5 Social Media Trends Affecting Business in 2015

By Jeri Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International

Takeaways: Social media is evolving rapidly. Organic Facebook posts are disappearing in order to reach wider target audiences. New tools are being developed to give marketers better insight and tracking of their social networking interactions. Social everything is the new normal – from ecommerce, to payment systems to improved customer service.

You may have seen this on LinkedIn. Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, published a post about The 5 social media business trends you need to know for 2015. The pace of social media impact is projected to expand even more this year than last. According to a Duke University study on social media, businesses are projected to triple their marketing budgets for social media this year, from 9 percent in 2014 to nearly 20% in 2015. Yet many businesses have difficulty showing the impact that social media has had on their business.  The five social media trends Holmes cites are:

Businesses must pay to play on Facebook

Facebook organic reach is droppingOrganic reach on Facebook is trending down. Historically its proprietary algorithm reached about 16% of fans, but lately it’s only about 6% according to Ogilvy PR researchers.

That means if you want your posts to be seen on Facebook by your target audience, you must invest in paid social ads and promoted posts and/or spread your messages to other platforms.

Better Social media measurement tools

New tools like uberVU, can now tell you exactly which social sites are generating the most clicks, shares and traffic. Like the Bufferapp, these tools can also autoschedule posts for the optimum time on each social platform you use. Hootsuite has integrated a social CRM app called Nimble, which lets you track and conduct conversations with customers directly from within the Nimble app.

Social ecommerce is here

We’ve seen and may even use mobile payment tools like Square and PayPal Here which let us pay for goods and services using our smart phones. Apple has launched its own payment app as well. 2015 brings the launch of SnapCash by the mobile message app SnapChat, which allows users to transfer money to one another via text message. And apparently Facebook has developed its own app to allow members to transfer funds to one another via its Messenger service. Look for that to launch later this year. Peer-to-peer payments like this are just the start, however. Look for retailers to dive into this technology by sending offers as Tweets or Facebook posts which you can activate or purchase with just a few taps on your mobile device.

Customer satisfaction increases with social media

Three McKinsey principals authored an article citing results of a 2012 ecare study of 2000 telecom customers in France. The survey showed that customer satisfaction improved when handled via social media because it was more personalized. Businesses that handle customer issues well get instant recognition on social media. The reverse is true, as well, as we’ve seen with many examples of poor customer service resulting in viral social media promotion across many networks. The authors of A World Gone Social list several examples of social media mismanagement in their book, including a music retailer’s massive layoff in 2012 which was broadcast via Twitter by affected employees using the hashtag #hmvXFactorFiring.

A new option this year which Ryan mentions in his article is the development of personalized Tweet-to-call links. If a customer tweets about a specific problem or issue, the Tweet-to-call technology enables the company to Tweet back with a custom link for that customer alone. Clicking on that link takes the customer to a customer service rep who can handle the specific issue.

Social media innovations will come from your employees

The cloud has put technology control in the hands of your employees and customers. This trend will continue as people continue to find social apps which help them do their jobs more efficiently. Examples are Yammer, which facilitates internal social networking and communication, and Google Hangouts, which enables people to hold instant online video conferencing. To see which new apps are trending in your company, Ryan suggests checking out the laptops and mobile devices being used by your newbie just out of college staff or 20-something interns.

Social Networking High Among Internet Users

By Jeri Denniston, Denner Group International, November 11, 2013

Takeaways: Social networking is most popular among adult internet users. Those who use social networks are most likely to shop online. Facebook users have a high trust level. Social ties are stronger among social networking users than those who don’t use social networks.

A May 2013 research study by Pew Internet on Social Networking generated some interesting facts and implications for business. According to  the study, 72% of  all online adults use social networking and 18% use Twitter. This is split almost equally between men and women. While the large majority are between the ages of 18-29 (89%) and 30-49 (78%), 60% of internet users aged 50-64 also use social networking sites.

Most are college educated and earn more than $50,00 annually. 71% earn more than $75,000 a year.  Accessing social media sites via mobile phones is highest among the 18-49 age groups and also among Blacks and Hispanics. These individuals also tend to be college educated with annual household incomes of more than $50,000.

Most adults use social networking sites to keep up with close social ties. According to the study, they have more close ties and are half as likely to be socially isolated as the average American. So that debunks the idea that social media tends to isolate people. In reality, internet users, and social networking users in particular get more support from their social ties than non internet users, according to the study.This is especially true with those who use Facebook.

What does this mean for businesses?

The majority of online adults have the discretionary income to purchase products and services. Most do their shopping online….or at least their comparison shopping online. They also ask their friends on social networks for their input and check out online reviews on sites such as Yelp, Trip Advisor and Google+.

As a business owner or senior executive, you need to ensure all employees are trained in how to use social media for your company and what information is OK to share. Consumers want to talk to the people at the business who can answer their questions or solve their problems. So it’s more important that everyone in the organization be equipped to respond, rather than relegating social media to the IT or Marketing department. Customer service people need to be trained in how to respond to customer inquiries. Product managers should be responsive to customer suggestions and queries about products and services. CEOs and division heads need to be aware of what their staffs are saying on social networking sites. They also should be sharing with their peers about company innovations, promotions and successes to engage them and generate interest. Marketing and IT don’t have all the answers.

This means HR needs to include social media training as part of the new hire and ongoing employee training programs. Learning how to respond to consumer questions or complaints, understanding how consumers will interact with your brands and services, and creating effective marketing strategies that include social media promotions to engage the public are more important than ever.
And managers need to understand how social media can impact the bottom line – either positively or negatively.

Social media is evolving into a powerful tool that enables companies to get closer to their customer. The businesses that embrace social networking and create programs and policies to manage it smartly will be the winners in the new social networking age.