The Face of Social Marketing is Changing
We hate to be cliche and say that the internet has changed everything, but we don’t know any other way to describe the impact the world wide web has had on…well, the world. From the way we receive our news to the way we communicate, the internet has affected practically every area of our lives. As the Director of Social Media for Excelerate Media, a social media marketing firm based in Los Angeles, Erin Richards-Kunkel has seen the affect the ever-changing internet has on business. We had the chance to chat with Erin about digital marketing, social media trends and where she predicts the internet will take us next.
Nao Media: 10 years ago the title “Social Media Coordinator” didn’t even exist, but today job boards are overflowing with social marketing positions. Why do you think businesses are starting to pay attention to social media?
Erin Richards-Kunkel: People have to start paying to social media since that’s where people are having the conversations. That’s the core of marketing. With emails, email marketing was born, now everyone is consuming and spending time on social media, that’s where the brands have to be visible and relevant to new audiences.
NM: What have you seen as the biggest change in social media marketing within the past year?
ERK: Social media marketing has changed a lot in the last year. We are seeing a lot more platforms and a lot more competition for attention. I think we are also getting over-saturation of too much brand advertising on platforms including Facebook and Twitter. Social media is about conversations and relationships, about amplifying your message and your story. Often I see a story about a brand who committed a major faux pas on social media (I am looking at you DiGiorno!) I also think that the medium has shifted a lot in the last year. With the focus on platforms like Snapchat, Vine and Instagram, visuals and video are key.
NM: With Facebook showing a decline in usage, what platforms do you see people shifting towards using for social media marketing? Which do you recommend?
ERK: This has been a huge topic of debate with clients and social media professionals across the board. Facebook is still the big powerhouse with 1.3 billion active users, 829 million accessing Facebook Daily. However the decline of organic reach has caused a lot of headaches for brands across the board. I would still suggest using Facebook, but backing it with advertising (either by boosting reach, direct news feed ads and fanpage acquisition). Since Facebook’s advertising platform has gotten very advanced, it is a great tool to use, especially with the addition of custom audiences.
However, I have always thought that one should not put all of your eggs in one basket, so I definitely encourage exploration of other platforms. The platform depends on the brand and the goals. If you are very visual, Instagram is a great choice. If you want to drive traffic and are great about having conversations and real-time interactions, Twitter is a great option. Pinterest and Google+ are also my other favorites.
NM: Content marketing and social media go hand in hand when coming up with a content strategy. If you had to describe the ultimate social marketing strategy, what would it entail? Which platforms would you use?
It all starts with a great brand and great product and/or service. From there you have a great webpage and sales funnel, drawing in customers further into your service offerings. The ultimate social marketing strategy focuses on amplying great content and value to customers (think blogs, videos, email marketing, e-books, infographics, webinars, etc.) and building audiences across platforms, treating each platform with unique strategies and tactics. Which platforms I would use is greatly dependent on what my goals are, what my product/brand was, and how much time/resources I wanted to spend on social media. If I had a B2B business, I might focus on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, with extra attention on building my content and blog. If I were a B2C business with great visuals and a great culture, I might focus on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. It all depends on how much you want to put in!
NM: What do you think people are failing to do in terms of effective social media marketing?
ERK: I think the most neglected gap is managing communities and the focus on conversations. We try to put that front and center, but it is key to have someone actually responding to people who have taken time out to talk about your brand.
NM: Where do you see social media marketing going? Any trend predictions for 2016?
I think we are seeing a bigger focus on visuals, and to me that is going to mean video front and center. YouTube is already (in my opinion) one of the most profitable platforms with the highest conversion rates for brands (not just for Jenna Marbles). Video is going to dominate. Already, Facebook is putting more of an emphasis with auto-playing videos, and Instagram videos and Vine are become much more profitable.
I also think native advertising is going to get more sophisticated in 2016. Both Pinterest and Instagram have been toying with ads, and there is only a matter of time before those are accessible to brands. Being on the front of that curve will definitely be beneficial for brands doing multi-platform campaigns.
For more social media marketing insights from Erin, you can find her contributing to the Excelerate Media Blog, on Twitter @ErinSRichards or connect with her on LinkedIn.