It’s common sense for a business to have a social media strategy in the days of Facebook ads, Instagram promotions and Twitter promoted posts. For one thing, social media is a great way to engage with your customers and build brand loyalty. Social channels have proven themselves to be fantastic for lead generation and traffic referral – both organic and paid. And it opened up new channels, such as influencer marketing. But all the tricks that are commonplace today had to start somewhere. And when you’re talking about social marketing, it makes sense that some of the ideas came from the users themselves …
The first Twitter hashtag
@chrismessina came up with the first hashtag at 8.25pm on August 23, 2007. He borrowed the idea from online messaging boards, tweeting: “how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?”
In 71 characters, he made Twitter searchable in a way that opened it up for marketers. You could promote a product or an idea, or use it to show your support for a brand or cause. We enjoyed success with hashtags last year during our social media-driven #TRUEAGE campaign for Seven Seas, which boosted sales of the supplement and earned Only Digital multiple award nominations.
Facebook’s “like” button
There were more than five years between the launch of Facebook and the first “like”. The like button arrived on February 9, 2009, letting people give their online pals a literal thumbs up. It also allowed them to like businesses, political parties and groups that opened up a window into the public thinking that marketers could only have dreamed of previously. The humble “like” also became an incredibly important factor in Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm.
Facebook knew that users would stay within the platform for longer if Facebook gave them more of the content they wanted. Facebook’s “like” was the first mechanism users were given to categorise content. That indicated to Facebook that they agreed and approved of specific content within their newsfeed. And so the EdgeRank algorithm started to develop with “likes”, comments and shares becoming valued, digital currency.
Fast forward to 2018 and Facebook knows just how valuable their “like” has become in the over-populated digital space. The organic reach of a brand’s post on Facebook is at a ceiling maximum of six per cent. So, no matter how many followers a brand page might have, no more than six per cent will ever see a brand’s content within their newsfeed. To reach that ceiling six per cent means that the brand’s post needs to have maximum user engagement in the form of likes, comments and shares.
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Kim Kardashian joins Twitter
Kim K was already a big name by the time she signed up for Twitter in March 2009. Keeping up with the Kardashians was a racking up huge ratings as the family invited the TV cameras into their lives. But Twitter gave her access to her fans – and them access to her – in a completely different way.
Kim went from reality TV star to social media influencer. She could show them plainly and simply how the products she chose changed her life. Celebrity endorsement had never been so immediate. Kim’s the doyen of lifestyle bloggers. Even without her 59.4 million Twitter followers (and 109.7 million on Instagram), they have the power to shape opinion and make or break a brand. Or do they? Whilst Kim K is an example of a supreme influencer, we can’t forget about the little guys … the mighty micro-influencer.
A micro-influencer is an influencer who has a fraction of the followers that Kim has, but they’re just as important in the digital marketing world. That’s because similar to Facebook, Twitter (and almost every other social network) orders content based on an algorithm. So whilst hiring Kim to be your influencer might provide your brand with the greatest total reach – the question is:
how many of the people you’re reaching are actually relevant to your brand?
The micro-influencer helps ensure that your brand message is actually appearing in front of your target audience. Yes, that audience might be smaller than Kim’s but they’ll be relevant.
Four Square check-ins
Remember Foursquare? When it launched on March 11, 2009, it laid the ground for location-based marketing. The app let users let their friends using it know where they were when the logged on when they were on the move. You could even become “mayor” of certain locations – like a particular coffee shop – if you checked in there often enough. Now, adding your location is a standard option when you update your status on Facebook and Instagram. Wise retailers make sure they serve up their location, knowing that word of mouth works, even online.
What are really clever marketers doing? Many are developing their own, bespoke mobile applications that (when downloaded by users) have automatic geo-location enabled. This allows them to collect data on every single person that downloaded the app, and better yet: market to them based on location. Trying to drive footfall offline with an online campaign? Push notifications to a users’ phone based on their location will do the trick! Remind them to pop in store to purchase a product. After all, you’ll know when they’re literally around the corner.
Pictures got prettier on October 6, 2010, as Instagram launched its photo-sharing social site. Its filters could make a properly taken selfie pop off the screen – and created a new type of celebrity, the Instagram star. They’ll charge tens of thousands of pounds to pose with your product. But the reach of an Instagram sponsored post, particularly among young women, makes that an appealing prospect for some brands. Instagram has recently rolled-out in-application purchase. Meaning, now users have one less click (or step) to take if they want to buy something they see advertised on the platform.
Google Panda and Penguin updates
These were the biggest updates ever from Google and they tore up the SEO rules we’d been using before as they switched the focus from so-called “black-hat SEO” techniques. This has forced brands to ensure their websites prioritise unique content, strong user journey and flow and ensure that their sites are secure, trustworthy and fresh. So where does social media come into this? The algorithm updates have made it even more important for brands to ensure that they have control over their own, owned channels. Initiating a presence in additional owned channels (but crucially, not duplicating channel copy) allows brands to secure more space within Google search rankings. This means, for example that a brand website could be the number one, top spot on Google with social links following just after.
Kylie Jenner trashes Snapchat
Kim K’s sister Kylie is one of the biggest names on Snapchat, the photo messaging app much beloved by secretive teens. But when she tweeted about being over the app, she showed off the power of the online influencer. On February 21, 2018, she tweeted: “Soo does anyone else not open snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad.” Overnight, she wiped six per cent off Snapchat’s stockmarket value – up to £1.6billion. She later recanted, but her 18-word tweet underlined the power of the social media influencer.
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