One of my favorite questions when I sit down with the heads of social media from big brands is about trends.
Specifically, what they think the current trends are in social media and how those trends are likely to affect us as small businesses over the next year.
I love this question because here are the most successful brands in the world, those with the budget and resources to be on the cutting edge of social media and content marketing, giving us a glimpse of what’s to come and how we can grow our business from it.
I’m not talking crystal ball reading or anything, but as a small business owner, understanding the trends and deciding whether they make sense for your business before everyone’s doing it can mean the difference between leaving your competitors in the dust and being just another business trying to survive.
Mobile marketing, as you might guess, is one trend that comes up in almost every conversation but that’s a rather obvious one.
Speaking of which, make sure your website is mobile-optimized. Meaning, people can view it cleanly on a mobile device.
More and more of your customers are clicking on links and going to websites on their phone or iPad. You don’t want to lose out on potential revenue because your site doesn’t work right on a mobile device.
Get your web guy or gal to optimize your site for mobile and you’ll be ahead of the curve.
But I digress.
Today, I want to share with you two other social media trends that most big brands agree on that I think can really help your business.
- Situational content marketing. Meaning, giving the “right” people great content in the right place at the right time. We’ll go into this more in a second.
- Having authentic conversations with your customers. Using social media to communicate and provide the best customer service experience possible.
Let’s dive into each of these trends a bit further to learn how you can implement these strategies into your business.
I’ll also share examples of some forward-thinking big brands that are already taking advantage of them – businesses that are great for modeling their success.
Holy Grail of Marketing?
I call situational content marketing the holy grail of marketing because it’s based on giving the right message to the right person in the right place at the right time.
It’s what we as marketers are always trying to do.
Check this out.
You arrive at a client meeting and are waiting in the lobby.
You’re 15 minutes early so you decide to “check-in”, whether it’s on Facebook or Foursquare, before your clients comes to meet you.
As a result of your checking-in, you get a message back that says Starbucks is offering their iced mocha Frappuccino for half-off this afternoon. And, wait for it… there’s a Starbucks just around the corner from where you are!
An hour later when you leave the meeting the 90-degree summer heat greets you.
The afternoon sugar cravings have kicked in and you remember the Starbucks offer. A refreshing Frappuccino for half-off sounds pretty good, you think, so you walk over to the Starbucks.
This is situational content marketing at its best.
You checked-in and as a result, Starbucks offered you a relevant deal based on your location, the weather, and time of day.
The cool thing is, you don’t have to be Starbucks to do something like this; it’s actually quite easy to create deals like this in Foursquare and it doesn’t have to cost a dime.
But let’s say you don’t sell physical products like a Starbucks.
Rather, you own a personal training studio and regularly use Twitter and Facebook to add value to your followers by giving exercise and nutrition tips.
It’s a Sunday night and you see the weather report for the next day — 105 degrees with 90% humidity.
Holy surface of the sun, Batman.
With heat like that, you know it won’t be safe for people to be outside exercising.
Your audiences on Twitter and Facebook may not realize that, though.
Here’s what you could do:
- Grab your smartphone and record a quick 10-minute workout video in your living room that people can do in the comfort of their own home while it’s so hot outside.
- Put the video up on YouTube.
- On Twitter: tweet that night about the health risks of exercising in extreme heat and that you’ve put together a short workout video that people can do in the comfort of their own home. Schedule the same tweet to be sent out again on Monday morning.
- Example tweet: Code red heat tomorrow so be smart with your exercise. Stay safe w/this quick home workout: link to your video
- On Facebook: create a post about the health risks of working out in extreme heat, tell people you have them covered though, and upload your video directly to Facebook. Ask people to Share it.
This is a simple example of you could use situational content marketing for your business. You’re providing value to the right person in the right place at the right time.
Any small business can do this sort of thing.
It’s really just about recognizing what’s going on around you, understanding your customer, and giving them helpful content at the right time.
Are You Really Embracing Your Customers?
Embracing social media to have authentic conversations with your customers is a trend that every small business should jump on.
Brands that listen to and engage with their customers on social media are the ones who are going to succeed.
This is so important I feel like repeating it: brands that listen to and engage with their customers on social media are the ones who are going to succeed.
Why? Because it allows you to build relationships with your customers so they know, like and trust you.
When your customer feels those things towards you they’re gonna buy your stuff and recommend you to their friends.
The good news is, more and more businesses are starting to realize the importance of this.
Are you one of them?
If you are, nice work; ten gold stars for you!
If not, no worries my friend. You’ll still be ahead of the curve by starting now.
One big brand that totally “gets” using social media as a way to engage with and provide superior customer service is JetBlue Airways.
They’ve been a guest on the podcast and their success with social is definitely worth modeling for our own small business.
Here are a couple of examples of where they’re listening to their customers on Twitter and responding.
Even if you’re not a fan of the airline, JetBlue is worth following on Twitter to watch how they serve and engage with their customers.
How could you leverage social media to have more authentic conversations with your customers? To provide the best customer service experience possible?
Take action today.
Think these strategies will take you a long time? They don’t have to, I promise.
As a small business owner, time is one of our most precious resources.
One of the biggest frustrations I hear from you is you’re overwhelmed with social media. There are too many options out there. It takes too much time.
You either have no idea where to start or have blindly tried Facebook or Twitter and struggled to results for your business.
So you give up. But you’re missing a huge opportunity to grow your business!
That’s why I’m PSYCHED to tell you I’m putting the finishing touches on a step-by-step video course that eliminates confusion and arms you with the seven simple, quick and easy strategies you need to make social media your most powerful lead-generating weapon.
It’s called “Social Media Success In 20 Minutes a Day: 7 Simple Big Brand Strategies for Your Small Business Budget”.
I’ll keep you updated as we go along here but I wanted you to be the first to know. Can’t wait to share it with you. Stay tuned!