The latest statistics don’t lie – there are over 2 billion active social media users worldwide , and that number is expected to increase at a brisk clip. Moreover, 90 percent of U.S. companies are now active on social networks. So you’d better pay attention to these top social media trends.

[Tweet “There are over 2 billion active social media users worldwide and 90 percent of U.S. companies are now active on social networks”]

So, what does that mean for your small business? Well, everything. Companies are getting increased exposure through social media, and their sales are increasing right along with it. And it’s no wonder, social media marketing is still considered a great value by small business owners like YOU. Not only that, a recent Infusionsoft research study showed that marketing is actually viewed as an activity they ENJOY. And that’s what it’s all about.

That’s why it’s important for you?to know what social media trends are worth following, and can be worth their weight in gold for your business. Here are just 10:

1. Video Keeps Growing

[pullquote align=”normal” cite=”– Kiss Metrics”]Considering that video now appears in 70% of the top 100 search results listings, and that viewers are anywhere from 64-85% more likely to buy after watching a product video[/pullquote]

The consumption of online video is increasing at a rapid rate and increased mobile usage is only going to help those numbers. Video is a powerful tool for your business from a marketing standpoint, and sharing video on your website or social networks allows viewers to see your products and how they work.

Here are a few tips on how to use video.

  1. Put a video on your home page. Create a short 60-90 second explainer video. I use PowToon for that. There is a free option and for a low price, you can get the pro version and eliminate the promo at the end. I use OptimizePress and ThriveThemes plugins on my WordPress site and they make it SUPER easy to slap a video up anywhere you want.
  2. Put demonstration videos up on product pages. If you sell physical products, this is an ideal way to feature how they are used. I’d recommend using YouTube for this and creating a series of short and simply how-to videos. Remember YouTube is a SEARCHING platform. So these videos will be doing double traffic driving duty to your site and your business.
  3. Ask your customers to send in short video testimonials. This is easier than you think. Just tell them to use their smartphone video feature and send the video to your email.
  4. Create video tutorials. This is so much easier than you think. Use a simple “screensharing” tool like Jing or Camtasia to capture step-by-step instructions. Remember to give people a call to action; “for more information, visit us at yourdomain.com. Again, I’d post these up on YouTube so that more people can find it and come to your site.

[Tweet “DIY Video Tip: Use a simple “screensharing” tool like Jing or Camtasia to capture step-by-step instructions. “]

More video resources:

  • If your videos are tutorials, training, educational or entertaining, then I would seriously consider using Wistia or Vimeo for video hosting. These video hosting platforms will only show YOUR video and your audience will not be distracted by other videos, like they would be on YouTube.
  • Host a copy of all your videos on Amazon S3. This is a super affordable hosting option. Uploading videos to your website will eat up valuable bandwidth and space. All you have to do to insert your videos anywhere is copy and paste a link.

2. Content Will Still Rule

Consumers continue to want ‘news they can use,’ but also information that’s tailored to their specific needs, tastes and interests. Additionally, search engines are designed to reward top notch content with higher positioning in search results.

Here are a few tips on how to create great content:

  • Check out BuzzSumo for most popular content. Simply enter your topic in the search area and see the articles and infographics that are the most shared.
  • Go into your Google Analytics to see what your most popular articles are, then create new content on those same topic areas. You can take the subject of a popular article and create an infographic or slideshare presentation and post it again. Interview an expert on that same topic and upload it as a video.

[Tweet “DIY Tip for Content Ideas: BuzzSumo for most popular content”]

3. Your Employees Will Lead The Charge

Looking for an underused resource to get the word out about your business? Then look no further than your own employees. Encouraging your staff to share updates about the business on their own social networks can help drive positive results.

Here are some tips on leveraging employees on social media:

  • Give your employees company social accounts. For example @IvanaXYZ or @XYZIvana and encourage them to answer customer questions online or share how they’ve solved a customer problem.
  • Encourage employees to post appropriate pictures to your Facebook page – especially if you have customers visiting.

One last thing I’d like to say about this — and it’s important. DO NOT force employees to do your social. This will only work if you have a corporate culture that is sharable. If you’re not sure about it, take an unbiased look around your office, are people smiling, having fun helping customers? If you see more griping than smiling, I’d advice against this.

[Tweet “DO NOT force employees to do your social. This will only work if you have a corporate culture that is sharable”]

4. Buy Buttons

Facebook and Pinterest gained attention in 2015 by introducing new ‘buy’ buttons for user and advertisers. Mobile users, for instance, can make purchases with one click without ever leaving the app.

Here are some tips on how to implement “buy buttons”:

  • Craft an irresistible offer focusing on a specific audience and what specific benefits or outcomes they will get from your product or service.
  • BEFORE you give people options to BUY, share content that is educational and makes them smarter consumers of your product or service.
  • Put a descriptive phrase on the button — this increases conversion rates. For example “Send me socks” is better than “buy”.

[Tweet “Put a descriptive phrase on the button — this increases conversion rates”]

5. Pivoting

Pivoting has become a really popular term (especially in the world of startups and venture capital culture). The idea is to start with a small, basic idea and implement it — they call the “minimally viable product”. The recruit a group of customers and start improving your product or service based on their feedback.

Here are some tips on how to implement “pivoting”:

  • Target a specific customer and create a simple basic product or service around a big unmet need.
  • Use customer engagement tools to help you collect feedback and engineer improvements. I recommend using QuestionPro as a super (FREE) online survey tool to gather both quantitative and qualitative information. Also use tools like IdeaScale to engage with customers and give them the opportunity to give you ideas and vote those ideas up and down.
  • Create a Facebook group and focus on asking questions, getting feedback, collecting ideas and building relationships. Encourage members to invite other customers or potential customers.

6. Keep It Current

Having consistent, current content on your small business website will provide consistent customer interaction. Update specials, information and products as as-it-happens.

Here are some tips on how to stay current:

  • Create an “offering calendar”. Sit down and create a set of baseline offers that you want to make available through the year. You can start with a monthly theme and at least one offer for each month. Then you can break those out into weekly offers or even daily offers.
  • Check out this unique holidays calendar and select those days that are relevant to your business, then run contests, specials and giveaways around that holiday. (Do this in advance when you are planning the offer calendar)

[Tweet “DIY Marketing Tip for Retailers: Create an “offering calendar””]

7. Customer Interaction

Specifically, this means inbound customer messages, which continue to increase across many industries. That’s good news. The bad news is that over 80 percent of those messages remain unanswered. Make sure to have room and resource for one-on-one engagement.

Here are some tips on how to engage with customers:

  • Consider using an online chat tool like Olark or LivePerson. Using these tools is proven to increase conversion rates because you are there exactly when your customer needs you most.
  • Watch your social media streams at least as much as you watch your email. Be sure to have a Twitter search set up for your company name, product names, or product categories so that you can watch conversations and respond to them. Use tools like HootSuite or TweetDeck to monitor those conversations.

[Tweet “Watch your social media streams at least as much as you watch your email”]

8. Brand Culture Remains Vital

Just having a good product is not enough. Consumers will continue to care about brand values and your brand story. Building personalized relationships and services is vital. Identify who your market is and use social media in ways that directly speaks to them. You can also check out the Kinnect2 platform that gives consumers and businesses the opportunity to share opinions and receive feedback.

Here are some tips on how to?let your culture shine through

  • Establish a “brand personality” for your social channels. YOU be the pioneer and engage with your customers to set the stage and the best practices for how to interact with customers.
  • Based on your experience, create a “social engagement guide” and train the team members who are going to be managing your account on how to best and most consistently community your brand personality.
  • Drop in on Tweet Chats where your customers might be hanging out.

Think it can’t be done? Check out this Twitter Stream conversation with Applebees!

[Tweet “Drop in on Tweet Chats where your customers might be hanging out. We love @Applebees!”]

Applebees on twitter social media trends

9. Privacy Concerns

Privacy concerns will continue to rise in 2016, and the infamous Ashley Madison hack of 2015 did nothing to ease those concerns. For you as a business owner, there are precautions you must take – such as not asking customers for private information publicly (always, always do it privately). Being up front with customers about cookies and other information they agree to share with the service.

Here are some tips on how to deal with privacy concerns:

  • Review your privacy policy with a lawyer, update your policy and be sure to have a link on your web sites footer.
  • Have your web site reviewed for security.
  • Be sure to have the latest versions of your web site platform – this reduces the likelihood of your site being hacked.

[Tweet “DIYMarketers tech tip: Be sure to have the latest versions of your web site platform”]

10. Social Networks = Search Engines

A majority of consumers are influenced by the online comments and reviews of other consumers. Instead of just typing into Google they’re going directly to Facebook, YouTube, Yelp and Pinterest for advice and opinions. As a business owner, you can use your own social media channels to share special discounts, promo codes, while featuring actual reviews and testimonials from your users.

Here are some tips on how to leverage social networks for search:

  • Understand that there are search networks and engagement networks. YouTube, Pinterest and Yelp and SEARCH networks. People get on those sites because they are searching for an answer to a question. Make sure that all of the content you post on there is focused on education, answering a question or entertaining. This is not a place to do pushy selling.
  • Engagement networks like Facebook and Twitter are focused on conversations. This doesn’t mean that you don’t sell on there, but make your content entertaining, educational and informative. Even when you are selling products, make the focus of your message fit with the context of the social network.

Pick at no more than 3

We’ve reviewed the top social media trends here and while it may be tempting to do ALL of them, I would encourage you to pick between one and three of these and do them WELL. Remember, it’s not about doing MORE marketing — it’s about doing LESS, but doing it well. It’s about BEING your marketing and not DOING tasks.