A Few Takeaways From Social Media Marketing World 2018

Lauren Clawson, Social Media Team Lead
Sitting in a conference - social media marketing world 2018 takeaways

I recently attended Social Media Marketing World put on by Social Media Examiner. Overall, the conference was excellent, and while I could write a separate blog post on several of these topics, here are some of my top takeaways from time in sunny San Diego:

1. With LinkedIn, the most underutilized resource for companies isn’t paid content promotion, it’s your employees.

Only a few sessions were given on LinkedIn during the conference, and both presentations I attended were absolutely packed. It definitely looked like there was a gap in the knowledge of LinkedIn strategy and the desire to learn about the platform. What stood out to me the most was how surprised the audience (myself included) was when the topic of leveraging their current resources was discussed.

LinkedIn measures a company’s value on its network, not its level of activity or content. (To an extent.)

Jo Saunders, an expert on optimizing LinkedIn presence made it absolutely clear that their algorithm prioritizes human connections as they decide who should be shown specific content. Your company could be absolutely massive, but if none of the employees are connected to the business, connected to peers, or engaging with your content, you’re missing a huge opportunity.

LinkedIn does not have as severe an emphasis on human engagement as Facebook to determine organic reach, but they still prioritize it heavily. While it’s unlikely that your team would omit their employer in personal profiles, there are absolutely things that they can and should do to connect with each other and your shared posts that will result in better organic reach for your company’s content.

Remember, LinkedIn was created as a professional social network for finding jobs and employees, not a billboard for blog posts.

Here are a few things you can do immediately to increase the reach of the content you share:

Connect employees with the business on LinkedIn

Ensure that all employees have specified on their own LinkedIn pages that they work for the company AND follow the company LinkedIn page. These are two separate actions that are both valuable and often overlooked.

Connect employees with each other on LinkedIn

Ensure all employees are connected with each other. This connected network is truly greater than the sum of its parts. And remember that on average, employees have 10x the connections of a company. Getting an echo chamber with this much potential reach started offers huge potential upside to your business.

Mind the LinkedIn SEO opportunity

Remember that LinkedIn is indexed by Google, and all content on the page should be treated accordingly. Optimize for humans and engagement first of course, but consider being highly descriptive wherever possible. Titles of blog posts, company descriptions, etc.

2. Act like a human – the value of two-way engagement

All social networks operate on the same currency: user reach. Algorithms will reward users who actively engage on the platform by increasing the reach of the content they post themselves. You get out what you put in.

While most brands consistently post their own content, they very rarely engage with the content of their followers, let alone that of other businesses. All social platforms encourage both businesses and users to have more authentic interaction. Especially if they’d like to be heard by a larger audience. Think about how self-centered and ultimately boring it would get if you were a human in a conversation where the other person only talked about themselves.

Hence “be more human”, and thou shalt be rewarded.

I very much understand that some companies worry about seeming unprofessional if they engage with the content of their fans, but there are ways to reciprocate engagement while avoiding headaches for the internal PR team. Again, to increase the reach of a post on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram, engagement needs to be a two-way street (and liking user comments on your own posts doesn’t count).

Beyond liking comments and photos on other people’s posts, here are some easy ways to increase engagement by your business:

  • Pinterest – Users on Pinterest do not actively like or comment on individual pins, but they do repost and share the content. One good rule of thumb from the conference was the “80/20 rule for posting”. About 80% of the content that an account pins should be branded and 20% should be from other accounts.
  • Twitter – Retweet credible accounts posting information that is relevant to your followers. Follow the leaders in your industry to stay current on what’s important and interesting, even if they don’t follow you. Pro tip: be careful of retweeting bots even if they seem to pick up interesting tweets, as this can quickly reduce the credibility of your own account.
  • Facebook and Instagram – Tag other accounts in your own posts. Extra points if the account tagged is a human, not just a brand that you might or might not have a partnership with.

There are tons of other ways that a brand can increase their own engagement online, but those are a few easy ways if your marketing team wants to take small steps forward. The sooner that you start engaging, the sooner you’ll see a lift in social following and reach.

3. Everyone is VERY concerned about the Facebook algorithm changes and no one is talking about paid social.

With the massive caveat that Social Media World took place shortly before the Cambridge Analytica and data privacy shake-up around Facebook: if there was a phrase that could sum up the conversations and presentations in San Diego, more than any other it would be “Facebook apocalypse”. Back in January, Facebook announced there would be an update to their newsfeed algorithm which prioritizes posts from human friends and family and deprioritizes posts from publishers.

Essentially, Facebook turned back the clock to a time before brands and publishers had frankly over-run the platform. This includes all content from brand pages, mainstream media, and viral videos. While I understand why this next step in the loss of organic reach would be cause for concern, if Facebook didn’t make changes to keep users from leaving the platform any faster than they are over privacy concerns, we could end up with no one left to show ads. Perish the thought!

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As a practitioner that already focuses heavily on paid social at Portent, this algorithm change doesn’t affect my day-to-day as much as other attendees of the conference who are focused on the last remnants of organic social reach. For paid social, this will make advertising more competitive and eventually costs will rise.

That said, I’m personally excited for this change because it will force advertisers to create more engaging content that truly provides value to users. Facebook was created as a social platform, and companies will have to double down on making their pages a social experience once again.

What else?

One topic that I felt was underserved at the conference was paid social strategy.

Facebook in particular provides advertisers with fantastic tools to spend money on the platform, but that doesn’t mean that every person can do it efficiently right out of the gate. For instance, with the Facebook algorithm change this past January I know for a fact that an updated ecommerce strategy is something that a huge number of brands are seeking. If you’re worried that the privacy shake-up is going to pull a lot of the granular data-driven targeting out of Facebook, check out this post from Ian Lurie on what’s changing in Facebook advertising after Cambridge Analytica and why we don’t need to run for the lifeboats just yet.

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