Social media has become an integral part of most business marketing strategies, and Facebook is the platform of choice for almost all. 2013 was a good year for many businesses with a quality News Feed and Page, as the platform saw a number of business oriented features being introduced, such as enhanced promoted posts and more Ads features. Now that we are in 2014, what will this year bring? Here is an overview of five popular Facebook trends small to medium businesses can capitalize on in 2014.

1. Targeted auto play video ads In early January, Facebook started rolling out their newest ad feature - auto-play of video ads. If you post a video, you can sponsor or promote it so that it may show up on a selected target audience's News Feed. When they scroll by it, the video will begin to play automatically - with the sound muted - if the user clicks on it, the video will open in full-screen and play with sound. While video advertising isn't the newest feature, the ability to set your ads to auto-play is. While this feature is still in testing, open to a select few marketers for the time being, you can bet that this will likely become a full-feature some time in late 2014.

What this means for many businesses is that they will need to start creating higher quality video content. If you plan to use this feature, you should start looking into creating content that your followers enjoy. Try posting videos to see the number of Likes, Shares and Comments and from there tweak your content so that more users enjoy it and respond positively to it too.

2. The hashtag The hashtag first saw widespread use among Twitter users and has since been introduced in almost every other major platform. Browse most people's News Feeds and you will see posts using the hashtag, which calls attention to the content and makes it searchable, (click on it to see other posts that have the same hashtag). It is highly likely that the popularity of the hashtag, especially among companies with Pages, will increase in 2014 and beyond. If you are looking to integrate these into your content be sure to use them sparingly, as too many hashtags will make your content harder to read, and could turn readers away.

Instead, try using them to highlight one or two keywords you want people to focus on. You can also use one or two keywords each time you mention your company name, so that visitors associate a specific tag with your company. The biggest benefit to this is that it will make your other posts searchable and give users a quicker way to see similar content.

3. Increased ads from small businesses Well over 25 million small businesses have a Facebook Page, a number which is sure to grow in 2014. However, the full number of how many of these businesses actually use Facebook's Ad client, which can place targeted ads in front of a categorized audience, is quite a bit lower - at roughly 1 million regular users. This leaves 24 million users who aren't using the service - something Facebook undoubtedly sees as a great opportunity. Through 2014, businesses with Pages should see an increase in Facebook Ad marketing. The company is also working on ensuring that the ads companies promote are targeted at relevant profiles.

Facebook recently enhanced their Promoted Posts feature, which allows companies to pay to promote a specific post, with the hopes of it showing higher on people's News Feeds. With the recent change, companies can now promote content that is older than three days, potentially breathing new life into older content that was once popular.

The overall trend for small businesses is that you should see further improved ways of advertising and interacting with your clients on Facebook. You can be sure that the company will be targeting you with Ad promotions, which if acted upon could see your brand awareness and even sales increase.

4. Mobile-first content The mobile device is quickly becoming the most talked about tech gadget - take a look at tech-related ads, they are almost all focused on the smartphone. As the demand for these devices increases, hardware manufacturers are working hard to develop mobile versions of just about everything. And following the hardware, is the software or app. It seems like every major Internet related site has an app these days, one of the most popular being Facebook. In Q1 2013, nearly 70% (68%) of users accessed Facebook from a mobile device with 17% doing so exclusively. These numbers undoubtedly grew throughout 2013 and will continue to do so into 2014.

What this means for small businesses is that a large percentage of their users will be viewing their content on a mobile device, and small businesses need to start creating content that can be easily viewed on smaller screens. Try starting to come up with content that is centered around high quality images with small amounts of text, and grabs attention quickly. Ending with a strong call to action will also be beneficial.

5. Increased interactions with fans The idea of social media is that it's a two-way street. For companies, this means that simply posting content on a News Feed won't cut it. You need to interact with your 'fans' in order to see any success with this type of marketing. By interacting with your followers, you are showing that you do in fact pay attention to your social media profiles and are therefore listening to your customers. This makes the customer feel appreciated and will increase the chance of them staying loyal to your company. Take a look at the number of "Thank you" videos, or videos that give back to fans and customers like the WestJet video that went viral on social media shortly before Christmas.

It is content like this that customers love, and are eager to share. Companies are highly likely to be creating more content like this in 2014. If you can create something that thanks your customers, or even rewards them in a way they are happy with you should see some increased traffic, interaction and even calls.

Looking to learn more about Facebook and how you can use it in your company? Contact us for a chat.
 


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