94% of online adults now have an account with at least one social media platform, while on a global scale, internet users engage with social for a daily average of over two hours.

The influence of social networking is transforming how we communicate, dramatically reshaping the online purchase journey – impacting how consumers research and compare products, and interact with brands.

This presents marketers with both an opportunity and a challenge.

The Social Question

Developing that in-depth understanding of your audience is key when it comes to effective social media marketing. This starts with knowing where they are.

Facebook remains the most popular social platform as 88% of internet users (outside China) now have an account with at least one of the company’s mediums.

Despite this, according to HubSpot:

Only 45% of marketers think their Facebook efforts are effective.

This highlights the need for more granular data to dig deep into exactly which platforms your audience are using and how, helping you to clearly align your marketing goals with the right consumers.

Many audience-centric brands are putting data to the test to drive more ROI with social media. L’Oréal is one such brand, who turned its hand to YouTube knowing that a huge portion of its audience were using the platform to follow beauty vloggers and influencers.

With 61 video properties in 39 different countries, L’Oréal hugely benefitted from taking a more targeted approach, quickly becoming the most watched beauty brand of 2016.

The New Consumer Journey

Once you know where your audience is, producing relevant content is the key to engagement. This partly depends on the medium.

Instagram and Pinterest are largely image-led, for example, while over half of Facebook users watch video on the platform. This is significant as according to Brightcove, 46% of consumers say they’ve made a purchase as a result of watching a brand video on a social network.

But knowing where to place your message depends on what your audience needs and where they’re positioned along the path to purchase.

With 40% of 16-24 year-olds using social as a key research channel, the opportunity is there,and social media can play a role in every part of the journey, all the way from awareness through to purchase.

Using consumer data to understand when to deliver a timely video tutorial to those researching a product, for example, can help guide consumers from research to consideration.

Equally, those in the consideration phase may benefit from a retargeting campaign on their preferred social platform, gently prompting them to make a purchase.

Micro-Moments Mapping

The key to success here lies in knowing the right moments to provide the right content.

Marketers are growing increasingly aware of the value that lies in dissecting the micro-moments (those exact moments when a person accesses a device with specific intent to either learn something, do something or buy something).

Brands can capitalize on this acute consumer interest by delivering the right content at the right time on the right channel.

Social media also offers a unique opportunity to listen to consumers and engage with your audience directly. Social listening can provide invaluable insights about what pleases and frustrates them, what they’re talking about and, equally, what they’re complaining about.

Taking note of what consumers need and want helps you create detailed customer journey maps that can further inform the content that’s sure to deliver.

There’s a wealth of consumer data at your fingertips to help you map this new journey and better understand the touchpoints that matter.

With almost four in 10 internet users following their favorite brands on social media, a quarter of whom are following brands from which they’re thinking of making a purchase, the opportunities to engage consumers on a more personal level are immense.

Social media marketing has more potential than ever – so it’s time to get it right.

social trends to know

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