Social media changes every day. The second you learn about one trend, the next one’s already happening. It can feel overwhelming when looking at all the new channels and opportunities available for brands to use to connect with consumers on a more personalized level. But it’s something every brand needs to compete in our increasingly digitally driven economy.

Related Content: Exciting New Trends in Emerging Media

With 2019 quickly approaching, DEG partnered with Hootsuite for an in-person deep dive into the ever-evolving social media trends and strategies to capitalize on throughout the next year.

The DEG Summit included a look back at how media has changed since the pivotal 2007 year, a futuristic glimpse at how new technologies are changing the game of social, and a deep dive into why engaging your top employees on social media is important for your company’s brand.

You can take advantage of the continuous evolution of social media with artificial intelligence, personalization, and authenticity.

The now and next of social media

DEG Director of Social Media Jen Forest started the summit with a look at how you can take advantage of the continuous evolution of social media with artificial intelligence, personalization, and authenticity.

First, Forrest focused on artificial intelligence (AI) and the many forms it takes in social, including using the Facebook step-by-step guide to setting up an ad on the platform.

Facebook Ads Manager uses artificial intelligence to direct you through the ad targeting process.

According to Forrester, 85 percent of businesses will be using AI by 2020. While this statistic can seem overwhelming, Forrest explained that DEG is already using AI for brands. All the time.

Our strategists, engineers, and media coordinators are consistently using AI in the form of:

  • Marketing automation
  • Chatbots
  • Social advertising
  • Optimizing for voice assistants
  • Predictive modeling
  • Programmatic advertising

The next step toward mastering the changing social media landscape is personalization, which is so important. Why? Because customers expect it.

“Focus on local. ‘Near me’ has quickly become one of the best ways to search on mobile.” — Jen Forrest, DEG director of social media.

They see it in their Netflix and Amazon welcome experiences when accessing their accounts, with recommended shows and products they may be interested in based on the data collected by each platform. The data internet users expect companies to collect and use for those personalized experiences include profile interests, online purchases, birthdays, website browsing, gender, locations, and purchases made offline. A few other things brands can collect data on to better target their customers are the local weather, sporting events, and trending topics.

Google search uses “near me” to specify movies showing in your area at local theaters.

“Focus on local. ‘Near me’ has quickly become one of the best ways to search on mobile,” suggested Forrest.

Another reason personalization is so important is because it works. Brands can personalize the customer experience using their websites, apps, email, content strategy, social advertising, and community engagement.

Finally, brands should be using authenticity in their social media to better engage with customers. Brands are in crisis because consumers don’t trust brands, or ads. They trust people.

Brands should be helpful, trustworthy, relevant, and unique. They should NOT be manipulative, intrusive, conforming, or inaccurate.

So how do you combat this? By being authentic in your marketing tactics and engagement with customers. Brands should be helpful, trustworthy, relevant, and unique. They should NOT be manipulative, intrusive, conforming, or inaccurate.

Several tactics that support authenticity include:

  • Native ads
  • Influencers
  • Content marketing (a.k.a. videos)
  • Reviews
  • Advocacy

Advocacy can support a number of business objectives. You simply need to include it in your social media plan.

A new social engagement tool

Hootsuite Financial Industry Director Amy McIlwain opened the second half of the summit with the statement that, “We are in an era of unimaginable disruption.” Her point: there’s a fundamental cultural shift occurring in businesses.

”We are in an era of unimaginable disruption,” said Amy McIlwain, Hootsuite financial industry director.

One way to embrace that shift and use social media to your advantage comes in the form of a new tool—your CEO. According to a LinkedIn and Hootsuite study, there is a 40-percent increase in employee engagement when CEOs and executives lead on social media.

That means the use of social media isn’t limited to your company’s official channels. It’s not even limited to your company’s leading officer. In fact, executive spokespeople, c-suite managers, department heads, and internal thought leaders all can contribute to your brand’s social media online image. This is especially true when hiring top talent and innovators in your industry to help you make your business better, and in spreading the brand image of your company further than your immediate community reach.

Find social media influencers for your business within upper management.

Does it work? McIlwain’s heard from several CEOs that social media is a “more efficient way for them to spend their downtime.” So why don’t more companies use this tool to their advantage?

One way to embrace the cultural shift in business and use social media to your advantage comes in the form of a new tool—your CEO.

It starts with a conversation with those key stakeholders or thought leaders about the importance of social media and how they can use it to grow their personal following, and that of the company. Then, it takes a bit of planning and strategy to get everyone up and running with posting on a regular basis.

One way to do all this is with Hootsuite’s Amplify program, which allows companies to push updates and thought leadership publications out to their social media influencers to easily share on personal channels.

“The key is you have to have participation to make this work,” explained McIlwain. “You have to have buy in.”

Several company representatives in attendance at the summit mentioned they’d used Amplify and found much success with helping to distribute the stories they wanted shared by their associates.

Download your copy of The Future of Digital Advertising ebook

After both presentations wrapped up, a panel of social media experts answered questions from the audience. The overall message: make a plan for 2019 before it’s too late. And be sure to incorporate the new technologies and trends that are helping brands successfully engage directly with target audience members.

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