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A lot of people in our industry just aren’t native to social media; they don’t have an inherent comfort level with it, and that predisposition leads them to discount the benefits it can bring to their business.

There are two main things to remember: The first is that social media marketing works. The second is that you’ve got to stay up-to-date with your tools and techniques, because it’s changing all the time. Social media is a world unto itself, one that’s constantly reinventing itself.

If you’re one of those people who’s sold on social media marketing’s value, but doesn’t have the time to track every development, here’s a snapshot of where we are in 2021, distilled from recent articles put out by Sprout Social and, two of the smartest organizations in the field.

Live Streaming remains valuable.
The pandemic gave everyone a crash course in how to connect digitally, and over the past year many people had their first substantial experiences with live streaming of various events. And guess what? They liked them! Consider offering live tutorials on your products and services. You may be surprised by how receptive your audiences will be.

Instagram Stories is a big deal – and getting bigger.
Five hundred million users interact with Instagram Stories every day. People embrace narrative structures, and they’re especially willing to check out stories that feature video.

Virtual reality is part of a future that’s already here.
Platforms like Facebook are already embracing it, in part because people have shown a real eagerness to interact with the technology as a way to connect with one another even when they’re continents apart.

Adoption of augmented reality continues to accelerate.
AR has an advantage over virtual reality in that it doesn’t require additional hardware beyond your smartphone. Moreover, people are already using it in various capacities, like dynamic photo filters. AR is inherently interactive and engaging and there’s growing off-the-shelf options for you to include it in your social media marketing.

Purpose-driven campaigns connect to audiences.
People want to support causes with which they agree, and recent surveys clearly indicate that social media users respond favorably to brands that showcase kindness and include social betterment as part of their mission. At the same time, users have no patience for empty efforts on this front. They expect authenticity and meaningful action on social issues. Bottom line: You have to deliver on your promises or else your audience will feel exploited.

Inclusivity matters.
Don’t keep silent on issues related to inclusivity and diversity. Credibly addressing these topics builds deeper connections with customers.

Don’t trigger your audience’s BS meter.
Be authentic and transparent. This is how you get people to trust you. According to the 2020 Sprout Social Index, transparency and engagement with the audience are the top two factors that make a brand’s social media presence best in class.

Social media users span age groups.
Okay, Boomer: You might not be comfortable with social media, but don’t assume that all your peers feel the same way. For a long time, baby boomers were ignored in digital marketing, but with each passing year, they make their presence increasingly felt in social media and commerce. And being forced to stay at home by the pandemic only increased their digital adoption rate. According to a recent study by Investopedia, Hootsuite, Global Web index and AARP, 70% of boomers bought something online in the past month, and over the past four years there’s been a 66% increase in their discovery of new products via social media.

Heard of TikTok?
This social media app has experienced a stratospheric rise in popularity. TikTok videos can be comedic, educational and instructional. They’re not meant to be elaborately produced, and your younger staff can easily help you create content around products and services. For example, you can create videos showing products being made and installations being created. Any kind of process can be chronicled in ways that are highly engaging and digestible. And who knows, some of your videos may to viral!

Video content continues to increase its appeal
I mentioned how video makes Instagram Stories more popular, but video, in general, is essential to your marketing. Let’s face it, people just don’t have the attention span to read anything at length. And speaking of length, shorter is better, although it depends on the purpose of the video. A good informational video can be 3-6 minutes, while quick-hit attention grabbers can be just a few seconds. More and more of your customers are looking to vet products, services, and vendors via video, so make sure this kind of content is in your marketing arsenal.

BTW, invest in a good quality camera. Make sure your video content is present in a way that’s consistent with your overall branding. And did I mention that you want to keep your videos short?

Social media is becoming increasingly conversational
If you’re going to dive into social media, don’t just ready yourself for comments and reactions, embrace them. And don’t shy away from showing a little attitude on your end. You don’t want to offend your customers, but revealing some personality will make your communication more memorable and engaging.

A final thought
Social media can be an all-consuming endeavor. It’s hard to know just how many resources you want to put into it. Some companies engaging marketing agencies to create and manage ongoing, large-scale campaigns for them. Others turn it all over to an under-used admin person and leave it there. I favor a more hybrid approach. Get some pros to start you out, while cultivating internal resources to do a lot of the day-to-day, moment-by-moment social media management. Ultimately, to communicate quickly and economically, you’ll need to handle most of your social media internally. The key is to be deliberate and strategic.

That means making sure that your social goals solve challenges, that your content is engaging, and that you track, improve and market your efforts. If you have questions about any of this, let’s have a conversation of our own!