Social media trends change at the speed of human behavior.
It’s not just users driving the change, it’s the platforms, themselves, how they’re designed, and the kinds of content the platforms intentionally prioritize.
All of this rolled together are the “trends” that marketers and businesses are always chasing to reach their customers where they live in the social space.
But what does all this mean if you’re a small business? Especially one in the Intermountain West, where our largest cities are hardly a national market? How does a small business decide which social media trends to follow – and which to ignore?
Well, let’s start with the trends. (And keep in mind, anytime you read about a social “trend,” it’s a global trend. These platforms aggregate all their data – not just the people in Billings or Cheyenne or Spokane. A “trend” shows you the whole world.)
Digital “communities” in the social space have never been stronger. They evolve the way any community evolves: Like-minded people find each other. But the digital environment is inherently engineered. They find each through hash tags. They find each other through the kinds of content they seek out through a platform search and the words other users define in advance to describe themselves. Twitter is pushing this concept even harder by testing a new feature called “Communities.” Digital communities are a way that people put themselves in groups – and marketers are using these groups to put themselves in front of the right people.
What does this mean for you? First, feel good about the real community you’ve made. Digital communities are a great place to put an ad, but for organic social, you might have something better: A real community that interacts with you and creates memories with you in real life. When you’re ready to advertise and hire an ad agency – and we’re not just saying this because we ARE an ad agency – know communities that might like what you have to offer already exist and an ad agency will find them. In the meantime, continue to engage your real-life community with the proven ways that have trended in social media for years: Post frequently enough to be on people’s minds and to feel like a part of their lives. Invite friends to build up your social presence. Share what you do best – which is why your business exists in the first place.
ANOTHER SOCIAL MEDIA TREND? PROMOTIONAL CONTENT THAT STANDS OUT. BY BLENDING IN.
Even when you pay for people to look at your content – an ad, really – if it’s not content people want to see, it doesn’t penetrate. Businesses are adapting by building ads that look and feel like native content. You’ve almost certainly seen this. If a platform is emotional, the content will mimic that emotion. If the culture of the platform is funny, you’ll often see it in the ads placed there.
Should you make content that matches the mood of the platform? Well, yes. But know that Montana and the Intermountain West are not exactly like the whole world. Facebook is the dominant platform here and the emotional climate of Facebook is more diverse. People seeing your organic content are people who already like your page – and you. It’s most important to show something credible and give them an authentic emotion. You’ve got more of that emotion than anyone else. It’s the way you feel at the end of a great day at the business you made. Give them that.
EMERGING NEW PLATFORMS
TikTok and Instagram are hardly new, but they are coming to dominate. TikTok just cracked a billion users and Instagram is the dominant platform among certain age groups.
Should you get on TikTok? This is a question we can’t answer in a blog post. Being credible and pushing your identity on a new social channel is work. You’ll need to balance the benefit of the new platform against what you can realistically do. Broadly speaking, yes. You should be on emerging platforms. But TikTok involves building a new digital editing skill set in order to be credible. If you don’t think you can do that, you might be better off staying off the platform.
Bottom line, remember that organic social marketing is a long-term relationship. Like any relationship, what you show people is what they think you are. The more opportunities you give people to get to know you, the more they will feel like they do. Every post you make is another line in your conversation with your customers.