I recently served as a moderator of a roundtable discussion at the SMPS marketing conference in New Orleans.
Over a span of 3 hours, I had the chance to hear from 55 different business owners about what was happening in their business on the social media front.
We had some great discussions and I learned a great deal.
5 big trends really surprised me:
Trend #1 – People get social media, but struggle with the strategy
I was expecting that number to be about half. It was closer to 100%.
This a good indicator of the commitment to social media even though businesses don’t always have a well developed strategy for what they’re doing and what they want to get out of it.
Most of the questions revolved around “how” businesses should be doing social media so there’s a lot of uncertainty about the details. But big picture wise, it was loud and clear that social media is a big deal for just about everyone.
Trend #2 – The younger folks are rising up
This marketing conference was packed with “young” people. And they were all frustrated as hell with their older managers, bosses and owners!
I don’t think I’ve ever heard so many stories about bosses telling their employees “well I don’t really think we need to do this, but if you think it’s important then go ahead”.
The underlying current is that the younger folks have grown up with technology and they expect to build their careers around digital marketing. They want to network socially instead of physically.
The people who founded the companies they work for, however, built their businesses with handshakes and people they know.
It’s a totally different dynamic.
The younger crowd is definitely pushing the older crowd to “get with the program” in terms of social media.
Trend #3 – The struggle is REAL to pick the right platform
Businesses are kind of like the kid in the candy store when it comes to social media platforms.
Why pick 1 when you really want them all?
The reality though is that since most businesses are managing social media in house, and those tasked with it are doing other jobs as well, time is scarce.
What I mean is that while it would be nice to have an awesome, engaged Facebook page, a big Instagram following and a nice, buttoned up LinkedIn profile, most people just don’t have the time to manage them all.
My advice to all of them (and you) is to pick 1 platform and really excel there. And if you had to pick 1, make it Facebook. See Trend #4 as to why.
Trend #4 – Everybody is struggling with engagement
As much effort as everyone is putting into social media, no one is proud of how much engagement they’re getting.
The struggle is real!
Part of the problem is spreading effort across too many platforms. I think businesses underestimate the amount of time it takes to really build an active following on just 1 platform, yet they’re trying to do 3 or more.
The other trend I observed is that people are struggling or hesitant to create really personalized content as they had an easier time being “business friendly”.
Those businesses who felt better about their engagement were proud of the more authentic nature of their posts and overall strategy so there’s a lesson to be learned there!
Trend #5 – Nobody really understands Facebook advertising
Everybody boosts their posts.
Yet NOBODY understands how to really use Facebook’s advertising tools.
Many people told stories of how they sometimes come across an ad and wound up going down some rabbit hole to checkout whatever they saw. Then, they said that product followed them around for weeks.
The funny thing is that NO ONE is using that strategy with Facebook ads. They’re just boosting posts.
There’s a big opportunity for businesses to use Facebook ads to bring people who don’t know your business down your very own rabbit hole. Start the conversation with something that catches their attention and lead them down the path to being a customer. Follow them around for a few weeks.
It’s not easy. But you know it works because it’s happened to you.
Trust me, I heard about it all day!