Public Relations

4 Simple, Hot Trends to Factor into Your 2016 Social Media Strategy

By November 19, 2015 No Comments

Like everything else in digital marketing, social media is constantly changing. On social, brands are engaging with smarter, faster and more informed users who are better equipped to filter noise and find what they’re looking for. Our best engagement practices are old hat the moment our adept and adaptable digital citizens create new filters to pinpoint the content they consume.

If communicating with highly-sophisticated digital consumers in 140 characters or less wasn’t challenging enough, there’s fear and ambivalence aplenty about how to use these channels effectively while avoiding potential embarrassment.

At EdNET this year, we talked to some of the sharpest social media tacticians in the industry about how to be effective on social media. As we pointed out in a previous post, adding social strength to your marketing mix is a crucial element of successful SEO, and a marketing strategy is considerably less effective without it.

Here are four simple, hot trends to factor into your 2016 social media strategy:

Invest in Facebook

Paid social promotion is not new, but many experts and brands we talked to agree: earmarking a few marketing dollars for social campaigns each month increases click-throughs.

Facebook used to offer a free platform for extending organic content, and the marketing power of social channels was determined by the strength of that content. Now, the value Facebook once provided as a free platform has been replaced with fine targeting, great analytics and high customization.

In short, you’re paying for Facebook promotion these days, but getting a much higher ROI.

Who to Follow?

Do you have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Vine, Instagram, Snapchat, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube? If so, where is your content really performing?

You don’t need presence on every social network. What’s important is to identify your core mission, and use social handles creatively to communicate that mission to your audience.

Each social platform is very specific in what it can do. Facebook is personal, and great for discovery (think videos, images and sharing). Twitter has become more professional (in fact, most teachers find professional development resources there). Inspirational/aspirational content is most successful on Pinterest.

And don’t forget the power of aggregation, either. Direct them to good content, and social media users will view you as a leader of the conversation.

Do some homework on those social channels and figure out what works for your content. For some good examples to model, check out BrightBytes, Edutopia and ASCD for best practices on content and engagement.

Endorsements from Industry Celebrities

Brand advocates and social influencers are becoming highly sought-after assets for an effective digital marketing strategy, especially in education. Many educators have tremendous followings and are respected thought leaders on Twitter, where a majority of teachers are getting their PD in these days. But how do you get these influencers to become advocates?

Marketing consultant Paul Kuhne calls this “low-level celebrity marketing.” If you sense a genuine voice that is aligned with your values and goals, chances are it’s a good fit to carry your message.

Many of these industry influencers are still practicing educators, while others are dedicated to PD and classroom tips. Paid endorsements should factor into your strategy. You will most likely need to compensate these hard working folks for their time as they review your product and determine whether it’s a fit for their audience. Still, you’ll receive great ROI given the audience exposure (and it’ll probably be cheaper than doing a traditional campaign).

Get your Executives on Social

Contentious advice for some, but eloquent executives who engage on social draw positive attention. Many on the management team might be ambivalent (or nervous about potential backlash), but a powerful executive voice can get your message out and increase engagement.

The executive voice should be human, not focused on pushing product. Determine the appropriate moments for an executive to reach out, and create a comfort level in your organization with social media as an amplification tool.

When executives take a leap of faith with social, it often pays off. Don’t let potential negativity prevent you from seizing this opportunity; an accessible executive speaks volumes.

Parting Thoughts

Paid promotion on social media should be part of your current marketing mix. Couple paid social strategies with an evolving sense of the strengths of each social channel so that you can take advantage of this dynamic environment. In the end, trustworthy human perspectives are paying major dividends. Getting industry celebrity and executive buy-in to your social presence can be crucial elements to a successful social strategy.