The state of social media is exploding in terms of number of users, functionality as well as complexity. Digital Statshot 002 reports that there are over 2 billion active social media accounts which equals to 28% of entire population on earth. 80% of the accounts are active via mobile only.
Furthermore, 72% of internet users around the world are active on social media and 93% of the marketers use social media for business. It’s not just the number of social media users that are expanding, social platforms continue to increase and flourish too. According to eBizMBA, Inc., the 10 most popular social networking sites in descending order of popularity are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, Tumbler, Instagram, VK, Flickr and Vine where Facebook remains at the top with 900 million unique monthly visitors and Vine at the bottom with 42 million.
For those unfamiliar with VK, (originally VKontakte, Russian: ВКонтакте, literally “in touch”) it is the largest Russian social network in Europe. It is available in several languages, but is especially popular among Russian-speaking users, particularly in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Like other social networks, VK allows users to message each other publicly or privately, to create groups, public pages and events, share and tag images, audio and video, and to play browser-based games.
As of November 2014, VK had at least 280 million accounts.VK was ranked 22 (as of November 1, 2014) in Alexa’s global Top 500 sites and is the second most visited website in Russia, after Yandex. According to eBizMBA Rank, it is the 8th most popular social networking site in the world. As of January 2015, VK had an average of 70 million daily users.
Top 10 Most Popular Social Networking Sites
Ranked on eBizMBA as of | August 2015
According to Simply Measured, social media holds 9.9% of total digital marketing budget and it is likely to increase by 126% in next 5 years, making it 22.4% of total digital marketing budget.
From above data, it’s clear that social media is more than social gathering site today. It’s being indispensable for vital conversation and research for users. It has moved from simple message exchanging function to complex marketing effort requiring more attention, more staff and more budgets. The state of social media today is a growing challenge for brands.
Social media challenge for brands
Social media, in its growing complex form, has been a big challenge for companies. The thing is social media has become unavoidable for digital marketing now and at the same time, it’s toughly challenging. There is no way marketers are able to accurately gauge or quantify brand awareness on the basis of number of Likes & Followers at current state. Simply Measured reports that social media goals are not completely associated with general business goals, 71% of social marketers said that brand awareness is their number one goal.
In current state of social media, social media marketers are overwhelmed about how to achieve brand awareness and reach targeted audience. It’s good to know what challenges businesses are actually facing every day in order to achieve brand awareness and how to overcome them. Read the top 10 social media tactics to increase your brand awareness today:
1. Find Your Market
Finding the right market is probably the first step towards creating brand awareness in social media. Businesses can never know about users’ activity and preferences on social media until they make a thorough research on it. Thanks to search engine that comes with social media! For marketers, this is a powerful tool to find out what people are talking about, which social media they are using and if they are interested in your niche or not. In coming days, marketers will find more advanced way to search their targeted audience.
2. Incorporate The #Hashtag Strategy
Hashtag is an effective tool to find people of similar interest as it helps to build a shared community depending upon the word/term used with hashtag in the front. Marketers need to focus more on hashtags to find people of particular interest that matches their business products or services. Hashtag started from Twitter and has now expanded to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and more. Make sure to use short, concise and memorable hashtags for promoting your brands and they give your audience an opportunity to join any conversation before, during and after the event.
3. Improve Your Social Content
When it comes to posting content in social media, audience interest matters the most. The best social media content today are the ones that appeal the targeted audience; it might be educational, controversial, funny, informative, and most probably visual; the ones that are most liked, commented and shared. Delivering right content to the audience is by providing them what they want.
Improved social content gives marketers an opportunity to understand more about their audience; their needs, interests and preferences by gaining insight on their reaction to the contents. As per the current status of social media, it is likely that audience will prefer contents that are more visual such as images, videos, graphics, etc. If you’re serious about brand awareness, learn how to create visual social media content to achieve the required attention from targeted audience.
4. Post Bite-size Content
Posting content on social media without engagement of users is futile in this age when contents are parts of social marketing strategy created to be paid off at the end. Gone are the days when we used to post long, detailed and informative content for our readers. When it comes to social media content now, bigger is no better and when it comes to audience’s attention span, it’s going only smaller and smaller. Audience now live in social media world overcrowded with information and can pay attention to only short, interesting and to-the-point content. Therefore, if marketers are serious about their brand awareness, they must know how to create bite-sized content on social media sites.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should stop posting long posts which are still important for detailed and in-depth information. All we need to do is to understand the state of mind of our audience (which is short attention span) and feed them with the kind of posts they desire and can handle. From 2015 and onwards, prepare yourself with bite-sized contents, esp. visual ones as more and more people are starting to like them.
5. Build Strong Social Engagement With Audience
By relationship, it means humanly relationship here! Currently, having a great product is not enough if you really want to stay ahead in the niche market. Building a strong relationship with consumers is the right key to succeed. Marketers are realizing this and are trying to create brand awareness and if they want to succeed, they must realize the value of listening to customers’ need.
If they want to achieve emotional connection with their brand from customers, they must first proactively listen to the customers’ emotions first. “By 2016, 89% of businesses will differentiate primarily on customer experience,” according to Gartner. It shows that market is increasingly becoming customer-driven which is pushing marketers from lifeless social media technology into creating meaningful human relationship. This will not only help to build strong relationship with consumers but will also retain brand loyalty in the long run.
So, as per the current state of social media, which is packed with real human customers, marketers now need to respond them by creating social campaigns that are focused on providing meaningful human experience. However, creating strong relationship requires good social engagement and things might go tough when brand reputation is affected by customers’ complaints posted directly on social media. As a marketer, understand the need of making smart and quick response to customers, listening and respecting their emotions and staying proactive during the conversations.
6. With Engagement, Include Actions when require
No matter how big your market is, how great your content is and how strong your engagement is, it doesn’t matter unless you make actions in a business. Posting funny entertaining posts and conversing with targeted audience is just about proving their thoughts and preparing them to buy the upcoming product or service you’re going to sell because at the end, you must take over and must call-to-action. One of the popular ways is to post the link of your blog article on social media so you can drive audience to your site and call them to action.
Social media seems to integrate a strong call-to-action into the platform itself because the sales funnel is taking too much time and effort to convert visitors into paying customers; from driving traffic, posting ads, redirecting them to site and conversion. Statista reports 50% increase in social selling by 2015 with respect to 2014. Due to this strong potential of social media in driving sales, popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are on their way to create “BUY” button in 2015 so that they can instantly buy within social media while enjoying their personal time.
7. Use Paid Social Media Advertising Strategy
Social media has become popular platform for creating brand awareness but still businesses seem unsatisfied with the kind of results they are getting out of their efforts. Social media still lacks appropriate variables to determine brand awareness because no. of likes and followers give inadequate notion about brand. Therefore, a good advertising strategy should be planned out to ensure social marketing success.
At this social media state when free rides are disappearing, normal social media activities are not enough to boost a brand. Therefore, paid advertising strategy has become indispensable for expanding campaigns and finally reaching out to targeted paying customers. Using paid advertisements offered by Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter allows you to get visibility right in front of your targeted audiences or future paying customers.
Creating a robust social media strategy definitely helps to drive targeted traffic, improves engagement, increases conversions and finally grows the amount of sales in any business. Make sure you target social media users on both laptops and mobiles to keep your brand on the top.
8. Develop An Integrated Organizational Strategy
Creating brand awareness through social media is not a one-person job; it should be responsibility of all team members of the business or organization. However, businesses are still underestimating the power of using social media expansively by employing one or two staffs rather than a team. 78% of businesses doesn’t have plans of forming teams at all and only 27% have a dedicated social media team according to a recent survey.
Brands, which are well established, are applying different social media techniques as a part of their brand awareness program and this includes trained experts assisting departments to focus on a specific activity, trained personnel monitoring social media themselves using appropriate tools as well as holistic approach where every staff is trained so that they take part in assisting and communicating with customers via social media. If you are just a beginner in brand awareness, employ trained experts to help in social marketing and as it goes mature, you can shift to holistic path by training all the staffs via trained personnel.
9. Manage Your Social Media
Everybody knows social media audience is now spread across different platforms. Earlier it was only Facebook but now it’s about Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc. too which is making it difficult to focus on all of them and expensive to buy advertisement offers. However, leveraging multi-platform social media might not just be tough and expensive but unwise too.
According to recent research, it’s clear that we do not need to maintain profile on each and every social media by wasting hours of time posting on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and others. Rather than trying to be everywhere at once, it’s better to plan and manage your social networks in such a way that it is consistent and sustainable in the long run. Currently, social media is continuously expanding, so it will be wise to focus on few but meaningful posts to ensure lasting and valuable connection with your customers.
10. Measure & Monitor Influence
Influence is quite a subjective metric which depends on how your company perception. In order to measure influence, you will have to look at all the points above and see if their results are positive, negative or neutral. This way, you get the idea of whether or not your brand awareness campaign is positive to audience or not.
There are automated tools available which help you to measure and monitor your social media influence. Radian 6, Twitalyzer and Social Mention are great options. However, manual check is always a good idea to validate what you measure. The best way to measure and monitor is to look at the results of all above categories; look at how each and every tactic is impacting your business.
As a marketer who runs brand awareness campaign, you need to be careful about the ways of engaging with influential users and average users. You might need to use free or paid tools or mix of both for tracking sentiments and influence.
Do you want to know the current state of Social Media for business? Then get my new free Research Report, below and get actionable insights, tips and marketing strategies, that I only share with my newsletter subscribers!
Top 41 Social Media Marketing Trends for 2015
A few sample pages from the the actual 30+ page report
Top 41 Social Media Marketing Trends for 2015
Actionable insights: ✓ Understand current and emerging trends, ✓ Improve your social media marketing, ✓ Understand where to increase web traffic ✓ Create a strong and loyal customer base