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An Era of Social Media Optimization (SMO) is Ahead: What can we Expect in 2019?

Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO, Socialbakers
Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO, Socialbakers

Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO, Socialbakers

The debate brands are having around social media marketing is no longer about its value, but about maximizing the results and finding the route to success in an environment where the increase in demand for ad space is outpacing the supply of the audience’s attention.

With over a third of the world’s population on social media, it has become mass media marketing, but if brands want to really take advantage they have to be prepared to open their wallets wide. It is the rocketing advertising costs that will lead the next year’s trend towards Social Media Optimization (SMO), costs that on Facebook alone have risen by 35 percent over the last quarter.

The trend in SMO has grown much like the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) took over the marketing agenda a few years ago. Now instead of paying to compete to be at the top of search result, we contest for the audience’s views on the News Feed. SMO and SEO, both are a multistep process, and both leverage machine learning to ensure marketers achieve more with the same budget. The SMO process starts by gaining audience insights across social channels to create content that resonates with users. It requires AI recommendations to eliminate guesswork when publishing content and promoting it. It is only valuable as long as the results are benchmarked in a competitive context, both by verticals and regions, as the true proof of success on social. Marketers who stick to traditional, manual social media marketing methods, will see returns diminish and their competitive advantage fade.

Marketers know-trends rarely come alone. While SMO is forefronting the marketing agendas across meeting rooms, it’s followed by further trends rooted in the first-trends that are set to cut corners and hack growth, reach audiences and drive business results faster.

  One obvious content trend that every marketer can prepare for today is video-a trend that is as critical for marketers as was the switch from desktop to mobile  

Resolving Inefficiencies Through AI Marketing

Employing machine learning to make strategic investments has resolved guesswork from the day-to-day for many marketers. The advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) certainly made it easier for marketers to pinpoint what content is truly engaging their audiences. It helped them return more value from their social media investments through efficiency. In the next year, we should see automation take over other integral parts of social media, especially in the area of audience segmentation and building of accurate audience personas for brands.

Personalizing Content on an Entirely New Level

No brand ever speaks to one audience. As we move into 2018, we predict that we will see advancements in real-time AI-driven personalization on social media. It is the dynamic element of personalization that is integral to making marketing click with customers. We can no longer assume that audiences stay interested in the same topic today as they were a month ago. Dynamic personalization will be anchored in three areas-being timely, relevant and engaging.

Tailoring content to different audience personas will put the social media teams to the test. Will they be able to meet the demand for content personalization?

If they are prepared for it-yes. One obvious content trend that every marketer can prepare for today is video—a trend that is as critical for marketers as was the switch from desktop to mobile.

Social media teams will have to prepare to streamline their production, clearly understand their costs, and measure their results in the context of the market if they want to leverage video content successfully.

Chart Title: Interest in Social Media Optimization Is Reaching Its Peak

Source: Google Trends Data

Using Messenger to Build a Personable Brand

Social media has monopolized our time. Each year users dedicate increasingly more of their free time to mobile devices and messaging. Traditional advertising tactics that work on a desktop or the News Feed will not work on mobile and are even less likely to work in a chat environment. Being able to have more complex one-to-one conversations with your customers on the platform of their choice, whether it’s Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Twitter, will bring huge value to brand marketers.

The priority is relevance. Brands will do more harm than good if they start conversations too soon. They have to be confident in knowing when to engage their audiences and with what content. If brands want to join the Messenger conversations, they’ll have to take a highly personalized approach when targeting audiences. Investing in building audience persons and learning to speak their language, tone, and keeping conversations non-invasive is the way forward.

Benchmarking Ads Data in a Competitive Context

Social media advertising spend has been growing steadily over the years but marketers struggle to know how their spend compares to the rest of the market. In short, context is critical if marketers aim to pave their way to the top of their industry or region.

Benchmarking advertising spend data, measuring the most important ads metrics out of isolation, offers an entirely new angle of social media optimization. It’s critical to scaling your budget effectiveness or if your return on social media investment is really enough to outcompete others. If marketing tech available today isn’t enough to stress how important this is, Facebook’s decision to open up the content of the dark social for everyone to view on demand points to the changing rules of paid social media.

Creating a Gateway Through Influencer Marketing

When it’s hard to be heard, have others amplify your message. That’s the advice many marketers will have to take if they want to cut through the noise on the oversaturated News Feed and beat the rising ad costs. On Facebook alone sponsored content on celebrity pages receives more than 14 times more interactions than unsponsored content posted by brands directly to their timeline.

The added value is impossible to ignore, but the important move we’ll see in 2018 is not the up-trend in influencer marketing, but in automation of how brands find influencers and how they run their campaigns, opening doors for brands to enter conversations they otherwise couldn’t.

The Takeaway

This is the moment for brands to rethink how they approach social media marketing and if they want to scale it to remain competitive, there’s really only one direction—optimizing social media marketing, making smarter AI driven decisions, keeping costs predictable and social media ROI feasible. It will change the day-to-day for many marketers by helping them quickly and confidently answer the critical questions they should be asking every day: who, what, when, where, how, and why?

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