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With the competing demands on your time as a business owner, we know it can be difficult to keep up with all the changes going on in digital. We caught up with social media consultant and trainer at Social Progress, Janet Bebb, to find out what developments in social media she thinks you need to know about.

Social Progress delivers social media account management and training, so naturally, it’s important that they keep up-to-date on the latest developments.

“We interact with Facebook quite a bit, so we get direct updates from them that we can impart to our clients”, Janet explains.

Social platforms are helping businesses to go digital

Janet confirms that LinkedIn remains the most popular platform for engaging a business audience, while Facebook and Instagram continue to be the most popular for reaching consumer audiences.

“All platforms have adapted for small businesses this year”, says Janet. “There’s much more focus on managing e-commerce and we’ve seen the process get slicker. Shopify have really capitalised on the push to get businesses online and lots of small businesses have done really well getting themselves onto Shopify or building websites and then using social media to drive traffic to them. I can’t see that slowing down.”

Research by GoDaddy found that a fifth of micro businesses have taken their businesses online for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Over three quarters of these plan to continue to maintain and build their online presence in future.

Janet continues: “Within Facebook Business Suite (which now includes Business Manager) there have been a lot of changes going on and there are still improvements to be made to how they support businesses. They are standardising things and making security enhancements. It has been frustrating for some businesses that haven’t had everything set up properly in the background. You’ll help yourself if you can make sure you set your Business Suite up at the outset with all your Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, your pixel code and ads.”

Passion and purpose hold the key to success on social media

The changes we have seen in 2020 have led to many commentaries on how things will be when we emerge from the challenges of the pandemic and Brexit.

Consumer support for small businesses has grown through the pandemic but, says Janet, people increasingly want a blended approach to retail.

She explains: “When it’s possible, people still want to go out to the shops and browse as it’s a release – social and relaxing time. Many shoppers want to support local traders, but price and convenience will usually win unless a business can overcome that with a strong emotional connection or genuine social responsibility credentials that people are willing to pay a higher price for.

“I think that in coming years, businesses that will excel on social media and in their trading performance will be those that can tell this story effectively.

“Take Elvis & Kresse, for example. They create high-end accessories from recycled fire hoses and leather offcuts from Burberry, with 50% of the profits going to charities. They have incorporated social giving into their product and so people are happy to pay a premium.

“We’ll see more businesses openly supporting feminism, the Black Lives Matter movement and sustainability, but if you’re going to do it too, it can’t be willy-nilly. You have to be genuinely passionate.”

Instagram is still the one to watch

“Instagram is growing exponentially – much faster than Facebook ever did”, Janet says. “This makes sense as we’re all much more experienced with social media and we understand it more now.”

There’s good reason to pay attention to Instagram. The platform has grown faster than forecasters expected and now has over 1bn monthly users and 90% of accounts follow a business.

“If you’re not on Instagram you’re missing out. Facebook have told us Instagram will become bigger than Facebook”, Janet advises.

Video content continues to dominate engagement

“Video is key to engagement and again you’re missing out if you’re not using this post type”, Janet says. “Videos receive five times more engagement than pictures.”

Wyzowl’s State of Video Marketing 2021 report revealed that ‘85% of people would like to see more video from brands in 2021’. 

“Many businesses still struggle with producing videos and the demand for this is only increasing”, Janet continues. “You can use TikTok to make videos, Instagram has introduced Reels and you can also experiment with tools like Canva, Biteable, Magisto and Animoto to find which suits you best.”

Paid subscription Facebook Pages

Facebook have been steadily rolling out their fan subscription pages to more geographical markets.  These are only available to select accounts that meet a minimum eligibility criteria, currently. Janet is a member of a Facebook Group looking at subscription-based models.

“These pages allow the owners to charge a subscription for users to access its premium content”, Janet explains. “Then Facebook take a cut of the subscription fees from group owners”. 

The subscription pages are one of a number of tools that Facebook have introduced to help creators monetise their content. Other options include Stars payments, video ads and paid online events, which all have eligibility criteria too.

Don’t forget the fundamentals

Whatever developments are going on with social media platforms, remember that these are just vehicles for reaching your customers. Your success will come from taking time to understand your customer and creating content that appeals to them and encourages them to engage with you. Have fun experimenting with new social media tools and getting to know for yourself what works for you and your business.  

Janet Bebb is one of only 24 Accredited Facebook #SheMeansBusiness Trainers in the UK. She is a social media consultant and trainer for Social Progress in Yorkshire. The company specialises in social media account management, training and consulting.

Neina Sheldon
Article by Neina Sheldon
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