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Be honest: when’s the last time you updated your LinkedIn company page?

Although the platform may not seem to be scoring as many headlines as Facebook or Instagram, companies can’t afford to sleep on their LinkedIn presence.

LinkedIn’s rapidly growing user base of nearly 600 million professionals speaks for itself, especially in the B2B space. Beyond being a prime place to share content and flex your industry influence, LinkedIn performs 277% better than Facebook or Twitter for generating visitor-to-lead conversions.

At a glance, running your LinkedIn company page might seem pretty simple.

But growing an engaged following on LinkedIn is apples and oranges compared to any other social network.

And given the platform’s best practices and new slew of business features, there’s perhaps no better time to revisit your LinkedIn presence.

Below we’ve broken down the anatomy of the perfect LinkedIn company page whether you’re looking to optimize your current profile or start from scratch.

Creatives and copy for your LinkedIn company page

First things first: businesses need to cover the basics of their profiles. Although setting up your LinkedIn company page is straightforward, there are some important decisions to make in terms of optimizing your creatives and profile copy.

Choosing a company logo and cover photo

Chances are you already have the creatives on deck for your company logo and cover photo. In addition to your company tagline, this is what users will see “above the fold” when checking out your business.

Unlike Facebook or Twitter where you might use a cover photo of your team, clean and colorful imagery is your best bet on LinkedIn. When in doubt, keep it simple.

Here are some examples of optimized LinkedIn company pages which take different creative approaches to their profiles.

For starters, MailChimp uses a yellow color scheme and a minimalist background that’s on-brand. Nothing fancy, but effective nonetheless.

Drift’s cover photo actually promotes an informational product which is totally fair game on LinkedIn. This tactic shows off their expertise and also serves as a call-to-action for anyone who lands on their page.

Meanwhile, Zapier uses their cover photo to hype up the fact that they’re hiring. This makes perfect sense given that LinkedIn is top spot to recruit talent. Unlike the two previous examples, Zapier uses a text-only version of their logo.

The approach you take to your creatives is totally up to you, though we recommend coming up with a cover photo that’s exclusive to LinkedIn for the sake of giving your profile some flavor.

And just as a refresher, here are the social media image sizes to remember for your LinkedIn company page.

  • Company logo (300 x 300 pixels)
  • Square logo (60 x 60 pixels)
  • Company cover image (1536 x 768)
Filling out your LinkedIn profile

Any given LinkedIn company page contains a series of subsections. Businesses should ideally fill all of these sections out 100%, with the exception of the “Jobs” section if you aren’t hiring.

About

This section highlights your company’s basic information, including a brief “About” blurb and a place to list industry-specific keywords in the “Specialties” field. The information here is more akin to a Facebook “About” section versus a stylized Twitter or Instagram bio.

Life

The “Life” section is an opportunity to show off your company culture. Here you can highlight your company’s values, provide a snapshot of your workers’ day-to-day lives and explain what separates you from other companies in your space.

Jobs

If you’re hiring via LinkedIn, this section will aggregate and house your job listings.

People

The “People” tab will populate based on which workers have your company listed as their employer. There’s also a brief demographic breakdown based on your employees’ location, education, roles and skills. This section is valuable for potential prospects and people interested in reaching out to your company.

Coming up with an effective LinkedIn content strategy

LinkedIn is a unique beast when it comes to your content strategy.

How so? Well, consider how your LinkedIn company page needs to simultaneously speak to totally different audiences.

Current customers and prospective ones? Check.

Employees and recruits? Double-check.

Industry players and competitors who want to watch your latest moves? Yep, they’re checking you out, too.

Part of the beauty of LinkedIn is the freedom companies have in terms of what they can post, though. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common types of content we see on LinkedIn pages for business:

Question-based content

Picking your followers’ brains is a smart move to encourage likes and comments on LinkedIn. Oddly enough, text-based posts can actually stand out on LinkedIn in a sea of articles and external links.

Articles and industry-specific posts

Unlike other social networks where posting article after article might be looked down upon, doing so is embraced on LinkedIn.

There’s no better place to drop your latest link, granted you couple it with a meaningful caption. Here’s a good example of a conversational caption from Hubspot that eventually leads readers to click through to a new blog post.

Resources and case studies

Considering that 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn, publishing your company’s resources, freebies and lead magnets is a no brainer. This does double-duty of signaling your influence within your industry while also serving as a helping hand to your followers.

Event coverage

Attending an event or conference? Take your LinkedIn followers along for the ride. This sort of behind-the-scenes content is authentic, easy to create and is a welcome change from solely promotional posts.

Employee showcases

Recognizing your employees on LinkedIn allows you to show off the human side of your business. This example of employee recognition from Lemonade managed to score great engagement while also highlighting their company values.

Culture-centric content

Again, not everything on your LinkedIn company page needs to be promotional. Whether it’s off-the-cuff office content or examples of your company giving back, anything that shows off your company’s culture is a big plus. Doing so is powerful for positioning and making an emotional impact on your followers.

Best practices to maximize your LinkedIn engagement

Now that you have an idea of how to fill out your LinkedIn company profile and what to post, it’s time to think about how you’re going to maximize your profile’s reach.

Want more followers? Looking to attract the attention of industry players and influencers? Here’s how you do it.

Get your employees involved

Okay, this is the big one.

Employee advocacy is the absolute best way to grow your LinkedIn presence and exponentially increase your content’s reach.

Think about it. When you restrict your company content to your company page, you’re only being seen by your current crop of followers.

But let’s say you have a few dozen employees with a couple hundred followers each. Even if there’s some overlap between your page followers and theirs, this enables your posts to be seen by thousands who’d otherwise miss out on them.

Rather than manually have employees post company content, platforms such as Bambu allow companies to curate and amplify social content within a single platform. This encourages a uniform approach to sharing content that ensures that as many eyes are on your company as possible.

Prioritize video content

Video content is quickly taking over social media itself and LinkedIn is no different.

LinkedIn released its video capabilities in 2017 and has been stressing the importance of video ever since. It’s no surprise that video content is among the most popular and LinkedIn and appears to be prioritized by the platform’s algorithm.

From educational video to company commercials, companies should step up their video production ASAP in an effort to stand out on the platform.

Come up with a consistent content calendar

Consistency counts with just about any social network.

Based on our data regarding the best times to post on social media, engagement appears to shift between mornings toward the late-afternoon throughout the workweek. Typically we see most companies post at least once daily, although we encourage businesses to experiment with frequency.

Having an understanding of your timing and frequency can help you put together a comprehensive content calendar specific to LinkedIn. With the help of Sprout, you can then publish directly to your LinkedIn company page and schedule your content alongside your other social profiles.

Understand your analytics

According to Sprout’s 2018 Social Index, audience insights and data-driven strategy should be the top priority of any company looking to thrive on LinkedIn.

In other words, you need robust analytics.

What posts are your top performers? When are you scoring the most shares and followers?

Although the platform has adequate native reporting, a third-party reporting solution like the one we offer at Sprout can dig even deeper into your LinkedIn analytics.

For example, Sprout is capable of tracking impressions, engagements and clicks to clue you in on what’s working and what’s not. Based on these numbers, you can fine-tune your LinkedIn presence accordingly.

And with that, we wrap up our guide!

Does your Linkedin company page look like a million bucks?

Growing on LinkedIn is truly a one-of-a-kind endeavor versus any other social network.

As a result, you need to know exactly how to properly run your company page.

From creatives and content to understanding your company data, these pointers can put you on the right path toward building a more engaging profile.

We want to hear from you, though. What has your company’s experience been like on LinkedIn? Are you experiencing more engagement than usual these days? Let us know in the comments below!

This post How to Build the Perfect LinkedIn Company Page originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” This slice of Jeff Bezos wisdom is likely not new to you. For marketers it naturally raises several more questions: What do they say when I’m not in the room? What do they like? What don’t they like? Who or what else do they talk about?

The answers to these questions reach beyond brand and even marketing. They provide insights that can inform an entire business strategy. Before the proliferation of social media, brands sought these insights through a variety of different tactics: surveys, focus-groups, shop-alongs. But social—unlike most communication channels— offers an equally, if not more effective solution.

Sprout’s own Justyn Howard explains the opportunity that lies ahead when brands turn to social listening to solve business problems:

“Social data represents the largest source of business intelligence that has ever existed. With billions of daily messages reflecting the candid thoughts and opinions of the world, in real-time, social listening can provide the answers to any question a business might be facing. From consumer trends, market research, product feedback, competitive intelligence and strategic direction – armed with the right tools, every business the opportunity to improve with social data. When every business has the data they need to improve, we all benefit.”

We all benefit because you can intimately understand your audience, helping to better build community and connection. A connection consumers crave; a connection that comes with a tangible business impact. According to our most recent Brands Get Real report, 76% of respondents expressed that they are more likely to buy from a brand they feel connected to than a competitor.

But simply listening isn’t enough. Putting insight into action is where brands truly capture the opportunity to better drive connection. Offered as a new Premium Add-on, Sprout’s Advanced Listening solution is fully integrated alongside the engagement, publishing and reporting tools you rely on everyday. Now you can use consumer and market insights to make more informed marketing and business decisions—and enact them all from one unified platform.

All the functionality you need, under one roof

Being integrated alongside industry leading publishing and engagement tools means you can quickly turn insight into action to capture identified opportunities. Sprout’s robust content planning tools, for example, are never more than a click away. As you and your team uncover inspiration for content, everyone can easily produce drafts and collaborate on post creation—or even take advantage of the moment and publish right away.

In addition, take your day-to-day brand monitoring a step further and turn it into brand analysis. As you start identify common threads in your Smart Inbox or are notified about interesting events with Message Spike Alerts, you can turn to your brand-related listening Topics to find trends, track sentiment and see a fully informed picture.

Advanced Listening also brings new channels into the fold with data from Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Youtube, Tumblr, Blogs, Forums and more to make sure you can get a complete view of the social conversation around your desired topic.

Get to your “aha!” moments, fast

The power of social listening data and the benefits of an integrated solution are multiplied through accessible design. Sprout’s new Topic Builder has reimagined the traditionally cumbersome process of constructing queries. Building rich, low-noise queries is easy and doesn’t require you to be an expert in Boolean search. While building your query, the Topic Preview gives you a look at the data that will be included so you can make necessary adjustments to ensure you measure twice and cut once.

Seamless Topic building is only one part of making listening accessible. Analyzing and interpreting the data is as intuitive as one would expect from Sprout. Not only does the layout make it easy for the social team to highlight top content, spot trends and find influencers, but beautiful data visualizations and contextual tools, like the Word Cloud, are designed to be approachable for those not familiar with the social space. Your team’s time should be spent acting and analyzing, not implementing.

Flexible enough to answer the tough questions

Making the data accessible requires more than just intentional design. Performing research and data analysis to answer tough questions requires data be offered in a flexible format. Sprout’s listening tools are bursting with ways to slice and dice your data. Every chart is dynamic offering multiple ways to breakdown metrics or tailor the visualization with exactly what you need to see. Each table is sortable and can be customized to add, remove and rearrange data as needed.

In addition, the keyword search capability offers a “search engine for social”, making it easy to quickly dive into different focus areas within your brand, industry or competitive Topics. Quickly sorting through a large data set based on keywords, hashtags and users unlocks targeted analysis without the need to set up brand new queries. Data analysis has never been easier—track sentiment, identify emerging trends, calculate share of voice insights and benchmark content performance, campaign success and competitors.

Put social data in the spotlight

Coupled with with an intuitive layout and filtering capabilities, Advanced Listening gives social teams the channel coverage they need to perform deep dive analysis into their campaigns and audiences, product teams the insights required to develop new products or align existing products with consumer demand, and CMOs the competitive intelligence required to develop an empathetic, and effective strategy.

If you’re ready to start driving your strategy with listening insights, request a demo of Sprout Listening here.

This post Drive authentic connection at scale with a sophisticated listening solution originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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The Sprout agency team and I work with 1,000 agency partners and thousands of agency customers.

These social media and digital marketing agencies offer best-in-class services and consulting to their clients, big and small.

One in five provide full-service marketing to clients, and nearly 25% have a full-blown paid social media services offering to supplement the integrated marketing campaigns they execute on social. That, plus SEO, SEM, PR, email marketing, web development and more.*

It’s a lot.

Which is why we take a moment every year to recognize the excellence our agencies achieve with our Agency Partner Value Awards.

These awards echo a tradition we have at Sprout to celebrate those that achieve great things and move our company forward.

Our Partner Value Awards recognize agencies who Cultivate their clients’ success, have an Always Be Growing mentality, are MVPs in the #SproutPartner community and work hard to build amazing Social Media Campaigns.

The culmination of these awards is our Partner of the Year: the agency that embodies each and every one of the categories and helps us all move the industry forward.

We couldn’t be more excited to recognize this year’s Partner of the Year: Digital Natives Group.

 

 

Why?

Our Director of Marketing Strategy and founder of the Agency Partner Program, Tara Robertson puts it best:

“At Sprout Social, we care deeply about the success of our team and customers, and we look for that same type of dedication from our partners. Digital Natives Group is a perfect embodiment of these values, and this is why we are so excited to recognize it as our 2018 Agency Partner of the Year. From delivering world-class client services to creating innovative campaigns to continuing to push the agency community forward, the team at Digital Natives is a shining example of how great relationships are born from putting your team and clients first.”

A member of the partner program’s founding class, Digital Natives has consistently invested in its social offering and how it impacts clients’ bottom line.

An example of how the team puts clients first:

Thank you to the team at @ComcastNBCUCI for a year of storytelling around purpose and mission, work that inspired us to consider how we could improve the way we incorporate these values into the work we do.

— Digital Natives (@NativesGroup) January 18, 2019

And an example of how Digital Natives moves the industry forward:

 

Don’t miss this. Plus, I’m co-hosting a #SproutChat about fostering transparency, communication and collaboration with clients through an agile approach with friends like @BrookeSellas. Grab your spot. #SproutSessions https://t.co/v3y9vNEofD pic.twitter.com/peH3nSJUKP

— Jonathan Jacobs (@JonEJacobs) November 19, 2018

We’re proud to partner with Digital Natives Group to help organizations and brands connect with their audiences on social and deliver world-class services. Digital Natives is an example of how we can all double down on good strategy, great creative, powerful storytelling and true connection between people and the brands they love to make the social media industry just a little better for everyone.

“More than anything, this award is recognition for the clients whose incredible stories we’ve been able to tell in the past year. It’s their message and purpose that have allowed us to create the campaigns and partnerships that this award is intended to recognize,” said Jonathan Jacobs, Partner at Digital Natives Group.

Congrats to the Digital Natives team! We can’t wait to see what you achieve in 2019 and beyond.

Want to find out how you can join the Sprout agency partner community? Learn more and apply here.

*We asked our agency customers about their businesses, and they told us how they are pricing, packaging and evolving their offerings. If you want to see the full data report, reach out to us today.

This post Celebrating agency excellence: our 2018 Partner of the Year originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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“The bots are coming.”

This sort of line has been popular among marketers over the past couple of years.

But is that reality finally coming to fruition? At this point, are chatbots really here to stay?

Based on industry data and what we’ve seen firsthand at Sprout, the answer is a resounding “yes.”

While chatbots for marketing were once seen as uncharted territory, more and more brands are getting on board with bots.

Why, though?

As noted in our guide to 2019’s social media trends, the need for conversational commerce is growing.

With over half of consumers seeking customer service through social media, today’s social bots can address such concerns around-the-clock. Chatbots are projected to save businesses billions by 2022 by streamlining customer service and bot-based commerce.

And if you think that bots are too “cold” or impersonal for your customer-base, think again. In fact, 69% of consumers prefer communicating with chatbots because they offer speedy answers and solutions.

11 effective chatbot marketing examples

Let’s get real, though.

There’s a huge difference between a bot answering “yes” or “no” questions and a bot that provides meaningful experiences.

And so the positive impact of chatbots really hinges on the quality of a brand’s bot.

This begs the question: what makes a “good” chatbot, anyway?

Hey, we’re glad you asked!

We’ve put together a list of chatbot marketing examples that not only shows practical uses of bots in action but also highlights the diverse range of businesses rolling out bots. Check out how these brands are killin’ it with bots and what your business can learn from them.

1. Hello Fresh

Let’s start with Hello Fresh, one of our favorite chatbot marketing examples because it ticks all the boxes of what a bot should do.

For starters, their Messenger chatbot is self-aware.

No, not-self aware like the Terminator. Self-aware in the sense of the Hello Fresh immediately present their chatbot in a friendly way rather than trying to play off their bot as a customer service rep.

Listen: your customers are smart. They know when they’re talking to a bot and when they’re not. Hello Fresh manages to show off their brand voice and playfully introduce their bot from the word “go.”

Also, note that Hello Fresh provides a variety of prompts to help guide the conversation from point A to point B. The bot suggests questions, likely based on the most common questions their in-person reps receive.

As you’ll see with most of our chatbot marketing examples, most bots try to stay away from totally open-ended messages that could result in errors. Remember: bots should make for better user experience, not a more complicated one.

In addition to answering questions, the bot also has a built-in social selling component by offering bot-exclusive discount codes. Expect for these sorts of offers to become increasingly common as brands look for more incentives to encourage people to interact with their bots.

Note that their discount codes are bot-specific (FRESHBOT25 and BOOZYBOT), which makes it easier for the brand to track and assess the ROI of their bots.

2. Universal Studios

Universal Studios is unique among our chatbot marketing examples in the sense that they’re primarily selling an experience rather than a physical product.

Like Hello Fresh’s bot, Universal’s bot playfully acknowledges its powers and notes that users can fetch a flesh-and-blood rep at any time.

Beyond booking reservations and buying tickets, guests can rely on the Universal bot to provide practical information while at one of their parks. For example, the bot can tell you where the nearest restroom or restaurants are based on the last ride you went on.

Perhaps most notable is the bot’s ability to inform guests of ride wait times in real-time. Rather than rely on a third-party app, guests can see within Messenger whether they should expect long lines or adjust their plan of attack for what to ride next.

 

This sort of real-time information on demand is exactly what makes chatbots so valuable.

3. Plum

Plum is chatbot-exclusive service rather for Facebook Messenger than a business using a bot.

In other words, they are a bot.

What’s notable about Plum is their onboarding process. The conversation with Plum is entirely prompted, giving the customer a choice to sign-up or learn more information in smaller “chunks.”

This might not seem like great UX, but it’s actually one of the better chatbot marketing strategies out there.

How so? The interactivity of Plum’s bot certainly beats a boring wall of text or a traditional Q&A.

Also, the bot’s casual tone, emojis and conversational calls-to-action keep the reader naturally scrolling and tapping rather than feeling like they’re being sold to. This is a prime example of how to funnel a customer through a conversation to eventually lead them to take action.

4. Domino’s Pizza

With the rise of social selling and mobile shopping, brands are constantly scrambling for ways they can score more sales from their social channels.

And hey, chatbots can make it happen.

For example, the Domino’s chatbot allows users to customize and order pizzas just like they would online. The ability to save and repeat orders makes it a cinch to score your favorite pie without having to leave Facebook.

This is arguably one of the best chatbot marketing examples for highlighting how a bot can take something done via mobile and make it just as good (if not better) on social. Although digital ordering is nothing new, ordering through a chatbot requires no native downloads or sign-ups on an app.

5. Arsenal FC

As noted earlier, chatbots are fair game for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

That includes superstar sports teams.

English soccer powerhouse Arsenal FC shows us how bots can be used for breaking news and timely content delivery. For example, their bots send out score reports for users who can’t watch their matches in real-time.

The bot also provides users with upcoming fixtures, team line-ups and news articles. Arsenal’s bot drives home the fact that chatbots can be about so much more than customer service.

6. Patrón Tequila

Patrón’s chatbot manages to combine customer service and content delivery, all the while totally nailing their brand voice.

To kick things off, they introduce their “Bot Tenders” to serve up a variety of cocktail suggestions to users.

The bot then provides a recommendation based on your preferences. Looking for something to pair with bunch? Dinner? This is a fantastic example of effective marketing personalization in action.

 

But what’s truly noteworthy for Patrón among our other chatbot examples is how the brand aligns their bot with their user-generated content strategy.

After hooking you up with a recipe, the bot then invites you to share your creation on social with their #SimplyPerfect hashtag. This is a simple, low-hanging strategy to encourage more UGC among your satisfied customers.

7. Sephora

Sephora’s is easily one of the most documented and lauded chatbot marketing examples.

And yeah, there’s a reason for that.

The bot acts as a sort of digital concierge, allowing users to take a variety of actions without having to leave Messenger.

Want to browse products? Book an appointment? Try on makeup using augmented reality technology?

Yep, you can do all of that and then some. Sephora’s bot captures how brands can use various chatbot marketing strategies to create a compelling experience.

Also, Sephora illustrates how a digital chatbot can drive brick-and-mortar sales. For example, the bot is capable of letting you know where products and bookings are available based on your location.

8. Adobe

Here’s some food for thought: not all chatbots have to be complicated.

Adobe’s bot is relatively simple and straightforward but does exactly what it needs to do.

In short, the bot acts as a sort of knowledge base where users can ask questions and troubleshoot common product errors. Users are then guided toward a solution based on specific prompts.

Based on the users’ issue, the bot presents the option of speaking with a human or checking out a more detailed troubleshooting page on-site.

Brands shouldn’t pressure themselves into building mindblowing bots. If all you need are simple queries to serve your customers, you’re golden.

9. GoPro

GoPro’s is known for stunning visual content on social media and their chatbot doesn’t disappoint in that department.

To kick off the conversation, the bot introduces itself and suggests a few actions such as shopping for cameras.

The bot then asks some questions to help you find the ideal camera based on your needs.

Unlike any of our other chatbot marketing examples, GoPro goes the extra mile sprinkling .gifs and social video into throughout responses. This not only helps catch one’s eye during a conversation but serves as social proof to sell their products.

 

This combination of personalization and imagery provides is yet another example of bots creating compelling experiences for users.

10. Evernote

Evernote illustrates a simple way to use chatbots for marketing that smaller businesses can learn from.

Simply put, the bot acts as a sort of “one-pager” for customer concerns. The bot encourages people to contact their Twitter support team in addition to their community forms or email support.

While the experience is less elaborate, this quick overview highlights all of their key service touchpoints. Plus, it illustrates that marketers have to pick and choose their battle. Evernote successfully uses their chatbot to encourage their best form of service. As long as you’re getting customers what they need, your bot is doing its job.

11. Sprout Social

Last but not least, we think that our own chatbot is pretty rad!

We provide a prompt-heavy bot to provide customer service with exactly what they need.

Customer support? Account issues? Features and pricing plans? It’s all there and just a tap or two away.

 

 

And list most bots, we provide our customers with the option to speak directly to one of the lovely humans on our support team.

 

What’s much cooler than our own bot is Sprout’s chatbot builder, though.

Despite popular belief, you don’t need to be a technical wizard or programmer to get started with social bots. In fact, Sprout’s bot builder provides a variety of pre-built bot templates that make the process even easier.

Need a customer care bot? Lead bot? Shopping bot? It’s all there and then some.

Based on your business’ needs, you can put together actions and workflows that also show off your brand’s personality.

Whether it’s a few simple queries or something more complex, we can help you build an awesome experience for your customers.

Are you on board with chatbots for marketing?

Although chatbots might have been seen as little more than a novelty in the past, times are quickly changing.

More specifically, our customers are changing.

The speedy service offered by bots is exactly what people crave in the era of instant gratification. Rather than let customer concerns or potential sales fall by the wayside, social chatbots can pick up the slack and keep your business “open” around the clock.

If you want to learn more about what bots can do for your business, we definitely recommend you check out Sprout’s ultimate guide to chatbots.

And if you’re interested in building your own bot, watch the video below to see how Sprout can help.

How To Use Sprout Social's Chatbot Builder - YouTube

This post 11 chatbot marketing examples to boost your bot strategy originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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Understanding the social media demographics of each platform is an essential step to take before determining which platforms make the most sense for your brand to utilize. Each social media network comes in a different shape and size, with its own content strategy and user base, so there’s no one size fits all technique. You don’t want to waste your time creating content for a platform where your audience doesn’t actually have a large presence.

Instead, you want to invest your valuable time promoting the platforms where your people live. If that’s on Instagram, you’ll want to spend time creating and curating graphics and images to share, and so on and so forth. Adapting your content strategy for each platform your audience uses is a great way to engage them. And step one is knowing what those platforms are.

To get started, let’s dive into each individual social network’s demographics. To quickly find the social media demographics you’re looking for, click on any of the anchor links below to jump to that specific network:

How to pull your own social demographics

Data tells us age, gender, and location information for the people who tend to use each website and social media platform, but why not take this a step further? With Sprout Social, you can pull data from your specific social media platforms to find out the demographics of the actual people following you to make sure this is in line with your target audience.

If you add Sprout Listening to your account, you can take this step even further. You have access to more than just the data of your followers. You can tap into the people who are talking about topics surrounding your brand. Find out how your audience feels about certain topics, what they’re talking about most, and how you can leverage that in both organic and paid strategies.

Once you pull your own social media demographics, you can get started improving your overall social media strategy. Pair your brand’s data with insights from each platform and the Pew Research Center’s social media report to hone your audience segmentation with greater precision.

Facebook demographics

Facebook still reigns supreme when it comes to social media. In fact, at 2.27 billion monthly active users, over a quarter of the entire world population is accessing their Facebook account at least once a month. Nearly 1.5 billion of those users are checking their accounts daily and 1.3 billion users are chatting with friends and family using Facebook Messenger.

With 68% of adult social media users on Facebook, it’s a pretty sure bet you’ll find an audience on that platform. Let’s take a closer look at the demographics of their user base.

Facebook age & gender demographics

With the exception of adults aged 65 and older, Facebook is used by a majority of Americans amongst all other age ranges. The platform is nearly split down the middle by gender, but leans more towards a female user base with 54% women and 46% men.  Plus, according to the Pew Research Center’s report, 62% of all online men and 72% of all online women use Facebook, further speaking to its reach.

Facebook location demographics

Facebook is used all around the world, with about 89% of monthly active users living outside of the US and Canada and more than 50% speaking a language other than English. With such a diverse platform, it’s easy to find a your target audience no matter where they are.

The largest user base out of any given country is actually India, growing to 14% of all Facebook users this year. The United States is in second place at 10%, followed by Brazil and Indonesia at 6% each.

For US social media users, here is the breakdown of use by region:

  • 75% of adults living in urban areas use Facebook.
  • 67% of adults living in suburban areas use Facebook.
  • 58% of adults living in rural areas use Facebook.
Facebook education demographics
  • 60% of adults with a high school diploma or less use Facebook.
  • 71% of adults with some college experience use Facebook.
  • 77% of adults who graduated college use Facebook.
Facebook income demographics
  • 66% of adults who make less than $30,000 use Facebook.
  • 74% of adults who make between $30,000–$49,999 use Facebook.
  • 70% of adults who make between $50,000–$74,999 use Facebook.
  • 75% of adults who make over $75,000 use Facebook.

Source: http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/

Instagram demographics

The Facebook-owned photo sharing app has grown in both features and its user base since its inception in 2010. Since the addition of Stories and IGTV in the last few years, its user base has only increased in size.

Instagram is home to 35% of all US adults with 1 billion monthly active users and 500 million daily active users. Its Stories feature alone boasts 400 million daily active users.

Instagram age & gender demographics

Instagram leans towards a much younger audience than that of Facebook, appealing to teens and young adults with its straightforward, photo-centric design and ease of use.

The photo-heavy platform is also more popular among women than men, with 39% of online women using Instagram vs. 30% of online men.

Instagram location demographics

Over 80% of Instagram’s user base resides outside of the US, with a few of the top countries including Brazil, India, and countries throughout Europe.

For US social media users, here is the breakdown of use by region:

  • 42% of adults living in urban areas use Instagram.
  • 34% of adults living in suburban areas use Instagram.
  • 25% of adults living in rural areas use Instagram.
Instagram education demographics
  • 29% of adults with a high school diploma or less use Instagram.
  • 36% of adults with some college experience use Instagram.
  • 42% of adults who graduated college use Instagram.
Instagram income demographics
  • 30% of adults who make less than $30,000 use Instagram.
  • 42% of adults who make between $30,000–$49,999 use Instagram.
  • 32% of adults who make between $50,000–$74,999 use Instagram.
  • 42% of adults who make over $75,000 use Instagram.

Source: http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/

Twitter demographics

Twitter is incredibly popular among its user base, and it has also become an exceptional platform for brands to use for social customer service.

Twitter age & gender demographics

As one of the last remaining social networks with a chronological feed, Twitter has stayed a favorite for many of its users. Most popular with people in their 20s, the micro-blogging platform caters to the younger demographic ranges.

The spread of women vs. men on the platform is nearly even.

  • 24% of online women use Twitter.
  • 23% of online men use Twitter.
Twitter location demographics

Over 79% of Twitter’s user base resides outside of the US.

For US social media users, here is the breakdown of use by region:

  • 29% of adults living in urban areas use Twitter.
  • 23% of adults living in suburban areas use Twitter.
  • 17% of adults living in rural areas use Twitter.
Twitter education demographics
  • 18% of adults with a high school diploma or less use Twitter.
  • 25% of adults with some college experience use Twitter.
  • 32% of adults who graduated college use Twitter.
Twitter income demographics
  • 20% of adults who make less than $30,000 use Twitter.
  • 21% of adults who make between $30,000–$49,999 use Twitter.
  • 26% of adults who make between $50,000–$74,999 use Twitter.
  • 32% of adults who make over $75,000 use Twitter.

Source: http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/

LinkedIn demographics

LinkedIn is the number one platform when it comes to B2B social media marketing. Known for connecting professionals, LinkedIn has over 590 million registered users.

LinkedIn age & gender demographics
  • 29% of 18-29 year olds use LinkedIn.
  • 33% of 30-49 year olds use LinkedIn.
  • 24% of 50-64 year olds use LinkedIn.
  • 9% of 65+ year olds use LinkedIn.

The percentage of online women and men on the social media platform is equal.

  • 25% of online women use LinkedIn.
  • 25% of online men use LinkedIn.
LinkedIn location demographics

Over 70% of LinkedIn members reside outside of the US.

For US social media users, here is the breakdown of use by region:

  • 30% of adults living in urban areas use LinkedIn.
  • 27% of adults living in suburban areas use LinkedIn.
  • 13% of adults living in rural areas use LinkedIn.
LinkedIn education demographics

Considering LinkedIn is catered towards networking for professionals and business owners, it’s no surprise that the majority of its users have graduated from college.

  • 9% of adults with a high school diploma or less use LinkedIn.
  • 22% of adults with some college experience use LinkedIn.
  • 50% of adults who graduated college use LinkedIn.
LinkedIn income demographics
  • 13% of adults who make less than $30,000 use LinkedIn.
  • 20% of adults who make between $30,000–$49,999 use LinkedIn.
  • 24% of adults who make between $50,000–$74,999 use LinkedIn.
  • 45% of adults who make over $75,000 use LinkedIn.

Source: http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/

Pinterest demographics

Pinterest is a visual search engine that has revolutionized online shopping on their platform. With 250 million monthly active users and over 175 billion items pinned, it’s created an entirely new way to shop for products. In fact, 61% of pinners have made a purchase after seeing a product on Pinterest.

Pinterest age & gender demographics

Although more popular with younger users, Pinterest still has a steady user base across demographics ranges.

  • 34% of 18-29 year olds use Pinterest.
  • 34% of 30-49 year olds use Pinterest.
  • 26% of 50-64 year olds use Pinterest.
  • 16% of 65+ year olds use Pinterest.

Although a higher percentage of online women use the platform, 50% of all new signups are men.

Pinterest location demographics

More than 50% of Pinterest users live outside of the US.

For US social media users, here is the breakdown of use by region:

  • 29% of adults living in urban areas use Pinterest.
  • 31% of adults living in suburban areas use Pinterest.
  • 28% of adults living in rural areas use Pinterest.
Pinterest education demographics
  • 18% of adults with a high school diploma or less use Pinterest.
  • 32% of adults with some college experience use Pinterest.
  • 40% of adults who graduated college use Pinterest.
Pinterest income demographics
  • 20% of adults who make less than $30,000 use Pinterest.
  • 32% of adults who make between $30,000–$49,999 use Pinterest.
  • 34% of adults who make between $50,000–$74,999 use Pinterest.
  • 39% of adults who make over $75,000 use Pinterest.

Source: http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/

Snapchat demographics

Snapchat came along as a disappearing messaging app and has quickly turned into a common way for teens and young adults to chat with each other on their smartphones. Although it’s been recently outshined by Instagram Stories, another version of disappearing updates and messages, Snapchat still has 186 million daily active users.

Snapchat age & gender demographics

Snapchat’s strength is in its appeal to younger audiences, and many of its users visit the platform multiple times a day.

More women than men use the messaging platform.

  • 31% of online women use Snapchat.
  • 23% of online men use Snapchat.
Snapchat location demographics

For US social media users, here is the breakdown of use by region:

  • 32% of adults living in urban areas use Snapchat.
  • 26% of adults living in suburban areas use Snapchat.
  • 18% of adults living in rural areas use Snapchat.
Snapchat education demographics
  • 24% of adults with a high school diploma or less use Snapchat.
  • 31% of adults with some college experience use Snapchat.
  • 26% of adults who graduated college use Snapchat.
Snapchat income demographics
  • 23% of adults who make less than $30,000 use Snapchat.
  • 33% of adults who make between $30,000–$49,999 use Snapchat.
  • 26% of adults who make between $50,000–$74,999 use Snapchat.
  • 30% of adults who make over $75,000 use Snapchat.

Source: http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/

All social media demographics

Now that we’ve taken a look at the six most popular social media platforms and their demographics, let’s take a look at all social media demographics as a whole.

  • 68% of adults use Facebook.
  • 35% of adults use Instagram.
  • 24% of adults use Twitter.
  • 25% of adults use LinkedIn.
  • 29% of adults use Pinterest.
  • 27% of adults use Snapchat.

With Facebook’s user base comprising nearly double the second most popular social media network’s user base, it’s no surprise that it’s still king in the social media world.

However, digging into the detailed demographics above can help you better target your specific personas and audience niche. When working on your social media strategy, be sure to take these social media demographics into account so that you can find and target your audience online. combine this data with a tool like Sprout Social and you can track your strategy’s success with precision.

How have you used social media demographics to inform your strategy? Let us know in the comments!

Social Media Demographics Infographic Embed This Infographic:

<p><strong>”<a href=”//sproutsocial.com/insights/new-social-media-demographics/”>6 Social Media Demographics for Marketers</a>” by Sprout Social</strong><br /><br /><img src=”<span data-mce-type=”bookmark” style=”display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;” class=”mce_SELRES_start”></span>//media.sproutsocial.com/uploads/2019/01/new-social-demos-infographic.png” width=”640″ border=”0″ /></p>

This post Social media demographics to drive your brand’s online presence originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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Brand storytelling on social media influences customers by increasing brand awareness, reach and attracting new followers. Your story is how your company will be remembered by customers.

Building a unique brand story on social media involves telling it through different social platforms. It can be a challenge, though, to figure out the best way to translate the brand story you’re familiar with inside your company to social media.

According to a survey by The Manifest and Smart Insights, 24% of social media marketers said missing a formal strategy is their top social media marketing challenge. Another 24% said building a community of followers is a top social media marketing challenge.

“Social media is an essential but complicated part of a business’s marketing strategy,” writes Kristen Herhold, senior content writer and marketer at Clutch.

The good news is that engagement doesn’t have to be a mystery. It can be achieved. When you tell your brand narrative on social media in a way that resonates with the right customers – the customers who will actually use your product and services – the follows, clicks, tweets, or likes will come.

Know your audience

Before you can talk to your customers on social media, you’ve got to understand who your audience is.

One way to understand your audience is to create customer personas. You can create these personas by collecting data about your customers through customer interviews, a social media platform, and Google Analytics.

By matching the needs, hopes, wants, and desires of your audience with your brand story, you can get customers to feel a real emotional connection with your brand.

Here are four examples of brands successfully engaging with their customers with brand storytelling.

Create resources

The resources you create, which relate to your brand, should be helpful and useful for your audience. For example, restaurant operation software Toast provides resources that are relevant for restaurant operators.

Another example of a B2B company that is producing great resources is customer identity company Signal. Here’s an example from a post on Twitter that talks about their 2019 Marketing Predictions eBook.

Signal is providing a valuable resource for digital marketers. Because it’s their own content, it shows that the company cares about their community and wants them to be successful, as well as demonstrating their expertise in the space.

Takeway: If you have blog articles, eBooks, or white paper landing pages, use those across your social media accounts. When writing up a post, remember you are talking to human beings — so be helpful and use personality in your posts.

Brand storytelling in action: Shinola

Brand storytelling has to start with a story.

Let’s take a look at the luxury goods brand Shinola, which emphasizes their presence manufacturing in Detroit and their attention to detail and quality. It’s a good example of how a brand uses storytelling and community as a basis for their company.

“We know there’s not just history in Detroit – there is a future,” Shinola’s website reads.

The story continues: “In a world that’s rushing, we stand for something different. We believe our lives can be crafted just like our products, with intention. It’s about making time for the things that make you happy. It’s about investing in the things that are important. It’s about working with people who care the same amount, because it’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.”

The company has a watch factory, a leather factory and a bicycle workshop in Detroit, and most recently opened a hotel there.

So how does Shinola translate their story to social media?

First of all, Shinola posted a grand opening video of their hotel on Instagram:

The video shows the hotel lighting up on the streets of Detroit. The hotel itself adds to their story. I know you might be thinking, So you’re saying I have to open a hotel to engage customers on social? No, not at all. Although, it certainly can’t hurt!

The good news is you don’t have to open a hotel to get customer engagement on social media. You just have to know how to tell your story. And a huge part of Shinola’s story is their presence in Detroit.

Takeaway: In what city is your business based and what do you stand for? Share stories about your community, your employees, and your products.

Use content from your community

Shinola also creates connection to its community with user generated content. When a customer purchases a watch from Shinola, the brand invites the customer to share the watch on social media with #MyShinola. There have been 12,400 posts with #MyShinola on Instagram alone.

Inviting your customers to be part of your brand is an excellent way to get them engaged on social media.

Intrepid Travel focuses on small group adventure travel. They post travel images from their past customers on Facebook to show prospective travelers how awesome a travel experience can be with Intrepid.

Takeaway: Use a hashtag that involves your customers. Or, feature your customers’ photos when they help tell the story of your brand.

Give back

The Tote Project gives 10 percent of their profits to Two Wings, a U.S. nonprofit dedicated to helping sex trafficking survivors. All of their bags are made in Calcutta by women who are survivors of trafficking or at risk of being forced into trafficking because of poverty. The owners of The Tote Project are therefore able to provide jobs for women who might not have any other options.

The Tote Project posts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are inspiring, detailed, and all relate back to their mission: To end trafficking through spreading awareness, ethical manufacturing, and giving back.

Takeaway: You don’t have to donate 10 percent of your profits to charity, but focusing on giving back to the community will get your audience’s attention — especially if you give back consistently.

Stand up for something you believe in

Like The Tote Project, brands need to take a stand for the causes and issues that are most meaningful to them — and to their audience.

This involves being authentic. When creating a social media marketing plan, make sure you are being you. Authenticity is what the brands I mentioned in this article have in common. According to Sprout’s #BrandsGetReal study, 66 percent of people said it’s “important” for brands to take a stand on current issues.

Takeway: Tie the storytelling of your social media campaign to something your brand and your audience believes in. This could be things like helping feed the homeless, helping women get out of poverty, or protecting the environment.

One last thing

Your brand’s story needs to be told in a way that involves your customers and your community to make people feel like they are part of your brand story and connected to your brand.

If you’ve got content, share it. If your company helps the community, make it known. Involve your customers in your brand.

Your brand’s story will engage customers. You just first need to define what that story is, then make sure your customers know what your story is, too.

This post How to engage customers on social with brand storytelling originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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Welcome to planning season!

For social marketers, this is the most exciting time of the year.

Oftentimes it’s the most stressful, too.

Because coming up with a social media marketing plan means making some big decisions well before the new year gets into full swing.

And after all, the social landscape took quite a few twists and turns in 2018.

We saw Facebook’s algorithm update rock the business world, for starters. Thanks to Facebook, social media at large received some serious mainstream attention in regard to consumer privacy and the crusade against “fake news.”

We also saw a whole slew of social ad types and fresh business features roll out for brands. From social selling to advanced analytics, social-savvy brands have more opportunities than ever to sell directly to their audience.

Oh, and we also saw a notable shift in social content marketing. As predicted, brands are going all-in on video and ephemeral content in lieu of more “traditional” posts.

Sounds like a lot to process, right? How can you possibly turn these trends into a concrete plan?

Don’t panic.

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to coming up with your social media marketing plan for 2019 to help you start the new year strong. Regardless of your industry or audience, this approach to planning can work for you.

How to use this social media marketing plan

Throughout this guide, we’ll walk you through the social marketing planning process and how to adapt your business’ strategies to industry standards. This guide and attached editable planning worksheets will help you:

  • Set realistic social marketing goals to align with your business objectives
  • Determine how you will measure your social marketing efforts by the numbers
  • Integrate emerging trends and best practices into your 2019 social media marketing strategy
  • Plan out your best possible 2019 with editable planning worksheets to simplify the strategy-building process

Don’t make the mistake of diving into the new year without a concrete social media marketing plan. This guide covers everything you need from A to Z, serving as your go-to resource for your social strategy in 2019.

Click the button below to download our editable worksheets for your social strategy (just open in Apple Preview or Adobe to edit!).

Download Here

2019 goal setting and metrics to match

Here at Sprout, we’re all about metrics.

We believe that brands succeed when they take a goal-driven approach to social that’s rooted in data.

Before you obsess over trends and what content you’ll create in 2019, take a step back. Consider why your business has a social presence and the business goals you hope to achieve through social media. Understanding these goals and metrics will set you up for an actionable, measurable ROI.

Below are some common goals for businesses on social media alongside the metrics you can track to help you better reach those goals.

Increase brand awareness

According to Sprout’s 2018 Social Index, increasing brand awareness is the primary goal of 80% of business on social media. Raising that level of awareness means not just publishing content, but posting the types of content that engage and attract new followers.

Awareness metrics

Bear in mind that these metrics need to be measured from platform to platform. Sprout Social not only provides a big-picture overview of your content’s reach but also drills down to specific posts and social networks. For example, our Facebook impressions report can clue you in on whether or not your posts are actually getting in front of your audience.

The more time your business spends creating content and publishing it, your level of awareness should ideally tick upward. If not, it’s likely time to make a change.

Increase brand engagement

The beauty of social media is that businesses have a place where they can directly engage with customers without having to wait around.

Followers are capable of sounding off at any time. Customers are empowered to ask questions before making a purchase.

These touchpoints are valuable for marketers for both figuring out what their audience wants and providing stellar customer service. Typically, high levels of engagement with your brand and social content signal that your marketing strategy is on-point.

Engagement metrics

Each of these metrics represents an incredibly powerful currency for brands today. Likes, comments and shares effectively confirm that your content strategy is resonating with your audience.

Although some might see these data points as vanity metrics, it’s crucial to look at them in context. For example, a flurry of likes or comments on a specific post means that you’re capable of creating buzz with that type of content. Link clicks have the potential to clue you in on what products people are interested in, eventually leading them to buy from you.

Sprout’s reporting makes it a cinch to keep an eye on your engagement metrics.

But perhaps more important is the ability to do so in real-time. Via Sprout’s Smart Inbox, brands can monitor individual interactions and ensure that they respond in a timely manner. In a day-and-age where consumers expect timely replies, this feature is a game-changer for making sure no engagement goes unnoticed.

Drive website traffic

Based on current statistics, the average person is spending more and more of their time glued to social media versus traditional sites.

This challenge signals both the need for brands to market their sites to social users, but also tap into social media as a primary source of traffic versus organic or paid search. Through content marketing via social, brands can give followers a much-needed incentive to check out what their sites have to offer.

Web traffic metrics

These metrics can be found in Google Analytics. For example, the “Acquisition” tab can clue you in on which social networks are driving the most traffic and how those users are behaving once you land on-site.

Based on behavior highlighted by bounce rate and average session duration, businesses can see where their most engaged visitors are coming from. This can directly influence your social strategy as you spend more time driving traffic from the sources that make sense.

Generate new leads and grow revenue

Transforming social followers into long-term customers is the desired end-game for most marketers.

Making this happen means funneling your followers to your website where they can read content, check out products and ultimately convert.

Lead generation metrics

In addition to monitoring website traffic, brands should set specific conversion goals to better determine their social media ROI. Setting up those goals in Google Analytics can help you determine exactly what your social traffic is worth in terms of dollars and cents.

Although any top-of-funnel social traffic is a good sign for brands, the ability to measure the financial value of that traffic is crucial for accountability. By knowing what your social traffic is worth you can justify your time and money spent on social.

Speaking of which, the increased emphasis on paid social ads puts even more pressure on marketers to produce results. Paid performance reports through Sprout provide a crystal clear picture of ad performance including clicks, conversions and the overall cost of generating leads.

Objectives and key results

Seasoned marketers will always set clear objectives before planning or implementing a new social campaign. Objectives might vary depending on your industry or brand, though.

For example, some brands want to tailor their campaigns to increase customer retention, while others are focused on amplifying reach in the marketplace. Your objectives can be fairly broad but should be the guiding principle behind the rest of your campaign plan.

We recommend the Objective and Key Results (OKR) Method to identify broad objectives that are supplemented with specific, numbers-driven key results that align with our predetermined success metrics. These success metrics could reflect engagement metrics including shares, likes, and comments, or could focus on conversion tracking to determine the business value of shared content.

Here’s what a social marketing objective could look like for your brand:

Objective: Increase web traffic from social media in Q1 2019.

Key Result: Increase unique page visits by 10% in Q1; increase click-through rates on Facebook and Instagram posts between January and March 2019.

Your main objective above is to increase web traffic driven from social media. Success for this objective will be determined by the number of unique page visits and the click-through rates attributed to your selected social channels. Your key results should define what metrics you will analyze, what success looks like and how you will determine if your campaign has positively impacted overall business objectives.

Organic or paid content?

The organic content you share on social has a tremendous impact on SEO and the community-building process around your network.

However, organic reach is dwindling with increased noise and competition in the social space.

This means that any worthwhile social media marketing plan should include a hybrid paid and organic strategy. Supplementing organic content with paid ads is becoming increasingly common for up-and-coming businesses as well as established brands.

As you start planning for 2019, consider whether or not paid social will benefit your business. Let’s quickly dive into the difference between organic and paid social and how you can boost your organic efforts with a paid social strategy.

Organic social

Organic social content consists of using free tools provided by the social networks to share posts, respond to customers, and interact with your social community. All modern social networks provide native analytics and opportunities to engage followers at no cost.

Paid social

Your paid social strategy encompasses content you’re paying to display, including ads (text, image, video, carousel) or sponsored messages, all targeted to a specific group of social network users based on user profile.

While auditing your content from 2018, try to identify your most effective pieces.

For example, was there a specific blog post that performed better than others when you shared it on social? If so, would boosting that content with a paid advertisement make a significant impact on your lead generation or conversion rate?

Organic content is essential and your past archive of assets can still prove beneficial in the new year. Think of ways you can retarget or update your content to ensure that what you share on social is reaching your target market through the right channels — and don’t be afraid to invest (or reinvest) in your top-performing posts.

Coming up with a detailed social media marketing plan

After you’ve determined your objectives and key results and have considered the role of organic and paid campaigns, you can start building out a detailed social media marketing plan for your content.

This plan outlines your target audience, the type of content you will produce, where it will be shared and any resources or budget you need to implement the plan.

To help make the campaign planning a bit easier, we’ve constructed campaign planning worksheets (editable in Apple Preview or Adobe) for social marketers to use that align with where their customers are in each stage of the buyer’s journey.

<p class=”tc”><a class=”button” href=”https://media.sproutsocial.com/uploads/2018/12/Social-media-planning-worksheet-2019.pdf”>Download Here</a></p>

Top social media trends heading into 2019

Trends come and go. Social marketers probably know this better than most.

However, there are a number of trends and behaviors that have become staples of social media and industry best practices.

Understanding social trends will not only enable you to diversify your content but will keep your business competitive in the over-saturated social media environment.

Below is a quick list of emerging trends that you should consider as part of your social media marketing plan. These trends can provide some much-needed inspiration as you brainstorm your content for 2019.

Brands going all-in on social video

Perhaps the most pressing trend that shows no sign of slowing down is the rise of video content.

Whereas 2017 saw a boom of live video and video-centric Stories on Facebook and Instagram, long-form social video saw a sort of resurgence in 2018. Instagram’s announcement of IGTV signals that brands are expected to move beyond bite-sized video and step up their production value accordingly.

As highlighted in recent research by Cisco, video content is taking over the web at large. From casual streaming to live video and beyond, people are increasingly inclined to consume video versus a blog post or any other form of content. Facebook themselves notes that video receives the highest rate of engagement on their platform.

Interactivity and immediacy

Social media has shaped some very specific consumer expectations when it comes to customer service.

As noted in our guide to Twitter customer service, people see social media as their go-to channel to communicate with brands.

Why? Because customers expect timely updates and responses from brands rather than tedious back-and-forth. For example, Twitter provides the perfect avenue to keep customers in the loop about your business without having to worry about blasting an email.

This sort of interactivity and immediacy serves as proof that you’re looking to put your customers first. It’s also the same reason we’re seeing brands roll out robust chatbots which address customer concerns around-the-clock.

Think such bots are just a novelty? Think again.

Here’s some food for thought: 24-hour service is the number one benefit of chatbots according to consumers. The ability for brands to “be there” 24/7 could be the difference between your next deal and somebody bouncing to a competitor.

Emphasis on employee advocacy

As noted, the amount of noise and competition in the social space has reached an all-time high.

Standing out means having as many people as possible singing your brand’s praises, including your employees.

According to Bambu, promotional content is re-shared 24x more often when shared by employees versus brands by themselves.

Don’t just limit your content to your business account’s followers. Embracing employee advocacy opens your brand up to new audiences and provides your brand with a much-needed sense of authenticity. Having more human voices behind your brand immediately sets you apart from the competition, plus it expands your reach.

Empowering customers via user-generated content (UGC)

Speaking of advocacy, there’s arguably no better place to source social content than your own customers.

User-generated content receives more engagement than branded content and is likewise perceived to be more trustworthy. There’s a reason why brands today love to put their customers and their respective success stories on display.

Beyond serving as social proof, encouraging UGC makes it easier to fill out your own content calendar. Through branded hashtags and social listening, brands never have to wonder where their next post is coming from.

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If a strong visual strategy is key to your business, it’s likely that you’ve spent countless hours – or dollars – designing perfect image after perfect image. It’s no secret that creating high-quality content is time-consuming and costly, which means that the pressure is constantly on to maximize engagement, optimize distribution and deliver ROI with each image you share.

And when it comes to social, timing is of the essence. In addition to finding the right image, you have to effectively caption, hashtag, and target to the proper audiences. To save you some time when executing your visual strategy on Instagram and Pinterest, Sprout has invested in a variety of simple tools that will help you streamline content curation, increase reach on your posts – and most importantly, extend the life cycle of your posts.

Streamline content curation and publishing

When it comes to text-based content like blogs, many social teams tap into third-party content to capture the full breadth of their digital strategy. Curating and highlighting content from other notable publications or blogs is a reliable way to promote your brand, form partnerships with similar brands and deepen community trust.

Leveraging third-party content should also play a part in your visual strategy. That’s why we’ve made it really easy to curate and share third party content for Instagram and Pinterest in Sprout. With a simple workflow using Sprout’s Browser extension, you can quickly save Pins on Pinterest for content curation and publishing. And when gathering new content to feature on your Instagram profile, you can also make use of the browser extension to regram posts and choose to either save, schedule, or queue your post.

More visibility, more engagement

As a best practice, many brands add a long list of relevant hashtags to every Instagram post for more visibility, profile visits and audience growth. On Pinterest, the same practice also helps to surface more of your Pins in relevant searches and feeds when hashtags are included in the Pin description. When it comes to Instagram, some of the more sophisticated marketers have discovered that the best way to incorporate hashtags into posts is to add them as the first comment. By adding hashtags as a first comment instead of the caption, you avoid cluttering your message content and and keep your audience focused on your brand’s message.

When planning your social strategy, every minute saved is an opportunity to engage with your community, discover new content or optimize future marketing efforts. While crafting your Instagram content, save some time by planning or publishing the first comment for the additional hashtags directly in Sprout – without sacrificing a clean and polished caption.

Utilize the social snowball effect

Cross-promotion is a key component of any digital strategy because it enables brands to maintain a following across multiple platforms and networks. Tapping into each network’s unique strengths increases engagement for social posts. While Instagram lends itself to immediate engagement, Pinterest builds engagement over time.

By cross-posting published Instagram posts to Pinterest, you can surface your content across Pinterest’s discovery surfaces (homefeed, search and related Pins) over the coming weeks and months; fostering more engagement on your media and growing both your Pinterest and Instagram followers. When brands cross-promote, the content lifecycle extends beyond its publishing date; providing more opportunities for new audiences to view, engage or connect with your brand. Luckily, you can easily implement this technique in Sprout and cross-post your Instagram content to Pinterest directly from the Publishing Calendar.

Efficiently cross-promoting visual content on Pinterest to Instagram creates a positive snowball effect – driving better results on Instagram by tapping into the long-term nature of Pinterest content. If you have not yet done so, get started by claiming your brand’s account on Pinterest for improved content distribution and access to additional features or resources.

There’s a ton that you can do to enhance your visual strategy – curating, commenting and cross-promoting are just a few tricks that will help to kick you into high gear. If you are looking to get started with a more advanced visual strategy and leverage the power of Pinterest, you can learn more about our Pinterest integration here.

This post 3 ways to optimize your visual strategy with Instagram and Pinterest originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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