The social media landscape is changing at an unforeseen speed. With new platforms and features launching regularly, social media professionals are finding it harder to decide which trends to latch on to and which to ignore. Here’s our roadmap for navigating and thriving in the year ahead.
2018 was a hectic year for social media professionals all over the world – on the one hand excited about new trends and developments, and on the other hand aggrieved about GDPR, API changes and other restrictions making their job seemingly more difficult.
Will 2019 be a smoother, less chaotic year? Nothing seems to point in that direction. What then, will be the most important social media trends in 2019 for brands and businesses? Infomedia and Hootsuite gives you an outlook and a few notes of advice on how to adapt to the new media landscape.
You can download Hootsuite’s full report here.
Trend #1: Rebuilding trust
Brands get human as trust on social media declines
2018 represented a crisis year for trust on social media. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook faced pressure from users and regulators to improve security, and Twitter fought controversies over the large presence of bots on its platform, purging millions of fake accounts.
For brands on social media, this shift presents new challenges and opportunities. Users have grown distrustful of many media and celebrity influencers. Trust has reverted back to immediate friends, family, and acquaintances on social media, as well as traditional and trusted journalism outlets.
What to do about it?
One way to go about it is to build a social media group around a core audience interest. If you have a business page, e.g. on Facebook, you can easily create a Facebook Group to complement it. While your page will offer more general information, your Facebook Group can address niche interests and target your superfans.
The key for brands is to create a space where customers can talk to one another, facilitate that engagement and then get out of the way. Avoid heavy-handed pitches or product plugs.
Another way to secure authenticity is to hire micro-influencer when planning campaigns. Unlike well-known or celebrity influencers, micro-influencers have smaller, highly engaged social media audiences. They will improve the quality of your outreach with more niche audiences, also, they are more affordable and viewed as more trustworthy by consumers.
Last but not least, you need to activate employee advocates. To share unique insights, tap into the experts already on your team, from product specialists to your CEO, and encourage employees to reshare branded social content that’s relevant to their unique audiences.
Trend #2: Storifying social
Content teams adapt as Stories offer new formats for sharing
According to consulting firm Block Party, Stories—the vertical, disappearing videos invented by Snapchat—are now growing 15 times faster than feed-based sharing. Nearly a billion users across WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat already turn to Stories to share.
Social media is turning from text-based platforms originally designed for desktop use (think early Facebook) to truly mobile-only networks that enable users to capture in-the-moment experiences—and Stories embody that change.
Stories are overwhelmingly visual and meant to be created and consumed on the fly with nothing more than a smartphone and a creative eye. Because they’re fleeting —often disappearing after a day—there’s more room for fun and experimentation. Stories feel real, immediate, and intensely personal.
For brands, this social media trend requires a major shift in focus in 2019.
What to do about it?
An estimated four out of five major brands are already on Stories. If you aren’t creating Stories, it’s time to start.
Stories can be as easy to create as you choose, so there’s a low barrier to entry for any team’s skill set. Share content weekly (and at different times of day) to see what works best with your audiences.
Your content should be Story-specific thus reflecting the unique look and feel of Stories – raw, unedited, and live action. Find ways for your video, photography, and graphic design teams to join forces to create something memorable.
Trend #3: Closing the ads gap
More competition on paid social forces marketers to up their game
By now, everyone knows we’re in the pay-to-play era on social. Accordingly, marketers are increasing social ad budgets and producing more ads than ever before. One of every four Facebook Pages now use paid media.
But rising costs and fleeting attention are limiting ROI for advertisers. To counter this, paid social teams are pairing ad money with equal time investment, creativity, and targeting savvy. And they’re paying to boost their best performing organic content.
Spotify and Netflix are leading the way with creative social ads that are at once personalized and entertaining, rather than just bland banner ads squeezed into a news feed. The end goal is to generate user discussion and engagement, rather than simply “broadcast” an ad at an audience.
What to do about it?
Define your goals to show that social media has a positive bottom-line impact on your business. Every ad campaign should have metrics that tie back to business objectives.
Your metrics will depend on the type of campaign you’re running and the audience you’re targeting. Awareness campaigns, for example, might focus on impressions, while conversion campaigns should put more value on click-throughs.
Also, with more brands competing for people’s attention on social media, ordinary posts aren’t good enough anymore. You need to create high-quality content that will resonate with your audience.
Create compelling visuals, which are essential for clicks and high conversion rates on social media. Learning some video basics or even hiring a freelancer can make a big difference.
But no matter how savvy your ad team is, it’s impossible to predict what users will actually click on. That’s where split-testing (or A/B testing) comes into play.
This approach involves running multiple ads with slight variations (different images, headlines etc.) and then doubling down on the top performers. Some platforms offer basic split-testing functionality – for more options consider a third-party ad tool.
Trend #4: Cracking the commerce code
Improved social shopping technologies (finally) fuel sales
In Asia, social commerce adoption has been swift, with 70 percent of China’s millennials now buying direct from social. But social commerce hasn’t kept pace in the western world despite the long-hyped promise of buy buttons. But new and evolving technologies are changing that—especially for young buyers.
Instagram’s shoppable posts now allow users to go from discovery to checkout without ever leaving the app. Facebook’s Marketplace is now used in 70 countries – including Denmark – by more than 800 million people.
Video, in particular, is proving a critical bridge for social commerce. In a study of 5,500 consumers, 74 percent of viewers drew a connection between watching a social video and making a purchase.
So how do you start incorporating social commerce into your marketing strategy? It’s important to remember that what distinguishes social commerce from other channels is the social aspect. Finding ways to make shopping live, interactive, and seamless—even on mobile devices—is key.
What to do about it?
Set up shoppable Instagram posts. Before you can start selling products on Instagram, you need to have a business profile. Then you can add your product catalog to Facebook with Shopify or BigCommerce, and Instagram will approve your submission. This will allow you to tag products in your posts so your followers can browse and buy.
High-quality images and videos can help potential customers browse your products and get an idea of look and feel without going in-store. Showcase your products in a variety of different scenarios to add variety – think about your target customers—how they buy, their needs, challenges, etc.
Trend 5: Messaging eats the world
Customers demand better 1:1 social experiences
The top messaging apps— such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, QQ, and Skype – combine for nearly 5 billion monthly active users. That’s more users than the traditional social networks have worldwide.
Across the board, users are spending more time on messaging and less time sharing news on social. This shift from public to private spaces is changing consumer expectations.
Nine out of 10 consumers would like to use messaging to communicate with businesses. In the U.S., messaging is the most preferred customer service channel. In a 2018 survey of 8,000 people conducted by Facebook, 69 percent of respondents said that directly messaging with a company helps them feel more confident about the brand.
What’s clear, however, is that consumers don’t want more advertising channels. Smart brands are using messaging apps for more high-value conversations.
So, how do you up your messaging game?
What to do about it?
One way to go about it is to enable Facebook Messenger for your Facebook Business Page – this guide shows you how.
Once you’ve done that, set up an instant reply for when users send you a message. This can be as simple as a short greeting, or you can provide more information such as typical response times and support hours.
Another way is to set up a chat bot. They can be an important way to scale your customer service efforts and create better experiences on social. While they can’t replace an in-person experience, they’re extremely effective for answering simple questions and helping with more transactional exchanges. This frees up time for you to focus on more complex customer needs.
Finally, an option is to run campaigns that incorporate messaging apps. Contests are a good way to start connecting with your customers because they often include a private messaging element to share contest results. Just remember to align your campaign with GDPR guidelines.
For example, Coca Cola ran a summer contest using Messenger and chatbots. The entirely mobile campaign encouraged customers to take pictures of their Coke bottles through Messenger to automatically enter to win prizes.