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Navigating the Ever-Changing Landscape of Social Media: A Business Owner’s Guide to Investing Wisely

Can you believe how much social media has evolved over the past decade? It feels like just yesterday we were all getting the hang of Facebook and Twitter, and now, here we are, navigating a vast and ever-changing landscape of platforms, algorithms, features, and trends. In this blog post, we’re going to take a closer look at how social media has transformed over the last 10 years, and explore some strategies for investing your time and budget wisely in paid social services and features.

The Evolution of Social Media

Let’s start by taking a trip down memory lane and reflecting on how social media has changed since its early days. Ten years ago, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn were the go-to channels for connecting with friends, sharing updates, and networking with professionals. But oh, how things have changed!

Fast-forward to today, and social media has exploded into a diverse ecosystem of platforms, each catering to different audiences and preferences. From visual-centric platforms like Instagram and TikTok to professional networking sites like LinkedIn and niche communities like Reddit, there’s something for everyone in the world of social media.

But it’s not just the platforms themselves that have changed – it’s also how we use them. Social media has become more than just a place to connect with friends – it’s a powerful marketing tool for businesses of all sizes. With the rise of influencer marketing, paid advertising, and e-commerce integrations, social media has transformed into a virtual marketplace where brands can engage with their audience, drive sales, and build relationships like never before.

Evolving Trends

  • Presence vs. conversions / ROI: When we started maintaining clients’ social media channels fifteen years ago, business owners were seeking to have their social media channels “vibrant” and regularly updated. Simply having a presence on social media by posting content and responding to people was considered enough. In today’s fast-paced environment, businesses want to understand how they can drive conversions and increased sales with the platforms in addition to building brand awareness and reaching customers. It’s also the biggest shift in businesses being able to manage their social media channels on their own, and needing experienced help.
  • The Emergence of Influencer Marketing: Ten years ago, the term “influencer” might have elicited a few raised eyebrows. But today, influencers are key players in the social media marketing game, wielding immense power and influence over their dedicated followers. From micro-influencers to mega-celebrities, brands are partnering with influencers to reach new audiences, build credibility, and drive sales. Influencers have the ability to sway consumer opinions and shape brand perceptions in ways that traditional advertising cannot, and often smaller or micro-influencers are the most successful for business campaigns.
  • The Evolution of Algorithms: Let’s not forget about the ever-elusive algorithms – those mysterious formulas that dictate what content gets seen and by whom. Over the past decade, social media platforms have tinkered with their algorithms, causing waves of panic and frustration among marketers. From chronological feeds to algorithmic timelines, from engagement-based sorting to personalized recommendations, staying on top of algorithm changes has become a constant challenge for businesses striving to maintain visibility and engagement. It’s important for businesses to understand how they work and how to fuel engagement on each platform.
  • The Rise of Visual Content: Remember when social media was all about text-based updates and status messages? Those days are long gone! The biggest shift we’ve seen in recent years is the rise of visual content. Platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok have turned into visual playgrounds, where eye-catching images and videos reign supreme. As business owners, it’s crucial to adapt to this trend by investing in creating a lot of photos and visuals that capture attention and tell your brand’s story in a compelling way.
  • The Advent of Stories: Speaking of visual content, one of the most significant developments in recent years has been the rise of Stories. Initially popularized by Snapchat, Stories have now become a staple feature on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and even LinkedIn. These ephemeral, bite-sized snippets of content offer a unique opportunity for businesses to share behind-the-scenes glimpses, showcase products, and engage with their audience in a more authentic and spontaneous manner.
  • The Reign of Video Content: Video killed the radio star, and it’s been dominating the social media scene for years now. From short-form clips on Vine (RIP) to live streams on Facebook and YouTube, video content has become a cornerstone of social media marketing strategies. With the rise of platforms like TikTok and the popularity of Stories and Reels, entrepreneurs and business owners are finding new and creative ways to leverage the power of video to capture attention, tell stories, and drive engagement. Having a strategy to create video for your business has moved from a nice-to-have to a necessity.
  • The Shift Towards Authenticity: Gone are the days of polished, overly curated social media feeds. Today’s consumers crave authenticity and transparency from the brands they follow. This shift towards authenticity means that businesses need to show the human side of their brand, share real stories, and engage in meaningful conversations with their audience. It’s not about perfection – it’s about being genuine and relatable. It does not mean unprofessional, however, and it’s important for businesses that don’t have the time or expertise to keep their channels updated find a professional to help them.
  • The Importance of Data and Analytics: Last but not least, one of the most significant changes we’ve seen in social media marketing is the increased emphasis on data and analytics. With access to a wealth of insights and metrics, businesses can now track the performance of their social media efforts in real-time, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions to optimize their strategies. Whether it’s monitoring engagement rates, analyzing audience demographics, or measuring ROI, data has become the backbone of effective social media marketing campaigns

Investing Wisely in Paid Social Services and Features

Now that we’ve established how much social media has changed over the last decade, let’s talk about how you as a business owner can invest wisely in paid social services and features. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to know where to focus your time and budget. Here are a few tips to help you navigate the waters:

  • Understand Your Audience and Goals: Before diving into paid social services, take the time to understand your target audience and define your goals. Are you looking to increase brand awareness, drive website traffic, or generate leads? Knowing your audience and goals will help you choose the right platforms and strategies to achieve your objectives. If you don’t have a clear vision of your audience and goals, consult a marketing professional who can help you create a strategy. Investing here will save you considerable time and money in the future.
  • Consider Your Resources: When deciding between hiring an expert or DIY-ing your social media efforts, consider your resources – both time and budget. If you have the bandwidth and expertise in-house, DIY-ing your social campaigns can be a cost-effective option. However, if you lack the time or expertise, outsourcing to a knowledgeable expert or agency can save you time and help you achieve better results in the long run.
  • Stay Flexible and Adaptive: The world of social media is constantly evolving, so it’s essential to stay flexible and adaptive in your approach. Keep an eye on emerging trends, new features, and changes to platform algorithms, and be willing to adjust your strategies accordingly. What works today may not work tomorrow, so it’s important to stay nimble and open to experimentation.
  • Understand when to pay and not to pay the platforms: Both paid and organic social media marketing efforts can drive significant results in your business. For nearly all businesses, a combination of both is ideal. With the hundreds of channels we manage, we spend an average of $30/month on paid/boosted posts in order to fuel engagement and continue to grow their audiences. If you’re new to paid social, start with the basics. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer easy-to-use advertising tools that allow you to target specific demographics, interests, and behaviors with precision. Experiment with different ad formats, targeting options and budgets to see what works best for your business.
  • Measure and Optimize: Finally, don’t forget to measure the performance of your paid social campaigns and use that data to optimize your strategies over time. Track key metrics like click-through rates, conversion rates and return on ad spend (ROAS), and use that insight to refine your targeting, messaging and creative assets for maximum impact.
  • Balancing Resources: When determining whether or not you should hire an agency or manage your marketing in-house, it’s important to consider where you can add the most value to your marketing and to your business overall. Do you have the expertise in-house to manage everything, stay on top of trends, understand how to best optimize your investment of time and money? For most businesses, focusing on the customer relationships, the areas where they have expertise, and capturing photos and videos of their business is the area to invest and partner with an agency or resource to manage the rest.

So, what does all this mean for us as entrepreneurs and business owners? Well, it means we’re living in an era of unprecedented opportunity and innovation. The landscape of social media marketing is constantly evolving, presenting new challenges and possibilities at every turn. But with change comes growth, and those of us who embrace it, adapt to it, and harness its potential will be the ones who thrive in the years to come.

Social media has come a long way in the last 10 years, and as business owners and marketing leaders, it’s crucial to invest wisely in paid social services and features to stay ahead of the curve. By understanding your audience and goals, starting with the basics, considering your resources, staying flexible and adaptive, and measuring and optimizing your campaigns, you can make informed decisions about when to DIY and when to pay an expert for your organic and paid social efforts. So here’s to navigating the ever-changing landscape of social media with confidence and savvy! And if you need anything, the Dream Local Digital #HoneyBadgers are here to help.

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