I recently attended the Social Media Masters Summit in the Willis Tour in the heart of Chicago for a jam packed day of learning the best practices and platforms to use to reach your brand’s audience online. Throughout the 9 hours I was there, I learned from some of the brightest minds and most creative people in the business. Below are my four biggest takeaways for you to use to your advantage.

Video is Going to be King

With mobile phones and tablets being available within literal reach and BuzzFeed videos and YouTube exploding, video has become increasingly popular. In fact, by 2017, video will count towards 69% of Internet traffic, according to Brella Productions who spoke at the summit about the rise of video in the mobile age. They gave sage advice on how your brand can create videos that will attract viewers and make them interested in your product. They advise that a branded video should be simple and authentic. If the video feels like an ad, viewers will turn away. They also stressed the idea that voiceovers are important, as the voice of the video is the voice of your brand. Overall, 70% of those surveyed by Brella said they view a brand in a more positive light after watching a meaningful video by the company. This is important to note but while video is becoming increasingly popular, so is another platform: Instagram.

Instagram Is Getting Bigger Among Millennials

Many people know what Instagram is but don’t know how to use it to gain an audience. How can posting a photo of my product on an app primarily used by teenagers possibly help increase my sales you might be asking. Contrary to popular belief, Instagram is not solely used by high schoolers. In fact, 28% of adults use Instagram with the primary age range being 18-29 year olds. To reach these people, Nycole Hampton from Choose Chicago suggested using user-generated content, crisp photos and providing simple contests and giveaways to your followers. While all these suggestions are important, one key element she tried to hammer home was the importance of hashtags.
Hashtags Are The Key to More Reach

You may think hashtags are just for Twitter to keep track of trending topics, but not anymore. Hashtags are now available on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. As mentioned above, Nycole drove home the importance of hashtags on social channels. Using these make it easier for users who may not be aware of your brand to find a post of yours and hereby become potential buyers. She suggested using the top 11 hashtags related to your industry on Instagram. For example, if you’re in the food industry, use popular tags like #foodporn and #instafood. Outside of Instagram, use one or two per tweet or one on Facebook.

The Evolution of Facebook

Speaking on Facebook, we’ve seen a big change in its purpose for marketers since it began in 2004. Facebook used to be about organic engagement and it is now about the promotion of posts, ConAgra Foods’ Dan Skinner proclaimed in his session on paid media. After some reflection, I realized he was right. You can now reach an audience larger than your fanbase with good targeting and a large enough budget. 5 years ago your success as a brand on Facebook was based on the amount of likes you have. That metric is no longer relevant and posting frequently no longer matters.

Overall, the scope of social media has changed dramatically in the past few years and will continue to evolve. I learned a lot at this summit and hope to attend more like it to keep abreast on the latest trends in the industry. I hope these tips come as valuable to you and you use them to leverage your brand.