Social media seems to evolve at a dog’s age pace—seven years’ worth of innovation for every one calendar year. With a new year nearly upon us, it’s time to start thinking ahead and planning social media strategy.

One of the most important factors in the success of social media marketing is your social reach, or the total number of people you are able to reach across all of the social networks you use. Social reach is not unlike the adage about a tree falling in a forest—if you create the world’s greatest post about your business, but the right people aren’t there to hear it, will it make an impact? The ways you can increase your social reach are ever changing, so here are a few strategies to consider in 2017.


Focus on your best-performing platforms

Nick Westergaard, president of Brand Driven Digital and author of Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small, predicts 2017 will be the year businesses finally start to realize that less is more with marketing. “As channels and platforms grow and become increasingly complex, no one can afford to be everywhere—we need to stop trying,” he says. “Instead of doing everything—Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, videos, podcasts—get strategic and focus on why we’re doing what we’re doing and who we’re serving.”

Choose two or three social media channels where you get the best results, and focus on them. While it’s important to be careful not to invest too many resources with the latest networks, you shouldn’t necessarily ignore up-and-coming social platforms. Balance your strategy accordingly with regard to your time and staff availability.


Instagram should be in the mix

With Facebook the 800-lb gorilla in the room and Snapchat the rising star, it’s easy for brands to forget about Instagram. This network has successfully integrated an algorithm and powerful Facebook-like advertising features to become the second-most-popular in terms of daily active users. This isn’t a boutique network for filtered photos of latte foam anymore.

On that note, Instagram recently launched a new shopping feature, which allows businesses to tag photos of their products with shoppable links. Prior to this feature, Instagram profiles had only one clickable link, in the bio.

Although Instagram seems most heavily used by B2C companies, B2B brands can get more Instagram followers by showing the life (aka, employees) behind the business, and by sharing content that teaches or inspires their audience.

Instagram has successfully integrated an algorithm and powerful Facebook-like advertising features to become the second-most-popular social networks in terms of daily active users.


Increase online reach with offline strategies

Timothy O’Malley, president of Social Media Beast, says brick-and-mortar retail businesses don’t always explore the relationship they could have with the mobile-connected world. One example of this is “showrooming,” in which customers browsing a product in a retail store and then buying it online. But over the past few years, we’ve seen the emergence of services that help promote brick-and-mortar through social. UPshow, for example, displays patrons’ posts on in-store monitors when they use a particular hashtag. This generates user-driven content for a store’s custom entertainment channel.

Causely is a tool that offers a subscription package to allow businesses—both B2C and B2C—to make charitable donations when they receive a certain number of Facebook check-ins. You might walk into a chiropractor’s office and see signage that says, “Check in on Facebook and support Doctors Without Borders” or, at a law firm,  “Review us on LinkedIn and support the Legal Aid Society.” The business contributes the donation and receives social media awareness in return.

Social media is a way to broadcast your business to your customers’ networks. If your current followers are posting and sharing compelling posts from and about your company, you’ll attract more followers from your customers’ networks. The broader lesson from this is to find creative ways to incentivize any group of people accessible to you to post regularly about your business. This can be easily done with in-store signage that acts as a reminder. Also, don’t forget that employees can be valuable assets when it comes to reach, so create incentives to encourage them to share your social posts.

Upgrade your visuals

O’Malley also says that video content has been a differentiator for social media in 2016. People engage with videos more than they do with still images, so if you produce interesting video content, you could count on comparably higher organic reach and engagement. Social platforms’ algorithms prioritize video content, making it more likely to appear in feeds and search results. People are also more likely to share video posts than they are to share text.

But what happens when everybody’s got video? The same as with anything else that becomes oversaturated—it stops producing the same results. Already, social advertisers are finding that their video content is not yielding the cheap clicks it once used to.

In 2017, expect to see a reduced reach advantage with video content, because videos are everywhere. For a similar advantage, content publishers will need to turn to 360 images/video and other cutting-edge visuals.


Spend money on ads

There’s no getting around it—one of the easiest ways to increase your social reach in 2017 is by paying for it. Luckily, social media ad spend has some of the best ROI of online ad spend. The most important thing for those new to social media advertising to keep in mind is that not everyone is a customer. By laser-focusing your targeting efforts, you’ll reap the greatest rewards. For the best results, make sure your ads have:

  • An engaging picture
  • A descriptive caption
  • A call-to-action based on marketing goals

Facebook is the most advanced ads platform, with Twitter following close by. Plan your ad efforts according to where your customers are.

It’s hard to know exactly what 2017 will hold, but these suggestions will prepare you to stay at the top of your game.

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