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State of social media marketing: what to expect in 2015

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Happy New Year! 2015 began well, with a long weekend for most of us. Time to pause, ponder and strategize for 365 new chances to grow and succeed! 2014 was an exciting year for social media marketing, and 2015 promises no less. There are many predictions out there about what we'll experience this year. Here are the four most important trends I think we should focus on this year:

Want to play? You've got to pay!

It's becoming more and more evident that there is a cost for social media visibility. Even if it's as low as $10 per day, you must pay if you want to play. Paying for visibility will ensure that your content will be shared and will give you a much greater chance to generate traffic to your website.

It's a natural progression of social channels to provide a better user experience by excluding irrelevant posts from people's feeds, while generating revenue. In fact, I think we'll begin to see better and more relevant content in the future years, as spammers will refuse to pay and serious brands will invest their budgets wisely with stronger messages.

Make them watch it!

It was shocking to me to find out that Facebook surpassed YouTube in the number of videos viewed on desktop, according to comScore. By September of 2014, Facebook had 1 billion video views per day how crazy is that?

Now take a minute to think about the following: 1: Facebook is not dead (as some predicted it last year); in fact it continues to be the powerhouse of all social media channels. 2: How many marketing videos did you watch in 2014? 3: How many marketing videos did you create for your business?

It turns out that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn show preferential treatment to video content hosted in their own platforms because it keeps viewers engaged in their channels. This is a great opportunity for brands to tell their stories through short videos that is to say, interesting and engaging videos.

Images work very well, too. Showcase your products and services through an image instead of writing a post about it. We humans are naturally attracted to images over words. So make it colorful, fun and attractive. You'll notice the results.

SEO likes social media. Let them go on a date!

Surprisingly enough, some small businesses have been able to survive and be visible online by simply keeping their social media profiles up to date and investing in their local SEO strategy. Think about it for a moment how many times did you go to TripAdvisor or Yelp before you actually looked at a restaurant or hotel website? Now go ahead and test it yourself type the name of a business and see what kind of information will show up. More than what's available on their website. Where does it come from? Directories, review sites, social media channels and blogs!

What to be found online in 2015? Begin by taking the time to update your local listings and by creating content that will aid your SEO strategy. In fact, you should think of the two activities as a couple they go together!

Your customers are online. Are you?

As we ditch the old yellow book and make fewer phone calls to inquire about a business, we turn more and more to information that's available online. Most people prefer to fill out an inquiry form online rather than call a business. In fact, many people prefer to communicate almost exclusively via email or text, as they find it less intrusive than a phone call. The same is true when it comes to social media interaction.

How many times does your business phone ring before you answer the call? How long does it take you to respond to your customers' email messages? Whatever your answer was, cut it in half and that's the expectation of your customers on social media you're supposed to be there, or you shouldn't bother to have a profile.

As social media channels become an alternative customer service line for most people, you can't afford to leave it unattended your customers are no longer willing to wait for when you log in to see 'what's up.' You must treat your social media presence as you treat your storefront be there!

In conclusion, I think in 2015 marketers will allocate a more substantial budget for social media marketing and will become savvier in aligning their social media efforts with their SEO efforts. We'll also see better, more creative content, which will force some brands to up their game and do a better job of telling their stories.

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