Social media in 2018 continued to get bigger and bigger, with Facebook & Twitter remaining as large as ever, and Snapchat and Instagram constantly growing in popularity. The types of content shared by companies in their ongoing work and advertising is something that is always changing though.
What should people be focusing on when they’re creating social media content? What are the best ways of increasing your engagement and conversions through these mediums? These are questions on the lips of every social media marketer, and as the industry landscape is always changing, it’s an advantage to have an idea of what’s ahead.
As such, we contacted a number of social media experts from across the UK & Ireland, asking them for their answers to the following question:
What trends in social media marketing do you expect to see develop in 2019 and beyond?
We also gave a few hints about current hot topics, including:
- Augmented reality
- Influencer Marketing
- Live streaming
- Focusing on Generation Z
- Messenger apps & chatbots
Here’s what they had to say…
Greg Miles – Bumbl
Stories will begin to take more of a central role in brand marketing on social media, as the format is likely to surpass feeds as the primary way people share things with their friends. A recent study by Facebook found that 69% of consumers surveyed said using Stories is a great way for Brands to introduce new products or services.
Many brands have experimented with Stories over the past couple of years, but in 2019, embracing the ephemeral format might become more of a necessity than simply an exploratory option. In other words, brands will have to formulate social strategies that include Stories as a key component.
Facebook Stories are yet to take off, but it seems to be high on the agenda at Zuckerberg’s HQ, and the introduction of ‘Promote’ for Stories on Instagram, as well as LinkedIn’s own take called ‘Student Voices’, further suggest that Stories are the sharing medium of the future.
Aoife Smyth– Escalate
We’re predicting a very exciting year of creative content for 2019. It’s going to to be all about visuals more than ever when it comes to engaging with your online audience. Visuals that capture your audience’s attention from the get go! Videos were a huge part of Social Media Marketing for 2018 but it really is going to take off more than ever in 2019, including live video. Live Video, whether it be Facebook live, Instagram Live or Stories is an area brands and marketers will have to focus on more than ever. Live video strengthens the bond between a brand and its followers. People love the authenticity of a live video, the bloopers, behind the scenes, the actual human beings behind the brand! In the moment consumption is a short yet powerful way for any brand to connect and build their online audience.
Lydia Mckeown– I Do Marketing
Social media has evolved so much… And, its ever evolving! It can be tricky for businesses to keep up with the changes. We have found we’re doing more and more social media training to help small businesses understand the finer details around the advertising on Facebook and how, what and when to post to get seen!
Some of the changes and areas of training include the below and these are some of the changes I think we will see in the next couple of years…
I always say there are 3 main ways to search and that includes Amazon, Google and social media. Historically searches on social media would bring up lots of news content, but now were seeing more and more product information. It’s quickly becoming an easy channel to search out product research and make purchases. It feels like a neutral option because we know that when people have negative experiences they often take to social media, so for users it can be a great way to check out if a business is worthy of their purchase too!
We’re becoming lazier and lazier on social media. We desire content that is easier to consume we have seen a huge rise in social video for this reason. In my opinion we’ll be posting videos and going live more often than we post static images and text only posts! Its been normal to see video in our social media feeds for a long time now and we’re not just doing it to gain the additional reach owing to an algorithm advantage I think we’re doing it to be more social! There is a huge amount of negative attention being drawn to the ‘heads down phone zombies’ of today… Video is more engaging… Because the people around you can be part of it too. Also, with the increase in levels of anxiety I’m encouraging more and more of my clients to use video to add a personal touch and a face to a name/venue to reduce the anxiety of visiting a venue and not knowing anyone. This goes above and beyond what an image can do, especially if it’s a personalised video.
George Bates –Limelight Digital
The two biggest Social Media trends I think we’ll see grow exponentially throughout 2019 is Video & Influencer Marketing. Whilst very much a staple of Social Media Marketing in 2018 already, we believe both Video Marketing and Influencer Marketing will continue to grow and become more accessible to smaller brands as it becomes easier than ever to get involved with. We’re seeing the ability to add live videos on your social accounts grow and the engagements compared to traditional advertising is huge. Influencers remove the need for huge marketing budgets and to have contacts with super famous celebs. They’re also usually much more targeted for specific nichés and customers trust them.
Georgina Wilczek– Glow Creative
In 2019, we expect social media to remain key to the work that we do, with extra emphasis on the role of Video and Podcasts in the mix.
In 2018, social media has been all about the video: Live video across many platforms, the arrival of IGTV, YouTube getting ever bigger, and lately, a centrally-located button on the Facebook mobile footer app which takes you straight to a feed which is wall to wall with videos (dangerously easy to become over-absorbed here… use with care if you are short on time!). We all know video is extremely engaging – consider the popularity of the TED talks app.
But in 2019, in the social media world, the video format that will grow and develop the most will be the short-form video.
Attention spans really are getting shorter. On social media and websites, featurettes of 3-5 mins in length were once quite normal to produce. But nowadays, you typically have about 1 minute to play with. Quite literally, anything beyond this very often won’t get seen. In the same way, while 30 seconds used to be the norm for TV and radio adverts, a 10 second advert in social media now feels an age. (There is a reason why Facebook etc won’t let you hop off too soon mid-advert – because we would if we could!). So if we are to be successful with video, we really need to be original, engage and inspire.
When live video first came out, we saw many amateur-style live videos being produced by companies who were brave enough to put themselves in front of the camera for the first time. But in 2019, I believe we will see far less of this, and far more pre-composed, crafted pieces that are much more entertaining and professionally presented coming into our feeds. Now that video editing software has now become so sophisticated, great content is no longer just for expensive videographers. Anyone with a smartphone and a little imagination can get great results. So videos will become increasingly slick, relevant, to the point, varied, engaging and entertaining. As marketers, we need to be up there with them!
If you are interested in sharpening up your production skills, check out Great Big Story (who produce features on interesting anecdotes from across the world) and NasDaily for inspiration (he is famous for extremely entertaining videos of 1 minute in length, and completely self-taught).
In addition, we are also increasingly being asked to produce podcast series for clients who want to engage their audiences in a more original way than their competitors. With the BBC having launched their Sounds App recently, and many celebrities taking to launching their own podcast channels, there is every indication that creatively produced podcasts will also increase in popularity over the coming year.
Kelly Bean – Sunshine Communications
We’ve been saying this for a while, but I think Augmented Reality will finally take off in 2019. With Snap mainly honing in on this functionality (and succeeding), my hope is that this will continue to develop on other social media channels. For agencies like us, collaborations will be what drives this forward for our clients, and with Snap’s recent launch of the lens creative program, this may become easily accessible. I suppose the main challenge is – how can small businesses utilise this? This is something we’ll certainly be working on in 2019.
It may not necessarily be classed as a huge trend, but I can see many changes coming for LinkedIn, and I think the professional platform will become easier to use not just from a business perspective, but also from advertising. LinkedIn are working hard to keep up with other social media giants, and the user-friendly aspect and its Campaign Manager seem to be most important to them right now.
Arek Estall– all trousers
We predict a continued rise in Generation z ‘straight to you’ subscription services for food and other FMCG products for core online shoppers and included in that will be differentiators for brands using community added value online and an increase in remarketing videos as part of those subscription sign ups. We predict a rise in ‘community’ areas for brands where the customers can interact together. More niche markets with community dashboards where the companies are gathering big data and the end user is plugging into like-minded people. This predicted explosion as the high street dies and e-commerce rises is probably likely due to the sheer volumes of generation Z coming through the ranks aged 16-34 and the continued popularity for convenience and a sense of community online. Popularity for community and convenience is expanding outwards from mobile phone and social media usage and ‘dual screening’ where ‘always on’ customers are hungry for entertainment, relevance and personalisation. And of course more and more video is appearing and we predict that will only continue to grow.
An example of the subscriptions explosion in addition to the obvious Hello Fresh and Graze human models is the less obvious transference to the gourmet pet food market, now seeing an explosion on pet food subscriptions. Nestle bought up Tails.com in April 2018, their first venture in ecommerce and other players such as Paws.com and Butternut Box are taking market share from the big players. While only 3% of the UK pet food market is currently subscriptions, 35% of pet food is bought online with 45% of those interviewed by Mintel this year being interested in ‘straight to you’ (direct debit subscription services) for their pets in the future. This example, along with observing what clients are now doing, is making us poised for more of the above across a number of ‘less obvious’ industries.
Live chat is overtaking the number of telephone calls now online and we are seeing a steady rise of immediate response marketing for customer support over telephone usage. We also expect to see more social influencers in 2019 than before to gain reach via channels like Instagram with the ‘swipe up to shop’ buying options.
Paul Henderson – Managing Director, Summon Digital
The main trend we will continue to see in 2019 is the continued rise in influencer marketing through social, and in particular through Instagram. The space is seeing a lot of exciting growth, with specialist agencies popping up to help connect brands with the right influencers and more and more brands seeking the service.
The big development will be around how agencies ensure that the influencers they are paying for are genuine. The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) in the US are taking an interest, as are the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) and the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) in the UK.
Instagram has now hit 1 billion users but it’s recognised that the platform is flooded with fake users. The challenge for agencies will be ensuring that the influencers they use are verified in order to tighten up the market and ensure transparency so identification of users who have bought followers will be key.
Influencer fraud is the biggest threat to the market as we need to ensure that brands don’t lose confidence.
Ian Ferguson – Flow
Engagement rate has always been one of the most important metrics for marketers – content that receives more reactions, comments and shares will always outperform that which doesn’t. We believe this metric will be even more important in 2019 – particularly on the paid front.
Paid advertising has had its ups and downs in 2018, despite the scams, the fake news and the court cases, paid social advertising is still one of the most profitable platforms out there. Whereas previously you could just pay your way onto the screens of your audience – even with a relatively low quality or relevance score – if your content fails to impress, it will fail to get coverage.
For this reason, we think there will be an increase in ad-exclusive formats across all major social platforms. Marketers have already seen great results from paid-only ad formats such as Facebook’s Collection Ads. These ad formats allow businesses to interact with their audiences in a more interactive way. We believe this interactive element will stray into other media formats such as augmented reality and 360 videos.
Ultimately this will be a good thing for marketers. Although the time involved in advertising via these formats will be greater, the usefulness and the level of engagement received from ads will make it easier to reach your desired audience – blurring the line between paid and organic social media.
Sue Keogh – Director, Sookio
I think 2019 is going to see further decline in Facebook – from all sides! The younger generation don’t want to be on it – who wants to hang out where their parents have been posting embarrassing pictures of them since the day they were born – and the older generation is being scared off by the continuing scandals and cluttered interface. It’s difficult for businesses too; even though advertising IS effective, the promised reach never quite delivers and the whole thing is starting to feel like a big ol’ mess.
I can’t see Twitter growing much faster either. All the tinkering round the edges with new feature is fine, but it’s not doing much to attract new users to the party. LinkedIn, with its new copycat Stories feature aimed at students, might be the one platform that sees a sudden uptake in younger users.
Instagram, however (owned by Facebook) is doing well among a much wider demographic, and I can see this continuing in 2019. Stories have taken off and the advertising is very effective. People are becoming much more jaded by influencer marketing though, and I can see it being less about paying megabucks for the celebrities to promote your protein shake and brands targeting people with a smaller but more loyal following.
Joanne Brady – Founder, Social Bods
At Social Bods, we are seeing a huge shift in consumer awareness and a demand for realness and all things human. Social media has always been a human phenomenon but we’ve seen the appetite for human stories and personality really come into focus recently. People are tired of clickbait, sick of boring brand updates, and are becoming more savvy to fake news and shady social media marketing practices which compromise data privacy.
Generation Z, who have grown up with social media, are almost intuitive in weeding out insincerity online, but more work needs to be done, particularly with the older generation some of who are finding their feet on social media for the first time. It’s time for brands to start getting real and making that human connection with their audience instead of hiding behind the bland and corporate. With the enhanced capabilities for video and live on pretty much every major social media network, the opportunities for brands to inject personality into their content has never been bigger
Paula Bowron– Venture Stream
Influencer marketing is becoming a hugely lucrative business with some estimating the industry will be worth $5billion dollars by 2020. So unquestionably this is an opportunity not to be missed by brands, agencies and marketeers.
A key metric influencers are being asked to provide, before working with brands and agencies, is their follower count. But with a huge rise in fake followers and bots, it’s not the best metric to decide whether or not to work with a particular influencer. And as the industry grows even more, the scope for unethical practices is set to grow also.
That’s where nano influencers come in. A breed of influencer with smaller follower numbers but larger engagement levels. Although not completely new to the scene, they’re set to become a huge marketing strategy in the coming year, with some large brands already starting to work and invest in them.
With follower numbers between 1000-5000 and 6x the amount of engagement as those influencers with much higher numbers, we expect to see brands start to realise that the return on investment can be much higher than the deals with super influencers or celebrities.
More likely to be seen as an approachable friendly voice recommending products to their friends and followers, the nano influencer provides a more cost-effective method of reaching a demographic, often requiring an agreed fee, commission and/or free goods in return for posting across their channels on behalf of brands.
As technology progresses and brands and agencies are able to monitor high levels of influencer reach to determine what is and isn’t working, building relationships with many relevant nano influencers over one super influencer can certainly yield a bigger bang for your buck!
What does Pixel Kicks’ Digital Marketing Executive Andrew Flynn think?
Andrew Flynn – Pixel Kicks
We’re already seeing a transition away from macro-influencer marketing campaigns to more widespread networks of micro-influencers.
Where brands would pinpoint a small number of big personalities to advocate for their products, they are now exploring the high volume of micro-influencers across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter primarily.
For me, I think brands have now cottoned on to the fact that micro influencers can deliver higher rates of engagement for a fraction of the cost. Brands can now pinpoint influencers that are hyper relevant to the product or service they are promoting. Here, they will also find that these influencers’ opinions evoke higher degrees of credibility and confidence from their niche audiences.
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Thanks to Bitcoin exploding cryptocurrencies into the mainstream, plenty of noise is now being made about Blockchain and, more specifically, how social will start to work in partnership with the crypto company.
Admittedly I am no expert on this, but from what I can gather blockchain technology is ready and waiting to alter the platforms we all use on a daily basis; in our profession, we have to be ready for this upheaval and be well versed in what we could come to understand as blockchain-enabled social media marketing.
Given the well documented privacy breaches over the past year, it is to be expected that the major players continue to strive towards making their platforms as safe as possible. Blockchain technology could have a role to play here – for example, it could be used to fight the rise in bot accounts that plague social media and have a detrimental effect on ad impressions and pay-per-click returns.
A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to this piece and offered their valuable insights. We’re looking forward to see where the world of social media takes us in 2019!