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5 Things You Must Know About Social Media Going into 2018

If you are using social media for business, you know that the changes are consistent. The only way to remain effective on social media is to be aware of the updates and make the necessary adjustments in your business. This sounds easy but with changes happening every month, who has time to review all of these new rules for engagement especially if social media is not your industry. The thought of this being something else you must keep up with can be very overwhelming. This list was created as a cheat sheet for small business owners to stay updated as we make the transition into 2018. This year, we saw a lot of added features and adjustments to social media algorithms. These trends, statistics and changes will definitely impact the ways you are able to reach your customers so let's jump right in.

1) As of December 2017 Facebook says NO to engagement bait. What is engagement bait? It is exactly what it sounds like, posts that will bait people to engage is considered engagement bait. Here are a few examples:

"LIKE if you are from California"

"Tag a friend that would like to win"

" Share this picture, if you agree"

Have you seen this on your timeline? Marketers figured out that if they used these types of call to action requests, they would see greater engagement. It worked! But Facebook noticed also and decided this type of engagement is not organic so they have changed the algorithm to demote these type of posts.

According to Facebook " We will demote posts that go against one of our key News Feed values — authenticity. Similar to our other recent efforts to demote clickbait headlines and links to low-quality web page experiences, we want to reduce the spread of content that is spammy, sensational, or misleading in order to promote more meaningful and authentic conversations on Facebook."

This is important to you as a business owner because if you are creating a marketing campaign using this tactic your post will automatically show less in the news feed.

What can you do to get around engagement bait? Ensure that your questions are authentic and not spammy. Create a call to action, but one that revolves around something tangible. Create variety in your posts. If all of your post are simply asking people to click, like, or comment, Facebook may demote the entire page, not just the post.

2) 69% of all adults use at least one form of social media and 74% of shoppers use social media to make decisions. These statistics show that social media is growing and becoming more apart of our daily lives than ever before. Businesses that still believe having a presence on social media is unimportant are missing a HUGE opportunity to connect with possible clients, brand their business, create authenticity and many of the other great benefits of social media.

Your business should be where your customers are and the stats show: They are on social media!!

The key word in this statistic is that they use at least one social site. You need to realize that there are people that will use multiple platforms and some that primarily only use one. As a business owner, we must be mindful of which sites our target demographic frequent and ensure that we include that platform in your marketing efforts.

Here are some stats to assist you. Depending on the age of your target demographic, this chart will help you see what social site they tend to use more.

The other stat mentioned is that 74% of shoppers make decisions based on social media. This is a broad statement because you must remember that social media takes on many forms. This influence may have come in a variety of ways. There is the direct way through ads, but remember that friends give shout outs or recommendations, there are millions of business pages, review sites, comparison articles and Youtube videos. When you are aware of all the available ways for people to come across your brand, you will understand why it is imperative to have your business in as many places as possible. You should tailor your focus based on the demographic of your customers.

3) There are over 250 million Instagram story viewers daily. If your business is not taking advantage of this tool I HIGHLY recommend that you do. Since their launch, Instagram stories now have more daily views than Snapchat. The good thing about Instagram stories is you have the ability to get in front of people that may not be following you. Also, when you have current stories your icon will appear at the top of your followers time line.

When you use hashtags and location tags, you will be seen by people that are not following you in the same way your normal posts are visible. The advantage is that because of the raw nature of these videos, editing and professional equipment is not necessary. Give your viewers a snapshot into your day; you will be surprised by the response and reaction your brand receives.

Pssst, this is another way for you to engage your audience without it always being about sales.

4) Influencers and Brand ambassadors are taking over. There was a time when if you needed to market your business you would need the money to pay a celebrity to endorse it. While there are still companies that have the resources to pay for this type of endorsement, businesses are recognizing that finding the right influencer can be just as effective, if not more. There are a lot of people that make a living reviewing products, sharing their experiences and just showcasing their favorite things. If you can get your product in the right hands, many of these people have an extensive following and a nod from them can shoot your brand to the top. Businesses are discovering that the traditional way of marketing is sometimes missing the mark because social media is all about community. Most influencers have people that have been following them for years , they feel connected and trust their views and opinions.

Another way to achieve this is to place the spot light on a satisfied customer and turn them into a brand ambassador. People listen to people they know, so if a customer has hundreds or thousands of followers it is a great idea to use them to sing the praises of your brand, especially if they already use and love it.

"User-generated content (UGC) on social platforms trumps branded content in terms of building trust and creating a positive impression on potential customers. Instagram sets the tone for this type of content."

Social Media will give precedence to individuals vs brands because they want businesses to pay for exposure. Use this to your advantage and find some influencers for your brand.

5) Businesses are winning with groups!! If you are an active Facebook user it is safe to say you are probably a part of a group whether you know it or not. There are groups based on your geographic location, age, education, school, etc. Every single classification or general interest has a group. What businesses are realizing this is an opportunity to hold a captive group of people that you can use to create a community and you do not have to pay or worry about fighting the algorithm to reach them.

A group should not be used in place of your Facebook page, but as a supplement to it. Remember customer service when you manage your group, this is an extension of your business so professionalism is important as well.

There are groups that are charging individuals to join and, groups with hundreds of thousands of members. Just know that the possibilities are endless with the items and ways that you can market your group. Providing value is a great way to get people excited about you group. Here are a few tips to get you started.

If you like info on small businesses and social media, you can join my group.