The rules of social media change all the time. The plan that works one year might flop the next. The past year is no exception, as some creative marketers created campaigns that cemented the importance of some rules, and even changed our thinking about others.
Here are the best social media marketing tips from 2013.
1. The Old-Fashioned Guilt Trip
After fighting the #firstworldproblems hashtag in 2012, Water is Life returned in 2013 with a new campaign daring New Yorkers to drink some of the city's most polluted water. The campaign, timed to coincide with World Water Day, was a bit of a guilt trip, but was highly effective. After filming New Yorkers' reaction shots to the 10 dispensing locations, they compiled them into a video about the project.
2. Make Em Laugh
Some fast-food social media campaigns backfired in recent years, either because of poor execution or because people just weren't buying their claims. Wendy's went for the funny bone instead with #PretzelLoveStories, a series of videos in which user tweets were turned into mini-telenovelas. No one criticized because they were too busy laughing!
3. Use Thumbnails
Display ads with graphics do better than those without " the same holds true for YouTube videos. Splasheo founder, Gideon Shalwick, creates a catchy thumbnail for every video he posts. He uses expressive photos, clear copy, and other thumbnail optimization tips to grab our attention and get more views than his counterparts.
4. Prepare for the Worst
Since people play a big role in social media, businesses have relatively little control over their campaigns. Durex learned this the hard way when its SOS Campaign was marred by pranksters who voted ultra-conservative Batman, Turkey, the city most in need of rush delivery service for condoms. The company immediately pulled the campaign.
5. Cater to Content Aggregators
Ever since the fall of Digg and Delicious, naysayers have been predicting the end of content aggregation sites. They claim that readers have more loyalty to specific sites and are not looking for aggregators or RSS readers to collect the content for them " hence the shutdown of Google Reader. However, others, like social media expert Drew Hendricks, predict that these sites will only get more important in the years to come. How do you cater to content aggregators? Try out new sites as they start generating buzz. If something clicks, add a social share button to your blog. Encourage your readers to share your content with a CTA.
6. Be Careful What You Wish For
Customer feedback is always great " almost. In 2013, numerous corporations launched Q&A campaigns to increase customer engagement. The results were disastrous, especially for companies that had been battling negative press. In one case, the comments were so snarky (earning the title of Snarkpocalypse) that JP Morgan had to pull the campaign hours after launching it.
7. Give the Power Away
Social media has provided a way for people to share original content with friends and family around the world. Nikon took advantage of this by giving their cameras to SXSW attendees and letting them record the musical performances. The resulting photos and videos generated 166 million social impressions, proving that sometimes, trusting customers with your message can pay off big time.
8. Leverage Social Media Search Tools
Search engines continue to be valuable, so we shouldn't be surprised that social media platforms have built their own. According to Cynthia Sanchez, writer and Pinterest expert, tools like Graph Search on Facebook and Twitter's advanced search can help you identify the potential audience on each channel, or even whether there's an audience to identify.
9. Get Everyone Involved
In order to keep your blog kicking and your social curation interesting, get everyone involved. In their 2013 eBook Creating a Content Machine, HubSpot explains the power of giving the ownership of your online success to all of your employees. They maintain monthly quotas for each department to contribute blog posts, which are then shared out through their highly-engaged-with social media outlets.
10. Connect to Timely Stories
A well-timed campaign about a hot topic can make a big impact. In 2013, as the Supreme Court was hearing cases involving marriage equality, the Human Rights Campaign changed its blue-and-yellow logo to red and pink. Within 24 hours, the logo had generated 10 million page views, and over time the HRC attracted thousands of new Facebook and Twitter followers. And don't get me started on that Oreo Super Bowl tweet.
11. Be Visual
Arment Dietrich CEO, Gini Dietrich, says, Sixty-five percent of human beings are visual learners. That means they'd rather look at pictures or watch videos than read text. This means that a motorcycle lawyer should supplement his blog about biking laws with the occasional photo or video. A selfie on a Harley would add a little humor to an otherwise dry post about the law.
12. Dont Ignore Google+
Although experts never seem to agree on the next big thing in social media, there's one thing everyone is talking about: the importance of Google+. Long considered the wasteland of social sites, it's been picking up over the past year – whether people really want it to or not. As Google's social network becomes more intertwined with their search, those who fail to jump on the bandwagon will likely be left in the dust. At a minimum, be sure to claim your business listing and add authorship to your company's blog. To get the full benefits of Google+, however, become an active contributor to grow your following, and be sure to add authorship to all of your guest contributions.
To keep up with the ever-changing world of social media, keep these top-ranked tips in mind and develop your social media presence in a novel, ground-breaking way!