Social Media: How to plan your marketing for 2016

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By Nick Westergaard, correspondent

A new year brings new social and digital opportunities for marketers at businesses big and small. Specifically, how to up your brand’s digital marketing game in the new year.

To help you prepare and budget, let’s take a look at three trends that you should keep an eye on as well as three classic marketing strategies that you shouldn’t lose sight of in favor of all of the shiny new things. First, the new trends to watch in 2016:

Streaming Social Video — This year saw the rise of streaming social video with Periscope and Meerket allowing users to broadcast videos directly from their Twitter feeds. Midway through the year Facebook launched a limited version of this feature to select influencers.

As 2015 comes to a close, Facebook has expanded access to all users. Look for more streaming video opportunities to crop up for both personal users and brands.

Video is extremely relevant and engaging — key outcomes for brands and social networks like Facebook and Twitter. What real time stories can your brand share?

The Continuing Evolution of Social Advertising — As with the perennial trend of adopting a mobile-first mind-set (you really need to do that, by the way), it’s easy to nod along at the idea of new opportunities for social media advertising.

But this year saw increased access to Instagram advertising, the launch of buyable pins on Pinterest and expanded promotional features from giants Facebook and Twitter. Have you thoroughly reviewed these new opportunities?

How can you amplify your social media message through paid advertising?

More Isn’t Always Better — Social media isn’t going anywhere. Another thing that’s also abundantly clear is that people are consuming more online content than ever before.

Marketers have been quick to answer the call, adopting new social networks and creating content rapidly. Marketers will need to remember, however, that more isn’t always better. Sometimes more is just more.

Instead of creating more “me too” content like everyone else and arbitrarily launching new presences on new social networks, work to get specific by creating better, unique content — even if that ultimately means producing less content.

Now how about those classic marketing strategies you can’t forget?

Strong Brands Still Rule — For starters, don’t throw the brand out with the bathwater. With the previously noted parity problem that many businesses fall prey to online, we have to make sure that we have a clearly defined brand with a bold, memorable voice that comes through in new forms of content and on new social networks.

Take a moment before starting the new year to audit who you are and what you stand for as a brand? Have you communicated this clearly internally?

Email — Yes, I am flagging email on your watchlist for 2016. Yes, I know this is not 2006.

But the numbers don’t lie. Marketers report that email has consistently been delivering the strongest ROI year on year for the past decade. Like the content warning above, as you look to raise your email game don’t just focus on sending more email.

Send better, more relevant email that your customers actually look forward to seeing in their inbox

Wanted: Better Integration — Another annual mainstay on marketers’ wish lists is better integration. It’s no secret that we have more on our plates than ever before.

As such, a continual dilemma is figuring out how all of this fits together. If you’re going to invest your precious marketing resources into a new content or social initiative, it’s paramount that you understand how it fits with the rest of your brand experience.

Digital media evolves more and more rapidly each year. As a smart marketers, you need to keep your eye on what’s ahead while not losing sight of what’s most important to you and your business.

What’s your plan for digital marketing in 2016?

• Nick Westergaard is founder of Brand Driven Digital;; @nickwestergaard

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