At the risk of sounding like a “get off my lawn!” old guy, I’m not very big into social media. Yea, I’m on Facebook, but that’s about it — and I’m really trying to wean myself off it. In fact, I think social media has been far more damaging than beneficial for our society since it became ubiquitous in recent years.

Social commentary aside, however, there’s no denying the marketing power of social media. To me, it’s kind of like when televisions first started appearing in families’ homes. It went from a trickle to a flood in an instant and suddenly almost every home in America had a TV set and every American was watching TV.

Ask the Right Question

Today, about eight out of 10 Americans, or 233 million people, are active on at least one social media platform. Worldwide, about 4 billion people use social media — that’s more than half of all people on planet Earth. So it’s not surprising that businesses have embraced social media marketing.

A few years ago, I was writing articles for my clients asking whether or not businesses should get involved in social media marketing. Now the question isn’t should you or shouldn’t you do social media marketing — it’s how can you create an effective social media marketing plan?

Social Media Marketing Stats

I did a little Googling this afternoon to find some more data on social media usage. Here are some of the best stats I found from a marketing standpoint:

  • More than a quarter of internet users (that’s pretty much everybody, isn’t it?) perform product research on social media.
  • 90% of businesses that use social media marketing say it has increased their exposure and 75% says it has boosted traffic to their websites.
  • Social media users spend an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes every day on social platforms. Read that again and let it sink in.
  • The typical social media user is active on 9 different social platforms.
  • 44% of local businesses depend on social media to build brand awareness and 41% depend on it to drive revenue.
  • 68% of Instagram users engage with brands regularly and 75% will visit a business’ website when inspired by a post.
  • 50% of B2B buyers use LinkedIn when making purchasing decisions.

Social Media Trends to Watch

Looking ahead, here are six social media trends to keep in mind when planning your social media marketing strategies for the rest of this year and beyond:

1. TikTok is poised to break out. TikTok is no longer just the place for teens to show off their dance moves or lip-syncing abilities. With more than one billion active users every month, it is maturing as a business platform by adding new features that make it more friendly to marketers like ads and business profiles.

Due to its fun and informal nature, many businesses believe they can be more casual and experimental on TikTok than they can on other social platforms. Six out of 10 TikTok users are Gen Zers so it’s the ideal platform if you want to reach young people using a more casual and informal style.

2. Social commerce will continue to grow. This is the ability to buy products directly via social media instead of having to click through to a website. The biggest social media networks are continually evolving to become true retail platforms.

For example, Instagram Shops make it easier to build an online store and Instagram Checkout simplifies the purchase process. And in the wake of its partnership with Shopify, TikTok is in the process of testing out a new social commerce feature called TikTok Shopping.

3. Video content will continue to dominate. Up to 80% of all social content is now video — or more specifically, short-form video of between 60 seconds and three minutes. This is about as long as most people are willing to spend watching video on a social media platform. (I’m surprised it’s that high — I rarely watch a video on social media for more than 20 or 30 seconds.)

4. Influencer marketing will grow. Watch out especially for the rise of the “LinkedInfluencer.” With the shift to work from home caused by the pandemic, lots of employees have decided they needed to create their own personal brand outside of their corporate jobs. LinkedIn is a great way to make yourself more visible and demonstrate thought leadership in your industry.

5. Ads will be even more personalized. We’ve all experienced it: You visit a website and then suddenly that business’ ads start popping up on your social media feed. It’s kind of creepy and annoying, but it’s also one of the most highly targeted forms of advertising ever invented.

Social platforms are providing increasingly sophisticated customization options like this. The platforms now have a good idea of the types of products consumers like and use this data to serve up ads that are highly targeted to them.

6. Local targeting will become more prevalent. Many small local businesses rely on local search engine optimization (SEO) to draw people in their immediate geographic area into their store. The same thing can be done with local social media marketing via geo-targeting.

Some social platforms allow users to search for posts from nearby locations. Adding locations to your content will allow it to show up in these search results. For example, the “boost post” option on Facebook lets you select one or more locations for targeting — your post will then be shown to followers in these areas.