As we’re well into Q2, this might be the best time to take a look back and evaluate your social media presence in 2019. This is also a great opportunity to realign your branding efforts with some of the trends shaping the social media environment this year.
Building a sustainable social media presence has become a heck of a challenge. Privacy concerns and fake content, amongst other things, are to thank for the growing distrust and massive opt-outs from platforms like Facebook or Instagram.
These days, companies have to go the extra mile to appeal to their audiences. In order to gain the upper hand, you should be aware of the current developments in social media and adjust your strategy accordingly.
1. Quality is (Still) King
Ok. This is not exactly rocket science but…well, it’s 2019 and many companies still get the quality vs. quantity math awfully wrong.
Social media platforms are landfills of content. It is estimated that YouTube accumulates 400 hours of fresh video material every minute. By the time you’re finished reading this article, there will be around 2400 hours of new footage uploaded to the platform.
Combine these numbers with the massive amount of videos and photos from Snapchat (3 billion snaps per day) or Facebook (147,000 daily photos uploaded), and you get content reserves for several lifetimes.
With so much stuff available online, online communities have become extremely picky about what’s worth their time and what’s not.
Mass-produced content doesn’t cut it anymore. You’ll have to put your best foot forward to dig your way out of that clutter. If you want your audience to pay attention, bet on informative and helpful content that’s relevant to your followers.
Maintaining high standards will help you build long-term relationships with your customers and establish your social media channels as the go-to place to source quality information.
2. Social Commerce Is Taking Over
Technological advancement of social media platforms has opened new possibilities for the world of e-commerce. Collaborative, tribe-like hunting for stuff online is slowly becoming a feasible replacement for shopping get-togethers in real life.
What’s this new trend all about?
In essence, social commerce simplifies the buying experience by building upon the existing structures of social media platforms. It takes prospective customers from the top of the sales funnel down to the bottom in the most hassle-free manner possible.
For example, when influencers upload a video showcasing a product or service, their audience is able to purchase those directly at the stage of watching the video. They don’t have to browse the web and search for the vendor, it’s all there, ready for grabbing.
Each of the leading platforms approaches social commerce in a slightly different way.
Pinterest offers product Pins that lead straight to checkout at retailers’ websites. They also sport personalised shopping recommendations, product catalogues and advanced search capabilities so users can find specific products more easily.
Here’s a screencap of the Pinterest ‘Groups’ functionality:
Instagram, on the other hand, boasts shoppable posts where users can click on the item they like, reveal the price and proceed directly to buy the merchandise. This facilitates a seamless transition from discovery to sale.
Snapchat offers similar functionality in the form of several different ad formats—‘Snap Ads’, ‘Collection Ads’ (for showcasing series of products) or AR Lenses that use augmented reality to create an interactive advertising experience.
Social commerce is a big thing in 2019 and you should not overlook this opportunity to grow your business. If you want to learn more, check out this comprehensive guide by Neil Patel for more information.
3. Communication Matters
The rise of instant messaging has permanently changed the way people communicate and dramatically raised the standards we expect from such communication.
Customers no longer want to ‘hold the line’ to get an update on the status of their order. They don’t want to wait till their support tickets get dealt with either.
According to a report by Microsoft, 96% of consumers prioritize the quality of customer service they receive when they choose brands they are loyal to.
WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger is a great way to keep in touch with your audience and nurture that personal connection people expect 24/7.
Depending on the needs of your business, you can use messaging apps to offer live support, give customers answers to most popular questions (FAQ), display a greeting message when people drop by your business page or implement click-to-Messenger ads to automate the sales process.
4. Transparency Commands A Good Price
The rapid commercialisation of social media brought in many opportunities for businesses to maximize outreach and turn online communities into lead-generation machines.
Unfortunately, this approach backfired big time.
According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, only 25% of the UK’s online population trusted social media in 2018. This clearly shows that social media has lost a lion’s share of credibility and will have a tough job of making up for it.
This trend is also strong in the U.S. where only 27% of users believe their data is safe with social media companies:
Building credibility is one of the most important and most difficult tasks business are facing in 2019. The general distrust and resentment towards blunt attempts at advertising are not making things easier.
Customers are more likely to spot PR bloomers and voice their concerns online.
To succeed in social media in 2019, brands should be able to own up to mistakes, engage in difficult conversations, and show a more human face.
Social media users are craving for authenticity, and authenticity is what you should deliver.
5. Advertising is Getting Expensive
Gary Vaynerchuk, a digital marketing guru and CEO of VaynerMedia, has been advocating Facebook ads for quite some time now.
In a video from 2014, Gary asked his audience during a marketing conference if they had been using Facebook dark posts as part of their marketing strategies. In the room filled with tech-savvy folks, there was only one person who did.
Fast forward to 2019, we’re seeing a spike in the prices of Facebook ads. Partly due to last year’s algorithm update and partly because of how saturated the platform has become, businesses learn the hard way it’s no longer profitable to haphazardly run ads and see what comes out of it.
As there is less headspace for advertisers, only those brands that produce quality, meaningful content will be able to cut through the noise. Creative approach and thorough knowledge of the target audience is must to thrive in this new, highly-competitive environment.
If you’re not on the social-advertising bandwagon yet, this may be the last call to jump on.
6. Emerging Platforms Are Gaining Traction
Another trend that we’re observing in social media is the growing popularity of new platforms. It’s important that you learn where your audience hangs out and follow them when they start migrating to greener pastures.
TikTok (former Musical.ly) is all the rage when it comes to video. The platform allows users to create short music videos (up to 60 seconds) and share them with their audience. TikTok aims to win the attention of Gen Z, and they seem to be doing pretty well at doing that. The app is quickly gaining traction, with a 30-million surge in active users in the terminal months of 2018.
Vero is yet another example of an emerging platform you should keep an eye on. Much like other networks, Vero is all about users creating and sharing any type of content directly to their feeds.
But this is where similarities end.
The app is meant to provide much better control over user content and data. The news feeds are chronologically ordered (no AI pulling the strings) and there is no direct advertising (as of yet).
Here’s Vero official video explaining their mission:
It may come as a surprise to find LinkedIn on this list, but here it is.
While not exactly a fresh player in the social media game, LinkedIn has undergone a substantial transformation. Thanks to younger demographic finding their way onto the platform, LinkedIn is now a thriving social network that craves fresh and engaging content. The growing number of micro-influencers congregating engaged followers is definitely giving it a new flavour.
At some point, your audience will be likely to move from one platform to another. Make sure to follow suit and be there to greet them.
7. Good Stories Are Here to Stay
While we’re at it, let’s talk a bit more about video.
According to Wyzowl, 87% of businesses use this medium as a constant part of their marketing strategies. Business-wise, what’s even more interesting is that 96% of people are likely to watch a short video about a product or service they’re interested in.
So why is the format so popular?
Because it allows us to tell captivating narratives in the most natural way. Who doesn’t appreciate a good yarn once in a while? Especially when it doesn’t take too much of our precious time!
It’s no surprise that Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are investing time and resources to nurture the ‘stories’ functionality. Have a look at this infographic retracing its development since 2013:
The short-lived video format allows people to capture fresh and emotional moments and prevents the content from lingering for too long and going stale. The same mechanisms can be used by brands to appeal to customers and talk to them in their own language.
The best part about video is that nobody expects it to be perfect anymore. Social media users have grown accustomed to unedited footage their friends and family are uploading every day. Shaky, smartphone-quality content shot in a vertical format is more than enough to deliver compelling messages.
Social media can make or break your marketing efforts so it’s important to know the rules of the game before playing. While it’s tempting to focus solely on the business aspect of online communities, remember that building long-term relationships with your customers outweighs the short term spike in ROI and conversions.
There is still some time left so make sure your social online presence in 2019 is up to scratch.