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School is in and the last quarter of the year is bearing down on us at lightning speed! Are you on your way to meeting your business goals for 2018, or are you struggling to keep up? Whether you have time to look into something new, or you NEED to find something new, it’s important to keep an eye on how things are changing in the social media space. And things are changing quickly. Here are three social media trends every small business should be watching as we head towards 2019.
Podcasting democratizes audio publishing. Anyone with a smart phone and an app, and something to say, can now create their own radio-like show and get it out there, pretty much for FREE.
A podcast is simply a audio-only show focused on a specific topic area. They are distributed online, not via radio broadcasting. And there are literally millions of podcasts available today. Here in Atlantic Canada, there are a few hundred to choose from (see a directory at Podcast Atlantic). We have amazing podcasts about culture, blogging, business, beer, food and comedy.
From a business perspective, a podcast can be an easy, low-cost way of getting your thoughts, values and processes out in front of your ideal customers on a regular basis. A lawyer could do a weekly podcast answering common questions about legal issues and interviewing real businesses about their experiences. A pharmacy, chiropractor or naturopath could do a podcast about health and wellness. A massage therapist might do one about mindfulness and relaxation. The possibilities really are endless.
However, just because there are already millions of podcasts out there, don’t use that as an excuse to not do one yourself. Nobody will talk about your topic of interest like you do. There is always room for your opinion and there is always an audience for it. I am taking my own advice and have started my own podcast HaliBlab: Halifax’s Small Business Blab. You can find us recording live on Facebook every Friday at 1:30 pm Atlantic, and the podcast version will be available wherever you get your podcasts shortly thereafter.
Podcasts are great for people who don’t like to be on video, but live video is even bigger and there’s no sign of it slowing down.
- 82% of people prefer to watch a video vs. reading a blog post.
- Images are process by the brain 60,000 times faster than reading text.
- Live video on Facebook receives 1200% more engagement than other types of posts.
Today, with just your phone, you can go live on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and no doubt LinkedIn will follow soon. And the best part about live video is you don’t need (and should have) a script. You want to talk naturally, so create a bullet point outline for your topic and go for it. All you need is good sound, decent lighting and an engaging topic. And if you’re passionate about your topic, others will be too.
Myself? In September I’m going live on Facebook twice a week. In October I’ll be going live on my Facebook Page weekly for the HaliBlab, and twice a week inside the private group for Stupid Simple Social Strategy members. Live video is where it’s at and I’m going at it!
If you haven’t yet heard about Facebook Messenger chatbots, you will be hearing more and more about them very soon. A chatbot is like an automated phone tree that funnels a client through a series of questions to find their answer, or sell them a product, or perhaps to enter a contest. While we tend to dislike automated phone trees, people are flocking to chatbots because of their fun and instant nature.
DIY chatbot programs are widely available for Facebook Messenger (I use ManyChat and Jumper.ai), but there are also bot builders that work on other social platforms. To be clear, the type of bot I’m talking about here is not a bot that automatically spams an Instagram account with a comment, or sends private messages to Facebook Pages trying to sell something.
Facebook Messenger bots work only on Facebook Pages, and quite honestly, if it’s well constructed, many people won’t even realize they are talking to a bot and not a real person. Chatbots can take some of the strain off your customer service reps, or reduce the time you spend in your small business on things like reservations, salon reminders, or distribution of materials for a course. You can even use Messenger bots to administer a contest—have you noticed that fancy, round code on the Coca-Cola bottles this summer? Scan that code in Messenger and you could win prizes (I’ve won four movie tickets and several Spotify playlists so far).
Chatbots are still quite new, but compare their adoption and use to what email was about 20 years ago. Only the cool kids were using email in 1998, right? You are witnessing the beginning of a seismic shift in marketing and customer service right now. This rampant adoption is fueled by open rates of 80-100% and click through rates of 20-40% (compare that to your email blast).
If you’re interested in seeing how a chatbot works, click here (it will open a Facebook Messenger conversation with Twirp Communications. If you see “Get Started” please click that, too.)
Not every small business can jump on all of these things at the same time. They are all resource intense, if inexpensive. Of course there are agencies out there who can help you with the technical side of these marketing tactics, but you absolutely can do these things on your own if you want to. Pick one to start with, and make it either the one you feel most comfortable with or the one you think will best resonate with your ideal customer. Get really good at that one thing and then consider adding something else.
If you’d like to hear more about these three trends in social media marketing, check out my Facebook Live on this very topic.