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How should businesses market themselves on social media in 2014?

A photographer captured the Milan runway via Instagram
A photographer captured the Milan runway via Instagram
Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Social media will be very important in 2014

Social media marketing will become more important in 2014 than ever. Businesses of all sizes should be advertising for customer response and creating content that raises brand awareness.

Trusted brands like Nike have already used established social channels like Twitter and Youtube to create viral content and increase revenue. In 2012, Nike’s #MakeItCount campaign went viral and helped raise Nike’s revenue by roughly 18 percent.

In a study conducted at Oxford last July, 40 percent of small-to-medium businesses said they expected social media to drive revenue growth over the next three years.

Businesses of all sizes are recognizing the importance of social media marketing in 2014, but the social media landscape changes fast and keeps changing.

The question in 2014 thus is not whether to advertise through social channels, it’s a question of through which social channels and with what type of messaging.

How companies should utilize social media for advertising in 2014

Many businesses in 2014 will not be handling their own social media advertising or creating the content that goes into it. Most businesses will employ third-party content marketing agencies with expertise in social media marketing. Choosing the right third-party marketing agency then becomes crucial.

(Here’s an article with more on choosing the right agency, released March 19.)

In order to understand how advertising on social media should be approached in 2014, I sat down with Ryan Pitylak, CEO of Unique Influence, an Austin firm that specializes in handling businesses’ social media advertising needs.

Direct-response advertising

For businesses advertising for direct customer response, Mr. Pitylak said the most important consideration was choosing the right kind of third-party marketing agency. He stressed the importance of choosing a third-party agency using best-of-breed tools, tools like Nanigans for Facebook marketing.

Additionally, Mr. Pitylak stressed the importance of choosing a marketing agency that has mastered the iterative process of advertising on social media. It’s important to pick an agency with experience and an understanding of the process so it can promote successful campaigns and prune the lame ducks, thus getting the most out of ad spend.

Brand awareness

For businesses trying to raise brand awareness through social media, content is everything.

As I wrote last week, there is a market for social media with a positive emotional tone that remains largely untapped.

Regardless of the emotional tone, content created by businesses should engage customers and be designed to generate conversations between customers and brands.

One expert even thinks that user selfies featuring a product serve as the ultimate endorsement.

But here are the rules of thumb:

• Err on the side of visual content. We’re visual beings.
• Start conversations with engaging questions.
• Get users to interact with products or services and then to share this with users within their social network. Competitions may be the best way to facilitate this.

The bottom line

It is necessary, not optional, for businesses to utilize social media to advertise for customer response and raise brand awareness in 2014. So it is vital that companies do their homework in choosing a third-party marketing agency with which to partner, or in creating content and campaigns.