Key insights from #SMMW18

Last week Retriever took part in Social Media Marketing Week in San Diego, where 5000 Social media experts from all over the world participated.

We got impulses on trends and coming changes in the social media landscape. Here are the most important tips we brought with us.


Be real


One of the most important trends that we see is that the focus on authenticity and real conversations is increasing. The days of spreading content in hopes of it going viral, counting followers like they were actual customers, and thinking reach was all that matters, are over.


Moving forward it is going to be all about connecting with the right audience with relevant topics. If you want to connect and engage, you must start the process first by providing people with a good reason to connect. Engage your followers with quality content that speaks directly to them. Not to the largest audience possible, and not to get likes. But to start a conversation and to initiate a relationship.


Facebook going small 


Facebook recently changed their algorithm and many are wondering what it will mean for them. The change leads to an average organic reach of less than one percent. To take an example;  if your business has 10 000 followers, no more than 100 people will see your content. This means social media marketers and communicators will need to focus on a smaller and more relevant audiences.


The changes also mean companies are going to be fighting for smaller and more relevant audiences. This is going to cost more money.


But the change is not all "bad." In fact, companies have arguably underperformed on social media vs. traditional media, because their content has been lacking, and has in general failed to engage their wanted audiences. Now is the time to sharpen and the content and engage in more quality communication.


Important Facebook features to pay attention to:


Facebook Live

Facebook Live is more important than ever. Facebook has revealed data, which shows that viewers comment approximately six times more on Facebook Live videos than regular ones.


Facebook watch

Facebook Watch (only US right now) has made a huge impact, being a mix between Facebook, YouTube and Netflix, with all kinds of original content. Facebook and Twitter have already done exclusive broadcasts from the Academy Awards and Grammy awards. Facebook has also bid on the rights to broadcast several sporting events, including the Indian Cricket League.


Pinterest and Instagram intensify as sales channels 


Throughout 2017, Pinterest revealed some amazing stats.  87 percent of Pinners bought something because of content on the site. What’s more 55 percent of users have been found to shop on the site.


This means people are more likely to shop on Pinterest than on any other platforms. In part, it is because Pinterest guides people through the entire shopping journey, from that first moment of inspiration, to the final purchase.


Analysis show that people start planning purchases on Pinterest about three months before they use other platforms. They are also more likely to recommend purchased products to a friend more frequently compared to any other social media platform.

Not surprisingly, marketers using Pinterest are seeing great results. To be more exact, over 80 percent of all campaigns running on the platform, have seen incremental sales lift, indicating an unequaled conversion rate.


Also, Instagram has improved their business tools. It looks like "Shopping Tags" will become as common as the hashtag for relevant businesses. This enables businesses to put discrete price and information tags on items within their images. The functionality has been in testing since November 2016, and was recently expanded via a new partnership with Shopify. Given the competition from Pinterest it is likely to believe that this function will be rolled out broadly in the near future.


For brands, the possibility to search in image content can be very useful in the research to discover new influencers, brand advocates, and users who'd likely be interested in their products or services.


Massive improvements on LinkedIn 


The platform now has 530 million members and recently launched a new set of tools that enables brands to better communicate their messages on the platform.


Now available to all users, LinkedIn has finally opened up for video sharing on the platform, however this functionality is not launched for company pages yet.


Video is the most popular form of content across all social networks, and LinkedIn says video content is shared 20 times more than any other type of content on their platform.


To get the most out of LinkedIn as a company, you should explore the Website Demographics feature. This will help identify the types of professionals who are visiting your site, based on their listed LinkedIn data. This is particularly valuable for B2B brands, providing insights in to what audience you reach with your messages on LinkedIn.


AI and machine learning can make you faster and more effective


Billions upon billions of posts with unstructured social data can get new meaning and usage with AI technology. New tools based on machine learning, can help businesses get more out of their social media efforts.


Several Fortune 500 companies are already using AI in their customer service. In marketing AI can be very valuable in the process of finding new influencers and brand ambassadors.


Another interesting example of using AI on social media data is The New York Times, who uses AI to identify which stories to amplify and promote based on social media data.

So we see two clear and effective areas for using AI in social media; the first is to reduce the time it takes to analyse and get insights, and the other is about seeing patterns in how your content is performing.


Influencer Marketing is here to stay


The influencer marketing market is estimated to be worth $3 billion in 2018 and is set to reach $10 billion by 2020. Although many marketers have implemented influencer marketing into their strategies, 41 percent are still spending less than five percent of their budgets on influencer marketing.


One of the directions influencer marketing will evolve is that influencers will become more permanent advocates. Previously, influencers were used for one event, or one product launch. Now, influencers will be more closely tied to the brand and the relationship between brands and influencers will be more long-lasting.