Social media has become a key component of marketing, and the proper strategy is necessary to bring out the full potential of sites like Facebook and Twitter. As this space continues to evolve, take advantage of new tactics that are working especially well and yielding positive ROI.

Whether it's a popular hashtag or a photo-sharing feature, it's important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in social media and marketing. Doing so will ensure that you're always putting your team in the best position to connect with your target audience. Here are five social media trends that you can't afford to ignore.

1. Social Listening

This trend is exactly what it sounds like--opening your eyes and ears and listening to your audience, as I described in my article, "How to Use Social Media Listening to Build Brand Loyalty." In order to forge lasting relationships with the people you're reaching out to, you need to keep the lines of communication open. This means not only sharing your own opinions, links, and photos, but responding to those who react.

How many people do you respond to on your Twitter account? Do you reply to people who leave comments on your Facebook page? Audience engagement is the key to establishing connections with your audience and finding out what you could be doing better. Additionally, you'll be using the opportunity to provide more value to the content you share on social media.

2. Snapchat Marketing

The next big thing may finally be here--in the form of self-destructing videos and photos.  Snapchat, the little app with a ghost logo, has won the hearts of smartphone users everywhere, and its potential for use in marketing has exploded.

Snapchat allows individuals to send photos and videos that automatically delete after being viewed. The concept is fairly simple, and it's just as easy to integrate it into your team's social-networking strategy. First, as Technorati reports, it's critical to use the app casually, just as the company positions it. Next, think about using it creatively. Host a contest to get people engaged and interested in your brand. Finally, don't forget that Snapchat allows you to use videos, which can help you convey messages that are difficult to communicate through photos.

3. The Rise of Images for Information

The rise of the infographic may have been surprising to some, but its benefits are hard to deny. As you look to generate messages that resonate with your customers, incorporate infographics into your overall marketing strategy. Share them on your social networking sites, where you can reach thousands of people across the Web. You may be surprised at how quick people are to share infographics, which often provide educational value that anyone can understand. For help with infographic marketing, see my article, "The Definitive Guide to Writing and Promoting a Viral Infographic."

4. Google+

While there was skepticism surrounding Google+ in the past, make no mistake--the social network is here to stay. At least, that's what Google chief executive Larry Page indicated when he sat down recently with The New York Times, saying he is "super excited" about the social network.

Google+ recently celebrated its third birthday, and more people than ever before are using the website--approximately 300 million every month. In turn, the social networking platform is growing in prominence. It's up to marketers to make Google Plus work with their current strategy.

5. Social Video

Social video is changing the way people look at platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Without video these days, it feels like a part of a website is missing--not having it can make it more difficult for businesses to connect with their target audience.

If your marketing team has yet to adopt video marketing, it's time to consider it. Videos not only enhance company blogs, but social networking profiles as well. They also allow brands to reach new audiences in new ways, with powerful messaging. Think of videos as another outlet to use when you want to promote a piece of content, a product, or a service.

You don't need a long, heavily produced video to make an impact these days. Short videos with valuable content can have just as big of an effect on your target audience. Instagram and Vine are being used brilliantly by marketing departments to humanize their brands, engage with audiences, and build their brand by conveying powerful messaging.


Every day, it seems like there's a new social networking trend to take advantage of, and the platforms themselves are constantly changing. For this reason, it's becoming even more important for marketers to take the time to research trends and execute tactics to keep up with the competition. These five trends can give you a place to start as you revamp your social media marketing plan. Looking for more insights on driving traffic with social media marketing? See my eBook, "The Definitive Guide to Marketing Your Business Online."