In 2016, Facebook remains the top social network, welcoming 1.44 billion monthly active users, many of whom check the site daily. Although younger audiences have fled for newer apps like Instagram and Snapchat, Facebook remains the social media site of choice for adults 35 years of age and older.
For marketers, this means finding new ways to reach out to these audiences. Like user preferences, social media is always evolving, which means marketers have to find a way to address those changes. Here are a few new ways marketers will reach out to Facebook members in 2016.
With its acquisition of virtual reality company Oculus VR, Facebook is rethinking the video concept. The company has already begun incorporating 360-degree video ads into user newsfeeds and this feature will also be passed on to customers. Brands may soon be able to shoot and upload 360-degree videos to their own walls, bringing a virtual reality-style experience to the site.
Facebook’s newsfeed changes could bring bad news for marketers, since feeds are being adjusted to show only content most relevant to customers. Two software engineers with the company recently advised page owners to avoid asking customers to take specific actions in posts, since this behavior could affect their referral traffic. Instead of asking customers to like or share posts, brands may have to customize their content to make sure it’s relevant to the users they’re trying to reach.
In December, Facebook began testing live video and collages with some of its members. The feature lets users share in-the-moment content with friends that they select at the time of posting. For businesses, this could eventually mean live product launches and behind-the-scenes views of employees. The video remains on a user’s timeline after it’s been shared to let customers who weren’t online catch up.
Facebook has long been held back by its search limitations, since customers could only search for users and pages. The company tried to get around this with graph search, but the feature was still clunky. Thanks to enterprising developers, consumers now have athird-party app that will help. Facebook page owners will become more aware of these advanced search capabilities and find ways to improve visibility on the site.
Brands have become more sophisticated in their social media marketing efforts, which means to be competitive, businesses need to keep up. Social listening is an important marketing trend, but it’s important that brands use it correctly. Instead of watching for mentions of their brand and competitors, businesses now monitor for conversations related to their products or services, then join the conversation when appropriate.
Social media buy buttons have been generating buzz for years. However, on most platforms, the feature is more vision than reality. Facebook is still testing its buy button, but marketers are honing in on the platform, already planning ways they’ll use it to convert social media followers to buyers. There will still be a slow adoption curve as an increasingly-mobile user base gets comfortable paying using a smartphone or tablet, butgrowing acceptance of mobile wallets should make that easier.
If businesses could reach out to each customer individually, their messages would be highly effective. Thanks to segmentation tools and data analytics, brands can communicate with groups of customers based on past engagement, buying behaviors, stated interests, and more. With Facebook’s demographics increasingly skewing older, marketers will continue to divide their approach between social media platforms, reaching out to younger consumers outside of Facebook.
Google believes the key to winning mobile users is micro-moments, defined as reaching out to consumers in small ways, at the very moment they need a particular message. A customer who just checked the weather on a smartphone could be delivered an ad for weather-related products like coats or snow chains. This type of real-time engagement will become more precise than ever in 2016.
Each year, marketers refine their social media marketing tactics. It’s important to remain informed about the changes any of these platforms make, since they can bring major differences to the way marketers reach out to customers. These eight small changes will likely continue to make an impact on the way brands engage consumers on Facebook for many years to come.