As a customer-first agency, we scope the best industry research to stay ahead of the curve, identify opportunities for our clients, and help them remain competitive in a fast-changing industry.
Earlier this year, Hootsuite, the leader in social media management, released its annual Social Media Trends 2019 report, using data from thousands of customers, industry experts, and exhaustive market research. In the report, they answer: where is social going in 2019, and what should forward-thinking brands be focused on today.
Here's what it said.
Trend 1: Fewer 'likes', more authenticity
2018 was a landmark year for social networks. From data privacy scandals to the use of social media in politics, the year left much to be desired. In 2019, the need for social media and personalization will be more important than ever. As data privacy remains top of mind, and consumers grow weary of 'fake news," brands will need to infuse real-life, human experiences and other engaging narratives in their storytelling.
Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes calls it a “a return to personal authenticity,” calling for brands to focus less on maximizing reach and more on creating meaningful and transparent engagement. In the report, he notes that brands like Adidas and the New York Times are good examples of companies that are infusing these principles into their brand strategies.
Hootsuite recommends the following tips:
Create a branded hashtag for Instagram aligned with community values.
Take part in (or run) Twitter chats.
Build a Facebook Group around a core audience interest.
Include micro-influencers in your marketing strategy.
Start a secret group on Facebook.
Run monthly Facebook Live Q&As sessions around commonly asked questions.
Activate employee advocates.
Trend 2: Stories - a powerful new avenue for social
As brands are embracing new ways to share their stories with the world, social platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook are embracing the changing ways users consume social media content.
Stories have become an integral marketing tool for brands who want to stay ahead. Data from the report shows that 64 percent of consumers become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Stories. What’s more, use of the feature is growing 15x faster than feed-based sharing, and is predicted to overtake traditional news feeds within the next year.
This provides opportunities for brands to share more human stories that are important, interesting, and timely to their audiences, according to the company. Brands should also consider producing a mix of content styles, using Stories to reach their audience in creative, more engaging ways. For instance, brands might explore using custom GIFs or AR as part of a more advanced strategy.
NJM says: If you have not incorporated Stories into your digital marketing strategy already, it might be a good idea for you to incorporate it now as there is no sign of Stories slowing down anytime soon.
Trend 3: Time to invest in social ads
The pay-to-play era of social ads has led to increased competition, as marketers have upped their social ad spend and are producing more ads than ever before. Take Facebook, for example. One in four Facebook Pages now use paid media, with the social platform giant accounting for 23 percent of total U.S. digital ad spend.
The report identifies Netflix and Spotify as brands that are leading the way with creative social ads that are both personalized and entertaining. The end game, is “to generate user discussion and engagement, rather than simply broadcast an ad at an audience.”
And while the company admits that not all users will be viewing ads (many users utilize ad blocking software or simply skim over them), it remains an important strategy for engaging with customer online.
The report suggests that in-house teams and brands who want to get a grasp of social ads and learn how to use them in their marketing strategies can work with third-party agencies (such as NicJohn Media) to build cross-platform content across multiple channels -- video, motion graphics, design and more.
NJM says: Get ahead of this trend by examining your own paid ad strategy. Are you using paid ads to grow your brand? What can you do to allow for better return of investment on social media?
Trend 4: Shoppers go social
Not surprisingly, this is the year for "social shopping." The report shows that we will see a rise in product selling and shopping via social platforms such as Instagram, driven by improved shopping technology and customer demand.
While millennials and Gen Zers in China have adopted this practice more swiftly (a whopping 70% of China’s shoppers in these categories buy direct from social), brands can now utilize tools like Instagram’s shoppable posts that allow users to shop without ever leaving the app to increase product sales.
Trend 5: Messaging apps take over the world
Perhaps the greatest trend of all this year, according to Hootsuite, is the rise of messaging. Today, there are more than 2.8 billion users on Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp (Facebook owns both). Add to the mix China’s WeChat, QQ, and Skype and the majority of the world are engaging via messaging apps.
For businesses and brands, It’s important to know that messaging is the more preferred customer service channel, as nine out of 10 consumers would like to use messaging to communicate with businesses, according to a survey by Twillio. Hootsuite found that 69 percent of customers say that directly messaging a company helps them feel more confident about the brand.
Hootsuite offers the following tips:
Enable Facebook Messenger for your Facebook Business Page.
Add plugins to your website that drive customers to messaging apps.
Use DMs and/or messaging apps to streamline customer service queries on social.
Set up bots and/or in-app assistants for frequently asked questions.
Run campaigns that incorporate messaging apps.
Experiment with Facebook Messenger ads.
NJM says: What does this mean for your marketing strategy? If you’re not engaging with your customers via messaging apps, it’s time to get on board.
To learn how to implement these trends in your marketing strategy, visit nicjohnmedia.com.