Written by Guest Blogger, Anita Kirkbride. Anita has presented at Central Library's Small Business Café on this topic.
We're inching closer to year-end. Are you reaching your business goals for 2018, or are you struggling to keep up?
Although your focus is geared toward your success for the year, it's important to be mindful of the ever-changing world of social media—because it doesn't slow down. Here are 3 trends you should keep an eye on, as we head for 2019.
A podcast democratizes audio publishing—anyone with a smartphone and the right app can create their own radio-like show. Focused on a specific topic of conversation, the audio is distributed and available online for anyone to hear. Millions of podcasts are posted daily.
Here in Atlantic Canada, there are hundreds to choose from (find a directory at Podcast Atlantic). Podcast topics cover everything on culture, blogging, business, beer, food, and comedy.
From a business perspective, a podcast is a simple, cost-efficient way of expressing your thoughts, values, and processes in front of your ideal customers on a regular basis. A lawyer, for example, could do a weekly podcast on legal issues, answering questions and interviewing businesses on their experiences. Perhaps you're a practicing therapist and wanted to do a podcast on health and wellness—the possibilities are endless.
Just because there are already millions of podcasts out there, don't assume your discussion will be a repeat. Nobody will talk about your topic of interest like you. There is always room for your opinion, and always an audience for it. I am taking my own advice, and will be starting a podcast later this fall.
2. Live video
Podcasts are great for those who are camera-shy, but live video is even bigger, and there's no sign of its growth slowing down. Here are some stats about live video:
- 82% of people prefer to watch video vs. reading a blog post.
- Images are processed by the brain 60,000 times faster than reading text.
- Live video on Facebook receives 1200% more engagement than other types of posts.
Today, with just your phone, you can go live on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram—no doubt, LinkedIn will follow soon. The best part of a live video, is you really don't need a script. It's instant. You want to talk naturally, so create a bullet point outline for your topic and go for it. All you need is good sound, decent lighting, and an engaging topic. If you're passionate about your topic, others will be too.
If you haven't heard about Facebook Messenger chatbots, you will be hearing more about them soon. A chatbot is like an automated phone tree that funnels a client through a series of questions to find their answer, sell them a product, or perhaps enter a contest. While we tend to dislike automated phone trees, people are flocking to chatbots, because of their fun and instant nature.
DIY chatbot programs are widely available for Facebook Messenger (I use ManyChat and Jumper.ai), but there are also bot builders that work on other social platforms. To be clear, the type of bot I'm talking about here is not a bot that automatically spams an Instagram account with a comment, or sends private messages to Facebook pages trying to sell you something.
Facebook Messenger bots work only on Facebook pages, and quite honestly, if they're well constructed, many people won't even realize they are talking to a bot. They can take some strain off your customer service rep, or reduce the time you spend in your small business—on things like: reservations, salon reminders, or distribution of materials for a course. You can even use Messenger bots to administer a contest. Did you notice the fancy, round code on the Coca-Cola bottles this summer? Scan that code in Messenger and you could win prizes. I've won 4movie tickets and 2 Spotify playlists so far.
Chatbots are still fairly new, but compare their adoption and use to what email was about 20 years ago. Only the cool kids were using email in 1998, right? It's the beginning of a seismic shift in marketing and customer service right now. The rampant adoption is fuelled by open rates of 80-100%, and click-through rates of 20-40% (compare that to your email blast).
Click here to see how Chatbots work. It will open a Facebook Messenger conversation. If you see "Get Started" please click that, too.
Try it out
I realize not every small business can jump on all of these things at the same time. They are resource intense, if inexpensive. Of course, there are agencies out there who can help you with the technical side of these marketing tactics, but it won't hurt to try these on your own if you can. Pick one to start with—one you're most comfortable with, or one that will resonate best with your target market. Once you've mastered it, move onto another.
About Anita Kirkbride
Twirp Communications Inc. is Halifax's leader in social media training and consulting. Head Twirp, Anita Kirkbride has empowered hundreds of entrepreneurs to manage their own social media marketing through Workplace Education workshops, individualized training plans, and her free educational blog and e-courses. Anita will be joining us at the Small Business Café on Aug. 13 to discuss all things social media.