5 things I learnt about social media in 2015

2015 has been another big year for social; social marketing budgets are increasing, new platforms are emerging, and the big players are holding their ground, remaining as strong as ever.

Doing social well is becoming ever more important — you’re no longer just competing for airtime amongst your competitors, but for the social space that family and friends should be dominating. Here are a few of my learnings from working in social media in 2015:

Authenticity is key

Pitch less, entertain more. Social media isn’t the same as other forms of marketing, it needs a softer approach — it needs to be social. Taking the time to interact and engage with your communities can be absolutely invaluable for driving engagement and long-term brand advocacy.

But the most important thing is that it demonstrates the human side to your brand. Social media is one of the only channels to engage with your audience in real-time, so don’t waste that by constantly being overly promotional. You need to add value.

Test and experiment

Don’t be scared to experiment. Try new things, do some A/B testing — learn some lessons. If you don’t, you’ll never be ahead of the game, or have a genuine understanding of what your audience are most engaged with.

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” — Albert Einstein

Yes, your tests might fail, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them. Social media is still in its teenage years, so there’s still room for going beyond the status quo and trying to create something new that works for you.

Know your audience

Never underestimate the value of listening. Get to know your audience, not just what they tweet.

Once you’ve nailed this, working out how you can add value to their social feeds is much easier. Don’t try to be all things to all people, truly understand your target markets. You can then adapt your content strategy to reflect topical areas and subject matter that your audience are interested in exploring.

Trends aren’t always the answer

It’s always tempting to jump onto something you know is going to be a huge trend. The release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the perfect example of brands attempting this — with mixed success.

However, if you want to play in this game, you really do need to stand out. By the fact that it’s trending you know there will be huge volumes of content around this topic — is your tweet really going to break through the noise?

Although it is important to keep up with the latest trends, if you have limited resources, 2015 has demonstrated to me that investing in evergreen content is the way to go. Of course this content needs to be relevant and add value to the community, but having something of interest, that performs well on search, and you can dig out at any time — that’s as important as taking time to jump on trends.

You need to stand out like never before

Year-on-year the social space is becoming increasingly cluttered. More people and brands are realising the true value of social media and joining the party. This means that a huge amount of content is produced on social every single day, all of which you’ll need to cut through in order to stand out.

Of course this ties in to optimising your content in order to achieve this, posting at optimal times, on the platforms where your audience are.

Video, engaging images, adding value through your content — these are all ways in which you can start to make your mark in a competitive arena, with declining organic reach and an every increasing emphasis on ‘pay to play’.

What were your biggest social media learnings of 2015?