Social media was the king of business last year.
Even though there was a huge investigation by Congress, Facebook still reported its highest earnings of all time in the third quarter of the year, which is almost a 50% jump from the previous year.
Their advertising is so popular that their mobile ads are actually starting to take up all the space the platform has for them. Despite issues like this, Facebook is still able to charge more than ever before.
Oh, and it also it its 2-billion-user milestone, which means nearly one-third of the population is a Facebook user.
But, this wouldn’t even be possible if social media wasn’t the number one most effective way for businesses - including dispensaries - to reach their audiences. This is all thanks to the fact the average millennial spends about 18 hours per day on social media, usually on multiple platforms at once. The average millennial also checks their phone about 43 times per day, and spends 5.4 hours on mobile social media per day. While they might be doing other things, it’s not a huge percentage (roughly 14%) of media consumption.
This obsession with social media is pushing businesses to spend even more money on social and digital ads than on TV advertising. And these trends are showing no signs of slowing down, and are even continuing to be on the rise now in 2018.
Here’s your handy guide to six social media trends that will heavily affect how dispensaries leverage their social media marketing in the year ahead:
1. Ephemeral Content Gets More Engagement
“This message will self-destruct in 5...4...3...2...1”
That’s right, short-lived content is getting increasingly more popular. Just take a look at Snapchat, leading the way with its content’s ephemeral nature. With the platform raking in 10 billion daily video views, it would be a pretty huge mistake to ignore the value Snapchat has to offer.
It’s the best way to reach millennials (18 - 34), the group that is most likely to follow cannabis - related content. This is especially true considering the average Seattle cannabis user is 36.7, and roughly 50% of dispensary customer loyalty program members are under the age of 40.
Ephemeral content is short-lived, with the maximum length of time being 24 hours. After that, it’s gone. Forever.
As a business owner, I can totally see how the idea of your content just disappearing like that can be daunting. However, the incredible popularity this type of content has received so far (again, look at Snapchat!) means it’s time to develop strategies for adding ephemeral content to your content marketing.
Here’s why you want to do this:
- Ephemeral content doesn’t last long, so it’s more authentic and less pushy, like some sponsored ads or spammy posts that last much longer.
- The content is gone after a matter of hours, so it raises the urgency factor. Your audience members will feel like they need to take action right away, which is a huge benefit for your marketing efforts.
- It’s easy for users to follow you and view your content, thanks to SnapCodes and other QR codes.
- Snapchat content is so short-lived, and users have your username or SnapCode in order to follow. This adds a layer of exclusivity that helps boost customer retention and engagement. People like to feel part of things, and the nature of Snapchat really helps with this.
Takeaway: When creating your social media calendar or editorial calendar for the year, make sure to include some ephemeral content to reach new audiences. This marketing strategy should be focused on producing content (pictures and 10-second videos) that is engaging and compelling, yet still available for a short amount of time.
[Related Story: 3 Expert Ways to Use Snapchat to Get More Website Traffic]
2. Free (Organic) Reach on Social Media is Gone
For years now, the organic reach on Facebook (percentage of followers that see posts that weren’t “boosted” by paying for promotion) has been dying out, even dropping as low as 2%.
It’s extremely like that Facebook may just end up doing away with organic reach entirely. Recently, the network launched a new “Explore Feed” feature, intended to serve as a second-class News Feed that is solely for company updates. The testing is already underway in some countries to do away with ALL company social posts from the all important (and growing more and more crowded) News Feed over to the Explore Feed.
Well, unless you give the network money.
These recent developments are evidence Facebook is now a paid platform for companies, so there isn’t a whole lot of difference between that platform and other paid advertising channels like direct mail marketing, billboards, or even television. In order to reach your target audience via the News Feed, you’re going to have to shell out some cash. Seeing as how 51% of companies are currently struggling with a lack of social media advertising budget, this will pose a problem for many dispensaries this year.
Takeaway: Facebook has been at the helm of the some of the most precise ad targeting tools to have ever been produced. (Want to pitch a product to twenty-something stoners living in tacoma who are vegan and like goats? Oh, that’s easy.) So, in the end, the money wouldn’t exactly be wasted. In fact, it would be ad money well spent.
If you want to get your posts boosted as far as possible, hire an experienced copywriter to create eye-catching ads that compel target audience members to take action. Or, focus on social media channels that don’t charge money to have your content reach your audience. Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr are great places to start.
3. Content That Engages Audience on a Personal Level
The vast majority (84%) of millennials have a strong aversion to traditional advertising, so it doesn’t make any sense to create content written from a sales point of view. They simply won’t trust it.
If they don’t find content to be immediately relevant to them, their interests, or their lives, most consumers will not like it. Content should be personalized and should directly pertain to them. This is type of content that is the most likely to be read and engaged with, such as sharing and commenting.
Adopt more of a storytelling narrative, as opposed to one that is obviously written with one goal in mind: Get more sales. Instead, the content should be narrated in a manner that resonates with your audience the best. If your audience uses slang, for example, then your content should reflect that.
[Related Story: Content Marketing 101: Creating Content That Sells ]
Reach out to influencers and ask them to share your brand’s stories across various social media platforms. Hire an experienced content marketer to create content that shares your brand’s stories, while still remaining relevant and directly compelling to your target audience.
eMarketer recently predicted that the opinions of roughly 45% of people who buy things online are affected by what other people think. This is why hiring influencers is a key social media trend for 2018.
Influencers are members of your target audience who can share your brand’s content in order to provide the weightiest engagement. This engagement - usually on social media - usually leads to direct sales, with simple product suggestions.
Furthermore, having an influencer working with your brand also helps with SEO. With influencers, your cannabis brand will be able to reach a much larger audience than it would otherwise, and in the shortest possible amount of time.
Takeway: Hire a cannabis industry influencer to engage with your target audience at a truly personal level. Engage with your target audiences by commenting on their posts, sharing their stories, tagging or mentioning them, and responding to your audience members when they need to hear from you the most. Doing all that can be time consuming, so hiring an experienced cannabis content marketer will prove to be a valuable investment.
4. Video Content is Even More Important Than Ever
It also doesn’t take a psychic to know video is the technology of the future. It’s not just the key technology for social media, but for the Internet as a whole. Just look at how live video, recorded video, and video ads increasingly continue to dominate all channels from Facebook to LinkedIn.
In fact, nearly half of all businesses are already incorporating social video content into their marketing efforts, and an additional 26% are planning to implement it this year. Plus, Mark Zuckerberg already estimated 90% of Facebook’s content would be video-based by some point in 2018.
There’s just one hiccup.
In the hurry to get as many views and clicks as possible, too many dispensary owners are forgetting the bigger picture. Ultimately, WHO is watching and WHAT they do after they watch, carries far more weight than HOW MANY people are watching.
Oh, and don’t worry about going “viral.” You can have 6 million people view your content, but only those who buy something are the people you want to focus on. After all, going viral doesn’t do you the least bit of good if none of those views are from actual customers who want to stop by your dispensary and buy something.
Engagement means far more than views.
Takeaway: It’s not the number of views, but the number of engagements. Use your analytics tools to keep track of the engagements and conversions that come from your video content. This is what is going to help you when it comes to figuring out the right type of video content that leads to the acquisition and retention of your Tacoma dispensary customers. Video content needs to have a purpose aside from showing off your brand and should be directed toward you target audience - - don’t just publish videos because it’s trendy to do so. That won’t get you anywhere.
5. QR Codes Make a BIG Comeback
Apple recently add an unexpected updated into the iOS 11: A native QR code reader. Now, all people have to do is aim their iPhone camera at any QR code they see. BAM! The code is automatically activated.
There are numerous ways to use QR codes for business, from Wi-Fi passwords, to PayPal purchases, to pre-made Tweets and texts. Additionally, they can also be used on in-store signage and product packaging to share information about the product with interested customers on both your website or in your dispensary.
Popular social media platforms, like Snapchat, Facebook, and even Spotify are increasingly pushing their own proprietary code technology onto its users. Try scanning a Facebook Messenger Code, for example, and either a chatbot or customer service agent pops up right away on your phone.
Considering the fact QR codes are STILL considered to be one of the easiest ways to bridge the gap between the real world and the digital one. So, don’t be too shocked if you start seeing them pop up all over the place throughout this year - especially now that in between 40% - 44% of all Washington smartphone owners have iPhones.
Takeaway: While there are many ways to use QR codes for business, start by picking out just one or two QR code marketing strategies that best align with your dispensary’s branding. Once you find the strategy that works best for your business - or hire an expert Tacoma business writer or content marketer to do so - use a QR code generator to create one. Once you create QR codes for your content (digital or in-store), you can start taking your dispensary marketing efforts in a tech-savvy direction.
6. Social Chatbots Will be Used for Customer Service
In fact, dispensaries that take advantage of all the benefits of using social chatbots for customer service will win in a big, BIG way.
Chatbots are software applications that are specifically designed to mimic a human-esque conversation. It’s much like just chatting with a friend on social media, but assists customers 24/7 (as opposed to just during business hours) and helps improve dispensary revenue by directly connecting to - and building relationships with - qualified leads.
You see, businesses that have something like 15k followers will have a difficult time coming up with an effective, personalized marketing strategy that includes responding to followers’ comments. However, Chatbots are able to establish one-on-one interactions with each and every follower. They are also so fast, they can respond immediately to the questions being asked of them.
They also improve customer service by maintaining a polite tone that aligns with your brand. No matter how rude your Tacoma dispensary customers are, the Chatbot won’t feed into it. They always remain polite, no matter what.
Which means dispensaries that utilize chatbots for customer service will be able to develop positive rapport with their customers, increasing their consumer-brand trust and standing out from the competition.
There are plenty of changes in social media taking place in 2018, so getting familiar with all the new trends will help you immensely when it comes to planning out your digital marketing strategy to outshine the other Tacoma dispensaries.
If you want to make an impact with your dispensary’s social media strategy, it’s time you contact me. Booklexia Content Marketing (Alexia P. Bullard) can help improve your social media strategy and help you increase your website traffic, search engine rankings, cannabis industry authority, and even your sales. I do all of that through engaging content that compels your website readers, social media followers, or in-store customers to take action. Send me your contact information below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.