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THE MODERNIZATION OF BUSINESS

Social Media Update: Itís NOT Just About the Trends

September, 2018

Kathleen Laney

I’m hoping by now we have all evolved enough to the point where we can skip the cliché about social media being important. If you haven’t figured it out, social media is here and here to stay. I can’t think of one parking company, institution or organization that isn’t in some way or form participating on it. From the largest parking operator to the smallest municipality to the 50-year-old family run parking supplier, we’ve seen the full array of parking industry players jump on board to the benefits of having a social media presence.


But don’t blink—you might miss
the next big trend.


It’s important you don’t fall in love with last year’s social media tactics. Just when you think you’ve finally locked down the secret to Facebook’s algorithm, the platform changes. The ever-evolving nature of social media can make it challenging for businesses to maintain an effective strategy. 


If you Google “social media trends 2018,” your search results will include articles listing some combination or variation of the following trends.


Top 2018 Social Media Trends


1- Video takes the stage – with live video at the center of it all. What could possibly be a more compelling call-to-action than the play button of a video? Video is the predominant way we consume information today. Types of content perfect for video include thought leadership pieces, how-to guides, interviews and Q&A sessions, blog teasers, company announcements, event recaps, company overviews, explainer guides, product demonstrations, customer testimonials, and live events (conferences, presentations, product launches, training seminars, contests). 


2- Ephemeral content doubles down. Ephemeral means short-lived, fleeting or passing and describes the nature of the media accessible up to 24 hours on social networks. Fifty percent of businesses on Instagram have produced a story on the Instagram Stories platform.


3- Mobile first. Social media experts have emphasized designing experiences for mobile audiences for a few years now, so while “mobile first” isn’t entirely a new trend, it holds an increasingly important place today. People increasingly rely on their mobile devices for news, information, and entertainment. Social media is predominantly accessed on a mobile device, with the exceptions of LinkedIn, YouTube and Tumblr, which are more commonly accessed on a desktop.


 


4- Chatbot use becomes widespread. Chatbots are evolving into one of the most effective methods for creating real-time engagement, whether it’s assisting customers with a service or selling them a product. In fact, 30 percent of our chat conversation will be with chatbots by the end of 2018.


5- Influencer marketing investment increases – Most Notably in Micro-Influencers. Influencer marketing is the new celebrity endorsement. What’s surprising though, is that the microinfluencers, or those who have between 1,000 and 90,000 followers, have 60 percent higher engagement rates than traditional influencers and exist in greater numbers than mega- and macro-influencers. They can be a very cost-effective marketing tactic, especially compared to other advertising expenses.


In reading articles about such trends and perusing the various social media platforms to see said trends in action, I asked myself: “Why should I care?” and “How will this help me?”


After all, smart marketers don’t just post to social media for the hell of it. Your online activity and presence must be tied to your business goals and objectives. Ideally, you do want to be able to draw a straight line between your social media and ROI.


 


Why Should the Parking Industry Care About the Top 2018 Social Media Trends?


Must of us don’t need to. Not uncritically anyway. Most of us aren’t a mass-market brand. We aren’t competing with the likes of Coke or Nike. For those of us who are for-profit businesses, we merely want to use marketing to grow our business by getting the most sales for the least amount of spend. For those of us who are educational, nonprofit or government institutions, we merely want to communicate with our constituents, customers, public or students. 


So, which particular social media tactic to choose should not be focused on using the latest and greatest fad but be more a methodical decision based on the answers to the following questions:


• Is this where my customers or clients are?


• Will this generate enough sales or educate/inform enough people to justify the time and money invested?


• Do I have the resources to create the right content for the platform?


As tempting as it is to fiddle around with the fun, gimmicky features that almost make it feel like we aren’t even working, I’m going to give you four tips on how to get the most of your social media activity for your business or organization.


1- Master one channel at a time. Too many businesses think they must have a presence everywhere. While it’s possible, it’s not realistic for many. Posting on social media and growing an audience are two different things. Unless someone is already intimately familiar with a platform, it takes time to understand the nuances of a platform, so you can optimize engagement. If you have multiple social media profiles, put all but one on maintenance mode and focus 90 percent of your effort on that one (which should be the one where your customers are hanging out). For B2B businesses, this should most likely be LinkedIn, with Facebook coming in a close second. For B2C businesses, its most likely Facebook with Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter being supplemental channels.


2- Be mindful of context. What I mean by this is that what you post on LinkedIn is not going to be the same thing you post on Instagram or Snapchat, or at least I hope not. I certainly have seen a post or two on LinkedIn where the poster could have used this tidbit of advice. Your social media strategy should not be a one-size-fits-all approach. From your image size to your posting content, think of the user experience when sharing content on various social media channels.


3- 90 Percent Edu-tainment, 10 Percent Selling. You know if you are one of those people who do this – that is do nothing but pitch in every post. That’s not where the focus of your social media posts should be. You should be educating by being entertaining. So, for every nine “edu-taining” pieces of content you publish on your feeds, you can pitch ONCE. That’s it. It’s even considered bad form to make a sales pitch in your blog, even that one-liner at the end.


4- If You’re Speaking to Everyone, You’re Speaking to No One. Today we need to personalize content to the people we are trying to reach. Consumers today are not just smarter to the ways of marketing, but they’re suffering from marketing overload. But by understanding your customer and who you are marketing to, and then developing and crafting content that speaks to your audience, your messages will be more effective, and you will ultimately have much greater success.


 


The Key to Social Media Success:
Do What Makes Sense for You


It might be tempting to hop on the latest social media craze that is considered “hot” in pop culture and jump on whatever platform is being talked about the most. But, maximizing your social media use means choosing those platforms and practices that suit your situation, business goals, and social media strategy. It may or may not make sense for you to have a presence on Instagram or Snapchat, but if your customers aren’t using a platform, it doesn’t make much sense to be spending a bunch of money or time to be on it. By choosing the correct platforms and practices, identifying the key goals and planning your approach, you can ensure your use of social media will produce better results.



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