This article originally appeared on Forbes.com. Please find it here.
With social media usage numbers in the billions, it’s a no-brainer to know that social media should be included in every marketing strategy — and for most, this is not a new idea. With about 45% of the world’s population active on social media, businesses need to understand not just the influence of social media, but the power of targeted content that allows a brand to hook users and stand out.
That’s why in 2020 it’s not just about having a social media presence and content strategy, it’s about improving customer experience, brand professionalism, tone, authenticity and trustworthiness. Simply said, it’s about connecting person-to-person in a new digital, social reality.
Here are seven tips to ramp up your social connections to customers and prospects in 2020:
Ultra-Targeted Social Advertising
Social media ad spend by marketers is predicted to soar to $102 million in 2020. As top social media platforms roll out new features, upgrade ad tools and create new ways for users to engage, social media advertising continues to ensure more targeted, relevant audiences.
Additionally, social listening — the routine monitoring of social channels for feedback, direct mentions or discussions, followed by an analysis to gain insights and act on opportunities — is a critical strategy component in 2020. More marketers are paying more attention to what is being said versus how many users react to a single post.
Moving away from traditional marketing strategies, marketers should focus more on personalized, account-based marketing (ABM), making lead volume less important and shifting focus to revenue. This requires sales and marketing to work together in order to customize messaging and improve outreach to a specific account’s needs, goals, pain points and motivators.
Video on social media typically generates more engagement than any other content type and can help consumers better understand products and services. But videos must be entertaining, brief — 60% of viewers stop watching by the two-minute mark — and engage viewers in the first 10 seconds.
The “live video” surge continuing in 2020 corroborates the fact that folks love visual experiences, especially when they can laugh, smile, cry and feel part of the moment. In 2019, Wyzowl reported that 85% of businesses use video as a marketing tool.
Transparency And Building Trust
In 2020, privacy remains a concern for internet users globally: 79% of us are worried about how companies use data. With personal data privacy at risk, consumers are leery of the information they come across that appears to directly use their data.
Marketers need to find ways to strike a balance between personalization and privacy and allow customers more control over their internet experiences. Offering transparency when it comes to data helps marketers be upfront about what customers can expect — assets that can go a long way in building trust and positive business-customer relationships. Instead of overloading them with irrelevant and/or pushy ads, offer them meaningful, humanized content they can attach to their everyday lives and that connects with their needs, both business and personal. In 2020, social media content is not about post frequency, but rather on the quality of what you post.
No longer just for meme-makers and internet jokesters, businesses are utilizing GIFs to engage audiences. Tactful, relevant usage of GIFs can be an integral, fun part of smart social media marketing, especially as consumers become less receptive to traditional advertising. GIFs support what we all know as marketers: most consumers prefer information in visual form — it’s more engaging, appealing and easy to understand.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI continues to create a “better journey” for social media users. From neural networks enabling users to “tag” identified friends in photos, to image recognition that makes it easier to find friends, AI influences so much of what social media users do online.
With streamlined searches, businesses can use AI to their advantage, moving closer to instant gratification that customers demand. AI influences search with deep learning methods and queries to help create better search results for people and places and improve and personalize news feeds. AI-assisted content creation is one solution to help marketers in areas such as determining the right time for posting updates. And AI tools are configured to study the type of industry-relevant content you should be posting (in comparison with competitors) and how and when users engage with it.
Today’s top brands continue to leverage user-generated content (UGC) for social to provide a personal touch and engage followers. And now micro-influencers (users with social followings of 2,000 to 50,000 and that usually specialize in a niche) step in as some of the most sought after “tools” for social media marketing in 2020. Micro-influencers differ from influencers who reach followers in the hundreds of thousands, in that they are thought to be more “authentic and honest.”
Per Hubspot, more companies will build networks of these smaller influencers in 2020. Building brand awareness, loyalty and getting followers and micro-influencers to actively engage with content is a great way to help convert users into paying customers with minimal investment.
Getting Back To Basics
In 2020, more people are reducing clutter, taking it slower and saying “no” in order to get back to the basics. With this mentality, it’s no longer sufficient for businesses to provide self-serving messaging, but rather messaging focusing on connection and real, honest relationship-building with customers. In a world of people who have grown weary of fake news and privacy violations, demonstrating to your consumer base that your company is looking out for the greater good of people and the planet is important and expresses the humanity of your business.
At the end of the day, we all know that social media was not invented to be used as an outright sales tool but rather to build communities and create a sense of belonging. When authenticity is applied to your social media practices, it can better ensure long-lasting, relevant and valuable social connections.