SMBMSP #96 Recap: Finding actual value in social media “trends”

Do you ever walk out of a marketing event feeling a little…let down?

Maybe the speaker wasn’t that good or the featured case study was from a company with an ad budget the size of your payroll. Sometimes, they’re just not that relevant to the professional lives of real marketers.

This past month’s SMBMSP (the 96th of its name) was not one of those events.

Speaker and marketing professional, Arik Hanson, gave a fascinating talk on what some might consider the opposite: practical, reasonable social media trends.

About the speaker

Arik Hanson has been in marketing for over 20 years and has been on his own since 2009. He’s a blogger, podcaster, “e-newsletter maker,” board member, event organizer and master carpenter (probably).

Arik has a hand in everything from the Social Media Breakfast to the MIMA Summit and PRSA MN events.

It’s not all garbage

“Just 95% of it.”

Right away, Arik laid out how his take on social media trends was to be unlike much of what you see and read on the internet.

From the beginning, Arik let us know his presentation would serve as an antithesis to the usual “10 trends that will revolutionize your everything about everything” world the internet tends to be. Instead, he shared nine “trends du jour,” each paired with a more realistic trend within the grasp of most brands that don’t have marketing budgets in the millions.

This approach was very refreshing. He provided trends to look out for that many brands that are practical and easily implementable as well as why exactly he thought they were worth mentioning.

Though I won’t dig into all nine trends (you can see his whole slide deck here), I want to share a few that really resonated.

Less is the new more

One of the most powerful trends Arik outlined was the first. Organic social’s irrelevance is not a trend. What is interesting is the shift away from publishing a lot and toward promoting a few.

Did you know that Target published 84 Facebook posts in all of 2016? 84! That’s less than once a week! What’s more is that there was no real rhythm to their cadence, only timely promotions around holidays or special sales. They published 21 posts in December (for obvious reasons) while sharing none at all in the entire month of May.

With organic social all but officially dead, this new trend illustrates an emphasis on quality creative and allowing paid content promotion to do a lot of the legwork. The best part for the average brand, especially organizations with less B&B (budget and bandwidth) is the “opportunity to jump off the volume-driven content marketing bandwagon.”

Long-form is hitting a stride

In a landscape seemingly dominated by gifs, 10-second videos and the all-emoji press release (yes, seriously), short- and long-form content is still finding a home on social media.

What’s true on social is what always been true: People love a good story.

Sure, you could make your audience decipher a bunch of emojis or give them a funny gif to retweet. But sharing a compelling, well told story will never go out of style and can serve your core brand and business goals more effectively than “snackable content.”

Pinterest’s moment to shine

Juxtaposed against the trendy, fun-to-make-fun-of-popularity of the new Snap Spectacles, Arik suggested that 2017 is the year Pinterest reaches the next level of maturity, specifically as a paid social platform. He supported the claim with the following facts:

  • Pinterest drives the second-most retail and e-commerce traffic of all the social networks
  • 55% of U.S. Pinterest users shopped for products, more than on any other social network
  • Promoted Pins are driving double-digit “lift” across the funnel

Arik continued to reiterate that Pinterest is “an extremely underrated traffic driver” when it comes to social platforms. Though Snapchat (and their ridiculous glasses) may be sort of fun and buzzy, the majority of brands would get much more value from a $150 Promoted Pin than a good set of specs.

Motivations for LinkedIn Publishing

One trend “du jour” Arik mentioned was LinkedIn Publishing as it pertains to thought leadership. Though he suggested that’s not a bad thing, he sees a bigger opportunity for the practice when it comes to how upper level executives talk to their employees.

A disheartening development Arik noticed is that the communication gap between executives and employees “has never been wider” and that “employees frequently tune out corporate communications channels.”

But LinkedIn Publishing could be a way to change that. He sees top executives for Target or American Family Insurance using LinkedIn to share a more personal, less corporate take on issues like dramatic downsizing or company culture. Hanson keenly sees LinkedIn as an avenue to better communication within larger companies.

Make it good

Arik left us with the confidence that, for every trend that seems (and probably is) far-fetched, there’s at least one way for brands of any size or industry to use social as a tool to reach their goals. All in all, he had one simple request for social media marketers across the land:

Well said, Arik. Well said.

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