For many business owners, keeping up with 21st-century marketing can feel like running on a hamster wheel. You’re constantly hearing about new fads, and instinctively you sense that you need to capitalize on them. This, however, is not the case.
Instead of following every trend that comes along, your goal should be making smart decisions to build your brand in the long term. That’s why we’ve identified these three crucial trends. Focus on these (and don’t worry about the rest), and you’ll breathe easier, make more impact and be happier with your marketing results.
#1: Don’t Advertise Unless it’s “Native”
What is native advertising? It’s a buzzword we all need to familiarize ourselves with. According to recent research, most people have learned to ignore advertisements on the Internet. That’s right: Nobody sees your ads. Unless, that is, they’re interesting and relevant.
When advertisements are “native” to their environment, they are both visually and mentally pleasing. They fit into the design of the host site, often appearing as an article or headline. They’re tasteful, they’re relevant and – most importantly – they offer useful information.
What could this look like? For example, if you purchase ad keywords on Google, your search result will be featured alongside other relevant information. If you advertise on Facebook, make sure you include “Boost” or “Sponsored” posts that will show up on the Wall of your targets. If you can, invest in “advertorials” in a relevant publication, which will allow you to get your name and message out while providing information people can use. You should also be sending press releases every time you’ve got news – interviews and features will always be great “native advertising.”
For more on native advertising, check out this infographic.
#2: Go Visual or Go Home
It’s long been apparent that visual posts – those including an image or video – have much greater rates of engagement across all social media sites. The more images you’ve been posting, the more traffic you’re probably getting. In 2012 and 2013, we saw a huge rise in the “visual web,” places like Pinterest and Instagram that rely almost entirely on images. You can see this trend on popular entertainment blogs like Buzzfeed as well.
While there’s absolutely no reason you should sell out and start illustrating your core messages with silly cat videos, you need to be increasing the visual appeal of your content. That touches every aspect of your Web strategy, from the posts you add to Facebook, to the design of your own site.
#3: Cut the Wheat from the Chaff
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Reddit, SnapChat, Vine, Foursquare… How many of these sites are you currently using to promote your brand? For most business owners, the answer is: TOO MANY.
We all know that social sites rise and fall in popularity, and that what’s popular today will be defunct tomorrow. It’s time for you to dump everything but the core sites that really bring you results. By focusing on the platforms where you’re most effective, you’ll build a true following (instead of a collection of followers). Keep them engaged, and they’ll stick with you in the long term.
Wondering where to invest your energy? Every business is different, but here are my recommendations for 2014.
Pick Two or Three:
· Facebook: Facebook is beginning to decline slightly, but it’s still your ace in the hole. Through at least the first half of 2014, almost every business should keep its main focus here.
· Twitter: Twitter is seeing a resurgence in popularity. Be “real” and personable, interacting with your followers in real time. Share interesting content from other people, not just your own links!
· Google+: Despite the hype, Google+ might not get you a ton of fans. What it’ll get you is great SEO and search rankings. Keep your Google+ feed active in 2014!
· Pinterest: If you do anything with visual results – from real estate to food to design – start setting yourself up on Pinterest. This site integrates well with Facebook, meaning you can use the two to feed each other’s traffic.
· Instagram: If you’re visually oriented and your audience skews younger, choose Instagram over Pinterest. This is one of the top sites for people under 35 in 2013.