Social media has become an integral part of most brands’ digital presence. We’ve known for some time that consumers expect to find familiar brands on the social platforms they use and like to research new brands on social networks as well. The importance of available customer service, responsiveness, and the ability to address a crisis have all been established as crucial aspects of a brand’s social presence.
But what comes next? More marketers, even in industries you might not expect, are leveraging the popularity of visual social sharing, particularly on visually-focused networks like Instagram. On the paid media side, marketers are upping their spends on social ads, though many social ad platforms are still in their infancy.
Visual Social Sharing
Social media is becoming more visual—images currently dominate the content shared on social networks, and visual social networks are still growing in popularity. Instagram, for example, boasts over 100 million monthly active users (despite recent privacy snafus), and Pinterest boast 25 million.
Most marketers know that networks like Instagram and Pinterest are great for retailers, fashion, or other more obviously visual brands. The value for ecommerce is clear: Pinterest users are mostly women and many express an interest in shopping. And according to a study from Adobe and Econsultancy, referral traffic from Pinterest actually drives more revenue. Shoppers referred from Pinterst spend an average of $169. Compare that to next runner up, $95, which is the average spent by Facebook referrals.
But Pinterest isn’t just valuable for retail. It can actually be a powerful tool for lead generation by helping to create a strong brand presence and drive relevant traffic . Though Pinterest once (surprisingly) prohibited commercial accounts, the ban has been lifted, and Pinterest actively encourages businesses to join the social network, even offering tips and best practices.
It’s no wonder that 69% of major brands are currently active on Pinterest, according to a recent study by SimplyMeasured. Instagram has surged in popularity with businesses as well, with 59% of brands active on the image-sharing platform.
Though it also seems obvious how retailers might use Instagram, other brands are getting creative and finding unique ways to engage. Some companies use it to showcase culture, making it an effective recruiting tool (and fun for customers and partners to peruse as well). Don’t limit yourself because you aren’t selling something that photographs well, or because you aren’t selling physical goods at all. Think creatively and explore what other brands are doing. Your customers are on these networks, and it may make sense for you to be too.
More brands are spending their budgets on paid social media, and according to eMarketer, 64% plan to increase paid social spends in 2013.
Facebook and Twitter have taken significant strides in the past year to improve their advertising platforms and make their offerings more worth your while. Twitter’s promoted posts tool received a major boost with the addition of interest targeting. Before interest targeting, advertisers could target by search results or hashtags. This update significantly improved the potential reach of promoted tweets, making it a far more powerful branding tool. Twitter has also announced they will soon be unveiling an ads API tool to allow larger brands and social media agencies to create Twitter ad campaigns at scale.
When it comes to platform updates, Facebook has had quite a year. In addition to some other launches, Facebook has announced its most effective tool yet: the Facebook Exchange. If you aren’t familiar, the Exchange allows advertisers to serve ads to people based on their own first party data, such as previous web activity. So far, advertisers on the Facebook Exchange have seen impressive results. If you have been hesitant to dive into ads on a social platform, but are comfortable advertising online, the Facebook Exchange could be the right place to start.
In 2013, will you be joining your customers on visual social networks or diving into the world of paid social media? Let us know in the comments.