In the age of digital technology, it’s no surprise that social media platforms have evolved from sites of casual interaction between friends to serious opportunities for advertising and business growth. According to a study by Pew Research, 88% of 18-29 year-olds use some type of social media in their daily lives. While this number drops slightly in older groups, social media use is still present in lives of the majority of Americans ages 30-49 (78%) and 50-64 (64%). We see Facebook and YouTube dominating social media consumption, with Instagram usage on the rise among US adults. In addition, the data available about these platforms allows brands to identify which social channel to optimize for maximum ROI. This is especially important because the social media landscape has become a “pay to play” space, making it imperative to develop a strong paid social strategy for your brand. So, how can businesses optimize this social strategy for success? Below are two opportunities we believe companies should be focusing on to boost their brand’s social media performance.

Storytelling with the “Stories” Feature

The “Story” feature was introduced by Snapchat in 2013, providing a way to sequence their 10-second “snap” photos together as a “story” that lasts on the user’s profile for 24 hours. Now, this feature has been adopted by Instagram, Facebook, and even YouTube as a way for content creators to update their followers in a different, more candid way. Similarly, Stories allow you to humanize your brand by engaging customers with less structured content. Let’s take Instagram Stories, for example. Instead of posting a flashy photo ad of your latest product (like you would on your main Instagram feed), you might feature a short customer testimonial on your story. This way, your customer sees another person making use of the product in their everyday life, rather than just another ad in their feed, and they feel a more human connection with your brand.

Leveraging Authentic Connections with Influencer Marketing

The term “influencer marketing” has become a buzz word in the social media and marketing industries alike. Influencers in every niche possible have become like celebrities in their own right. Influencer marketing works because influencers build trust with their followers, who then become loyal fans that seek out their opinions of new products in order to make more informed purchasing decisions. Again, the theme here is genuine connection and loyalty. Because of the relationship that influencers have with their fans, their opinions matter to them. If an influencer suggests your product to their audience, the audience is more likely to trust that it’s worth the purchase. It’s important to note here that you don’t have to negotiate deals with every single influencer or be on top of every trend. Just choose those that naturally fit with your brand.

Despite all of the recent privacy concerns that Facebook has encountered, and continues to deal with, paid social continues to be an area where we see strong results for our clients. Including a smart, strategic social media plan into your media mix and continuing to test new opportunities is important for your brand.