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Last week, I joined over 4,000 social media professionals (or geeks as you might call us) in San Diego for the 7th Annual Social Media Marketing World Conference to talk about the future, the trends, and the strategies of social media for businesses. The timing was perfect since Facebook has just announced its latest algorithm change, otherwise known as the Facebook Apocalypse.

Social media has changed dramatically since the day in 2006 when Facebook went from a college platform to public access. Can you believe it’s only 12 years old? And just like any 12-year-old, it’s going through the pains of being a pre-teen.

If you’re like marketers everywhere, including me, you have a love-hate relationship with social media. The changes are so rapid and constant we need updates all the time. So, here are the big five takeaways from last week’s events. 

Size Really Doesn’t Matter

It used to be all about the numbers. How many fans and followers did you have?  How fast was that number growing?  And oh, the envy when you saw your competitors had two or three times what you had! 

Guess what? The number of followers you have doesn’t matter. It’s far better to have a smaller, relevant, and highly engaged audience than to have tens of thousands of followers. With Facebook getting back to its roots, we need to get back to ours, too. Be human first and show that side to your customers. We’re not just businesses; we’re people first.

Pat Flynn, a keynote speaker at the conference, put it brilliantly when he talked about creating raving fans:

An audience that wants what you have can make a difference in your business because your fans will take you forward and will stick with you. These are the people who will market for you, without you even asking, because it’s not just a brand or a business, it’s become a part of their lives.

There’s a lot of amazing ways to build these fans. They don’t happen the moment they find you. They happen over many moments you give them…and they become part of a community that identifies with what your brand stands for.”

It’s Pay to Play Time

Organic reach is going down, down, down and while it’s still important to create content, Facebook is now undoubtedly Pay-To-Play. That doesn’t mean boosting posts, but actually using the incredible ninja tools that Facebook gives us to find our ideal customers and talk to them.

Remember to be Human

Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, they’re all social media. Emphasis on the social. Stop shouting about specials and discounts and sales all the time and have conversations with your followers.

Let them know what’s happening in your business, talk about your staff, give them a behind the scenes look, talk about new products or menu items. Make it worthwhile for them to bookmark your page. 

When followers comment on a post, comment back and strike up a conversation. Don’t just respond with a “thanks” but ask a question or give more information. 

Live Video: Are You Ready for your Closeup?

Video. Live video. Last year video was queen. This year it’s live video. With Facebook Live, Facebook Watch, and Instagram Stories, there’s no excuse not to create live video.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be Hollywood quality production and shouldn’t be.  If it’s too splashy and slick, it could come off as sales-y. Your followers want to see you, know you, and with live video, talk back to you.

It’s as easy as your cell phone, good lighting (natural daylight is best), and a plug-in microphone so sound quality is good. Ten to 15 minutes is great.

What to talk about? If you’re a chef or restaurant, give a quick cooking lesson. If you’re a retailer, talk about behind the scenes, shoot a video unpacking new merchandise that just came in. Are you a service company? Think about all the questions that customers usually ask.

Automated Fun

Automated messenger bots are the newest sweetheart on the social marketing scene.  They’re terrific for keeping in close touch and creating those conversations we want to have. Users are finding that the open rate for messenger bots are often in the 60%-70% range which is much higher than the average email open rate of 20%-30%.

The key with messenger bots is to have fun and be human (there’s that word again).  They’re great for customer service, following up on a sale or answering questions. Want to see how they work? Let me introduce you to Poncho, The Weather Cat: https://www.messenger.com/t/hiponcho.

Don’t forget to Bee More Social!

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Mary Romeo

Mary Romeo is the owner of Bee More Social. She has created marketing strategies Baltimore businesses for over 30 years. Contact her at mary@beemoresocial.com.