Marketers who avoid ads will always lack the power, targeting ability, instant results, and swiss-army knife full of options that advertisers have.
Your primary engagement strategies?
Facebook ads, posts, and email marketing. Fan marketing has been dead since 2012, so email and retargeting are critical components.
Your favourite Social Media Marketing tools?
Facebook ads. MioDatos and Multibrain are interesting newer social content distribution and optimization tools I'm testing out. I love PostPlanner for quickly finding viral Facebook posts. For Twitter, I rely on Tweepi and Buffer. Buzzsumo is a great tool for getting ideas from other verticals or checking out your content marketing competition.
Your biggest prediction for Social Media Marketing?
I think that unfortunately, many companies will continue to be distracted by shiny new objects and spread themselves too thin. There are too many social platforms and content marketing options- if you don't focus on two or three, your impact is going to be small.
And unfortunately, many companies let themselves be pulled into adopting platforms way too early while neglecting the opportunities from proven platforms. In other words, if your company is focused on Blab and SnapChat but you're not good at Facebook ads (the most powerful and affordable advertising opportunity in history, proven reliable for both e-commerce profits and B2B lead gen), Facebook audience insights (discovering more about your customers so you can persuade more of them more powerfully and more affordably) and Facebook posting (at least 3-5% engagement rate) you have your priorities backwards.
Start with a core 80% emphasis on what has been proven profitable and with processes others have found to be repeatable and reliable. Then spend 20% of your efforts on some of the shiny object platforms... ideally ones where you can find existing proven processes for big results, or pioneer them yourself.
The next up-and-coming social media platform?
SnapChat might- it is an interesting combination of content types that may result in a more interesting user experience than other platforms. If so, it will compel more adoption. The jumping on and investment of companies like ESPN and MTV, if they mention it on TV, also may drive greater adoption. Marketers will begin to try to figure out how to "ruin" it by making it valuable for business.
But like all platforms without self-serve ads, your reach via organic networking and content will be small unless you are an exceptionally brilliant and consistent content creator.
Will SMM become increasingly pay-to-play?
Every successful platform eventually develops an advertising option, and advertising is a big opportunity for marketers. Marketers who avoid ads will always lack the power, targeting ability, instant results, and swiss-army knife full of options that advertisers have.
Without ads, you're forced to try to be creative enough to go viral organically every day, and unfortunately, no one is always that brilliant- except perhaps The Oatmeal- but he isn't a big company- he's an entertainer. Ads are a huge opportunity for marketers, and the social platforms that don't have ads are not as important and not as big an opportunity for marketers.
I have a three-step checklist for when companies should adopt a social platform: #1 Do a majority of your prospects use it? #2 Does it have an ads platform? #2 Are the ads effective? Very few platforms pass that test- but the ones that do deserve the biggest investment of your time, budget and creativity, because they will reward you with the biggest returns.
Instagram didn't qualify for a long time. I would argue that LinkedIn may never have because its self-serve ads have never been very effective. LinkedIn is great for networking and sales, but it's not the strongest marketing platform. Facebook ads have their own B2B targeting options and over the last year, I've seen more successful B2B Facebook marketing case studies than LinkedIn ones. I think by not improving the effectiveness of their ads over the last five years, they've missed out on a gigantic opportunity.