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6 Sweet Social Media Marketing Breakthroughs in 2013

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In 2013, social media channels offered a buffet of great new features for online marketers. Which of these did you use to get more social media engagement and ROI this year?

1. One Channel (YouTube)

In March, YouTube unveiled the “One Channel” layout for its users. With the new look and feel, businesses now have more opportunities to drive Website traffic and increase channel subscriptions.

Rainbow Loom — a brand that was mentioned oh, at least 10,000 times in my house this year — has a huge YouTube presence with over 128,000 channel subscribers. Its banner calls viewers to visit its Website where looming products of all sorts are for sale. In the channel’s featured video, the Rainbow Loom creator’s daughters explain to non-subscribers how the loom works. Once convinced that the Loom is the must-have craft of the year, viewers are asked to subscribe to the channel with a clickable button.

Rainbow Loom YouTube One Channel

2. Rich Pins (Pinterest)

Many skeptics who brushed off Pinterest as “a place where chicks go to get recipes” soon saw the channel’s inherent ability to drive Web traffic and sales. This perception shift occurred in part due to Pinterest’s May rollout of Rich Pins, a tool that helps businesses further convert interested pinners into purchasing pinners.

Pinch Gallery, an eclectic craft store in Northampton, Massachusetts, uses Rich Pins to give valuable purchasing information to pinners interested in their curated crafts — including whether a desired product, like this Questlove mug, is in stock.

Pinch Gallery Rich Pinterest Pin of Questlove Mug

3. Timeline Contests (Facebook)

For years, businesses took two approaches to running Facebook contests. They either ran contests on an often clunky (and costly) third-party platform — or they threw caution (or ignorance) to the wind and ran contests directly on their timeline. Although “Like this post to win a gift card!” and “Post a photo and be entered to win an iPad!” contests have been a staple of many brands’ promotional strategies for years — they were verboten by Facebook until the loosening of its promotional guidelines this September.

The newly allowed timeline contests don’t offer the marketing perks of say, collecting email addresses, but these promotions make it easier for brands to conjure up spur-of-the-moment engagement or fun. I used a Facebook timeline contest to get quick feedback from my fans on what social media marketing topics they’d like me to cover in my upcoming blog posts.

4. Twitter Advertising

On November 7, Twitter went public. To prove it will bring in money to investors, it made gargantuan strides this year to entice businesses to advertise on its platform. It improved ad functionality to include lead generation cards and greater targeting precision. Marketo, a marketing automation software company, used this “Twitter card” to gather email leads in exchange for an ebook on email marketing tips.

Advertisers are also given special access to follower and tweet analysis in addition to the ability to schedule tweets directly from Twitter.

5. Facebook Advertising

Facebook continues to prove to investors how it can remain financially stable. By reworking its Ads Manager platform to speak in the language of the most tech-elusive fan page admin, it has become infinitely easier to use.

This attempt at greater accessibility has fortuitous, if not intentional, timing. On December 5, Facebook warned businesses that it will share posts with fewer and fewer of a page’s fans — yes, that means a drop in organic, unpaid reach. The remedy? In Facebook’s own words: “Page owners should continue using the most effective strategy to reach the right people: a combination of engaging Page posts and advertising to promote your message more broadly.”

6. Instagram Direct 

Instagram always seems to do something major as each year winds down. Last December, it announced its much maligned and quickly reversed terms of service. This holiday season, Instagram launched something that met with much better cheer — Instagram Direct, a way for Instagram users to privately message each other. This presents businesses with a great opportunity to provide better customer service and court Instagram influencers.

Which of these breakthroughs have you tried for your business?

Which ones are you itching to try in 2014?

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