2017 – The Year That Was in Social Media

Following on from a blog post that I had written back in 2016 on the type of Social Media Conundrums that we as users face, I thought I would end this year with a blog post that looks on from what has improved and what hasn’t, but this time with a B2B and B2C user experience in mind.

So, in my capacity as a content and social media marketing professional, here’s my sixpence worth on how 2017 went…

Facebook

Posts

Gone are static, text-heavy wall posts that had the obligatory link to a webpage from your website or blog at the end. Now is the time where text needs to be punctuated with emoticons and accompanied with an image, animated GIF or video.

Otherwise, your post could easily get lost in the floods of others that are pushing, prodding, nudging their way to get as many eyeballs (impressions) and engagement (reactions, comments and shares) as possible.

Social media contact lists

Facebook Pages

The difference between a Facebook Page and a Facebook Group is blurring. Well, Facebook is encouraging users to create a Page to link to a Facebook Group (perhaps to get them to substitute from having a blog or, dare I say, a website even?)

I have had contacts reflecting their confusion on what the difference is between a standard WordPress/Blogger blog and a Facebook Page and asking me which is better for organic sessions and conversions.

I am not going to attempt at answering this here in great length, as it risks us digressing from the original purpose of this post, but suffice it to say that it really depends on who your audience is and where are they most likely to be in the digital realm.

For instance, I know a few ladies who run their own little businesses (on a self-employed, part-time/ad-hoc/whenever they can fit some time in from their hectic domestic schedules) who do not have a blog or website, but do have a Facebook Page on which they post images of the products that they have available for sale and they acquire  80% of their conversions from Facebook itself; the other 20% being through good, old, Word of Mouth (WoM).

Contra to this is the current digital marketing infrastructure where B2B and B2C businesses use websites to get the bulk of their acquisitions and conversions through their SEO and UX/CX-optimised websites with social and paid channels as the primary lead generators.

It does beg the question though, through Facebook Pages, Groups and Paid Adverts, is Facebook aiming to dominate over mainstream websites as a means of acquiring revenue digitally and will it succeed anytime soon?

Tonality

With the increasing use of informal animated GIFS and emojis, is the overall tone of what we post on Facebook dumbing down the seriousness and professionalism of B2B messaging?

Is this necessarily a cause for concern?

It may depend on the nature of the business and the target audience. While it might be obvious to expect B2B content to be posted on B2B-aligned platforms, such as LinkedIn, this may not always be the norm.

Facebook and Linkedin job posts

Smarter marketing professionals are catching on to the fact that more and more B2B professionals are frequenting on such platforms less, because they simply do not have the need to – unless they are networking or looking for their next job!

In other words, even if you don’t check your LinkedIn profile as much, you are more than likely to log on to Facebook for your regular social fix. And this is where posts with B2B messaging could be planted to target you!

You might find it cheeky, you might find it clever and be impressed, but if the mixed tonality (i.e. B2B2C)in the messaging works – and you convert – then hey presto – the job is done and Facebook emerges the hero of all the social media marketing channels.

Dynamic media

It’s not just images and videos anymore either, it’s all about keeping the media that you include in your posts fluid and dynamic. Things should be moving, to come across as ‘live’ and as ‘real’ as possible.

So we have animated GIFS, dynamic emojis, live video covers for Pages, image carousels in the adverts, 360°views of businesses and destinations; the sky is truly the limit for Facebook to make us spend as much of our work and leisure time within the platform as possible.

Twitter

In my business guidebook, Improve Your Global Business English: The Essential Toolkit for Writing and Communicating across Borders (Kogan Page, £14.99), I called Twitter a global talking shop.

Five years since, it is still that!

Impressions, Favorites, Retweets and Hashtag clicks are the key metrics that social media marketers analyse to judge the performance of their Twitter advert campaigns.

I use these to judge my organic tweets and to me it still seems that populist topics – TV programmes, films, comments on celebrity figures still garner the most engagement than B2B tweets – or indeed anything else that is sensible and more serious.

Unless, of course, if you could get an industrial bigwig who also has a big [blue-tick verified] Twitter presence to Favorite or Retweet your tweet, then your campaign [organic or paid] just might get some traction. Otherwise, it might just not!

It’s definitely not the most effective social media marketing platform for businesses, as your tweets could get lost in all the chatter around populist topics, thereby inducing businesses to invest in Twitter advertising campaigns to make their presence felt.

Does ‘following’ matter anymore?

What matters more, an influencer Favoriting or Retweeting your tweet – or following you but not engaging with your content?

If you think this is a rhetorical question, i.e. yes, there’s more engagement value in an influencer Favoriting and Retweeting your tweets than there is in them following you, then why do we have Follower and Following lists?

I guess, before we denounce this completely, having a decent follower count – at least 500 + Followers, does mean that you as a Twitter user have some weight. People like what you tweet and probably engage with your tweets both visibly [through Favoriting and Retweeting] and discreetly – i.e. visiting your profile and scrolling through your personal Twitter timelines.

How do I know this? Well, through Twitter Analytics of course! Their stats and insights are very useful and helps to gauge what your own audiences – be it B2B or B2C – engage with more of and less of so that you can then tailor your tweets according to your intended audience.

Still no Edit functionality

While it is nice to have the luxury of being able to witter on Twitter more, thanks to their recent addition of the double character count, there are many, many users who, like myself, long for the functionality that enables editing published Tweets, within the Twitter platform itself.

Yes, there are other apps that have this function enabled, but why doesn’t Twitter have it? Every other social media platform has it, because users can make mistakes, or would want to make changes to something that has been published.

The fact that Twitter continues to not recognise this, or does recognise this but has not come up with some sort of ‘Edit’ solution, suggests that it does not care about user experience as much as it should.

LinkedIn

The more I use it, the more it seems to me that LinkedIn is really for a very select audience: for the employed and the highly employable.

While it welcomes new entrants into the world of work as much as it does to retired professionals too, its interface, its functionalities, its content, its groups, everything about it is for those who are economically active.

Linkedin invitations

While Facebook wants us to share as much about our personal lives as possible, LinkedIn wants us to share as much about our professional lives as possible.

This is not because the platforms care about the users – it’s our data that is gold for them; for they use this to provide very detailed insights to businesses that invest in advertising campaigns on their platforms.

The more data we provide to the platforms, the more the platforms can help advertisers tailor their campaigns to meet the exact audience they are targeting; thereby making such campaigns successful and inducing businesses to continue to invest in social media advertising.

Instagram and Pinterest

I have clubbed these Instagram and Pinterest together because both are image-based, i.e. it’s all about the photos and videos that users post here and any storytelling revolves around the media posted.

Indeed, it can be argued that Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” quote rings so true here in that it’s the photos and videos [the medium] that dictate the theme, story and messaging – and not the other way round.

So, whether you are creating a campaign using Instagram Stories or an image/video board on Pinterest, having a concurrent theme that paints a story to either trigger an emotional pull or thought from the intended audience seems to be the way forward for these two channels.

Otherwise, why should users feel the need to post photos and videos on yet another platform – both Instagram and Pinterest have had to define their USPs and spell out how they differ from Facebook and what benefits they can offer to B2B and B2C users, besides better SEO juice.

Google Plus

Don’t write this off folks! I almost did, but then I found what this not-so-happening social media platform is actually good for!

You’ll never guess…

Internal communications!! 

Companies and businesses can get their employees to engage with each other and share news about all the great things that they are up to through the formal-yet-colourful interface that puts people off from using it on a personal basis.

So, there you go Google, a plus point for Google Plus – at last!

What’s Next for Social Media?

Social has definitely made itself a part of the lifestyles of many people, regardless of how old they are and where they are from.

Those who choose to use it are likely to share more and more of their personal and professional details to the world at large.

We could very well see the world of advertising make more paradigm shifts in the media they use, as they find more and more of their audience on social than what has up till recently been the mainstream print and broadcast media.

Another key challenge that social is facing of its own is to wedge itself amidst the popular use of instant messaging apps and it would be interesting to see how it collaborates with these to get more user attention in 2018 and beyond.

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