Digital Trends for 2014
I have a friend named Ernest whom I deeply respect. He’s an old-world kind of guy who has seen it all and done it all, but he isn’t a know-it-all. He’ll dispense advice, but only when asked, and only if he has a definite answer. Ernest has been happily married for 41 years. I recently asked him, “What is it about your wife that makes you so happy? He responded immediately, “She isn’t a nag.”
While he was probably joking—I know his lovely and fun wife—his words actually contained sage advice that made me think of this in-progress blog and how my interaction with Ernest was representative of how people are starting to feel about information and marketing.
We have been in the everything-digital landscape long enough that we are so tired of being bombarded with information. We are done with the maelstrom of advertising, not only on every bus and bottle cap, but online too. Everyone, everywhere is nagging us. It’s just too much!
So, how do you get your message out to the right people without being a contributor to the information overload? Be very specific and intentional with your messaging and communications. Know your exact audience; otherwise your message won’t land. Sounds like a plan, but how do you get your word out to the right people?
Keep current on the digital trends of 2014 to keep your social media messaging on course and headed in the right direction. Here are a few must-know trends to keep on your radar:
So, you have emails going out offering your services to other businesses, clients, and targets. Great! But, are you sending everything to every person? If so, recipients may just ignore them and let your emails pile up; worse yet, the emails may get redirected right into the dreaded spam folder, trashed without being read.
To avoid having your emails meet this fate, consider behavior-related emails. Separate your emails by focus and create options on your unsubscribe opt-out page to allow recipients to unsubscribe from all, or from specific categories of mailings. Doing this demonstrates concern for your clients’ or potential clients’ wants and needs. Limit these interactions, even when they are tailor-made. (We’ve just started working with marketing automation software at ShoeFitts Marketing; it has been a lifesaver. Over time, we’ll further segment our audience and work to offer customized content to unique groups of readers.)
You probably use, or know someone who uses, Pinterest or Spotify. These applications allow users to compile data they already have, they help users gather new information they want, and they provide opportunities to keep all these treasures in one place. Creating a Pinterest board isn’t necessary, but it’s time to get involved in ways that make sense for your business. Resources such as Scoop.it or Feedly allow you to gather and customize relevant content.
Consider the content you have on your own website. Outbound link the best information with commentary to start a conversation. To be even more on-trend, give your engagement efforts a push by making your content mobile friendly. You want your audience to have the ability to distract themselves, lost in the act of reading your content while they are in line at the post office or the coffee shop. (A couple examples of people within our industry who really do content curation right: Rick Meigs’ 401khelpcenter.com and the team [including Fred Barstein, John Ortman, Jennifer McKibben] at NAPA Net.)
Be in the Know
It’s no longer acceptable to be the person at the office who doesn’t “get” social media. Having an intern or employee help you every time you want to tweet or post to Facebook is a slow process and bogs down your ability to quickly respond and share. Take my buddy Ernest’s advice: Don’t nag the people around you to make something happen. Show them how it’s done.
Need inspiration? Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg recently said that fast action was one of the keys to his huge success. (He talks about it here.) Learn the ins and outs of social media so you can use it without thinking too hard about your platform, and can concentrate instead on your message.
The Eyes Have It
One of the most effective and efficient ways to communicate our content is through visual means. Content aggregators such as aforementioned Feedly.com and Scoop.it are excellent resources that allow users to curate relevant content, customize that content and then publish it in ways that are visually appealing.
If writing isn’t your strength and hiring a writer isn’t in the budget, don’t underestimate the power of the infographics. They are a simple way to represent your ideas in an easily digestible scheme. People respond to infographics: they are quick to read, solve problems, and can easily be custom-designed to complement your branding.
Finally, 2014 is the year of video. Blog posts with videos gain three times more inbound links than text-only posts. Clients and prospects want to see you in action now that we are able to connect with one another all over this digitally connected world. This trend actually goes hand in hand with the trend above. Being timely with your videos means not just making them apply to current articles and such, but making them quickly and making them short. The important thing to remember is to keep them short. People click out of a video if the counter reads longer than a couple of minutes.
It’s not difficult for a financial advisor to integrate this mindset—less generic, more custom—into his or her social media strategy. Evaluate your current online approach and search out the opportunities where you can get specific using resources, tools, or simply a unique voice and targeted message.