The State of Social Media Marketing in 21 Instagram Posts

Last week members of the Adobe Spark team joined more than 3,000 social marketers and business owners at Social Media Examiner‘s Social Media Marketing World (SMMW) conference in San Diego. Armed with notebooks and customizable Adobe Spark Post designs for visual note-taking and instant sharing, we hit as many sessions as we could.

Every year at SMMW, there seems to be a star social platform that garners the most attention from speakers and the most interest from attendees. This year, that star was definitely Instagram. The image-sharing platform has seen rapid growth in the last year and major product updates such as Instagram Stories, Slideshows, and Live Video, which have greatly expanded what marketers can do on the network. The visual nature of the platform also reflects what most marketers are focusing on this year: visual communication. So we decided to compile takeaways from the conference based on what we and others shared on Instagram. Behold the state of social media in 21 Instagram posts.

The Importance of Visual Marketing and the Path Forward on Facebook

In the first keynote, Social Media Examiner founder and CEO Mike Stelzner focused on the importance of visual communication, how to beat Facebook’s algorithm, and the importance of community, which set the tone for the entire conference. We captured his main points with a series of Spark Post graphics and doodles by Spark team member Amy Zhong. Click through the Instagram Slideshow to get his actionable advice, including how to get seen in the Facebook algorithm for cheap.

How to Create Highly Shareable Images

Marketers say visual content is the most important aspect of their role, for the first time surpassing blogging. As such, many of the sessions centered around how to create graphics for social media, such as CMO of Post Planner Rebekah Radice‘s talk. Check out the highlights from Rebekah’s session, doodled by Spark Post’s product manager Amy Zhong.

The Rise of Instagram

Social media expert and speaker Peg Fitzpatrick noted that Instagram accounts for 92% of all social media engagement and covered which tools marketers should use to keep on top of the platform.

The Instagram Expert Sue B. Zimmerman focused how to take advantage of Instagram’s newest Snapchat-like feature, Instagram Stories:

Spark Note: creating images for Instagram Stories has never been easier. Spark Post just released 9 new sizes, including IG stories as well as a library of awesome patterns that make for great backgrounds!

While imagery will always be the driving force behind the platform, speaker Jenn Herman also rightfully noted that Instagram isn’t just about posting pretty images anymore. Many influencers and businesses are using the platform as a micro-blogging space to spread their message, teach, or start conversations. Images can be the gateway to getting more of your message in front of your audience.

Using Promoted Pins to Drive Traffic

Another highly visual medium, Pinterest, has also experienced major growth this year, widening its audience far beyond lifestyle bloggers, wedding planners, and interior decorators. More men are using Pinterest than ever before and the platform continues to cement its reputation as the Internet’s ultimate bookmarking tool. But as its popularity grows so does the need to pay to play. Here’s how to win with promoted pins, according to Alissa Meredith, a content marketing strategist who helps small businesses grow using visual marketing.

Let Data Be Your Guide

Speaker, author, consultant and CEO of Maximize Your Social Neil Schaffer shared his growth-hacking expertise to help people drive business results with social media. His session focused on the importance of data and using your audience on social media as your focus group to gather qualitative insights about your business or products.

Meanwhile many speakers, like Mark Schaefer, were careful to put a premium on the people behind the data and focus on how social media ultimately is a trust-builder above all else.

And Let Community Be Your Soul

Another big theme of the conference that transcended most sessions was the focus on community. Mike Stelzner advised his audience to forget vanity metrics and focus on the people you’re talking to, while others touted data as the ultimate way to ensure delivering content your community wants to see. And the rally cry throughout the San Diego Convention Center seemed to be:

Customer service expert Jay Baer who helps the world’s top brands keep their customers happy offered his words of wisdom on how to turn your haters into brand advocates.

Content is King, Engagement is Queen, and Storytelling is the Kingdom

By now you’ve likely heard the adage “Content is King.” “Queen of Facebook” Mari Smith, who’s one of the world’s authorities on Facebook marketing and business storytelling expert Park Howell have a few additions to the catchphrase, though.

You know good storytelling and blogging are key to content marketing success, but how do you create content people want to read and watch? Attendee and expert doodler @lacelaceleblanc pulled out her favorite takeaways from founder of Brian Clark‘s session on creating an editorial strategy.

And the most important thing to remember is to offer your audience value with your content. Teach, entertain, inspire…or as attendee and social marketer Heather Heuman says…

Artificial Intelligence Is the Next Frontier

Social media is the fastest changing industry. What worked today may not tomorrow and as Stelzner noted in his keynote on day two, we’re just getting started. Even if you or your business are new to social media, you’re still a pioneer. And the next frontier? Artificial Intelligence. We captured the main takeaways from the panel discussion on how bots and automation are already helping today’s marketers and how the technology will power the next generation of social content.

Have a social media tip or insight to share? Make it visual with a customizable template in Spark Post! Be sure to share it with #AdobeSpark for a chance to be featured.