This guide is designed to walk you through the social media trends for business you need to watch out for in 2019.
Social media is changing so much these days – and it’s becoming even more challenging for marketers to keep up with the current social trends.
It’s May now, so it’s the perfect time to reassess our beginning-of-2019 social media marketing resolutions and to see whether they’re in tune with the social media trends today.
Keep on reading for an in-depth analysis of what moves the needle in social media in 2019.
What Have We Learned From The Social Trends of 2018?
2018 was quite an eventful year for social media, but aren’t they always?
Regardless of the changes, one thing’s for certain – just the same as ever, it all comes down to understanding what moves your audience.
Social trend #1: Building a Lasting Relationship With Your Audience
The phrase “social media engagement” has been used so often and so unsparingly that it’s probably lost its meaning by now – it might even sound like an empty phrase people use when they want to seem knowledgeable about social media.
However, there’s an important lesson on engaging with your audience to be learned from all the brands that have been nailing it the past year. And it turns out it’s all about transparency, ethics, and keeping a brand image that’s honest and authentic.
Transparency & Branding
The Social Media and Transparency report released by Sproutsocial shed even more light on exactly how much the modern consumer values brand transparency. According to the report:
- “86% of Americans believe transparency from businesses is more important than ever before” – that’s close to 9 out of 10 people who answered this question.
- “81% of people believe businesses have a responsibility to be transparent when posting on social media—that’s higher than the standards they set for politicians”.
Apart from the fact this clearly shows we live in a deeply consumerist society, what does “transparency” actually mean in this context?
Let’s show you a few examples of how brands can present themselves as transparent:
- Brands can decide to leave negative reviews on their website or social media posts and deal with them in a professional, honest and responsible manner.
- Brands can focus on making information about their brand easily accessible – from how they source their ingredients, to how big is their carbon footprint.
- Influencers can be transparent about sponsors and affiliates when reviewing.
- Brands can (and should) inform customers of the way they use their personal data (GDPR).
There are quite a few examples of emerging brands who’ve managed to give industry leaders a run for their money simply because of their transparent approach. They cater to a target audience that wants to make informed choices about the products they buy, and their success has set a new industry standard that’s changed the game for everybody – even established legacy brands.
Most brands will eventually be forced into being more transparent, as:
- Consumer trust in brands is on the decline.
- Emerging brands are raising the bar and setting new benchmarks.
Why is it so important to position your brand as ethical?
The 20th century marked the first boom of marketing and established a playing field that has changed a lot since. Nowadays, the fact that audiences have been marketed to for quite some time means that they’ve become fed up with traditional marketing methods. Once upon a time consumers may have fallen for sensationalist claims, but in post-modern times, consumers get burned by their purchasing decisions every now and again, and they become even more marketing-savvy every time.
The result is a generation of consumers which, after having to endure a lifetime of ads, has grown immensely suspicious of ads and overly salesy marketing tactics.
But that’s only one part of the equation. Purchasing decisions are no longer solely driven by the quality or popularity of a given product. On the contrary, the new generations of consumers – mainly millennials and Gen Z have brought about a new way to look at buying products – they have made purchasing decisions a political act.
These new, more informed and more aware consumers would likely pay more for products if they perceive a brand as ethical and transparent, or if they know that, for example:
- The brand sources ingredients ethically.
- The brand cares about the environment and is sustainable.
- The brand is inclusive.
Let’s help you visualize this using the famous example of an ethical advertising campaign by Patagonia:
Actionable Tips for Building Authentic and Honest Relationships:
So, here’s the conclusion: in order to cut through the clutter of social media posts and information, brands have to be more in tune with how customers want to use social media than ever before, respond to their purchasing needs and help them make informed purchasing decisions. As a brand, you’ll need to:
- Tell stories that matter to your users, not stories that matter to you.
- Listen to your customers on social media so that you’re perceived as a brand that cares.
- Rather than constantly asking your followers for something, try to create content that naturally creates engagement, like user-generated content.
- Use referral campaigns to leverage word-of-mouth marketing and let your loyal customers be your sales team.
When you’re devising your social media strategy, think in terms of customer retention and lifetime customer value, not only lead generation and customer acquisition.
You’ll see that the only thing that works for that is being consistent in how you treat your customers – with honesty and respect. Your social media channels should reflect that.
Social Trend #2: In-the-moment Content
Snapchat has really changed the way we think of content since its, well, practically “invention” of ephemeral content in the form of Snapchat stories. There’s been a battle between the two types of content ever since – in-the-moment content and evergreen content. And while brands are completely used to content strategies that revolve around evergreen content that ranks overtime, in the form of resources, opinions, reviews, and guest posts to name but a few, many of them struggle with adding a touch of spontaneity to their content strategy.
To a marketer, investing resources into creating content that’s going to disappear might sound counterintuitive, but temporary content is a great way to use social media the way consumers do .
Here, the most helpful thing you can do is research your most successful competitors, as that can be far more valuable than any type of general advice we can give you in an article like this one.
Your particular niche might have its own laws, and while the current social trends can provide some much-needed direction, they may not be all equally relevant for all the brands out there.
Stories Are Here for the Long Haul
The social trends of 2019 have shown that platforms continue to deepen their focus on temporary content – Stories in particular.
YouTube Stories for creators was a feature that rolled out towards the end of 2018, and we can definitely look at it as confirmation that the platform giants are all gearing up towards temporary content more and more every year. If you need more proof, just take a look at Facebook Stories, a feature that was completely overshadowed by the success and growth rate of Instagram Stories, but that, as of Q1 for 2019, passed the 500 million user mark.
With evergreen content, an already well-established part of content marketing, you can polish out and plan, put your social media content calendar to use, schedule things to death, and make sure your quality of production is high. But with ephemeral, the important thing is to let all of that go (well, at least some) and show your brand’s spontaneity and maybe even give a behind the scenes look.
Sign up to Amplifr and see how easy it is to post on social media – schedule and post your content to all your social media accounts from a single dashboard
What partly drives this social media trend that’s projected to grow throughout 2019 is the fact that it adapts to the way consumers use social media themselves and capitalizes on their fear of missing out. You can use it to add an air of exclusivity to your brand, especially if you limit this type of content to more in-the-moment-friendly platforms like Snapchat or Instagram.
Actionable Tips on Using Ephemeral Content in Your SMM:
If you want to ride out the ephemeral content trend you can:
- Get away with smartphone quality video content.
- Embrace spontaneity, and ease up on high-quality content production.
- Embrace stories for marketing and advertising.
- Snapchat geofilters are also a type of ephemeral content that you can use for marketing campaigns.
- Don’t forget to add links – inspiring click-throughs for lead generation and conversion should be your ultimate goal.
In-the-moment content should definitely play an important role in your social media marketing.
Social Trend #3: Is Video Still King?
There might be a lot of debate around the importance of certain trends, but with video, it’s crystal clear, and there’s tons of data to back up this claim.
Instagram’s addition of IGTV is one important 2018 social media development that shows social media platforms are constantly exploring new ways to up their video content game, in one way or another.
YouTube, for example, has always been known as the platform for video, but its recent algorithm changes suggest that now the platform is taking full advantage of the fact people worldwide spend millions of hours every day watching videos. With its split between the “home” tab and the “subscriptions tab”, as well as the introduction of YouTube stories for mobile, YouTube is slowly evolving into a full-fledged social media channel, and it’s still experiencing rapid growth.
Live Video is Queen
It’s no secret that live video has been pretty big for a while, but in 2019, it’s more important to brands than it ever was – and a lot of them are already in on it.
A report released by Brandlive and IBM Cloud video as early as the beginning of 2018 already showed that almost 95% of executives were positive that live video will definitely be a part of their marketing tactics.
A survey conducted by Livestream and New York Magazine concluded that “live video is more appealing to brand audiences than socials posts.
“80% would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog, and 82% prefer live video from a brand to social posts”.
Of course, what kind of live video you decide to incorporate into your strategy depends solely on the nature of your brand – your niche, your target audience’s unique preferences and your own experience. You could go ahead and use live to give your audience a behind-the-scenes look, to share the atmosphere from an event in real time or to announce the results of a social media contest.
One thing’s for certain – you can’t afford not to think of ways to include it in your SMM.
Actionable tips on How to Use Video in Your SMM:
- Incorporate video into your social strategy
Your business might not be naturally video oriented, after all, not everyone can be a YouTuber or a streamer (check out our article on livestreaming though), but you can think carefully on how you can incorporate this highly engaging, visual content that captivates audiences today, not just for the sake of the trend – but in a meaningful way.
- Customize your video content for different platforms (repurpose)
- Make the best of the first 10 seconds of every video you make
Don’t forget that your video is probably on autoplay, and competing for your viewers’ attention with a feed full of video content. The most important thing is to grab their attention at the beginning – when it’s most likely that viewers will just continue scrolling.
- Optimize your videos for mobile – using vertical video
All brands must have a video and live video strategy in 2019
Social Trend #4: Influencers & Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing was a trend even at the time of writing our overview of the most important social media developments of 2017, and it’s still going on strong today.
However, when doing influencer campaigns it’s important to work with influencers (or even better, narrow it down to micro-influencers) who inspire trust in their audience.
Marta_devilish is such an influencer who stays very close to her audience by regularly engaging with them and via her daily Instagram Stories.
As this trend isn’t exactly new, it won’t be long before it gets stale. And when that happens, simply working with influencers isn’t going to be enough – you’ll have to research and engage with the right kind of influencer, and you’ll have to do it in an honest and authentic way. This tactic only works when the audience believes their favorite influencer didn’t “sell out” and they’re recommending your products or services simply because they stand by them.
But let’s not go into details – this is a topic we’ve written so many lines about. If you want to research what influencer marketing can do for your business in depth, check out our resources on the subject:
- Influencer Marketing: All You Need to Know
- How to Set Up an Influencer Marketing Campaign
- How to Manage Influencers & Microinfluencers
Consumers trust their influencers, and they, in turn, influence their purchasing decisions. Leverage that trust and start working with a select few who can nudge them towards buying your products
Social Trend #5 Social Buying
Social media stats are loud and clear when it comes to social buying: people nearly always turn to social before making a purchasing decision, and businesses need to use that to the benefit of their brand.
You should definitely make sure that you have a strategy for social media advertising, as it allows you to:
- Generate or warm up leads through social media.
- Pick and choose between all the targeting and retargeting options.
- Easily do A/B testing to see which ads perform best.
- Give leads an opportunity to browse or get familiar with products without having to leave their social feed.
- Stimulate brand recognition and presence.
Social Trend #6: User-generated Content
All throughout 2018, we saw brands increasingly try to leverage user-generated content, for one simple reason – it’s the easiest way to engage your consumers in an authentic way.
When it comes to authenticity, a report by BusinessWire released in February 2019 showed that there’s a discrepancy between what brands and consumers believe:
- “92% of marketers believe most or all of the content they create resonates as authentic, yet 51% of consumers say less than half of brands create content that resonates as authentic”.
- “Consumers are 2.4x more likely to say user-generated content (UGC) is authentic compared to brand-created content, while marketers are 2.1x more likely to say brand-created content is authentic compared to UGC.”
Source: BusinessWire (Stackla)
So, we can conclude that most brands do realize that authenticity is as important as it is, they just haven’t been that successful in curating truly authentic content. And what can really help along the way is UGC.
How to use User-generated Content on Social Media?
Inspire Brand Desire
Participation is one of the key ways to make your loyal fans inspire new people and warm up leads, as the people who create content about your brand on their own accord are probably fans.
Take it from companies like Fashion Nova who’ve managed to leverage the power of user-generated content through hashtags and have become a social media sensation as a result.
UGC can be a great way to show people that your products are quality, and showcase the best ways to use them thus making your brand seem more accessible and providing social proof of the quality of your products or services.
Fill Up Your Content Calendar
User-generated content is one of the easiest ways to amp up your content strategy and fill up your content calendar with relevant and highly-engaging content – for free!
Actionable Tips for Using UGC on Social Media:
- Run social media contests and giveaways.
- When you share user-generated content, don’t forget to thank or acknowledge the creators by tagging them.
- Create multiple-post image posts if you have a lot of submitted user-generated content, especially if they are similar in subject.
- Use Stories to share your UGC – you’ll be merging this powerful tactic with another just as powerful one – temporary content.
Bonus Social Trend: Repurpose Your Content for Multi-channel Marketing
Boring ol’ posts are just not going to cut it anymore. When you want to cover multiple social media channels (and you really should) it makes sense to think of ways to repurpose and adjust them to the format that best suits a particular platform.
This is a smart way to go about content creation that will allow you amazing reach while at the same time you’ll be wringing the last drop of juice out of each piece of content.
How to do this creatively? There are a number of ways, but here are some basic ones for inspiration:
- Turn how-to tutorials that you can post to YouTube or Facebook into infographics for Pinterest and blog posts for your website.
- Chop up YouTube videos to post them on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram with a reduced duration of up to 1 minute.
- Turn these into 15-second micro-segment videos to use for Stories.
If you’re struggling to stay consistent posting on a number of multiple channels, it’s worth exploring the array of social media scheduling tools available today, Amplifr included.
If you aren’t sure if it’s right for you, you can test it out with a 14-day trial before you decide.
Sign up to Amplifr to schedule, publish, and receive analytics for all of your posts on any social media account you manage
The main social media trends of 2019 showcase the essence of what your marketing should strive to be this year.
We hope our picks of the most important social media trends for business will help you access whether your social media marketing strategy is going in the right direction. If not, don’t be afraid to brainstorm new ways to present your brand as trustworthy, accessible and authentic.