A new year is a great time to reassess everything you’ve been doing and find ways to improve your social media marketing strategy.
Like most digital marketing channels, social media is always evolving.
People’s behaviors are changing, as are the technologies and capabilities of social media platforms.
So what will be the key social media trends you need to know in 2019?
If I were to sum it up – well, I wouldn’t.
Rather, I’ll let Trish Carey, Marketing Director, SellerEngine Software, do it for me as she put it so perfectly in this one sentence:
“While we’ll see a lot of changes in 2019, to me it really still comes back to understanding your audience, crafting different, targeted and appropriate messages for those audiences, and creating engaging content.”
But there’s a lot to unpack in that one statement. Which is exactly what we’ll start doing right now.
Read on for 10 important trends that will matter most to marketers, brands, and businesses in 2019, according to 30 of today’s top experts on social media.
1. Love & Care About Your Audience
If you don’t show any love to your audience, why would you expect them to show any love or loyalty to you?
In 2019, the top focus for marketers should be on being responsive to the people who follow you.
After all, social media is all about relationships and engagement.
Being authentic and timely is a good start, according to Jasmine Sandler, CEO, Owner & Operator of JS Media.
“This means responding quickly to customer complaints, issues, and questions,” Sandler said. “Doing this in a real way that nurtures and supports the customer or audience first is also important for overall social brand loyalty.”
Companies need to remember that the “newness” of social media is over, said Brent Csutoras, co-owner and adviser of Search Engine Journal.
“Smart businesses are starting to understand that connecting and marketing with users through social media sites and applications is about being present and interacting within the site and application, instead of just using them to get visibility and traffic back to your website,” Csutoras said. “In 2019, businesses need to really take the time to understand their customers and how they interact with the brand on each social media site, and then engage with them in the right tone, with the right medium, and in their communities.”
In 2019, social media will shift even more toward 1:1 interactions, rather than 1:many broadcasting that many brands and businesses have been doing, said Kevan Lee, VP of Marketing at Buffer.
“One of the absolute best things that brands can do on social media is to be responsive to their customers and engaged with their audience,” Lee said. ” Your biggest competitive advantage will be doing the things that don’t scale: replying to every request, jumping into the comments of all your posts, etc.”
Rebecca Murtagh, an author, speaker, and business advisor, agreed.
“No matter how big (or small) a brand is, every customer type (including employees, investors, etc.) will expect more personal interaction, Murtagh said. “Brands that can approach social engagement with a true desire to build relationships will be the winners in 2019 and beyond!”
As Erin Jones, Founder of RepBright, puts it: let your audience know that they matter to your brand, and they’ll help you grow your brand.
“If you want to increase your reach, become an invaluable resource for your audience, and interact with them accordingly,” Jones said. “They’ll promote your brand for you, and your reach will grow considerably.”
How can you manage all these social conversations and provide real-time customer service?
By making sure you have the right monitoring and tracking tools in place, according to Debbie Miller, President of Social Hospitality.
“Businesses that monitor and participate in conversations with their customers (and potential customers) will be able to cultivate more authentic relationships with those folks, and, again, stand out among the high number of brands that don’t,” Miller said.
2. Tell Authentic Stories & Share Moments That Matter
Will 2019 be the year of authenticity on social media? Anna Crowe, Assistant Editor of Search Engine Journal, believes so.
“That means less of static updates and more behind-the-scenes, raw, and intimate Stories,” Crowe said. “Stories create a more transparent and meaningful relationship between the user and the brand.”
That means more work for marketers and brands because it requires better storytelling.
“In order to cut through the clutter, we need to tell stories that matter to people, not your brand,” said Mae Chong, Digital Strategist at Brew Interactive. “We need to share moments that matter to people, not your brand. Lastly, we need to share secrets that matter to people, not your brand.”
How do you find content that will matter to people? Dennis Yu may have the best answer: “amplify the signal” by crossing search and social.
“Take your very best evergreen web content and create one-minute videos on those same topics, posting these videos to Facebook, LinkedIn, and other channels,” Yu said. “You’ll find that one-minute videos get 400 to 500 percent more reach on LinkedIn compared to Facebook.”
“Take your best-performing posts from social and convert them to an article – thereby using social power to fuel search rankings and traffic,” he added. “You can repurpose Facebook live videos and podcasts into listicles, tweets, articles, and other derivative content.”
This can be a great strategy because content that worked for your audience on one channel or platform is also likely to work on other platforms – and those audiences aren’t the same.
3. Work with Influencers & Micro-Influencers
Facebook marketing authority Mari Smith said influencer marketing will be a dominant trend in 2019.
“We’ll see a big growth spurt in seasoned influencers creating successful campaigns, along with a rise in nano influencers (ordinary digital citizens with 1,000 to 5,000 followers),” Smith said. “Brands and businesses will seek proven influencer marketing strategies and especially look for proven influencer agencies.”
Adam Proehl, Partner & Co-founder of NordicClick Interactive, also expects micro-influencer marketing to be a key trend in 2019.
“Tools like Mavrck, Neoreach, and Traackr help big brands find and develop relationships with key micro-influencers at a scale and efficiency which no human could match,” Proehl said.
When it comes to social, everyone is someone, said Barrie Moran, Director & Founder of Purple Imp.
“Engaging with those ‘influencers,’ remains key,” Moran said. “Knowing who to speak to when, how to speak to them, and knowing when to shut up and listen are all core skills for social marketers.”
Meanwhile, Mark Traphagen, Content Strategy Director at Perficient Digital, said he will be shifting more of his social media efforts into finding and nurturing strategic partnerships via relationship building, and he’ll be advising his clients to do the same.”
“While I continue to use social as a promotional channel, particularly for our content, I am finding the highest return on time spent in using social to be social with non-competitive influencers, business owners, thought leaders, etc.” he said. “This has led to many opportunities for joint projects, client referrals, shared content ventures, sharing of data for studies, and more.”
4. Video, Video, Video!
Video? A trend again? Oh yes.
For most marketers, video (both live and uploaded) is nothing new.
But marketers, brands, and businesses must have a video strategy in 2019.
What to watch:
- Live Video: Victoria Edwards, Senior Manager of Social Media for GuideWell Connect, expects to “see more brands potentially partnering with influencers or developing content that has more of a real human touch, than highly produced content.”
- Vertical video: “2019 will be a breakout year for IGTV with Instagram pushing the app front and center. Plus, we’ll see continued growth in vertical video consumption on Facebook,” according to Mari Smith.
- Interactive video: “Just posting native video won’t quite be enough in 2019. Now you will need to craft short videos that can run as ads without seeming out of tune with interactive shows on Facebook Watch and IGTV,” said Michelle Stinson Ross, Marketing Operations Director at Apogee Results.
- More smartphone-quality videos: “Marketers are going to be able to get away with videos made on a smartphone to keep up with the pace of content consumers are looking for. The ephemeral content trend really makes these smartphone-quality videos an acceptable form of content that doesn’t decrease your brand equity. If anything, it makes your brand more approachable and trustworthy,” said Nancy Rothman, Director of Marketing at MeetEdgar.
- Video remarketing: “You also have so many remarketing capabilities when someone watches your video and I expect our video capabilities and analytic data to continue to improve and provide us with even more granular targeting based off video advertisements,” said Adam Heitzman, Managing Partner at HigherVisibility.
Akvile DeFazio, President of AKvertise, also offers these video tips:
- Set goals for your video.
- Storyboard with your team.
- Create a 30-60 second video that you can use on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn News Feeds.
- For Stories, create 15-second micro-segment videos of your longer ones to utilize, here.
- Repurpose your content where and when you can.
- Put your best foot forward in the first 10 seconds because no matter how interesting, useful, entertaining, or informative your video is, viewers will begin to drop off after the 10-15 mark.
5. Facebook Messenger & Chatbots
Chatbots are a super hot trend right now.
As Lisa Buyer, CEO of The Buyer Group, pointed out, Facebook Messenger and chatbots have awesome open rates and are one of the most effective ways to reach and build audience engagement.
In fact, according to Kristi Kellogg, Founder & CEO of Dazzling Digital, businesses that market via Messenger earn 60-80 percent open rates within the first 60 minutes.
In 2019, it’s time to start chat blasting.
“It’s email blasting, except it’s done via Messenger, and you’ll earn much, much more engagement,” Kellogg said. “Facebook Messenger marketing is the new and improved email marketing.”
Kellogg’s best advice for 2019 is to:
- Build a Facebook Messenger chatbot.
- Grow your Facebook Messenger contacts.
- Start strategically delivering content via Messenger.
That said, expect the chatbot hype to die down a bit and for marketers to shift from “we need a chatbot” to “how do we use this strategically as a communications tool,” according to Krista Neher, an author, speaker, and social media trainer.
“Many chatbots are not providing great consumer experiences, which means that they aren’t providing business results,” Neher said. “In 2019 businesses with poor-performing chatbots will get rid of their chatbots and those who want to use the tool will invest more in understanding the consumer experience to create something that works for both consumers and the business.”
6. Put Community & Socialization Back in Social Media
The point of social media is to be social? What a crazy idea.
But yes, somewhere along the way people forgot this and used it as a broadcast medium – a promotion channel to drive traffic and brand awareness.
Or, as Mark Schaefer, author of “The Content Code” puts it: businesses have systematically been taking the “social” out of social media for more than a decade now.
“The smart companies are beginning to realize that people want more than artificial attempts at engagement,” Schaefer said. “To cut through the clutter of our world, businesses will have to offer authentic communications that help people connect and create meaningful relationships.”
As Geoffrey Colon, Head of Microsoft Advertising Brand Studio, points out, true communities were centered on interests in the early days of social media.
“That’s coming back with blazing glory because it never really went away in the first place,” Colon said. “The platforms took it away, but people want it. I mean, what good is social media if it isn’t centered around community socialization in the first place?”
So how can companies build these niche or subculture communities?
Facebook is promoting Groups hard, because that’s where the future of the platform lies, said Virginia Nussey, Director of Content Marketing for MobileMonkey.
“Our individual social media preferences are moving from public broadcasting to engaging in more intimate communities,” Nussey said. “On that note, Facebook Groups are a hot spot for engagement and a place to focus social media efforts in 2019.”
Adds Mari Smith:
“People crave a sense of belonging with their respective tribes and want to participate in meaningful groups. Brands and businesses should invest in creating and managing niche groups to foster deeper relationships with their communities.”
7. Earn, Rebuild, or Keep the Trust of Your Followers
Brands will need to work harder to capture and retain the trust of their target audience in 2019, according to Mel Carson, Founder, CEO & Principal Strategist of Delightful Communications.
With online trust waning with all the fake news talk and privacy disasters that happened in 2018, we think people will be heavily relied on to carry brand messages on social media throughout 2019,” Carson said. “By putting people at the heart of each of their social media tactics, they have a very real possibility of making emotional connections that people care about and might keep them loyal.”
If 2018 was all about scandals, security breaches, manipulation, and an overall sense of uncertainty, then 2019 will be all about regaining the trust of users, according to Mary Davies, President of Beanstalk Internet Marketing.
That means abandoning old tactics that got engagement but were misused and abused. Davies shared three ways you can regain the trust of your followers:
- Up your paid promotion budget: You will need this to counteract some of the losses you may experience from not putting out spammy content like that mentioned above.
- Stop asking your followers for something all the time: Create content that naturally creates engagement rather than begging for it.
- Stop selling, start communicating: Don’t be that friend that invites you to coffee and then spends the entire time selling to you. Invite your followers to a conversation, not a sales pitch.
Trish Carey also believes we’ll see greater concern about privacy in 2019 – and states in the U.S. continue to adopt GDPR-like regulations around personal privacy
“Hopefully, something will happen at a higher level, otherwise, it will become very difficult to be compliant if we have to have different rules for each state,” Carey said. “I also wouldn’t be surprised to see some kind of education for everyone to help understand how to control options for personal online privacy.”
8. The Year of LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is often not fully leveraged by marketers. But if you look at what LinkedIn has done over the last year with video, the rise of LinkedIn influencers and connecting their products to Bing – this is the platform to watch and get serious about next year, according to Krista Neher.
“Many business professionals already report 10X the number of video views on LinkedIn vs. Facebook – even with a bigger audience on Facebook,” she said. “LinkedIn also recently relaunched Groups in an aim to drive more community on the platform. 2019 will see the revival of LinkedIn and the rise of LinkedIn Influencers who are able to build and leverage large audiences.”
Virginia Nussey also believes LinkedIn gives a great opportunity for creators a better chance to have their posts seen, especially after their October 2018 algorithm update.
“Even if you have a small LinkedIn following, your posts and engagements on LinkedIn are making a big difference,” she said. “LinkedIn reports that likes, comments, and shares on the network increased more than 50 percent YoY! That’s an engaged community for you!”
Akvile DeFazio also recommends testing out LinkedIn 2019 if it’s applicable to your audience, whether it’s younger demographic or executives.
“LinkedIn is evolving and making a huge push toward becoming an informative business content sharing and connection nurturing network. They are creating alluring features for younger demographics to begin using the network as they begin entering the workforce or heading into higher education,” she said. “If executives are your target audience, 59 percent of them would rather watch video than read text.”
9. More Strategic Employee Advocacy Programs
Is your company getting your employees engaged in content creation? If not, the time is now.
Ted Rubin, social marketing strategist and keynote speaker, said 2019 should be the year of empowering employees to power your brand.
Employee-created content receives eight times more engagement than content shared from the company itself.
In addition, employee content extends brand messaging by over 500 percent, according to Rubin.
“Your employees are the best way to humanize and personalize your brand… and truly the best way to scale relevant, contextual content creation,” he said. “It’s well known that companies with engaged employees outperform their peers; involving employees in content creation can help to create a sense of common purpose.”
10. Create Content for Your Mobile Fans
In 2019, it’s critical to craft a social experience that is fluid, beautiful, and easily interactive for mobile fans on every aspect of digital marketing, including social media – from social media post to end engagement.
That’s according to Ashley Ward, CEO & Director of Marketing at Madhouse Matters.
“Everything that you share on your social media profiles needs to accommodate a mobile user,” Ward said. “This means that if you want them to click on a link in order to engage with your post, that link needs to go to a page that is designed specifically for the mobile user.”
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