchat; especially after the success of Pokémon Go in 2016. How do you make a practical consumer experience that drives revenue and is sustainable? There is a lot of open opportunity that’s waiting to be unlocked.
Peg: I think we’re moving toward less content but BETTER content. So less time curating content to share and more time creating original content.
Bernie: A top social challenge in 2017 is managing all the noise as platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and others announce new functionality seemingly every week. Brands must resist the shiny object temptations and stay true to a strategy is focused on the customer journey. Harnessing the value of employee reach and engagement remains at the top of the priority list in 2017.
Petar: Our biggest challenge is how do we use software to improve the social listening that we do. Manually we can remove a lot of the noise (bots and fake accounts), but as these increase in terms of a percentage of the total conversation, it becomes harder to do.
Julie: Aligning social media into all of our marketing. We have a lot to do this year and dedicating a full-time staff person is a challenge. That being said we are also looking to change perceptions with our marketing and social media can be a key channel to do that.
Peg: I’m working on learning Photoshop and creating more video in 2017.
Bernie: In 2017 I hope to leverage video more. I launched my live video show Poolside Sales Chat in 2016 through Periscope. I now record live on PSSC and I additionally publish a separate recording to our YouTube channel. My goal is to grow my brand’s reach exponentially through video content in 2017.
Petar: We are a business with our roots firmly in South Africa. In 2017 we want to continue to grow in South Africa, but also start to collaborate with brands outside of the country.
Julie: Not to tackle everything all at once. Have my team focus on the important tasks at hand and do a great job at them. Then make the case for more resources and budget.
What are your 2017 social media resolutions? Tell us in the comments!