As a freelance writer, your primary marketing focus needs to be on social media. Social media still delivers the biggest impact when it comes to finding new clients and marketing your writing for the time and money invested in it. And with the new year coming up fast, now's the time to review changing trends in the social media marketing world so you can make your plans and maximize your reach.
Social Media Marketing Trends to Watch for in 2020
Shoppable Posts and Feeds
The number of shoppable posts on different social media channels is going to go up as more and more consumers turn to social media for their purchasing decisions. Already, 11% of Instagram users and 15% of Facebook users log into those platforms to shop for brands or products.
And before you think "oh, well 11% isn't all that big," remember that Instagram now has over a billion active accounts -- so 11% is still 11 million people who log in to Instagram with the intention of shopping. There are still plenty of other people who log into Instagram with a different intention and end up shopping or making a purchase because something drew their eye or caught their attention.
In fact, 130 million Instagram users tap on shoppable posts every month.
So far, these types of shoppable posts are best suited for tangible products rather than services, so I don't expect that we'll be able to use them to sell our services any time soon. But we can expect to see more social media platforms integrating shoppable posts and those posts becoming easier for brands to implement. And as that happens, you can expect more businesses to want to capitalize on good writing and copywriting skills to help them sell their products.
Additionally, while you might not be able to use them to sell your writing services, you may be able to use them to start selling your books, should you choose to start publishing.
Digital Detox Trends
Social media use world-wide is exploding, with 3.484 billion people (roughly 45% of the world's population) using social media regularly. And while you might think "woohoo, bigger audience" people are also tiring of social media and all that comes with it.
With 1 in 5 consumers choosing to unplug from social media for extended periods of time, digital detox is a growing trend that affects millions every month. And every time they detox, social platforms and statistics go through major shifts, decreases in reach, and decreases in engagement.
This means social media platforms are going to be changing their already-complicated and ever-changing algorithms even more so they can try to keep what attention they can capture. And that means using creative communication to connect with your audience and helping your clients do the same.
Declining Organic Reach
Experts have been saying for years that organic reach on social media is dead. Organic reach on Facebook has dropped steadily from 16% in 2012 to just over 2% in 2016 and closer to 1% in 2019. And all indications are that Instagram's organic reach is going to follow suit.
In fact, organic reach across all well-established social media platforms follow the same pattern. And while some are enjoying brief increases every time they make a major shift in their algorithms or platform, we can expect the downward trend to continue for a number of reasons:
- More and more businesses are continually putting out content. And not only that, but more and more of them are increasing their content to try to combat the declining reach. Unfortunately, just putting out more and more of the same content is having the opposite effect than what they want to happen, so their reach goes down even further.
- More and more people are trying to get off social media. See what I said above about the growing digital detox trend - people are getting off of social media for extended periods. The fact that they call it a detox is very telling - it implies that social media has a negative impact on their lives. So, more businesses will need to combat this by publishing more valuable content that has a positive impact on their audience.
- People are using more than one social media channel, following more and more pages, joining more groups, and opting into more newsletters at higher rates - but they aren't really spending that much more time on social media than they used to. So, what little time they have been spending on social media has just been getting split further and further down.
- Shiny object syndrome. On more than one occasion, another new social media platform has popped up and grabbed people's attention. The latest of these is TikTok - a video sharing platform that is making waves. Sometimes, these platforms make their impact and then fall right back off the radar as people return to their previous platforms. But other times, as with TikTok, they stick around a little longer and keep people's attention.
- Higher competition to get into those feeds. Social media platforms rely on their algorithms to help keep people on their platforms. Yes, it's so they can make money - but no, it's not so they can force you to pay them for the reach. Trust me, with as much money as these platforms are making based on their own ads and data, they aren't changing their algorithms to try to squeeze the $20-$120 a week you spend on ads out of you. But if people can't log into these platforms and see what they want to see, they will stop logging in - then everyone loses.
Additionally, with the decline of organic reach, you can expect paid advertising to come back to the forefront. In fact, Pay Per Click (PPC) ads are one of the top three conversion generators. And, according to Serp Watch, people are 52% more likely to click on an ad if it is at the top of a Google Search Results Page.
Video is (Still) on the Rise
Everyone has been saying "video is the future" for years -- and, well, that future is here.
Not just in the need for video itself in terms of ad content and getting onto YouTube, but in the use of video.
- Making video content searchable.
- Making video content shoppable.
- Using Live video to increase personalization and engagement.
Now, when I say "get on video" I don't necessarily mean go out there and launch a YouTube Channel. But start planning and incorporating video into your marketing strategy. What sorts of videos would businesses looking to hire you as their writer want to see when they visit you on Instagram or Facebook?
Brainstorm that strategy and start planning it out. The faster you can build a strong foundation for your video marketing strategy, the better.
Start Optimizing for Voice Search
Alexa, Siri, Google Home -- all these smart speakers are having a major impact on how people interact with the Internet, including the rise in Voice Search.
Fewer and fewer people are tapping on their smartphones and tablets to search the Internet for things, and even fewer are using their computers. By 2021, roughly 42% of the United States will use voice assistance to search the Internet at least monthly.
This trend is going to have two major impacts on content marketing:
- If you want to get found when someone does a voice search, you will need to optimize your content for voice searching. The same goes for your clients' content that you write.
- Just as they did with mobile-first ranking in their algorithms, Google is likely going to reward content that is voice optimized in the rankings even when their users are on desktop or mobile devices while searching. This could mean a major shift coming in the current rankings, as pages that have been dominating the search results may finally give way for up-and-comers and newer websites who are adopting this trend early. And knowing this can really give your clients a huge advantage over their competition.
Social Media Marketing Trends Prove One Thing Above All
Social media isn't dying. It's not going anywhere. And even with all the people complaining about Facebook, and data breaches, and complaining about how social media has taken over everyone's lives -- it's not going anywhere.
It is, however, evolving. It is simultaneously becoming more ingrained into our daily lives. It's no longer a luxury or something people browse through out of boredom or just to pass the time -- nor is it something people use solely to contact their friends and family or hold their D&D Games on.
Daily integration: everything from learning new skills, consuming news, shopping for products, and - yes - having fun with our friends and family.
Which means the businesses that are going to thrive in the coming years on social media are not necessarily going to be the ones that spend the most money on ads or pump out the most content, but rather integrate themselves into their audience's daily lives.
It's no longer enough for you to check in online everyday. Help your clients build their social media community in such a way that their audience checks in daily, make it a habit, and you will find that they have a hard time ignoring you.
Did you enjoy this article? Here are some more posts on social media marketing you may like:
- Book Marketing for Authors 101: I'm Ignoring All Your Sales Announcements (And Here's Why)
- Create a Facebook VIP Group that Rocks (and keep it that way)
- Using the new Clubhouse App for Writers
- Please Get Rid of that Twitter Feed on the Sidebar!
- What to do when you get Overwhelmed by the Social Media Marketing World