Online marketing trends and predictions for 2015

By Patti Rowlson
Contributing writer

During the month of October, I attended Social Media Success Summit 2014—the world’s largest online social media conference organized by Social Media Examiner.

This year was the sixth annual summit and it featured live webinars from more than 40 global marketing experts. Attendees tuned in to hear presenters like Mari Smith, Michael Stelzner, Ian Cleary, Mark Schaefer, and Stephanie Sammons share their knowledge about social media, relationship marketing, email marketing, blogging, and more.

The tips, predictions, tactics, best practices, and ideas generated during the summit were incredible – my head will be spinning for weeks to come as I digest what I learned and work to integrate new strategies into plans for 2015. In this article I’d like to share five takeaways that may provide food for thought as marketers make plans for the New Year.

5 Takeaways from Social Media Success Summit 2014
#1 – Facebook marketing: Companies need to have an advertising budget to market with Facebook today. You’ve seen me write about this before and Mari Smith reiterated this in her presentation. Facebook is now pay-to-play – only 6 percent of page followers see what a company posts. Allocating even $30 to $50 per month for Facebook advertising can make a measurable difference as long as users have a solid understanding of how the ad platform and targeting works. It’s time to get educated or ask for help from someone with Facebook advertising experience.

#2 – Revisit “owned” platforms: Michael Stelzner reminded us that social sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are owned by other entitities, and those entities control distribution of posted messages. They decide if they are going to share content and they decide who they will deliver it to. Digital marketing tools like email marketing and blogging are platforms controlled by users (that’s you) so distribution is on the user’s terms. Consider ways to build, and/or fully leverage, an owned marketing platform.

#3 – Optimize websites: Today, 70 percent of visitors to a website never return. Ian Cleary stated that it’s more important than ever to capture web visitors’ contact info so a business can reach out to them with information (not spam or heavy-handed sales messages) in the future. Look to integrate web tools that can be used to encourage page visitors to subscribe to a monthly newsletter, or provide an email address in exchange for something of value, like a user guide or free tip sheet.

#4 – Get real about social media: “Social media is a voluntary activity—people go there for fun, they don’t go there to see your business.” It’s true but it hurts, right? That quote came from Mark Schaefer during his social strategy presentation. He reminded us that people naturally gravitate towards fun or “conversational” brands’ social sites (think Coke, Nike or any business that involves cute kids and puppies). Other businesses will need to find ways to make their products or services fun or conversational to be successful with social media in the future.

#5 – Build your personal influence: Stephanie Sammons gave a powerful presentation about using LinkedIn to position yourself as an influencer. She spoke about what it takes to be an influencer, and also gave the best description of what it means to be engaging. Being engaging on any social platform means consistently performing these actions: congratulating, acknowledging, noticing, inspiring, connecting, promoting, conversing, helping, referring, nurturing, thanking, introducing, listening, providing, sharing, accepting, and liking. People that are good at engagement make others look and feel good. When individuals are positioned as an engaging influencer, people naturally reach out to them because they know that person is well connected, they can be trusted and they are there to help.

Looking forward to 2015
Marketers will definitely want to look at revamping Facebook marketing efforts and consider turning some attention to owned platforms like blogging and email marketing.

They’ll want to investigate ways to capture website visitors by creating something of value that will entice consumers to join an email list or subscribe to a blog for future updates.

Lastly, they may want to brainstorm ways to make their business more fun and conversational…and work to position themselves as an engaging influencer.

When it comes to small business marketing it’s important to never stop looking forward, learning from experts and working to implement new plans.



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