April 17-19th this year saw Social Media Marketing World 2016 take place in San Diego, California. Organized by Social Media Examiner, it is one of the world's biggest gatherings of social media marketers and experts. If you want the scoop on everything to make the most of social media marketing for business - the cutting edge of what's happening in the industry, you'll find it there.
In this blog post, I've compiled 9 of the juiciest advice and insights from Social Media Marketing World 2016, together with quotes that I encourage you to share! Some of the insights are new, some are reminders of the cornerstones of effective social media marketing, but all are important! Let's get going:
1. Make it easy for people to share your content
Readers to your blog are busy people and time poor. They want to share your work if it is valuable, but if you don't make it easy for them, they'll move on without a second's thought. Take some time to re-evaluate the style and positioning of your share buttons. Test them out. Is sharing from your website quick and pain-free?
2. Never stand still
Social media marketing strategies change and evolve all the time; stand still and you will quickly get left behind. Be open to accepting new opportunities, and stay ahead of the curve. For example, one of the biggest emerging trends this year is live video.
3. Give more to receive
This one's a point I make very often. You have to earn the right to be listened to, trusted, and build a loyal following on social media, you have to give more than you take. In other words, be prepared to offer valuable content that your fans want to see in their news feeds. The type of stuff that makes them want to invest in your brand, without the need for constant promotion.
4 and 5. Be brave and always experiment
These two quotes both hit a similar point, but in an environment where businesses are increasingly struggling to gain traction (especially non-paid), it is imperative that brands don't stand still. If you've tried one strategy and for a while and it isn't working, don't be afraid to change it up and try something new, even if it doesn't work either - better that than stick doggedly to one tired strategy in the hope that your fortunes change. What's more, you need to be offering unique and creative ideas to stand out from the crowd and capture your fans' imagination; to rise above the relentless clutter.
6. Always reply
One of the biggest UK energy companies, British Gas, announced just this week that it was to close one of its contact centres, with the loss of nearly 700 jobs. The prime reason? More people turning online to get their queries dealt with, including via social media.
Sites like Twitter and Facebook make contact with brands more easy and immediate than ever, and customers expect a response. If you haven't yet put the groundwork down to manage customer service on social media effectively, then now really is the time. Search Twitter for mentions of your brand now. How many customers have you neglected to reply to?
7. The magic of Snapchat
There was big buzz around Snapchat at SMMW16. It's a platform that the majority of brands have yet to exploit, for a variety of reasons: not sure how to use it effectively or if it will work for business, unaware if their audience is there, etc. Snapchat offers a unique opportunity for brands who work to its strengths - it is arguably the best way to humanise your brand while interacting with an audience - and arguably offers a more compelling opportunity to connect with fans than any other social network or app.
8. Embrace live video
As well as Snapchat, live video was touted as one of the biggest emerging trends in social media marketing. The likes of Periscope and Meerkat started it off in earnest last year, but with the global rollout of Facebook Live (and the opportunities that live video brings), the consensus is that all brands should experiment with what it can do for them - one of which, embracing the unpredictability of live video. Sometimes an unscripted chat, with little advanced planning, can make for the most engaging experience.
9. Build a loyal, targeted audience
Every business is on the chase for meaningful engagement on social media, but this lesson - to never overlook the quality of your audience in favour of quantity - stood out at SMMW. A small, dedicated audience is always going to be more valuable to you than a large one that doesn't really care about your brand. Focus on building trust and loyalty amongst your fans.
Over to you
Did you attend SMMW16? What do you think of the key takeaways listed above? Will you be implementing any of these strategies for your brand? Let me know in the comments below!