2017 has been quite a year in so many ways. The world of social media and social media marketing has change in so many ways as well over the course of the last several months. As the voice of your company across different platforms on social media, it is important to look through the changes in the digital world to see how those changes affect your online presence. It is also important that we are dynamic and flexible enough to change with the times to make sure you are getting the greatest return for your online investment.
Social Media as a Branding Tool
The main purpose of your online presence is that of branding. Whether you are talking about your website, blog, email, or social media, the first and foremost function of your online presence is to let people know who you are. As I speak with you or meet people out in the networking world, the thing I hear the most is that most referrals come of word-of-mouth. In the small and medium size business world, the vast majority of new business comes from word-of-mouth. But here is the thing, without an effective online presence focused on branding, there is no way to know how many sales have previously been lost due to a lack of a quality online presence that tells potential customers exactly who you are?
We work to tell the story of who you are to solidify your role as a leader in your field and to make sure you are not leaving sales on the table.
For the last several years, Facebook has been the center of any effective social media campaign. Facebook is still a powerhouse when it comes to the demographics that make most of the purchasing decisions in the family. The scope and reach of Facebook has also expanded over the last 2 years to include the more lucrative demographics of 45-plus, with a huge jump in the age groups 65-plus. The reason that this group is growing so fast is that the original users of Facebook are now older, married and having kids and people are not going to their local pharmacy to print pictures to send to the grandparents. If grandparents want to see the grandkids pictures, they have to get online to do it.
Facebook has gone through the most changes this year than any other platform. Facebook has been in the news throughout the year for allowing what has been called in the media “fake news”. They have also been taken to task for allowing hundreds of thousands of dollars to be spend by foreign entities.
As a reaction to this, Facebook has changed how businesses and business pages can interact with users of Facebook, effectively turning Facebook into a pay-to-play platform. They have also expanded their guidelines for advertising to ensure that it is more difficult for non-legitimate businesses and entities to take advantage of the platform.
This does not mean that we need to spend a lot of money on Facebook and in a lot of cases, it does not mean we need to spend more than we have been spending. What it means is that we have to be more nimble with how we spend the money. Instead of putting all of the money into Facebook Advertising, we will need to explore the possibility of spreading the money between advertising and boosted posts. Since each business is different, it is something we will need to explore on a case by case basis.
There are 2 other things that Facebook is doing to guarantee that that legitimate and high quality businesses get better traffic and preference on Facebook: 1 – Page Verification and 2 – Domain Verification.
Page verification tells Facebook that your page is tied to a legitimate ongoing business. This is done by uploading a utility bill, corporate, or tax document with your business name and address that matches the information on your Facebook page. Once verified, your Facebook page will have a check mark next to your name and it will let people know that your business has been verified by Facebook.
Domain verification is another level of quality verification. This is done by downloading an HTML file from Facebook and adding it to the root of your website. Facebook pages with verified domains will receive preferential treatment on Facebook when it comes to search results.
I am in the process of going through all of pages I manage to get pages and domains verified. I will be in touch individually about these 2 important steps.
For a number of years, Linked In had been seen as a place for business recruiters and sales people. The interface was not attractive and fairly difficult to work with. Microsoft purchased Linked In and has recently rolled out a new interface and make the platform much easier to work with. Over the last several months, I have heard from several clients that Linked In interactions has grown and is becoming a more important part of a social media campaign. I am very excited about the growing possibilities of Linked In, and the possibility of taking advantage of the it as an advertising stream and not just an organic reach platform.
Instagram has been around for quite a while now and is owned by Facebook. The big advantage of this is that Facebook Advertising is ported over natively to Instagram as well if you have a business Instagram account. Instagram’s largest growing demographics are people in their 20s and 30s in a more urban setting. It is also a quickly growing platform for people into their 40s, especially with women in more suburban areas. From a marketing standpoint, Instagram might be a great fit for expanding a social media campaign.
A major caveat to Instagram is that it requires a large number of original images for posting. This is a major factor in deciding if Instagram is right for your business.
Google Plus/Google Business
Up until very recently, Google Plus was a must-have in the area of organic SEO. Google is always changing and transforming. One area that is going to go through some major changes soon is their social media platform, Google Plus. Plus was never able to break into the top tier of social media and was never really a threat to Facebook for market share. On the contrary, the Google Business platform has been very successful for businesses to reach out to potential customers. Google has separated the Plus and Business platforms. While social media posts to Plus is still playing off in SEO benefit, over the course of the next several months, posts will move from the Plus Platform to the new posting function in the business platform.