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What knockout ideas have social media marketing thought leaders developed this year? We found some amazing gems at Social Media Week (SMW) that will surely boost your marketing campaigns through the roof.

We had a chance to learn and ask questions about the digital marketing, social media marketing, and digital agency trends of 2018. SMWNYC is a hot event for giant brands and holding companies (such as WPP, Havas, National Geographic, and Kickstarter). We even gave a talk on the topic too!

We learned a tonne of information about digital agency trends, the changing marketing landscape, and why it’s relevant to marketing agencies like yours.

Below you’ll find the ten most important social media marketing ideas and digital agency trends of 2018.

Listen up! These tips to help your digital marketing get ahead come from some of the industry’s most important thought leaders.

Want all the exclusive notes, how-tos, and insights from this conference?

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10 Social Media Marketing Trends In 2018

1. Incorporate Empathy Into Your Branding

 

Branding theory used to assume that everyone was the same. However, technology and social media has drastically changed this. Consumers interact with branding, marketing, and advertising on a more personal and individual level now. Company brands are on their social media, their phones, and their computers.

image of marketing agency branding

Your agency’s branding and marketing strategy must consider the consumer and audience’s experience, perspective, and feelings if it’s going to be effective.

Branding and marketing must be empathetic in 2018. They should focus on solidifying shared purpose, and also service sustained emotional connection.

 

2. Influencer Marketing Is Powerful, But Make Sure It’s Authentic And A Good Fit

 

There is a big push towards influencer marketing. Celebrity and micro influencers have proven themselves effective. Influence marketing is becoming a mainstream method for agencies and individual brands.

Despite the success that influencer marketing can provide, your agency should not blindly follow this trend. Your partnerships and the content used in an influencer campaign matter.

Consumers are not easily fooled. They can spot disingenuous influencers from a mile away. It is very important that your influencer partners can effectively communicate with the target audience/their fan base. Sponsored content that sticks out like a sore thumb will not be very effective.

 

3. Social Media Marketing Must Be (And Feel) Organic–Not Salesy

 

Social media doesn’t talk at you, it talks with you. This is the flow that this medium naturally takes.

Your social media activity cannot represent advertising for this reason. It must be about the audience. Your posts must genuinely engage with the audience, build community, and feel organic.

How do you create organic social media content?

Focus on creating an engaging narrative with content. This holds true for all of your activity (ads to brand awareness included). Brands that struggle with narratives will struggle to engage their audience in the future.

 

4. Every Social Platform Is Different. Your Messaging Must Be Mindful Of That

image of poor social media engagement

 

You should be strategic with your social campaign platforms. Consider what type of medium you are using to express the campaign, and whether or not your message is worth it to share on social at all.

There is a universal human truth for social sharing: if it gives you the “feels,” then it’s going to work on social. This is a format-agnostic and platform-agnostic truth.

Despite this golden rule, the messaging that you use must match the platform. The content that you push forward should still have a native and organic appearance on your audience’s feed.

 

5. Make Your Client’s Feed Feel Like Your Audience’s Friend’s Feed

 

The most impactful and successful content is native and organic.

Focus on making your client’s content feel like a friend’s post in their social feed.

Native and creative content is powerful content. This is what separates good social media content from bad social media content.

Your posts cannot feel or look like advertising, nor can they talk at the audience. They need to talk with the audience, join the conversation, and engage the viewer.

For example:

  • Go native with your Instagram stories and post content.
  • Take advantage of Facebook Live.
  • Show personality and organic human interactions.

Your social activity should no longer be about advertising. It should be about integrating with your audience’s life!

 

6. The Most Successful Organizations Are “Responsive Organizations”

image of agile marketing agency

 

Customers want a timely, personalized, and relevant journey when they interact with a brand or organization. The most successful companies today have mastered this.

Amazon, Netflix, and Google are all champion examples.

Google, for example, has prioritized leveraging data to create a uniquely personal consumer experience. This makes it easy for consumers to use and interact with Google products (think perfectly timed push notifications, and suggested arrival times).

Google has mastered user engagement. Consumers want to keep coming back, and their strategy keeps bringing them back!

Focus on data collection in your client services.

More data means more insights. More insights means the ability to make a personalized and responsive customer journey.

Personalization + great product is tough to beat.

 

7. Stop Thumbs With Amazing Visual Content And Good Stories

Make content that matters for your clients

Let’s face it: the internet is saturated with content and a huge percentage of it isn’t even good content.

How do you combat the noise? Put out excellent content that hones in on amazing visuals and deeply human stories.

Successful agencies will invest their resources in exceptional content, good storytellers, and beautiful visuals.

Humans love and deeply desire stories–this is a universal truth. We always have and always will.

You need to find a way to integrate storytelling in everything you produce: from brand awareness content to advertisements.

 

8. Stop Making Content For The Sake Of Having Content

 

Most branded content is sub-par (at best) because it’s created for the sake of having content.

Every agency should be concerned about producing good content.

How do you produce good content? Start by asking the most important question: can you create content that matters, changes the way people think, and changes the way people behave?

If the answer is no, then don’t create content yet.

Your goal should be to inspire, move people, and drive action!

Invest your resources in good creators, storytellers, editors, and visuals.

 

9. Social Media Metrics Mean Nothing Without Engagement

image of good social media marketing agency engagement

 

 

Social media marketers have been deceived for far too long.

They have been told that data should be the only metric to drive strategy, and that social media marketing should be consistent across all channels.

However, what most social media marketers do not realize is that user engagement insights have a massive impact on campaign success. Today’s social media algorithms prioritize and reward content and profiles that engage with the community.

Authentic user engagement is essential for social media activity. But, you must leverage strategic data in order to get your clients on that level.

In order to create effective user engagement you must be mindful of the differences that each social platform has. Cater to these differences individually.

There is no room for copy and paste social media posts in 2018.

 

10. Find Your Tribe

It’s easy to get lost in the attention competition on social media.

Social users obsess over micro influence, thousands of followers, and endless likes. Whether this attention is meaningful or not, it takes a lot of work to get your client’s social profiles to this prestigious level.

Avoid being an ‘all things to all people’ person. Find your client’s tribe, stick to them, and treat them well.

They are the best community to help you grow your client’s network and reputation. They are also an amazing conduit for your client’s brand.

It’s more important to mean something to your tribe than nothing to everybody.

Establish a personal connection when branding and representing yourself on social media. Nailing the language, norms, & memes of your audience (your tribe) is a must if you’re going to meaningfully connect with them.

 

Summary

We’ve entered into the final quarter of 2018. It’s extremely important for you to pay attention to new and evolving marketing agency trends.

Being on top of marketing trends is just as important as providing and maintaining excellent client service.

There is always a lot of trend speculation before the year begins. That’s why it’s important to listen and test these trends to see what works.

As you continue your marketing efforts this year, try and focus on how the industry is evolving. Listen to what industry experts have to say, even if they are enterprise marketers with enterprise clients.

They have important lessons to teach! Who knows, maybe one day you’ll be in their position! 😉

Image of infographic of the future of marketing for digital and marketing agencies

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