As social media evolves at lightning speed, franchise owners now have multiple ways to engage meaningfully with customers and communities
When you are creating your business, even if it is a franchise with a brand and reputation that is valued, you need to establish yourself within a digital community. Word of mouth remains one of the most powerful ways of growing your company and establishing a positive reputation. People need to know your operation is to be valued and trusted.
As social media demographics will testify, 2020 will see the influence of social media channels continue to expand in business and commerce.
Consequently, learning how to make your social media fly is now vital in driving growth. Here, we look at the best ways you can maximise trends to boost your future success.
1. Use social media as a direct sales funnel
We have become used to social media acting as a portal for viral marketing. Forbes noted that two-thirds of shoppers use social media as part of the sales process, mostly due to the pandemic. However, 2022 will see the role in the sales funnel increase, as it becomes a significant portal through which the buyer chooses what to purchase.
2022 will see a continuation of this trend as Gen X turn to platforms such as Tik Tok for advice and guidance on what brands to support. While YouTube still commands 50 per cent of shoppers’ attention, Facebook and Instagram are also becoming more influential.
Social media platforms are also increasingly adding functions that lead to a sale through the site itself. Social commerce buyers are set to reach over a 100 million in the US by 2023.
2. Consumers are not loyal to a single channel
Companies will need an omnichannel engagement policy in the future if they are to succeed. Consumers no longer stay loyal to one social media site, and content is beginning to quickly spread across channels. While this increases the opportunities for disinformation to spread, it is also a significant opportunity for brands to diffuse influence cross-platforms.
While working across channels is more work, scheduling your social media ahead of time is possible. However, be wary, as the consumer will be looking for you to be agile and adaptable in your messaging too.
3. Short videos will dominate
Video has become much easier to produce and at a decent production value. Sites such as TikTok have demonstrated the power of video, and others, such as Instagram, are looking to monopolise on this growing trend. Recording and posting videos of up to 30 seconds in length are a great way to get the attention of millions of users. Some studies suggest that 82% of online content will be videos by the end of 2022.
4. Understand the power of the social community
First, let’s state the obvious – social media has become part of daily life. In 2012, it was the hang out of teenagers for an hour or so. Now, in 2022, the average age of the user is maturing rapidly and the estimated time spent is 145 minutes.
With this daily usage came a strong sense of community and shared voice. Social media has also given power to a growing sense of community. There is a groundswell desire for more ethical and sustainable practice. Social media users are coming together to increase the volume of their voices, demanding change.
For those engaging online, you are either a conscious force for ethical and sustainable change, or you will be perceived to be against it.
In 2022 brands are going to have to listen and act on social issues. As Gen Y and Gen Z mature into a consumer force, they are dragging older generations into the fold. Companies need to be seen as an integral part of this change. While this might seem like an imposition, it is more likely an opportunity to add to your brand value by offering a positive influence on the world.
5. We are about to go Meta
While Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse announcement might have left most of us wondering what it all means, it will become part of our future lives. Likely before the end of 2022, most of us will have hung out in a metaverse – an online virtual space where we can share the community of others without leaving home.
For businesses, the metaverse presents a genuine opportunity to create a new touchpoint with your audience. Without needing to travel and gather in one place, a business can virtually bring together groups of people. It is difficult to say how big this will be in 2022, though it is definitely something that all business people should be keeping an eye on.
6. UGC is the future
User-generated content increases return visitor rates by 20 per cent and increases user time spent on the website by 90 per cent. While UGC is the remit of social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, businesses are likely to decentralise social sharing possibilities by creating platforms of their own.
Clearly, communities are key to the success of a brand. Therefore, building an in-house social network with in-app forums and features lets the business lock in its audience.
We are starting to see this use of UGC in a small way at the end of 2021. Social media sites are encouraging customers to share images of them using their product or service. These pictures are then being used on the company website. This kind of direct interaction with the consumer has proven too successful to stop now.
7. Tailor social media to your business
While all these trends and innovations sound exciting, the only important measure of success is whether social media works for your business. The fundamentals will remain the same in many respects in 2022. You need to track your metrics, from clicks to engagement to content performance and hone what you produce to maximise your presence.
Using the insights from the data, you will continue to create and curate engaging social content. Taking what you learn from the analytics, you will tailor your social media output to represent the themes that matter to you and your consumers.
Trends will continue to evolve in social media, but the central principles remain the same. Gather insight and react using high quality and relevant content that speaks to your market.
Harvey Morton is a digital strategy expert and founder of harveymorton.digital.