Building a social media strategy for 2018

Your company’s social media strategy really hasn’t changed much in the past five years. It was a Facebook-Twitter-Instagram world five years ago (and maybe Snapchat if you were trying to reach teens), and it’s a Facebook-Twitter-Instagram world today.

Or at least it was.

All that changed when Mark Zuckerberg dropped his Facebook Feedpocolypse on us last month. No longer can we rely on the massive social network and its 2 billion users for our digital marketing heavy lifting.

Instead, we have to be strategic and smart and create great content if we want to stand out from the millions of other businesses flooding social media with content. Finally, social media is getting challenging (and fun) again.

So what should your business be doing on social media in 2018? Here’s where I’m putting my energy and focus in the post-Facebook world (spoiler: I’m still using Facebook).

Email newsletters

If you don’t have an email list currently, start one today. Even if you can only get five people signed up, start today. You own this list, so it’s one of the smartest things you’ll do as a business owner. No algorithm change is going to take this away from you.

If you already have a list, continue to work on growth. Find ways to bring value to subscribers, and give people a reason to subscribe. Ask yourself what would it take to double the number or subscribers. I’ve written a weekly email newsletter on what’s new in social media for years now, and those subscribers are more valuable to me than any number of social media followers.

Facebook

You should still be posting to your Facebook pages, but watch your analytics more closely. Create fewer, better posts, trying to create high-quality content that gets comments and shares. When something does well, put some money behind it (sharing it with people on your email list, those who’ve visited your website and those who like your page).

Another tactic for Facebook is to create content your employees and brand ambassadors can share on their personal accounts as Facebook moves toward the “friends and family” algorithm.

Facebook groups: Groups look like the big winner in the Facebook algorithm change. If it makes sense to start a Facebook group that’s tied to your page, do so. Groups let both your page and individuals post content, and the Facebook algorithm likes them too. Also look for groups that already exist related to your location or area of business. Join them and start bringing value (but don’t spam them with your own content, please). Here are some more tips for creating Facebook groups.

Facebook stories: Want a guaranteed way to be at the top of your followers feed? Start posting Stories. Zuckerberg said recently that Stories are on track to overtake posts in Feed as the most common way that people share across all social apps. On Facebook, they’re still a ghost town. That will change. Get in now before everyone shows up to the party.

Live video on Facebook: Live video on Facebook gets six times the interaction of other content. If you (or someone at your company) can bring passion and experience to an area, then create a strategy for using Facebook live video.

Instagram

If you think Instagram can’t work for you, you are wrong. Every business should be on Instagram. There are 800 million Instagram users, so your customers are there. Use hashtags (11 or more!) and location tags to reach your followers. Post photos of your employees, your customers and your products. Show fun things your employees do on their days off. Make boomerangs and short videos. Post text of quotes if you have to. But you cannot ignore a social network that’s trending toward 1 billion people.

Instagram Stories: The real star of Instagram for your business may be Instagram Stories, where using hashtags and location tags can get you into larger stories and multiply your views. Try to use this to actually tell a story. Let your employees take over your feed for the day.

Facebook Messenger

Have someone from your company keep your page open and encourage people to reach you there. In 2018, people don’t want to call you on the phone. Make it easy for them to reach you on Messenger.

Messenger bots: Use a tool like Manychat to grow your bot subscribers. Then you can send important info like special deals and events to your followers (subscribe to Tim Ferriss on Messenger here for an example). Or you can set up a database of key terms that get an auto-response. There isn’t as much marketing noise in Messenger (yet), so your messages will be seen. Also, expect a high unsubscribe rate as you figure out how best to use this sort of tool.

LinkedIn

I see LinkedIn as a big opportunity area. There’s less noise there than Facebook. People expect business-related posts, unlike Facebook and Instagram. Share from your company profile, your own profile and have employees strategically share content on their own profiles.

YouTube

My kids live on YouTube. YouTube videos rank high in Google search. So if you’re interested in reaching a young audience or doing well in search, YouTube has value for your company.

Podcasting

Podcasting is on fire. I see three main plays here for small business. You can create your own podcast, you can look to be a guest on podcasts or you can advertise on podcasts. Or do them all. Either way, you need to be thinking about how you can get involved in this growing industry.

Voice

Somewhat related to podcasting, you should be thinking about whether or not your company should have an Alexa skill on the Amazon Echo (or Google Home or Apple HomePod). If you’re a restaurant, perhaps a skill that tells the special of the day. If you create content, how can you get that onto someone’s smart speaker. The audience may be small now, but expect this one to grow.

Influencer marketing

If your business following just doesn’t seem to be growing, consider how influencer marketing can work for you. Look for people with a large amount of influence in your target audience and offer to pay them to share about your products. This a growing form of promotion and works well with a younger audience.

Twitter

I’m not overly excited about Twitter, and I think a small business could ignore completely. But my preference is to be there and to look for opportunities to interact with customers. If your brand can be funny or snarky or if you’re brand is related to politics, then Twitter’s definitely a place for you.

Snapchat

Don’t sleep on Snapchat. The audience may not be huge, but it’s largely in the U.S., so those overall numbers are a little misleading. Snapchat is still the place to reach people under 25 — especially women. If that’s your audience, then get on the platform and use the stories feature to entertain and inform your followers.

What else?

OK, so that was a long list. But that’s a menu of choices where I think businesses should be focusing their social media efforts in 2018. Not all of those will work for everyone. But there’s certainly something in there for everyone.

What other areas are you focusing? Or why are some of these not great ideas? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.