As 2014 quickly approaches, many are just now creating their Facebook pages and thinking about using the social network to build their brand and market their services. Others who may already be established are also looking to start anew in '14, using a revitalized approach of what's trending in the latest incarnation of social media.
Whether you're part of the old guard or a rookie ready to paint the 'net red, a good gauge to use for 2014 is understanding what's currently trending in 2013. Only a couple of months away, this year's biggest trends will experience carryover for at least another year, if not longer.
Online Facebook marketing relies heavily on trends, and any proper marketing guide for the upcoming year will point out what's hot now while showing you how to implement it in the months to come. So, let's have a look at five solid marketing methods you can use for the coming year.
5 Facebook Marketing Methods For The New Year
1: Using Hashtags
Hashtags are one of the hottest trends now, and marketers used them in a variety of ways all throughout the year. Using the right hashtags provides high visibility, increased depth, and also enables you to show a lot of brand consistency across Facebook and across your entire platform. Using hashtags with status updates and even attached to paid advertising was a solid method and will continue to work.
Using hashtags properly allows you to occupy more channels through which a would-be fan or customer can find you. It also makes for engaging content, which will have a positive effect on EdgeRank, which will in turn ensure that your material is showing up in more News Feeds.
Here are a few different ways to use hashtags for your campaign:
1. Stay away from overly used and unrelated hashtags
2. Create or claim hashtags that fall in line with your niche
3. Be very succinct in your tag; i.e. #Don'tCreateALongTag
4. Limit your use of hashtags in your material
5. Monitor your tags to ensure they're being used in a manner consistent with your purpose
6. Be consistent with the hashtags you're using so that you're creating a solid little series of channels
2: Mobile-Based Content
New hardware and software from Samsung, LG, Apple, and a wide variety of other companies means one thing: Mobile computing is still on a steep rise. Facebook has long been mobile, but they're continuing to improve upon their mobile version. Marketers took the hint this year and also began creating more mobile-friendly content.
More succinct status updates, direct calls to action, visual content (more on that below), and hashtags were just a few of the many ways marketers catered more to mobile users. Popping up in the News Feed of Facebook Mobile is important for engaging your audience. A mobile user is less likely to scroll through updates or search around. So catering directly to them will be a must in 2014.
Try a few of these methods to cater to a mobile audience:
1. Don't forget those hashtags
2. Become more narrow in your marketing scope, even personalizing messages for users
3. Address concerns and solve problems for your customers in short, entertaining, unique ways (videos, infographics, etc)
4. If you post a picture, remember the new high-res screens and make sure they're high-quality images
5. Add a strong, direct call to action in all your material
6. Make sure you link to other sources that will drive mobile traffic and keep your audience engaged with you
3: Promoting Your Posts
Facebook ads are always a great way to build an audience, attract the right customers, and to promote your brand overall. With changes in the Promoted Posts option on Facebook, which allowed for older posts to be used for longer periods of time, these low-cost, once-organic ads became a great way to reach many more people.
This trend will definitely continue throughout 2014, giving you a great chance to add new life to posts which have already performed well for you.
To promote a post the right way, you can:
1. Find a third-party ad-management app that gives you far more control over your advertising
2. Pick a post that has already performed well for you
3. Be careful with the amount of text you put on an image, making sure to not exceed 20%
4. Pin the post on your page so that you're reaching more people with it
5. Change it up a little bit by perhaps adding in a hashtag, encouraging people to share, etc
6. Track the progress of the post; if it's performing well, you can promote it again
4: Visual Content
Facebook also witnessed a spike in the visual content used this year. Because of better screen resolution, a mobile market with less time, and a general shift from text to more attractive content, playing to a person's visual senses was how marketers stimulated their fans.
The only thing that's going to change in 2014 is that visual content will become even more important. Screens are only getting better. Even the smallest smartphones provide images which are far more deep and vivid than what real life provides.
Try adding these tips to your visual marketing efforts:
1. Invest in Photoshop or GIMP and learn how to layer high-quality images with attractive text, clean borders, proper shading, etc
2. Invest in a video camera and an editor to create short how-to spots, commercials, video clips of events, and other interesting content
3. Learn how to compile information with graphics to create an infographic for your audience
4. Keep your picture sizes small if possible, especially when catering to a mobile market
5. Make sure your visual content is still in line with your niche marketing efforts; don't simply post unrelated content for the sake of it
5: Interactive Promotions
Using apps on Facebook to create promotions was another marketing method that performed very well this year. With the expansion of the mobile market and many more apps available that will help you create apps (Appception!), you can easily provide your audience with interactive promotions by way of games, contests, etc.
Operating a promotion brings in a lot of people, creates a lot of buzz, and bolsters your brand reputation in the long run. You just need to ensure that you're willing to create something unique and that you're ready for the impact.
Be aware of what you'll need in order to operate a promotion:
1. Try creating a themed promotion based on the season, a holiday, an event, etc
2. Advertise your promotion with hashtags, Promoted Posts, and other methods
3. Offer some incentive to ensure that people want to participate with the promotion
4. Create something that's very interactive: A game, a contest, a maze, a puzzle – generally anything that's fun and requires interactive participation
5. Have your system ready to receive an influx of new customers
6. Make sure you have a system in place to judge and reward the winner(s)
2014 is going to be a big year for social media. More people will join Facebook, more will access it through mobile devices, and with an improving economy, more members will be spending more money. Make sure you get an early jump on the year by putting these marketing methods to good use.
Craig Robinson is a social media enthusiast and professional writer for Qwaya, a technology company specializing in Facebook marketing. If you have more social media marketing questions, feel free to ask your questions below.