For social media marketers, every new platform feature is an opportunity. New reporting tools let marketers fine-tune campaigns. New targeting features help marketers reach the ideal customer. New social platforms give marketers the chance to connect with audiences before competitors catch on. New social features from Facebook, Instagram and Google are empowering marketers to realize the power of localized content, reach customers earlier in the consumer journey and analyze campaigns in more detail.
Here are four of the most talked-about social updates to hit the market so far in 2019, and strategies for how to use them:
Facebook Video Insights
Analytics – whether they come from Facebook or a third-party reporting tool — should inform and affect your marketing strategies. Detailed reports tell you what worked, what didn’t, and why.
Facebook’s new Video Performance Card reporting feature provides metrics that quantify your audience’s attention span when it comes to video content. Marketers can see when users click away or scroll past the video, whether or not the user sees the part of the video that contains the main message, and see video plays broken down by how long people watched the video.
According to Facebook, 18-35-year-olds have 75 percent shorter attention spans for ads than people age 65+ do. This information, combined with Facebook’s Video Performance Card, should help marketers create video ads that drive the point home without exceeding the short time-limit that accompanies the modern attention span.
Facebook recommends that News Feed video ads be no more than 15-seconds, and they have mentioned that the sweet spot for video is about 6-seconds. No matter how long your video is, place key messages early in the video so as to get your point across before consumers click away or keep scrolling. To create a winning formula for your video, show your product or offering, make your elevator pitch early and provide a CTA. While businesses targeting an older population may be able to get away with creating a longer video, 30-seconds is the maximum length of a News Feed video ad.
Instagram Local Business Profiles
Research shows that in Q1 of 2019, Facebook’s share of overall business pages fell while Instagram saw an uptick in business pages. With Google+ being deprecated, more companies are focusing their marketing efforts on Instagram — the platform that gets 10x more audience engagement than Facebook.
Now, Instagram is making it’s app even more business-friendly.
The photo-sharing app recently began testing profiles for individual business locations. These are separate from the business’ Instagram profiles. While this feature is only available for some users, there are a few known details; Instagram automatically creates these profiles for business, and the profiles include a button where businesses can claim their profile and presumably edit the information. The profile includes the business’ address, hours, URL, as well as the three most recent posts to appear on the business’ Instagram account.
The information on Instagram’s local business pages is likely – though not definitively – pulled directly from Facebook, which owns Instagram. It’s unclear, however, how this will affect multi-location businesses. Will Instagram pull each location’s information from individual Local Facebook Pages, or from the corporate Brand Page? Multi-location marketers should keep an eye on this update as more information becomes available, but optimizing Facebook Local Pages now will ensure you’re ready if Instagram rolls this feature out to all businesses.
First, claim all your Facebook Local Pages and connect them to your main brand Page account. This will allow you to clean up rogue content such as incorrect store hours, addresses and unflattering photos. Next, begin posting localized content on these pages to fill in the gaps. Examples include an up-to-date logo for your page, high-quality photos of your business and products, and responses to any reviews that may be posted on your page. If your Facebook Local Pages are up to date, your Instagram pages should be accurate as soon as they become available.
Google My Business Follow Button
Most people don’t think of Google as a social media platform, especially with the depreciation of Google+ earlier in 2019. Although Google’s first foray into the social space didn’t pan out, the search giant is doubling down on Google My Business — a business-only platform that helps customers find information about businesses on the search results page or in Google Maps.
The word ‘Follow’ is commonly associated with social media, and Google has recently given users the ability to follow businesses on Google Maps. Users can tap ‘follow’ on the business’ Google My Business profile to receive updates from the business. Businesses should set up their Google My Business page, and share updates to reward the loyal consumers who follow the page. Google Posts and Google Q&A are two features that marketers need to be updating frequently. Google Posts appear alongside your business’ Knowledge Panel in search results and can be used to share upcoming events, promotions, and special offers. Google Q&A is a crowd-sourced question and answer section that gives consumers the ability to ask and answer questions about local businesses. However, business owners can pre-populate the Google Q&A section with common questions and answers, which is one way to control how your business appears in search results.
More Facebook Algorithm Changes
Much has been made of Facebook’s early-2018 algorithm change, which emphasized and showed users content including interactions with friends and family over business Pages. For businesses, this led to a sharp decline in organic reach. Some businesses can’t reach more than 1 percent of their followers with organic posts. Research shows that even businesses receiving high levels of engagement can’t reach more than 10 percent of their followers. Now, Facebook is making changes to further reduce the number of “click-bait” style posts that don’t earn meaningful engagement.
Facebook is sending out user surveys to find out which content is worth users’ time, and which isn’t. When announcing the change, Facebook claimed, “We’ll be updating News Feed to show people links we predict they will find worthwhile.” As Pages that distribute click-bait content see their reach decline, Pages that produce quality, engaging content will see their reach increase.
Multi-location businesses can ensure their content maintains high levels of reach by posting more localized content on Local Pages as opposed to Brand Pages, as 72 percent of brand engagement happens on these Local Pages. Some types of local content perform better than others; entertaining posts and inspiring posts are the two most-shared types of content, followed by posts that teach and posts that offer a discount. Marketers can put these insights to use by posting content like an inspiring local story, or an instructional post about using your business’ product or service.
The aforementioned features are emblematic of two emerging trends in social media; prioritizing meaningful engagements and blurring the line between a search engine and social platform. Google is giving consumers the ability to become a loyal follower of their favorite local businesses. Facebook is restricting the reach of Pages that post meaningless content and shifting their focus to video-first. Instagram is giving consumers the ability to find location-specific information about businesses with a Google Knowledge Panel-like business page.
The Google and Instagram features listed above are free and easily accessible, and should be a part of any localized social media marketing plan. Additional steps include claiming and managing your Local Facebook Pages, removing and editing any rogue content that may be on those pages, and creating an overall localized social content strategy. Local content strategies leverage the power of corporate resources while still implementing local expertise. While the owners of individual franchise locations may not have time to develop social media strategies and content, they do have valuable insights into the local consumers who come into their stores every day. Additionally, they are often better equipped to handle review responses and create meaningful engagements with their local consumers.
Building a social content strategy that leverages the power of local can help your brand build a powerful presence in each local market your company serves. By taking advantage of the new features above — and updating your presence on existing features like Facebook Local Pages — you can ensure your brand is well-represented at both the local and national level.