The number of social media users are growing year on year with research showing that 2018 saw 3.196 billion social media users worldwide. The social media landscape is constantly evolving, with new trends surfacing each year through a gradual build-up process from past successes.
2018 saw the surge of user-generated content, where brands encouraged their audiences and consumers to use specific hashtags to make their photos searchable, with the possibility of that brand republishing their content. Other trends such as influencer marketing taking off, augmented reality being integrated into social media platforms, as well as small businesses increasing their social media presence. So what has 2019 got in store for the social media landscape?
Here’s what we have predicted:
Ephemeral content isn’t going anywhere
Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Snapchat have risen to the trend of ephemeral content, with Instagram stories reaching around 400 million daily users, and WhatsApp status updates reaching 450 million daily users in 2018. The stories format could well possibly become the primary way in which content is shared on social media, making it vital for social media marketers to continue creating content that can be consumed momentariously and is enriched with short yet powerful visual communications (Mehta, 2018).
Social media is steering from text-based content and platform design to mobile-only networks that enable its users to capture short-lived, momentarious content that can be shared instantly. This allows more room for fun, immediate and real content to be shared, making it a far more personal experience as opposed to carefully curated videos or photos. Marketers thus need to incorporate this trend into their social media strategies for 2019, focusing on content that is intimate and uses a range of multimedia to bring a message across. Consumers can see through an outdated advertisement that is non-personal and sales driven – they want real engagement that caters to their needs from brands they can trust.
The rise of live
Alongside the stories feature, going live on social media has also become a popular new trend that will spill over into 2019 with brands increasingly recognising the importance of engaging in real-time with their audiences. It’s a great way for brands and businesses to engage in a personal manner with their audiences, as well as showcasing more “behind-the-scenes” type content alongside more carefully considered content.
This adds great value to a brands reputation, with consumers becoming more trusting of such brands, and in turn potentially more loyal. Marketers are thus challenged to continuously adapt their marketing strategies to fit the new moulds of advertising to and communicating with their target audiences.
Dark social seeing the light of day
“Dark what?” Is what you’re probably thinking… Let’s explain: dark social refers to the content that people share privately on messaging apps, which is largely due to users losing trust in social media platforms that are more public, like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, even with their privacy features. This has made it increasingly difficult for brands and businesses to accurately track their social media share counts, because content is being shared more privately. But this doesn’t mean no one is sharing your brand’s content, it just means that the way its being shared is changing, making it imperative to adapt the ways in which you measure your social media successes.
Consumers want better, real-time customer experiences
Social media has created a timeless channel of communication between brands and their consumers. Gone are the days of a business being open from 9:00 am to 17:00 pm. Social media is a boundless, 24/7 marketing tool allowing interactions at any time of day, any day of the week. And consumers expect just that. From customer support and social selling, to chatbots and social media monitoring for potential crises, the social media landscape has truly redefined how consumers interact with brands, and the level of personal interactions they expect.
This trend is expected to continue to grow in 2019, with consumers expecting brands to step up to the plate with real-time engagement when it comes to their experiences with them. Whether it be handling a query, complaint or compliment on social media, consumers want to interact with brands on a personal level.
Goodbye major-influencers, hello micro-influencers
Social media influencers has taken the social landscape by storm. With thousands of influencers across platforms like Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, there’s an influencer for virtually every market. From sharing reviews of their products, attending events, wearing brands’ latest fashion collections, and visiting fancy hotels and resorts, influencers come with a major price tag.
Which is where micro-influencers come in: businesses are looking for alternatives to costly influencers, which is why they have turned to social media users that have 10 000 followers or less to market their products/services. Micro-influencers are considered to be experts in their niche markets, making them trustworthy with a strong following that brands can collaborate with. 2018 saw a shift in brands from focusing on major influencers to micro influencers, but we believe this trend will continue to gain traction in 2019 as brands are looking at tapping into smaller communities that are more specialised in their craft.
Shoppable social media experiences like you’ve never seen before
Social media isn’t only for endless hours of mindless scrolling, it has evolved into a shoppable platform that knows no boundaries to easing the process of purchasing goods online. For instance, Instagram launched shoppable tags for posts in 2018 which allows users to purchase items from a brand without leaving the app. Facebook has also recently released their Marketplace features, which is now being used in 70 countries by over 800 million people (Copp, 2018).
This has become an increasingly important feature for brands to utilise when planning their social media strategies and driving sales through such platforms. Consumers are looking for convenience and personalised experiences, thus the seamlessness at which shopping through social media on mobile devices needs to be a key driver in marketing strategies in 2019.
Organic reach driving paid ads
The myths surrounding Facebook and Instagram algorithms has left marketers confused about what they should be focusing on: paid or organic reach? Recent statistics have shown that one out of every four Facebook pages use paid media, and marketers have increased their social ad spend by 32% in 2018 alone according to Hootsuite social media trends report. But is that enough?
Brands need to refine their paid advertisements based on their best performing organic posts in order to create content that audiences will respond well to, therefore bridging the gap between organic and paid advertising on social media. Marketers need to realise that their goals stretch beyond merely pushing bland banner ads into a newsfeed of a consumer that won’t give it the time of day. They need to initiate conversations and encourage engagement through their paid advertisements. The key is to create cross-platform content that can be shared across all social media platforms in different ways but still communicating the same message.
Integration of social media into other services
You’ve probably noticed how some third party applications allow you to login with your Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn details. This is what we call authentication via third-party, and occurs when social media platforms embed themselves into other online services to share user data and ultimately ensure a more seamless user experience for consumers. Now there’s no need to remember long-winded, complex password when logging into certain applications.
This trend is expected to continue into 2019, with social media becoming even more integrated with other services which may assist social media companies in retaining their dominance, collecting more information from their users, as well as provide more personalised services for websites and applications (Social Report, 2018).
CEOs stepping up in the social landscape
With today’s exponential rate at which content is produced and shared on the internet, it’s no wonder we’ve entered an era of fake news. With anyone, from virtually anywhere, being able to share information (fake or not) on the internet, brand trust and loyalty is slowly withering away. Consumers are lacking confidence and trust in brands, which has caused uneasy stirs in companies, and thus increases the need for CEOs and other executive directors in companies to engage with audiences on social platforms to regain trust and loyalty.
Don’t get us wrong, this doesn’t mean your CEO now needs to start insta-storying their cat that looks cute when it yawns (although, that would be very adorable). It just means that it would be beneficial for a brand if its CEO was present on platforms like LinkedIn where they can share knowledge and insights through blog writing, as well as on Twitter where they can live tweet or respond to misunderstandings or crises when applicable.
We are looking forward to seeing which trends materialise and develop in 2019! As much as studies and research can predict what the future of social media looks like, it remains a fairly unpredictable landscape that requires constant monitoring and adaptation.
If you have any further questions or queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Copp, E. (2018). Top 5 Social Media Trends in 2019 (And How Brands Should Adapt). [online] Hootsuite Social Media Management. Available at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-trends/#closing [Accessed 5 Dec. 2018].
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Mehta, S. (2018). Social media marketing trends 2019 | Smart Insights. [online] Smart Insights. Available at: https://www.smartinsights.com/social-media-marketing/social-media-strategy/social-media-marketing-trends-2019/ [Accessed 5 Dec. 2018].
Social Report. (2018). 7 Digital Marketing Trends That Will Own 2019. [online] Available at: https://www.socialreport.com/insights/article/360000663006-7-Digital-Marketing-Trends-That-Will-Own-2019 [Accessed 5 Dec. 2018].