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While social media continues to play a huge role in Americans’ lives in both a personal and professional sense, there’s also a growing wariness that marketers need to be aware of. For example, a 2018 Pew Research Center study found that social media overtook print newspapers as a more popular news source, yet a 2019 Pew study revealed that 62 percent of U.S. adults think social media companies have too much control over the news that users see.
Leading into 2020, social networks appear primed for both active engagement and active scrutiny, and social media companies may quickly change how they operate as a result. For example, Twitter recently announced they would stop allowing political advertising, and networks like Instagram are experimenting with hiding the number of likes on posts in an effort to reverse the negative mental health effects associated with social media comparisons, as CNET reports.
For marketers, even if these changes do not seem to apply directly to your brand, they underscore the point that social media marketers tend to operate on rented land. The major social media networks are publicly traded companies that exist to grow their own businesses, not yours. They are the ones in control of how their platforms work, and your efforts to be successful through their mediums, such as building up your followers to reach an organic audience, can essentially be made irrelevant overnight.
So, if you want to succeed in this evolving social media landscape, you need to start putting marketing data and decisions more in your own hands, rather than ceding control to social media networks. Social media will continue to be crucial for marketers in 2020 and beyond, but to be successful in this new era, you need to use social media more as a way to get your foot in the door, rather than making it the be-all-end-all of marketing.
Specifically, as I explain in the video above, you can take the following steps to dominate social media marketing in 2020:
1. Lead generation by gathering data
While in the past your brand may have valued metrics like followers and likes, it’s becoming increasingly clear that these measures tend to not carry much weight. What’s more important is your ability to generate quality leads so you can market to them directly, rather than being entirely reliant on social media networks, especially when likes fail to translate to sales. As such, you should aim to use social media as a feeder source for capturing data such as email addresses and phone numbers.
A great way to do this is to drive social media users to a landing page on your website, where visitors can opt-in to receive something of value, like an e-book, in exchange for their contact information. From there, you can use that data on your own terms, whether you choose to retarget through Facebook ads, incorporate new contacts into your email marketing or however else.
2. Text message marketing with SuperPhone
Last year, I interviewed hip-hop artist Ryan Leslie who launched a new mobile messaging platform called SuperPhone, and now I’m using SuperPhone to take my social media marketing to the next level. On my Instagram profile, I have a button that allows people to text me via SuperPhone, and when they do, they get a text back with a landing page, which enables me to collect valuable data. Thus, I’m tying together social media marketing with text message marketing, all while focusing on having more data in my own hands rather than being entirely reliant on social media platforms.
As a marketer in 2020, you too should be looking into how you can incorporate text message marketing into your brand communications. You can leverage social media as a hook, and then once you have leads that you can market to through text, you can get more mileage out of your audience and avoid social media fatigue.
3. Private messaging on WhatsApp and Slack
It can be tough to stand out amidst all the noise on social media, which is why social media marketing in 2020 should include ways to link your social media efforts to other marketing methods. Along the same lines of collecting data and engaging in text message marketing, you can also use the major social media networks as a feeder source for creating private groups on messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Slack.
Focus on your most engaged or connected followers, which you can identify through a social listening platform like Sprinklr, and invite them to join a private group on WhatsApp or Slack. From there, you can bypass the noise on the major social media networks and engage directly with your superfans, such as sharing sneak-peek news with them or soliciting their opinions on new products or services you’re planning to offer. From there, these engaged fans can spread the word about your brand organically through traditional social media channels.
4. Gather intel or set up listening feeds with Twitter
Another way to thrive in this evolving social media landscape is to use social networks more as search engines rather than just megaphones to shout your brand message. Twitter in particular stands out as a real-time search engine, where you can find people who are talking about your brand or industry, or even find direct leads. For example, as a public speaker, I have saved searches on Twitter for “call for speakers,” and I can monitor that feed to see in real-time who’s looking for a conference speaker. Then, I can reach out to those conference organizers to offer my services.
Similarly, other professionals like real estate agents can set up Twitter feeds for searches like “looking to buy a house in Houston” or “moving to Seattle” and then reach out to these potential clients.
5. Use GIPHY
Lastly, I recommend creating a few GIFs related to your brand and adding them to GIPHY. This is a low-risk, high-reward growth hack, as anyone can find your GIFs through GIPHY and add them to their social media content. If lightning strikes and some users who have a large social media presence share your GIFs, you could end up growing your own brand’s recognition. If not, you still have some GIFs that you can use anytime to spice up your own content.
These five tips can work as either standalone strategies or in combination to build a more comprehensive marketing strategy both on social media and off. Social media isn’t going away by any means, but the rules of the game are changing, and if you want to thrive in 2020, you need to adapt.
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