In order to keep you on track for what’s in store, Jennifer Kaplan plunged deep into the Web to investigate and compile the major social media trends for 2019.
01. Chronological feeds are back in the game
We sometimes reminisce about how much easier social media marketing was when the channels’ feeds were in chronological order. Then we blink and come back to reality: today, we have no control over potential customers’ news feeds and when they will possibly see our posts. These algorithm changes have become so popular because social media platforms are working hard to understand what matters most to users. Yet, this also makes them extremely complicated because the algorithms take into account many factors, like who users regularly engage with and topics of interest. As marketers on these platforms, we’ve tried again and again to understand how it works, to come up with a game plan to tackle them, but it’s just way too mysterious.
That was the case up until recently, when Twitter announced that it will soon be making some changes to its timeline and putting control into the users’ hands – oh how the tables have turned! Although the date has still still not been released, Twitter is planning on getting back in a relationship with chronological timelines in the near future (after two long years). In addition to re-implementing the ancient newsfeed order, users will also be able to add an option to show their top ranked tweets first. The ability to control your own destiny (or curate your own feed) is something worth celebrating, right? Yes, in fact, from a business side it’s nice to know your thoughtful, well-planned content has a place in the world (of news feeds). We just hope that Instagram and Facebook will tag along soon. ;)
02. Working with social media influencers will be a standard
Social media influencers are the new age and highly credible version of trendsetters. In fact, 70% of millennials prefer “peer” endorsement over celebrities when it comes to their buying decisions. And when you work with influencers that are a great match for your company, you’ll have a ready-made target audience available to market to. Plus, unlike celebrities, not all influencers are crazy expensive to partner with. This means that you should be able to afford one even if you don’t have the marketing budget of a Fortune 500 company. Therefore, teaming up with influencers is more pertinent and recommended than ever before.
To begin working with influencers, research the most relevant ones in your industry. Once you’ve made a list of potential leads, you should reach out to them and offer a plan for how the two of you can work together. This is when you will need to provide an incentive, whether that’s in the form of commission, free samples of your products, or an affiliate program. When contacting influencers, it’s best advised to not send dozens of friend requests and messages at once to ask for product endorsements, but rather taking your time to seek out and build authentic relationships with a few. This will work in your favor as it will allow the influencers to produce more organic and natural advertisements. Overall, as casual as the conversation might be, it’s still important to think of this as a B2B relationship. Influencers can be your literal “friends” on these platforms, but they are still a business partner that will help you to reach your social marketing goals.
03. Short-lived content is everywhere
How many times have you heard the phrase “get them while they last?” Better yet, how many times have you been tempted by these enticing five words? The answer is: more than you think. Because of Snapchat, Instagram Stories, and Facebook Stories (and around 900 million users together worldwide), it’s getting harder to resist the subconscious seduction this strategy operates. Indeed, all of these relatively new platforms are places to upload nonpermanent videos, pictures, text slides, and other engaging features. Short-lived content is just this. Whether you have one chance to see it, you get to replay it, or the window to view it lasts 24 hours, your time with this precious content is limited – and most of us live in fear of that dreaded FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).
As a small business owner, this is your chance to really put your strengths forward and create impulsive content for the present moment. Before you start uploading stories and taking names, note that each platforms calls for different short content “norms.” Snapchat, for example, is known as the “behind the scenes” arena to share visuals of life inside your business. Instagram is geared towards a ‘call-to-action’focus (visit my site, buy my products, etc.), with each slide leading followers towards the final conversion point. Then there’s Facebook Stories, which is still undergoing some initial experimentation. Nevertheless, many businesses are starting to use it for a combination of their Snapchat and Instagram Stories strategies. This can include everything from insights to product promotions, company updates, UGC (user-generated content) via events, and more. To get you started on the most popular short-lived content platform, we’ve compiled these hacks to create spectacular Instagram stories.
04. Social listening allows you to be a fly on the wall
The idea of privacy in the online world seems sadly nonexistent today – in fact, our virtual selves tend to share more personal information than our actual selves based on our online purchases, Google searches, and everything else you can imagine. Therefore, you won’t be surprised by this social media trend of 2019: Social listening. This is the concept of using a tool to ‘spy’ on all publicly available conversations about your brand across both social platforms in particular, and the Internet in general, by setting alerts to get notified about online mentions of specific keywords. This idea goes much further than today’s social media marketing strategy of simply monitoring when followers mention you on your channels. By taking a stroll deep into the Web beyond what you’re “supposed to see,” you can find out more information about your business (or really any topic of your choosing) than even before.
Why is it valuable? Because through social listening, you can help address your customer complaints, manage crises, get a full picture of your community, receive informal product feedback, learn your weaknesses, your strengths – the list goes on. And on. To get started, you can begin with a social media listening tool, like Buffer, Social Mention, Hootsuite, or Sprout Social – pick your weapon of choice. From there, you’ll set alerts for keywords. This could be your business’s name or something else, such as, a competitor’s name or well known industry terms. Once you receive a message about the usage of these particular keywords, you can decide for yourself what you plan to do with this information. That can mean anything from engaging in the conversation to implementing a whole new business strategy based on these new consumer insights.
05. User-generated content (UGC) is the new age of marketing
Flashy ads and inauthentic pitches have lost their power in the world of marketing. As users are looking to relate to the products or services they purchase, companies need to turn to their community for a lending hand. This is where user-generated content (UGC) comes in. This marketing tactic is defined as unpaid content created by your very own community of regular users – not celebrities, not TV hosts, and not influencers. It’s similar to the concept of word of mouth – such as, a friend recommending a shirt that that they bought to another friend – however, taken to a digital level. The purpose behind UGC is relatability and authenticity, something very attainable and potentially viral-worthy if executed correctly.
So, how can you implement this? Come up with a unique campaign idea that urges consumers to engage, like a simple, wide-ranging hashtag or a fill in the blank. For example, ASOS’s “# AsSeenOnMe” or Calvin Klein’s “I ____ in # MyCalvins.” The concept behind these campaigns is to turn everyday consumers into company models by guiding them to post photos of themselves wearing your company’s apparel accompanied by a common hashtag. Then, all of the customer generated posts will be compiled in one central place, thanks to the correct use of hashtags. In order for it to be effective, you’ll need to start promoting the concept to your consumers. Some companies use contests and giveaways, while others have a general goal of getting their name out there. The campaign that you choose to create and how much effort you want to place on your promotional plan is purely up to your company’s intentions.
06. An influx of bite-sized videos to consume on the go
With the plethora of video content on the Web today, users short attention spans are getting even more nimble. In fact the average human attention span is shorter than a goldfish. So, while your business might be thinking that video marketing is the way of the future, you should slow down before heading into full production mode. In fact, you might not need many resources due to these bite-sized visuals known as short videos. Short videos are typically 10 seconds or less of animated content that are built for this day and age. This means that you have a blink of an eye to catch your audience’s attention.
How will you do it? These miniature clips can be in the form of cinema-graphs, advertisements for sales and products, user videos, or really any interesting and brief content related to your business. For inspiration, you can turn to the Instagram accounts of both Oreo and Coca-Cola. To create your own videos, compile your content (pictures, clips and music) and start your production on one of the many simple-to-use platforms or smartphone apps, like Magisto and iMovie. Once you’ve completed your masterpiece, you can upload the video on any of your social platforms (YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, Instagram, etc.) and your website. With Wix Video, you can choose to upload content directly to your website from certain social platforms or your computer files, then display these videos beautifully, and later go back to measure your video’s performance. Overall, if you plan on implementing this social media trend, put your best foot forward: Go flashy, go vibrant and be bold.
07. Private messaging opportunities are expanding
Once upon a time we all used to communicate face-to-face. Then, that passed when the basic cell phone, and later the smartphone, caught wave and swept us all into an era of online communication. Today, we can barely keep track of where our conversations begin – is it a text or direct message on Instagram or Facebook Messenger? Most can’t argue with this line: Private messaging apps are taking over our way of communication. As our conversations are moving towards the private space on our social platforms, customer service and marketing opportunities are ‘sliding their way into your DMs.’ Here are a few of them:
Offer live chat: Due to the (as mentioned above) norm of instant gratification today, offering a convenient customer experience goes far beyond just responding to customers emails in a timely manner. In fact, the concept of ‘timely manner’ has been distorted. Customers want answers five minutes before they ask a question. How can you possibly keep up? One popular, and popular for a reason, solution is to utilize social media platforms as a form of customer service. Your customers are already using the platforms addictively, so now you can also assist, engage, and market to them in one central place. This will serve you many benefits, from creating a community on your social media platform to boosting your social media presence and much more.
For an even smoother workflow, consider integrating your social media customer service onto your help desk software. Wix Answers is a highly-recommended solution that offers an easy connection with Facebook. It also provides an all-in-one platform for all of your customer service needs, from a call center to ticketing system, knowledge base creation and more.
Chatbots: If you don’t have the resources to provide a 24/7 chat service via private messenger on your own, there’s no need to fret. In the age of algorithms, you can automate even your customer service using chatbots. These are software systems that use an algorithm to determine what the most frequently asked questions are. Then, they attempt – with great accuracy – to understand the intent behind each user’s individual message in order to address their needs. All of this is typically communicated through text on messaging channels. And since 80% of businesses aim to implement chatbots by 2020, the FOMO can get pretty real.
However, envy needn’t be the only reason to hop aboard this ever so powerful social media trend. One benefit is saving you the hassle, as you don’t have to be in front of your screen at all times to assist your customers. And, although this technology is still under construction, it also has the benefit of being a much more effective solution than human conversation in time. (However, this should not dispense you from having a proper customer support solution in place.) Chats can enhance the productivity level of your customer service support, while eliminating the possibility of human error. With the artificial intelligence advancements of today, many third-party bot providers even allow you to program a personality into your chatbot in order to offer a more ‘natural’ flowing conversation. A great place to start is by learning more about Facebook Chatbots here.
Messenger marketing: As we mentioned, customers are already utilizing private messaging on social platforms like crazy. So, as a business owner looking for marketing opportunities, you’ll need to approach customers where they already are. This is why messenger marketing is successful, as it allows businesses to place their ads in private messages directly sent to customers. For example, if you begin with the most common starting point, Facebook Messenger, you can create several types of ads: Sponsored Messages (promotional opportunities in current conversations), Display Ads (ads to target specific audiences), and Click-to-Messenger ads (ads to initiate new conversations via messenger). However, there are many third party options to choose from and integrate into your messaging apps.
Furthermore, this marketing strategy comes with many perks, like better open and click rates than you might’ve thought were possible for your business. This is because reaching customers through this channel of communication offers both the preferred short and straightforward ads, as well as allows you to start personal conversations that can potentially build relationships between you and your customers. Therefore, it’s certainly worth testing out a few messaging platforms and advertising methods here to see which ones best suit your business.
08. Blockchain technology is making a breakthrough
You’ve heard this term “blockchain” by now more than Katy Perry’s hit song, “Firework,” has played on your local radio station over the past few years. In simple terms, blockchain is a decentralized and distributed digital ledger used to record transactions across many computers. This way, the record cannot be altered retroactively without the approval of the entire network – which means, in concrete terms, far better security for the information that is shared. Because they are perceived as trustworthy, these technologies are mostly used to ensure financial transactions, but their reach is expanding into other activities. Relevant to the topic of social media, we can look at an analysis performed by Alex Tapscott, co-author of the book Blockchain Revolution. He mentions that “blockchain represents the second era of the Internet.” While the first Internet era was that of widespread of information, the second is centered around value. In other words, going from being able to just access what’s freely available in abundance on our social channels, to accessing limited, one-of-a-kind assets, like money and art, through the trust and overall willingness to securely share private information via blockchain technology.
The most familiar blockchain form is Bitcoin, the ‘cash for the Internet,’ which is used to create and verify money transfers. Yet, there are many other forms that can be applied to the future of social media in terms of consumption, access, and verification of content. This means everything from the news we read and music we listen to, to who we market our products to as a business can be controlled and authenticated like never before. To make the most out of this social media trend of 2019 before it becomes widely available and easily accessible, you can immerse yourself by researching and testing out different platforms (a few example include: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Skycoin and Utility Token).
In summary, here’s a short list of what to expect from the blockchain world in the coming year:
Verify the accuracy of information and news: Today we can’t always believe the information presented to us in articles shared on social media due to the era we live in involving a ‘fake news’ phenomenon. But, that’s about to change. With smart contracts, we will now not only be able to verify the sources of information we receive by knowing exactly where they come from, but also block fake content. This makes your business look more legitimate, as well as the sources of information that impact it.
Control who sees your information: Anything you want to post via social media or share privately with customers or coworkers can be encrypted so that nobody will be able to access that information without your permission. Skycoin is one example of a platform that makes this available.
Security around everyones online identity: This is great from a personal level for controlling who can see what you’ve purchased from where. On a business level, it’s also quite nifty, as you’ll be able to solve the problem of wasting money through targeting fake accounts (A.K.A. bots) in your paid Facebook advertisements. That’s because with security, we will have a better idea of who is actually a real person. Altogether, it will help your business build relationships with real people, and not robots.
Ready to get a head start on the latest social media trends? Start by contacting us at Caney Creek Studio!