Social media is constantly evolving.
And every single change brings with it new ideas, new trends, and a plethora of unspoken rules for the rest of us to digest and follow. The evolution of social media, from the way users consume content to the varying forms of communication, is a wheel that never stops turning.
More than anything, these changes enable marketers and businesses to entice and appeal to their target audiences in a wide variety of ways. In case you’re struggling to keep up with the constant changes, we’ve gathered up a list of 5 of the most important social media marketing trends to look out for in 2019.
1. Engagement will be more important than ever before.
In 2018, Facebook announced that they will focus on more meaningful interactions on the platform.
As a result, the latest algorithm update began favouring content that generates genuine conversations among the many social media users. This, in turn, is forcing brands to develop content that’s actually engaging. In a social media world where organic reach is becoming more challenging, the only way to get your brand noticed is to focus on content that’s appealing to your audience. As there’s no longer any shortcuts to real engagement, this means that social media managers have to work doubly hard to create content tailored to their key demographic.
If your brand has relied heavily on click bait in the past, you will now experience a decline in your existing reach – and this will only get more and more noticeable in 2019.
2. Artificial Intelligence will become a crucial component of customer service.
In 2018, chatbots started to appear in a number of brands’ customer service across different social media platforms. Through social media, customers can easily reach out to their favourite brands, meaning that expectations regarding the customer service response time will be at an all-time high in 2019.
On Facebook, the chatbot adoption rate is getting higher and higher. And following this, more businesses are now investing their time and effort on programming the bots and automated messages in a way that feels as authentic as possible.
Automated messaging supported by AI technology is also a great way to provide customers with instant answers to the more common questions. With this particular feature, you can set up messaging that keeps prospective clients interested and existing customers satisfied. Also, brands will be able to save time by not answering the same questions over and over.
3. Micro-influencers will be more integral to the influencer marketing process.
Influencer marketing is already a staple in the social media marketing machine of most brands.
And indeed, companies that want to expand their market reach are constantly on the lookout for the best influencers to front their next big campaign. However, as influencer marketing is becoming more integral to the marketing process, big-time influencers are becoming more expensive – especially for smaller businesses.
This is where micro-influencers enter the stage. The use of smaller influencers will benefit brands with more limited financial resources, as it means they can give influencer marketing a try without instantly breaking the bank.
Naturally, micro-influencers may not have as many followers or as wide a reach as the bigger influencers on the market. But they might actually have an even bigger impact on their own audience. Even a social media influencer with less than 20,000 followers can help promote brand awareness and have a bigger influence, provided the organization can find the right influencer for their target market. For instance, a small startup company that wants to promote their tech brand may get better ROI with a tech influencer with 10,000 to 50,000 followers compared to, say, hiring PewDiePie who has a whopping 83 million followers on YouTube – but is 20,000 times more expensive.
Moreover, as micro-influencers continue to gain recognition in the world of social media marketing, there is also a growing trend of what is known as nano-influencers, which refers to influencers with 10,000 followers or less. These smaller influencers may have a tighter hold over their followers, either through their job, their social presence or their passion about a specific topic. Due to their audience size, these smaller influencers often have a strong authority because they’re seen as “normal people”.
4. Fake followers will die out.
In the past few years, plenty of influencers have been called out after it was revealed that they had acquired fake followers and bots to gain more credibility.
Just a few months ago, Instagram released a statement saying they had begun the purging process of fake followers, likes and comments from accounts that have taken advantage of third-party applications to increase their popularity. For Instagram, one of the biggest social media platforms in the world, this is a huge step towards preserving their reputation as a trusted and widely populated social network where individuals and brands alike can grow their community and expand their reach with real user engagement.
While they still have a long way to go before the purging is effective (at the time of writing, I’m actually getting ads for buying fake followers in my IG stories…), their efforts are still highly appreciated. Since the crackdown on fake followers just recently begun, with more updates due to rollout in 2019, it’s safe to assume brands will have a more accurate measurement of marketing influencers with real followers and engagement.
5. Videos, podcasts, and live streaming will dominate content consumption.
For the longest time, blog posts have dominated the digital marketing industry. While good quality content is still a crucial part of web development, SEO, and email marketing, the past decade have shown that there are other ways to deliver content.
Long-form written content will still engage readers. That will never go away. However, text-based content should be optimized and formatted well enough to facilitate the reading experience across different devices. Nowadays, the use of videos, podcasts and live streaming have all seen great success. From the great rise of YouTube to the arrival of Twitch, to the introduction of IGTV on Instagram, it’s clear as day that social media platforms have always shown great interest in video content.
Not long ago, Facebook even adjusted their algorithm to make sure that video content show up more frequently on the news feeds. In 2019, Fierce Digital expect even more brands to start experimenting with video content across different channels – from short and long videos to live streaming.
Short videos, which can make for effective ads, are growing in popularity. Scroll through Instagram posts and you’re bound to see several sponsored videos. Long videos, on the other hand, are more effective for telling engaging and powerful stories. When done effectively, long-form videos can be a great engagement tool on social media. This is a format where powerful storytelling can really shine. However, the video stories have to be interesting or engaging enough to convince viewers to watch the entire video.