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7 Predictions For Marketing Technology In 2022

7 Predictions For Marketing Technology In 2022

Credit: John Koetsier – journalist, analyst, author, and speaker.

Privacy is the number one most important technology, topic, or space for marketing in 2022, according to almost 500 CMOs and other marketing leaders. Also significant: AI, the power of story and content in video and audio, metaverse technologies like VR and AR, web3 technologies like crypto and blockchain, and environmental, social, and corporate responsibility.
Plus the continued evolution of marketing fortresses like Facebook, Reddit, TikTok, Google, and Twitter.

Marketing 2022 predictions: most important technologies, topics, or spaces.
SINGULAR

I recently asked 463 marketing technologists: what are the most important technologies or topics for 2022. The result was an avalanche of insight including 616 distinct predictions which I’ve synthesized into seven main themes for marketing technology. (Full disclosure: this was for a consulting client, Singular.) Together they outline major storylines, opportunities, and potential pitfalls for brands in the coming year.

Seven predictions for marketing technology in 2022:

  1. Privacy
  2. Story (video/audio)
  3. AI
  4. Metaverse
  5. Web3
  6. ESG
  7. Marketing fortress

Privacy please   PHOTO BY JASON DENT ON UNSPLASH

Prediction 1: Privacy

Not shockingly, privacy is tops.

Years of breaches, unwanted sharing, and greedy grabbing of all zero, first, second, and third-party data that companies can get their hands on have made people angry, confused, and suspicious. Every time a hack goes public, trust goes down. And every time people see ads that feel too suspiciously tailored to their exact situation, conspiracy theories about Facebook or Google listening to us via our phones gain a little traction.

The bottom line is that when Company 2 knows what we personally told Company 1, we don’t like it. And when a company wants too much data from us, we don’t like it.

The solution is a substantial investment in privacy, marketing leaders say.

“Marketers must be prepared to invest and get the right tech in place to develop its first party data,” Walgreens CMO Pat McLean told me. “This is exactly how Walgreens has differentiated in marketing via our mass personalization strategy and my Walgreens platform as we know this is core to our future growth.”

There’s a few keys in that: first-party data is data a customer shares with you directly. Customers want brands to have this data and want them to use it to personalize experiences. They don’t want brands to share it with others.

But some won’t share data, and for that, mass personalization is a viable strategy: tailoring experiences, content, ads, and products to known segments of consumers. That delivers a “personalized” experience feeling without requiring the data that true personalization requires.

Delivering it successfully demands new skills, however.

“All of us have to be mini data scientists in today’s tech-driven world,” says Prudential Financial CMO Susan Somersille Johnson.

In addition, that means more contextual targeting for advertising as the cookies, IDFAs, GAIDs/AAIDs, fingerprints, and other device and personal identifiers adtech companies have made available for marketers over the past decade to track customers, prospects, and users become less and less accessible, and less and less effective. In other words: all things old are new again, since contextual targeting used to be the primary methodology of targeting: you put an ad for canoes in Outdoor Living, for example.

But it’s not all old-school: the science of context is getting better.

Even in programmatic advertising channels.

“As we head towards more privacy-focused advertising, contextual targeting has become one of the main viable ways to reach a target audience,” says Mateusz Jędrocha at RTB House. “And thanks to technological advancements, the solution has become much more scalable… the key to success will be how well these contextual tools are integrated within the entire programmatic ecosystem.”

The solution, says G2’s CMO Amanda Malko, is for marketers to “double down on building their own audiences and communities, and embrace new types of data like intent-based solutions.” In addition, Malko says, we’ll see a shift from knowing and trading personal information on people to using actions and signals like clicks, app installs, page views, sign-ups, and so on.

Brand story   PHOTO BY JON TYSON ON UNSPLASH

Prediction 2: Story

The second most popular prediction is not specifically a technology, though many spoke of technological enablement’s. It is the power of story and content to build brand and sell product. The technology pieces to enable it include video, including live-streaming, and audio, particularly podcasting.

“Consumers now spend one-third of their media time with audio … audio is now the most accessible medium,” says iHeartMedia CMO Gayle Troberman. “And marketers are waking up to the massive potential of audio to deliver highly engaged, targetable audiences at scale.”

It’s not just audio, and it’s not just about brand.

We’re starting to see the explosion and democratization of Home Shopping Network-style live-streaming video sales, China-style, in Western markets. Influencers are jumping all over the opportunity, and brands like Amazon are taking advantage.

“Brands who have jumped on the live shopping bandwagon are 3X’ing their sales goals during these live streaming events in addition to increasing their social engagements and follower counts,” says Jena Joyce, founder and CEO of Plant Mother, a vegan and organic skin-care brand. “Social shopping is coming to all platforms: Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest… Instagram shopping is becoming a profitable alternative to paid ads.”

Joyce says she’s seen revenue double from live shopping experiences in recent months and an almost 1300% increase in referral traffic from Instagram to her website.

Artificial intelligence   PHOTO BY MARKUS WINKLER ON UNSPLASH

Prediction 3: AI

AI or artificial intelligence was actually the fourth most-cited technology or space by CMOs, but the third was a grab-bag of literally dozens of different marketing technologies, so I won’t dive into that assortment.

Marketing leaders see AI as an essential aid through the Great Resignation:

“As The Great Resignation has shown us, teams are overwhelmed and overworked,” says David Cancel, CEO and co-founder of Drift. “For digital marketers, AI can provide some much-needed relief, and become the workforce in driving revenue, developing relationships, and eliminating gaps.”

It’s also something that can help with personalization.

Using, of course, privacy-safe data.

“Personalization is more than just knowing a customer’s name; it’s about leveraging customer data to build relationships with consumers that deliver relevant and compelling experiences,” says Bryce Boothby, a senior loyalty manager at McDonald’s. “Providing the most relevant content at the right time allows companies to keep their products top of mind.”
And AI can achieve relevance at scale in real time.

CMOs should be hyper-focused on using AI to make better decisions, says Leslie Osman, CMO at IncredibleBank, a neobank based in Wisconsin. Rewarding loyalty in real time is now table stakes, thanks to consumer experiences learned from Netflix, Google, Amazon, and others, she adds.

“[Customers] expect that brands know what they want based on their preferences and data collection,” says Anjali Iyer, a strategy and analytics director at Marriott.

An Oculus Quest VR headset, one gateway to the metaverse  PHOTO BY REMY GIELING ON UNSPLASH

Prediction 4: Metaverse

Given Facebook/Meta’s noisy multi-billion-dollar entry into the metaverse market, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that metaverse was the fourth-most-predicted technology that will be significant for marketers in 2022.

But take that with a grain of salt.

I won’t out the CMO who shared this prediction, and you’ll see more like it in the coming months: “If you’re not considering metaverse as part of your marketing mix in 2022, you’re already behind.”

Just beware the hype.

Marketers are as susceptible to Shiny New Object syndrome as any other profession, and maybe more.

The metaverse is real. And I’ve written about it in this column many, many times. (And likely will continue to do so.) But that doesn’t mean it will instantly become the most important technology, space, or topic for marketers. Like everything else, the metaverse will take time to develop. We don’t even, in fact, have a consensus yet on what it actually is. And clear guidelines need to be in place for how marketing and advertising can proceed in such a personal environment and immersive ecosystem, which I wrote about in The Future Starts Now, a compilation book by 20 futurists.

But there is a lot of value in being aware of what’s going on here.

“Companies should be able to demonstrate through their marketing campaigns that they are not closing their doors on this new technology if they are not yet ready to engage in it,” another marketer told me.

It’s already beginning:

“25% of our customers are already strategizing about the best ways to leverage Metaverse and create captivating content and experiences for their customers,” says Nishant Patel, the CTO of Content stack.

Suggestion: tread carefully.

And don’t blow the whole marketing budget on one technology.

Web3 and crypto  PHOTO BY THOUGHT CATALOG ON UNSPLASH

Prediction 5: Web3

The fifth-most-predicted set of technologies for marketing in 2022 are a combination of web3 technologies: blockchain, cryptocurrency, smart contracts, NFTs, and DAOs, or distributed autonomous organization.

As expected for something so frothy, there’s a divergence of opinion here.

Some marketing technologists are all in.

“2022 will be the year of everyday crypto for businesses and consumers,” says Joanna Lambert, president and GM at Yahoo. ”As people and enterprises invest in cryptocurrencies, seek expert advice, and conduct research to ensure that they’re making wise investment decisions, crypto is set to impact everyday businesses and everyday people alike.”

Others urge caution, which is wise since under a quarter of Americans currently own any cryptocurrency at all.

“Balenciaga, Adidas, and a host of luxury brands have already started experimenting with Web 3.0, but it remains to be seen how these virtual interactions can become more immersive, more sticky, and how they potentially translate to sales,” says fractional CMO Atif Kazmi. “How it blends with social commerce will be something we’ll all need to wrap our heads around.”

The good news is that everyday brands like Taco Bell, Charmin, Nike, and Warner Music Group are creating NFTs, introducing more and more people to the technology and process of buying, owning, and selling digital collectibles.

And there’s plenty left to explore in the web3 world that goes far beyond questionable tokens or artificially-scarce digital images.

“Brands will stop using NFTs for silly limited edition tokens of corporate greed cashing in on hype, and instead start using them for their real use-case: authenticating ownership of a brand’s digital assets,” says Perch marketing manager Nathan Sieminski. “It’s digital asset insurance.”

I’m not so sure about that, but NFTs are also good for tickets, for souvenirs, for a digital component of a physical product, and for taking a relationship with a brand from one or two platforms (physical world object and app, for instance) to multiple others, like a virtual gallery.

Environmental, social, and corporate governance is also a priority in 2022 PHOTO BY FLORIDA-GUIDEBOOK.COM ON UNSPLASH

Prediction 6: ESG

We’ve all had a stressful couple of years during Covid. And the divisions that have been driven through our society, families, and companies are deep. So ESG, environmental, social, and corporate governance, is an important are for marketers to consider, even if it’s not specifically a technology.

“Businesses are under increasing pressure to measure, improve, and disclose their ESG performance to investors, to consumers, and to regulators, and their efforts are reaching into every area of their operations, as are the risks and opportunities that follow,” says the Chicago Board of Trade’s Kirsten Opsahl.

It’s not necessarily an easy or a problem-free path tot ready, but Social for Good Co. founder and CEO Kara Hoholik agrees:

“Over the last 5 years, we’ve seen an increase in the consumer demand for sustainable products and social awareness from brands and companies. This trend has only accelerated in the last 2 years due to the pandemic, #metoo, Black Lives Matter, and the increasing buying power of Gen Z and millennials.”

Marketing fortresses are also a space to watch in technology and marketing for 2022 PHOTO BY STEVE DOUGLAS ON UNSPLASH

Prediction 7: Marketing fortresses

We are increasingly seeing the rise of walled gardens that gather audiences, provide methods of advertising to them, and offer opportunities for brands to consummate those purchases in place. I call them “marketing fortresses,” based off of Eric Seufert’s concept of “content fortresses.”

The key is the ability to buy anything, anywhere, anytime.

“The result of… rapidly increased digitalization has been a merging of digital environments, as evidenced by tech giants like Facebook and Instagram launching shopping capabilities, and social platforms like TikTok rolling out their own marketplaces,” says Payoneer director Irina Marciano.

It’s primarily led by social sites, though Google is also an example.

“A high and increasing percentage of buying decisions are made on them,” says Doug Huntingdon, CEO of FatTail. “Their commerce capabilities are getting stronger. Consumers who cut their teeth buying on Amazon now expect to be able to buy anything, anywhere, and anytime.”

It’s essentially a big smush… read/watch/connect/buy all on the same platform, where data stays and privacy is maintained (or, at least, contained to on-platform use). In some sense it’s a re-creation of the China-style mega-app as a multi-channel platform for content, audience, advertising, sales, and even delivery, in the case of virtual goods.

In an era when brands want more first-party data… so do platforms.

“In this super-app, omni-channel, omni-device environment, marketers who focus on user experience will find themselves able to push ahead of competition,” says Marciano.

Captain Obvious moment: it won’t be easy.

Neither will navigating the year ahead.

Is Experiential Retail Still Relevant?

Is Experiential Retail Still Relevant?

While experiential retail differs plenty from Traditional Retail, it has the requirement of customers physically coming in and exploring the brand in common with it. It requires staff to offer a variety of services to the customer, bringing the most convenient buying experience to them within the premises of the brand’s workplace.

Experiential Retail stimulates a sense of dependence, trust and a personalized relation with the customer. A team of skilled workers guide and help the customer make the perfect choice for their requirement. It generates assurance of the product being sold and the customer feels content with their shopping experience.

Is Experiential Retail still relevant?

In a post-COVID world, Experiential Retail has lost its true importance; with customers availing the luxury of shopping from the comfort of their homes, along with other numerous advantages of online shopping, going back to Experiential Retail seems nothing less than a chore. It is losing its relevance rapidly. This is quite true that the virus has limited physical interaction among humans at an alarming rate. Social anxiety has played a massive role in taking people further away from the old tried and tested methods of shopping.

Despite the lucrative benefits of Online Retail, the fact remains that there is much to go wrong. One minor mistake, and everything comes tumbling down. Experiential Retail, while still expanding, is a secure option in the retail business. Although it is not time-bound, it works by certain rules and regulations that guarantee success and customer satisfaction.

Online Retail requires a lot to be put at stake; the risk factor cannot be overlooked.

The Risk factors involved in Online Retail

Competition

Big players set the benchmark in the online retail space for the aspiring companies to follow. In this extremely competitive environment it becomes excruciatingly difficult for a growing company to sustain. Although, there is a lot of opportunity for the emerging companies to grow and flourish, the fact that online retail giants like Amazon and eBay to name a couple will make it easy for any other player to survive.

Selling ideas

Experiential Retail has the advantage over Online Retail when selling ideas. Due to the personal shopping experience and the trust stimulated during physical shopping, it is easier for brands to sell their ideas, no matter how generic. Everything appears more attractive and appealing in person. The dullest of ideas can be sold with a little bit of experienced advertising. In contrast, if a seller has a unique selling idea in online retail, at least ten other online brands have the same idea. Each one seems to have a better selling point than the other; this makes marketing a massive challenge to emerging online companies.

Financial Risk

Online Retail generates a financial risk that is considerably less in Experiential Retail. While the expenses are more in physical selling due to the required premises and staff, online retail demands huge investments with little to no guarantee of favorable results.

The current hot debate is between Experiential Vs Online Retail. What’s more lucrative between the two.

The pandemic has been a boost for the online retail business to boom in a very short time. Even the experience of buying groceries has been taken over from experiential to online in the post COVID world. Consumer behavior has rapidly changed due to the fear of stepping out and that has given birth to an inevitable transition for a customer that would otherwise be vary of any online medium.

Due to the increasing attention and admiration that Online Retail receives, many Experiential sellers have begun shifting their business to Online selling, but this requires overlooking many risk factors. Still, the time taken to do so cannot be dismissed on top of it all. Shifting the entire onset of a business overnight is not a possible scenario. Comparing both the options makes it evident that Online retail takes the win when put side-to-side. However, this in no way means that Experiential Retail is not relevant anymore. The personal experience that physical buying provides cannot be forsaken, along with other admirable benefits; experiential Retail also provides the customers with an intimate experience, which, due to COVID, has been delayed, our experience-desiring customers are most certainly drawn to it, and this affects the experiential analysis of profit.

This concludes that no matter the platform, keeping in view each platform’s risk factors, benefits, and disadvantages is the best way to get the best of both worlds.

HYBRID WORK – WHERE DO YOU FIT?

HYBRID WORK – WHERE DO YOU FIT?

Going to the office every day was once the norm but the global pandemic in 2020 changed the scenario forcing companies to support thousands of employees working from home. Post which partial reopening of public spaces was allowed with only a maximum of 50% occupancy, which gave rise to a major change in the work model. The hybrid work model, a midway solution between going to the office and working from home, has been in existence for quite some time. However, not all companies have shifted to this model of work, thereby leaving plenty of room to explore its advantages.

A hybrid work model incorporates in-office and remote work giving employees the freedom of choosing when, how, and where they want to work from based on their individual productivities.

WHAT DOES THE HYBRID MODEL LOOK LIKE?

There are multiple ways in which the hybrid model works. One of the broadest ways to look at it is by classifying it into conditions where –

  • Some employees work in the office while the rest work from home.
  • All employees spend a part of the week in the office and another part of the week as remote.

Let’s discuss where you fit into this-

Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford University economics professor with expertise in remote work, believes that once the pandemic subsides, working twice a week from home will be an optimal approach for balancing collaborative work, while benefiting from less stress of commuting.

Although Hybrid work comes with its own advantages, the major downsides of this model that come into sight are maintaining relationships with colleagues. Another disadvantage is the lack of hands-on experience for employees working from home as compared to those that work out in the office.

More than half of the workforce like construction, food services, agriculture has little to no remote employment opportunities because a lot of their jobs require collaboration with others like deliveries or the use of specialized machinery and equipment which can only be done on-site.

While flexible working has been globally accepted due to pandemic, implementing a hybrid work model is still not yet fully realized. It is still a new model of work to many companies. Workplace executives must work closely with employees to determine what suits them best. A suitable approach could be testing out this model with a selective few teams and then scaling up when it has been worked out. From changes in productivity ratios to changes in employee turnover rates, the hybrid work model is shaking things up differently in each industry.

For a smooth back to work transition, companies will need the flexibility that the hybrid work offers but it can be only determined depending upon the companies fit. It will be interesting to look at how the system upgrades in the future.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this new approach to work.

5 Digital Marketing Trends You Need to Know For 2022

5 Digital Marketing Trends You Need to Know For 2022

The digital marketing landscape changes every year, and some years are more notable trends than others. Whether you’re a marketer or small business trying to keep up with the latest trends in search engine optimization (SEO), social media campaigns, email marketing, paid advertising on Facebook and Google AdWords – there’s always something new happening that could affect your digital marketing strategy.

Before we head into 2022, I thought it would be helpful to look back at something major that happened in 2021.

Whether you’re a marketer or small business trying to keep up with the latest trends in search engine optimization (SEO), social media campaigns, email marketing, paid advertising on Facebook and Google AdWords – there’s always something new happening that could affect your digital marketing strategy.

Before we head into 2022, I thought it would be helpful to look back at something major that happened in 2021.

Google’s latest algorithm change made SEO more challenging than ever.

The company released its core web vitals ranking factors and has since been updating them every month.

This update is revolutionary because it puts the power of search engine optimization directly into the hands of marketers and business owners.

With Google’s latest ranking factors, it is important to create content that aligns with what your customers are looking for on search engines and update your website to have the best possible user experience.

Digital marketing trends for 2022

Let’s take a look at some of the most important trends in 2022 that will shape your approach to digital marketing and help you make informed decisions when it comes to using technology for business or personal purposes:

1. The Rise of AI in Digital Marketing

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now used by many companies across all sectors including retail, banking, healthcare, and more.

AI is being used as an effective tool for marketing purposes too.

AI not only automates basic tasks like reporting on website traffic but can also recommend keywords to optimize a company’s organic search ranking or even predict what customers are likely to buy in the future based on their past purchases and browsing history.

This means that by 2022 it will be important to use AI in conjunction with SEO and other digital marketing strategies if you are looking to rank higher on search engines like Google.

AI is revolutionizing the way marketers approach digital marketing and businesses should consider using this technology as well.

2. Chatbots and Voice Assistants

Digital assistants like Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa are becoming more popular by the day.

According to industry projections, the market value of voice-based shopping will reach 40 billion by 2022, and consumer spending via voice assistants is also projected to reach 18%.

Many businesses have started using chatbots to help automate customer service needs for better efficiency when handling customers’ inquiries on social media channels, email marketing, and other online platforms.

Chatbots can answer customer questions with little to no human involvement from a company’s side.

Chatbot dialogue is typically powered by artificial intelligence (AI) which gives the chatbot an actual personality – this makes it more fun for customers to interact with companies using chatbots as opposed to simply communicating through social media.

Chatbots are an excellent way to provide customers with a personalized and enjoyable experience so they will want to interact more often with your company!

In 2022, businesses of all sizes need to have chatbots integrated into their digital marketing strategy to increase customer interactions on the web.

3. The Transition to Mobile-First Marketing

As more people are using smartphones and tablets instead of desktops, businesses need to create mobile-friendly content that will rank higher in search engines.

Mobile marketing strategies can be as simple as optimizing your website’s design so that it automatically adapts for smaller screens or creating a separate app with your company’s information to be downloaded on mobile phones and tablets.

In 2022, it is important to use a responsive design for your website or app that will allow customers with any device type to easily access the content you offer.

AMP (accelerated mobile pages) is another option that makes content load faster on smartphones and tablets.

Mobile-first marketing will be the most important trend for businesses in 2022 so it’s essential to start now!

4. Multichannel Marketing For Connected Digital Experience

Connecting with customers today means using multiple channels of interaction. The days of just relying on websites and cold-calling are over!

Multichannel marketing can involve creating a blog, website, social media, and Whatsapp group presence in addition to hosting webinars/events or attending conferences!

It’s not enough for businesses to focus on just one channel – they need an integrated approach that will allow them time to create content for each platform while still maintaining their brand voice.

In 2022, businesses need to create a strong customer base by using as many channels of marketing and communication as possible!

5. Digital Tasks and Marketing Automation

As technology continues to advance, marketing automation tools are becoming more and more popular.

Marketing automation makes it possible for marketers to automate repetitive tasks in real-time, using a variety of marketing channels.

Some tasks that can be automated are saving time researching and compiling data, managing social media posts by scheduling them in advance, or sending out prewritten email templates to customers who have not opened your emails within the last few days!

In 2022, automation will become more important for businesses as it allows marketers to spend more time on higher-level and strategic tasks.

Conclusion

It’s important to be aware of what trends are coming up in the future so you can prepare for them now and stay ahead of the competition.

In my opinion, the future of marketing is AI-based. So the sooner a business starts investing in AI, the more likely it will be to succeed!

Credit : Ali Liaquat

Building your social media marketing strategy for 2022

Building your social media marketing strategy for 2022

Looking to fine-tune your social media marketing strategy for 2022?

Good! Now’s the perfect time to make it happen.

In a landscape with more competition, content and networks than ever, a succinct strategy gives you the focus needed to say “no” to efforts that don’t serve your goals.

That’s why we put together a comprehensive guide to creating a social media marketing plan from scratch.

Whether you’re totally new to social or want to double-check your priorities in 2022, this guide has you covered.

  1. Set goals that make sense for your business
  2. Take time to research your target audience
  3. Establish your most important metrics and KPIs
  4. Create (and curate) engaging social content
  5. Make your social presence as timely as possible
  6. Assess what’s working, what isn’t and how to keep improving
  7. Bring other departments into the mix

1. Set goals that make sense for your business

Let’s kick things off with a quick question:

“What do you want from social media, anyway?”

Social media strategy planning starts with your goals.

According to the 2021 Ebani Advertising Index™, the most common goals for social are increasing brand awareness (58%) and increasing community engagement (41%). Whether you want to build a larger following or a more active community, taking the time to define your social goals is the first step to reaching them.

Either way, your goals will define your social media marketing strategy and how much time and energy you’ll need to dedicate to your campaigns.

Sample social media goals for 2022 and beyond

What really matters is that you set realistic social media goals.

Emphasis on “realistic,” by the way. We recommend tackling smaller objectives that allow you to scale your social efforts in a way that’s both reasonable and affordable.

Below are some sample goals that businesses of all shapes and sizes can pursue.

Increase brand awareness. This means getting your name out there. To create authentic and lasting brand awareness, avoid solely publishing promotional messages. Instead, focus on content that emphasizes your personality and values first.

Generate leads and sales. Whether online, in-store or directly through your social profiles, followers don’t make purchases by accident. For example, are you about alerting customers about new products and promos? Are you integrating your product catalog into your social profiles? Are you running exclusive deals for followers?

Grow your brand’s audience. Bringing new followers into the fold means finding ways to introduce your brand to folks who haven’t heard of you before.

Growing your audience also means discovering conversations around your business and industry that matter the most. Digging through your social channels is nearly impossible without monitoring or listening for specific keywords, phrases or hashtags. Having a pulse on these conversations helps you expand your core audience (and reach adjacent audiences) much faster.

Boost community engagement. Index data shows that 46% of consumers think brands that engage their audience are best in class on social, so it pays to explore new ways to grab the attention of your current followers. This means experimenting with messaging and content. For example, does your brand promote user-generated content and hashtags?

Even something as simple as asking a question can increase your engagement rate. Your customers can be your best cheerleaders, but only if you’re giving them something to do.

Drive traffic to your site. Simple enough. If you’re laser-focused on generating leads or traffic to your website, social media can make it happen. Whether through promotional posts or social ads, keeping an eye on conversions and URL clicks can help you better determine your ROI from social media.

Any combination of these goals is fair game and can help you better understand which networks to tackle, too. When in doubt, keep your social media marketing strategy simple rather than complicating it with too many objectives that might distract you. Pick one or two and rally your team around them.

2. Take time to research your target audience

Making assumptions is bad news for marketers.

Only 55% of marketers use social data to better understand their target audience, making it a huge opportunity for both leaders and practitioners. Much of what you need to know about your audience to influence your social media marketing strategy is already available. You just have to know where to look.

With the right tool, marketers can quickly research their audience. No formal market research or data science chops necessary.

Remember : different platforms attract different audiences

Take today’s social media demographics, for example. These numbers speak directly to which networks your brand should approach and what types of content to publish. Here are some key takeaways for your 2022 social media marketing strategy:

  • Facebook and YouTube are both prime places for ads due in part to their high-earning user bases.
  • The top social networks among Millennials and Gen Z are Instagram and YouTube, signaling the strength of bold, eye-popping content that oozes with personality.
  • Women vastly outnumber men on Pinterest, which is noted to boast the highest average order value for social shoppers.
  • LinkedIn’s user base is well-educated, making it a hub for in-depth, industry-specific content that might be more niche than what you see on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Don’t spread yourself too thin. Instead, focus on networks where your core audience is already active.

Do your homework on your existing social media audience

Although the demographic data above gives you insight into each channel, what about your own customers? Further analysis needs to be done before you can determine what your real-world social customers actually look like.

That’s why many brands use a social media dashboard that provides an overview of who’s following you and how they interact with you on each channel.

Sprout’s analytics dashboard puts your audience demographics front and center. It also highlights which social networks are seeing the most activity, helping you ensure you spend your time on the right networks.

With Sprout’s Group Report, you can view Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest data side-by-side in a customizable format that’s exportable by date range and profile.

There’s plenty of other sources of valuable audience data to supplement your social media insights. This includes your Google and email analytics, your CRM, your customer service platform or even your best-selling products.

All of the above will ultimately influence everything from your marketing messaging to how you’ll approach customer service or social commerce.

3. Establish your most important metrics and KPIs

No matter your goals or industry, your social media strategy should be data-driven.

That means focusing on the social media metrics that matter. Rather than focus on vanity metrics, dig into data that aligns directly with your goals.

What metrics are we talking about? Check out the breakdown below:

  • Reach. Post reach is the number of unique users who saw your post. How much of your content actually reaches users’ feeds?
  • Clicks. This is the number of clicks on your content or account. Tracking clicks per campaign is essential to understand what drives curiosity or encourages people to buy.
  • Engagement. The total number of social interactions divided by the number of impressions. This sheds light on how well your audience perceives you and their willingness to interact.
  • Hashtag performance. What were your most-used hashtags? Which hashtags were most associated with your brand? Having these answers can help shape the focus of your content going forward.
  • Organic and paid likes: Beyond a standard Like count, these interactions are attributed to paid or organic content. Given how much harder organic engagement is to gain, many brands turn to ads. Knowing these differences can help you budget both your ad spend and the time you invest in different formats.
  • Sentiment. This is the measurement of how users react to your content, brand or hashtag. Did customers find your recent campaign offensive? What type of sentiment do people associate with your campaign hashtag? It’s always better to dig deeper and find out how people talk or feel about your brand.

An effective social media marketing strategy is rooted in numbers. That said, those numbers need to be put into a context that aligns with your original goals.

4. Create (and curate) engaging social content

No surprises here. Your social media marketing strategy hinges on your content.

At this point, you should have a pretty good idea of what to publish based on your goals, audience and brand identity. You probably feel confident in which networks to cover, too.

But what about your content strategy? Below are some ideas and inspiration that can help.

The importance of sticking to content themes

Chances are you’ve seen a post from a particular brand that just feels like, well, theirs.

The quippy, casual tone that makes Discord’s Twitter presence beloved by casual users and moderators alike are a great example.

From graphics to Reels and beyond, many brands rely on the same content formats and creative touches time and again. These themes can help you become more consistent and zero in on a content strategy that makes sense.

For example, you might cycle between memes, product photos and user-generated content while sticking to a defined color scheme. If you’re struggling to keep up with all these sources of social content, consider social media management tools that help you organize your media library and schedule your posts in advance.

Content ideas for social media marketing in 2022

To help narrow down the specifics of what you should be publishing and make sure you’re developing innovative content, here are some social media trends to consider.

Stories and time-sensitive posts

Stories aren’t going anywhere. Tapping into your followers’ FOMO (fear of missing out), Stories-style content is both interactive and can’t-miss. Popping up first in your followers’ feeds by default, this content can help your brand’s account “skip the line” and stay fresh in your audience’s minds.

Stories are especially valuable for taking your followers behind-the-scenes and making your social feed feel more personal. For example, consider how you can use Stories to cover an event or take your followers on a journey without them having to leave the comfort of the ‘gram.

Short-form video

Fifty-four percent of marketers say that video is the most valuable content type for achieving social goals, and for good reason. Social video is booming, especially with the rise of TikTok and Instagram Reels. Both long-form and short-form productions continue to dominate the social space across all platforms due to their high engagement rate.

Plus, thanks to advancements in DIY and remote video production, you don’t need a massive video production budget to be successful. All you need is a laptop or smartphone and a few tricks of the trade.

Posts that show off your human side

Particularly important as we (eventually) come out of COVID-19, both personal and personable content should be a cornerstone of your social media marketing strategy. Don’t be afraid to remind followers of the humans behind your posts.

Pro-tip: conduct a competitive analysis to help your content stand out

Before you start creating content, you should have a good idea of what your competitors are up to.

While some brands might want to look into third-party competitor analysis tools to dig deeper into their competitors’ numbers, you can learn a lot from a simple review of competitors’ social presence.

The simplest way to find competitors is through a Google search. Look up your most valuable keywords, phrases and industry terms to see who shows up.

Then, see how their social channels compare to your own promotion strategy. The goal here isn’t to copycat or steal your competitors’ ideas. No two companies’ social media marketing strategies can be (or should be) the same. Instead, determine what’s working for them and what conclusions you can draw to adapt your own campaigns accordingly.

After identifying some of your industry rivals, you can use competitive analysis tools such as those found in Sprout to quickly compare competitor performance to your own.

See what they’re posting on Facebook. Contrast your Twitter engagement with theirs. Find out how they’re tagging their content on Instagram. Optimize your own strategy. Rinse and repeat.

You can also go a step further using Sprout’s Advanced Listening. Using social listening, you can spotlight unfiltered consumer feedback regarding competitors, as well as their products and services.

You get the added bonus of discovering honest conversations about your brand you may have otherwise missed.

5. Make your social presence as timely as possible

Timeliness is arguably more important than ever for marketers.

Not only are you expected to put out fresh content on a regular basis, but also always be “on” for your followers.

But you can’t always expect customers to operate on your clock. Timeliness is a tall order when you’re strapped for resources or are part of a small team.

Let’s look at some ideas to maximize your schedule and your time spent on social.

Post at the best times to engage

Quick question: when is your brand available to engage and interact with customers?

You might see some recommended times to post late in the evening, for example. But if your team isn’t there to communicate, what’s the point of posting at the “preferred” time?

Instead, try to ensure your social media or community managers are available and ready to answer any product questions or concerns when you Tweet or post. Take time to review the best times to post on social media. However, it’s just as critical to engage after posting.

And that leads us to our next point.

Respond to your customer questions and shout-outs ASAP

Your customers want speedy responses. In fact, 47% believe that strong customer service defines a best-in-class brand on social.

Your brand can’t forget these core elements of community building. It takes effort to ensure conversations or engagement opportunities aren’t left unattended.

On social media, you gain respect as a brand by being present and talking to your audience. That’s why social customer care is so important to brands wanting to increase audience awareness—word travels fast about great service.

Whether it’s capitalizing on a compliment or responding to a question, businesses shouldn’t leave customers hanging. According to our research, social is consumers’ #1 preferred channel for sharing feedback and reaching out with a service issue or question. But did you know that most users believe brands should respond to social media messages within four hours?

Designating teams to specific response tasks can help your staff run like a well-oiled social media team, whether you’re a group of one or 100.

As social algorithms evolve, organic content has an increasingly tough time reaching the majority of your audience. The last thing you want to do is ignore those who do engage and lose out on sending more down your marketing funnel.

6. Assess what’s working, what isn’t and how to keep improving

By now you should have a big-picture understanding of your social media strategy.

However, it’s important that you’re able to adapt your strategy throughout the year.

Without continuously analyzing your efforts, you’ll never know how one campaign did over another. Having a bird’s eye view of your social media activity helps put things into perspective. This means looking at your top-performing content and adjusting your campaigns when your content stalls.

There’s no denying that a lot of social media is a matter of trial-and-error. Monitoring the metrics behind your campaigns in real-time allows you to make small tweaks to your social media marketing strategy rather than sweeping, time-consuming changes.

So much of social media marketing right starts by being diligent about your data. You can be reactive in the short term to get the most out of your running campaigns, and then proactively use these takeaways to inform your next strategy overhaul.

Reporting on data is also important for the sake of sharing valuable insights from social with your coworkers and colleagues.

Data from the Ebani Advertising Index™ notes that only 15% of marketers use social data to measure ROI. Including this information in regular reports not only holds you accountable for your efforts, but also highlights the impact and bottom-line results your social strategy produces.

Based on your data, you can better assess whether your KPIs truly ladder up to your overarching company goals or whether they need to change.

7. Bring other departments into the mix

Social media teams have a unique advantage when it comes to understanding customer sentiment. You’re the eyes and ears for your brand online. Those insights can do more than just inform marketing strategy. They can transform your business.

Still, according to Index data, only 39% of marketers use social data to support other departments.

In 2022, stand-out social media teams will approach cross-department collaboration with enthusiasm and intention.

Which departments can benefit from social data

The short answer? All of them. But don’t bite off more than you can chew. Instead, start where you think you can make the most impact. Here are a few ideas to jumpstart your strategy.

HR

We are in the midst of an incredibly competitive job market. Collaborating with human resources on social-first employer brand initiatives can do more than just fill open roles quickly. It can attract stronger, more qualified candidates as well.

Sales

We surveyed 250 business executives and found that in the future, 90% anticipate social will be the primary communication channel for connecting with customers. Sharing social insights with your sales organization can empower reps to work smarter in the context of increasingly digital customer journeys.

Product and merchandising

You’ve probably received quite a few feature or product requests while managing your brand’s social inbox. With a social media management tool, you can distill those messages into actionable insights for your product or merchandising teams. These insights can complement existing roadmap research, creating a customer-focused plan that delights.

And with that, we wrap up your social media strategy guide for 2022 and beyond!

Is your social media marketing strategy sorted out for 2022?

This guide highlights that there are plenty of moving pieces to a modern social presence.

That said, putting together yours doesn’t have to be a drag.

If you set actionable goals and address each of the steps above, you’ll already be way ahead of the curve when it comes to your social media marketing strategy.

And if you need more inspiration for actionable ways to build out your strategies, make sure to check out our social media marketing toolkit with templates and resources. Best of luck in 2022!

Virtual Reality and the industries it’s bound to impact! Here’s how?

Virtual Reality and the industries it’s bound to impact! Here’s how?

Virtual reality (VR) has dominated tech headlines in recent years with its ability to immerse its users in a virtual, yet safe, world. Gaming is one of the more well-known VR uses but its potential doesn’t stop there. Some of the many questions people are curious about include: How does virtual reality benefit society? And what is virtual reality in multimedia?

We’re here to answer all your questions and introduce a few other ways VR technology can be applied across a range of fields:

1. VR in Military

The military in the UK and the US have both adopted the use of virtual reality in their training as it allows them to undertake a huge range of simulations. VR is used in all branches of service: the army, navy, air force, marines and coast guard. In a world where technology is adopted from an early age and children are accustomed to video games and computers, VR proves to be an effective method of training. VR can transport a trainee into a number of different situations, places and environments for a range of training purposes. The military uses it for flight simulations, battlefield simulations, medic training, vehicle simulations and virtual boot camp, among other things. VR is a completely immersive, visual and sound-based experience, which can safely replicate dangerous training situations to prepare and train soldiers, without putting them at risk until they are ready for combat. Likewise, it can also be used to teach soldiers some softer skills, including communication with local civilians or international counterparts when out in the field. Another of its uses includes treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for soldiers who have returned from combat and need help adjusting to normal life situations; this is known as Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET). A key benefit for using virtual reality technology in the military is the reduction in costs for training.

2. VR in Sport

VR is revolutionizing the sports industry for players, coaches and viewers. Virtual reality can be used by coaches and players to train more efficiently across a range of sports, as they are able to watch and experience certain situations repeatedly and can improve each time. Essentially, it’s used as a training aid to help measure athletic performance and analyze technique. Some say it can also be used to improve athletes’ cognitive abilities when injured, as it allows them to experience gameplay scenarios virtually. Similarly, VR has also been used to enhance the viewer’s experience of a sporting event. Broadcasters are now streaming live games in virtual reality and preparing to one day sell virtual tickets to live games so that anyone from anywhere in the world can ‘attend’ any sports event. Potentially, this could also allow for those who cannot afford to spend money on attending live sports events to feel included as they can enjoy the same experience remotely, either for free or at a lesser cost.

3. VR in Mental Health

As mentioned briefly before, VR technology has become a primary method for treating post-traumatic stress. Using VR exposure therapy, a person enters a re-enactment of a traumatic event in an attempt to come to terms with the event and heal. Likewise, it has also been used to treat anxiety, phobias and depression. For example, some patients with anxiety find meditating using VR to be an effective method to manage stress reactivity and boost coping mechanisms. Virtual reality technology can provide a safe environment for patients to come into contact with things they fear, whilst remaining in a controlled and safe environment. This is just one of the ways virtual reality can have a real positive impact on society.

4. VR in Medical Training

Due to its interactive nature, medical and dental students have begun using VR to practice surgeries and procedures, allowing for a consequence free learning environment; the risk of inflicting harm or making a mistake while practicing on real patients is eliminated. Virtual patients are used to allow students to develop skills which can later be applied in the real world. Using VR technology in the medical industry is an effective way to not only improve the quality of students in training but it also presents a great opportunity to optimise costs, especially since health services are continuously under pressure with tight budgets.

5. VR in Education

VR uses for education don’t stop at the military or medical field, but extend to schools with virtual reality also adopted in education for teaching and learning situations. Students are able to interact with each other and within a three-dimensional environment. They can also be taken on virtual field trips, for example, to museums, taking tours of the solar system and going back in time to different eras. Virtual reality can be particularly beneficial for students with special needs, such as autism. Research has found that VR can be a motivating platform to safely practice social skills for children, including those with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Technology Company, Florio, has developed virtual reality scenarios that allow children to learn and practice skills such as pointing, making eye contact and building social connections. Parents can also follow along and interact by using a linked tablet.

6. VR in Fashion

A lesser known use of VR is in fashion where it has actually been having quite a profound impact. For example, virtual simulations of store environments can be extremely useful for retailers to design their signage and product displays without fully committing to the build like you would in the real world. In the same way, appropriate time and resources can be allocated for the build of the store layout. Some popular brands that have already begun implementing VR in their business include: Tommy Hilfiger, Coach and Gap. VR uses for these big names encompass offering a 360-degree experience of fashion shows and allowing customers to try on clothes virtually.