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Source: Jason Howie

Source: Jason Howie

Marketers have overwhelmingly confirmed that social media is a highly valuable target for campaigns of all shapes and sizes, but you have to be able to effectively aim your message. If your social marketing strategy is out-dated or unfocused, then it will never gain traction on any of the major social platforms.

Social Media Examiner recently released its annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report, based on surveying more than 2,800 marketers. If you want to make sure you are up to date with the state of social media and guarantee you are sending out the right message to the right people, you’ll want to know these important trends highlighted by this year’s report.

1. Blogging is Back – It should be obvious by the widespread cries of “Content is King!” over the past year, but blogging is all the rage yet again. The report shows this blogging is only going to get more popular looking forward as 68 percent of marketers said they would be increasing their blogging efforts. That is the most attention blogging has received since 2010 according to the report.

2. Facebook is Showing Its Age – Compared to the relatively short lifespans of popular social media platforms like Myspace, Facebook’s reign at the heights of social media has been extremely long. But, the report supports numerous claims over the past year that Facebook is beginning to lose users and marketers alike. Despite still being the most important social network overall, by a significant amount, only 43 percent of marketers feel their efforts are effective and 7 percent intend to decrease their use of Facebook this year.

3. Google+ is Finally Getting Some Attention – Despite still being the source of plenty of derisive jokes, Google+ is finally seeing some light on the horizon. The report explains, “While 54 percent of marketers are using Google+, 65 percent want to learn more about it and 61 percent plan on increasing Google+ activities in 2014.”

4. Is Podcasting the Next Big Thing? – Only 6 percent of marketers are currently involved in podcasting, but expect to see efforts skyrocketing soon. The report says 21 percent of marketers are planning on increasing their podcasting activities this year. Many also showed heightened interest in podcasting, with 28 percent saying they wanted to learn more.

Are you trying to stay on the cutting edge of social media? It is hard to stay ahead of the curve, but with enough effort you can corner all the new emerging platforms while keeping up with the content trends.

Want to know how to evaluate your buisiness’s performance in social media? Is your time and effort getting acceptable returns? Andrew K. Kirk, of Social Media Examiner, has 4 goals you should be tracking to ensure a positive social media ROI.

1. Brand Recognition

Obviously, you need people to be aware of your business. But the more people know, the more likely they will become active members of your online community.

Track your growing popularity with Klout, which gives you a social influence score based on your performance across multiple social media sites. Log your score each month and think about what actions you took during that time frame. Soon, you should be able to pinpoint what positively and negatively affects you online presence.

2. Traffic

Just as people need to be aware of your business, people also need to visit your website. Visitors will likely learn more about your business directly from your site than from anywhere else.

With Google Analytics, you can easily track visits and discover what is affecting those.

3. Repeat Business

Any business needs repeat customers to thrive. For your online presence to thrive, you need visitors to return to your site and stay longer.

To track loyalty, you can customize Google Analytics and then do a little math. Well worth it in the end.

4. Conversions

The previous steps don’t necessarily translate into an improvement in your bottom line. Afterall, the effort you put into your online presence better be worth it. You should know the ratio of overall visitors to your site to conversions. You should also know the correlation of social media activity to conversions and the source for the majority of your traffic that converts.

Again, Google Analytics has you covered. By setting up some goals and tinkering a bit, you’ll soon have all the data you need to measure your goals and get the most out of your time on social media.

Pinterest has become a monster in the past year, with user growth up nearly 4400%. No, there’s not a typo in that figure. Obviously, it’s time for you to take advantage of this raging trend and use Pinterest to expand your audience. Mitt Ray, of Social Media Examiner, has four tips you can use.

1. Pin Content

To get traffic from Pinterest, you need to be part of the Pinterest community. Establish boards that routinely pin great content. Some of it should be yours, but some of it should be from elswhere. Establish yourself as the go-to board for your particular area of expertise.

2. Tall Images

Because of the way Pinterest displays their pinned images, taller images get more real estate and have a better chance of getting noticed and being repinned. Rather than just stretching out an image, think about combining multiple relevant images to reach your tall goal.

3. Must Have Images

No one can pin your content if it doesn’t have at least one image that’s a minimum of 110 x 100 pixels. So, it should go without saying that each of your blog posts should have an accompanying picture.

4. Default Images

Your blog should also have a default image, which is an image that appears in the header, footer or sidebar. It appears on every page of your site and, although it isn’t associated with a specific post, it can be used to pin a post.

Make the image relevant to your site’s general topic. This way, you can be sure that every post can get pinned and people will start to associate your image with your site and your brand.