Social media marketing in 2019: trends, predictions, and advice from the experts
12th December 2018
Social media marketing in 2019 could get pretty interesting. 2018 gave those in the industry quite a few curve-balls here and there with algorithm changes, the dark horse LinkedIn rising through the ranks, and plenty of new features from our favourite social channels. As a result, this next year has the potential to be a real plot twist compared to previous years.
If you’ve been working in social media for 6 months or more, you’ll know just how quickly the scope of social media marketing can change over time. Facebook and Twitter are currently the most popular social networking sites in the entire world, but in order to keep their ‘top dog’ titles they need to continually be releasing new features, giving their target market more to interact with, and doing more to set themselves apart from the crowd.
Remember when Instagram first hit the scene back in 2010 (wow it’s almost been a decade)? Their swift success was based on one key social media trend; visual content. By catering to something that was becoming increasingly popular in the world of social media marketing, Instagram gave the public what they were craving, and in turn, gave themselves a strong edge over the competition. As of June 2018, Instagram is now the 7th most popular social media platforms in the entire world alongside social media giants such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Youtube.
Way to go Insta
You see? There’s so much value in taking note of social media trends and jumping on them as quickly as possible. If there’s a demand for a particular type of content, give your audience this content. The more you give your audience what they want, the more your social media persona will blossom and even contribute to the overall success of your business in real life. Trust us.
Let’s reflect; what trends are joining us for social media marketing in 2019? The crux of the matter; essential advice for your 2019 strategy An educated guess; our experts predict 2019 trends Who’s the daddy? Which social networks will dominate 2019 TLDR - your key takeaways That’s a wrap
Video in general will surely continue to be the most coveted and interesting form of content, and a crucial medium for social media marketing in 2019. It’s form grips those with shorter attention spans and allows social media users to absorb oodles of information quickly and easily. However, something we’re also seeing more and more of is live video. Therefore video is key for your social media plan.
Live video is appealing for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s real-time viewing means that it shows a completely unaltered series of events. Much like Twitter and their reluctance to introduce an edit button, live video allows us to hear exactly what someone said, and see exactly what happened, without anything being edited or altered for public viewing, making social media automation not an ad hoc thing.
However, live video is also interesting when it’s being used by influencers and celebrities. Since social media has made celebrity culture more accessible to the masses, live video takes things one step further allowing us to hear and watch anyone in the world, in real-time, pulling down more walls between the influencers and followers, celebrities and fans.
“Live Video will continue to be strong and will evolve in 2019. Facebook Live add more interactive features to add to polls and quizzes. But I think the biggest innovations and growth will be with YouTube Live and Twitch.” - Ian Anderson Gray
In 2018 Youtube made changes to it’s platform that made live video streaming so much easier allowing content creators to stream without the need for an encoder, while Twitter and Facebook begun to see their live streaming abilities used so much more in 2018. Instagram, while also having the ability to live stream, also gives the option to invite other users to join your live stream.
We have no doubt that live video will continue to increase in popularity in 2019, but also that social networks will be making updates to allow more features around live streaming. Brands need to keep this in mind when preparing their social media strategy for 2019.
“I think LinkedIn will finally launch their live video platform in 2019 - potentially in partnership with Vimeo. We'll have to wait and see!” - Ian Anderson Gray
Alongside video content and live streaming, ‘story’ content - originally coined by Snapchat and Instagram, is predicted to continue rising in popularity. In 2018, Facebook even joined the story hype by introducing this function to its own platform. While it was a bit of a ghost town at first (sorry Facebook), very recently people have started to succumb to Facebook and it’s story offering. We have no doubt that stories will continue to be a great resource for social media marketing and social media marketing tools in 2019.
“The story format will grow - we see more and more people using stories. They are even (finally) being used in Facebook.” - Paul Ince
But why is story content so compelling? Well, it’s all visual (bingo), and it’s temporary (double bingo). And the two combined create a sense of urgency and intrigue. Did you miss your mate’s Instagram Story from their holiday? Too bad, you’ll probably never see it now.
Even now, as we come to the close of 2018, Instagram are continuing to add updates to Stories on a regular basis with the latest being the introduction of the ‘Close Friends’ feature as well as a collaboration with Disney. Those of us in the marketing industry are all on the edge of our seats wondering what’s to come in 2019. We definitely know one thing, lots more social media tools.
Studies show that social media networks are more commonly used via mobile devices as opposed to desktops. As a result, social media marketers should be creating vertical video to fill the screens of mobile users. It's also key to have a social media calendar so you can stay orgnaised and plan your content ahead and save time.
Right now, vertical video is something that is starting to become a little more common, but a surprising number of brands have yet to take note, still opting for classic horizontal view. Towards the end of 2018, we’re seeing more social media ads in vertical view too but this number is sure to increase dramatically in 2019.
“Video is going to continue to dominate and as more and more people get into it, the expected standards are going to get higher and higher.” - Andrew and Pete
Furthermore, as vertical video becomes increasingly common, other good practice will follow suit. For example, videos will also be created in a way that makes them easy to understand without sound whether it’s with exaggerated acting, or using copy and subtitles on screen.
As marketers continue to consider the actual viewing experience of video content, the more it will develop in 2019. We need to stop the scroll, and give our audience an instant hook that’ll keep them watching.
Businesses are starting to realise just how valuable it is to have great customer service with 1 in 3 social media users preferring to use social media for customer service as opposed to telephone or email. There are two ways that you can improve your customer service - 1) by hiring new employees, or 2) by using a chatbot to automate some of the conversations.
Chatbots can often be associated with negative connotations thanks to some early adopters who used chatbots to be super super annoying online (we all know who we're talking about here). But chatbots have since evolved, become much more intelligent, and have been proven to be incredibly valuable for businesses who want to help their customers in an efficient and time-saving manner when it comes to there social media calendar schedule
A chatbot tool like Mobile Monkey can help you automate conversations without compromising on quality responses.
While many marketers aren’t necessarily fans of the influencer marketing trend, it looks like it’s here to stay when it comes to social media marketing in 2019. Influencer marketing in 2018 was everywhere, and for some social media users, it felt like sponsored and promotional content was around every corner. While it’s all good and well to promote products that you really want to recommend, we know that not every influencer is being careful in selecting which brands they want to work with when it comes to their social media plan.
When it comes to influencer marketing, brands will choose between micro and macro influencers depending on their budget. Sometimes, smaller micro influencers tend to have a more engaging and trusting following that could result in a better ROI. However, this in itself is a controversial statement that many social media specialists will disagree with.
"The use of influencers as a marketing tactic will continue into 2019, but we’re finally starting to see its popularity wane a little. This is partly due to recent negative media attention shining a light on some rather tacky and obvious product placements with Instagram ‘stars’ (remember ‘Listerine girl’?). Related to this, Social Chain‘s recent initiative to expose influencer marketing fraud may go some way to shaking things up a bit too.” - Fi Shailes
Although it’s been an incredibly successful route for many brands and business in the past, in 2019 it seems likely that more and more consumers will ‘get wise’ to the senseless promo that can sometimes come into the world of influencer marketing. However, while influencer marketing is still hitting its peak with social media publishing, we can’t see this phase dying down until the latter months of 2019.
“Organisations are starting to fear this marketing tactic, as they are more aware of the potential impact on their brand /reputation should something backfire. It also continues to be difficult to prove ROI. In addition, social platforms such as Instagram are starting to fight back against bots; particularly those which seek to help influencers accelerate their follower numbers by pushing out fake comments to other profiles.” - Fi Shailes
The phrase quality vs quantity is commonly used when talking about a content marketing strategy. However, this wisdom should also be applied across all marketing efforts. When it comes to social media marketing in 2019, you need to keep your ambitions in check and focus on what you can do well, and how well you can do it. Trying to do several things at once to an okay standard is so much less effective then choosing to streamline your efforts and really make your mark when it comes to your social media marketing plan.
“The most important thing you can do going forward is to not spread yourself too thin and try to achieve success on each platform. Choose one and use the 90:10 rule to make it a success i.e. spend 90% of your marketing efforts doing just one thing remarkably well.” - Andrew and Pete
Furthermore, the phrase ‘quality not quantity’ should also be applied to the performance of your social channels and your social media automation. Social media marketers are beginning to throw out more traditional metrics to judge performance such as follower growth, and are becoming more concerned with making a deeper impression on a smaller group of people, rather than getting a slither of attention from a mildly interested following.
“Build an engaged niche community, not fans / followers. Building big fan / follower numbers is not much use if people don't see your content. You are better with a smaller engaged community.” - Ian Cleary
As a result, perhaps it’s no wonder that LinkedIn groups and Facebook groups became increasingly popular in 2018 - a trend that is sure to continue.
Responsiveness is crucial for social media marketing in 2019. It’s one thing to pump out content from your social channels, but you need to show that you’re keeping an active presence and getting involved in relevant conversations, try looking at content calendar tools to help you save time and plan better. If someone reaches out to your brand, your goal should be to respond as quickly as possible whether it’s giving customer service, or building rapport with others in the industry.
“People these days expect engagement and they expect it quickly.” - Chris Strub
In 2019 the value of great customer service in particular, is to become more and more highlighted as a way to win over prospective customers and maintain a good relationship with existing ones. Did you know that 1 in 3 social media users would prefer to have customer service via social media? Did you also know that 60% of customers who complain via social media will expect a response within an hour? These statistics, and more just like these, speak volumes to show the importance of keeping an eye on your social media accounts.
Social amplification tools could become more appreciated in 2019 as a way to increase reach and brand awareness without needing to go down the paid advertising avenue.
“Organisations who are desperate to achieve more reach on social media should be seriously considering investing in a social amplification tool next year. These are not widely talked about as 'essential', but they allow centrally posted social updates to be re-shared really easily by non-digital marketing colleagues.” - Fi Shailes
While social amplification might not work for every brand, it’s definitely worth a try to see how your content performs compared to organic-only sharing, or even against your boosted post performance. You might find social amplification to be a more cost-efficient way of stretching your content just that little bit further. A tool like GaggeAmp could even be used to encourage the sharing of company updates among colleagues. If you’re looking to try a social media amplification tool, we’d recommend getting started with a tool such as Quuu, or GaggleAmp or a social media scheduling calendar such as ContentCal
This kind of goes without saying, but of course you need to understand your customer before you start marketing to them. However, what is often overlooked is the level of detail that really needs to go into this research in order to market effectively. When it comes to social media marketing in 2019, you need to know your target market like the back of your hand. Picking the right social media management app
If you’ve identified your ideal customer persona, then great. But you also need to be thinking about which types of content your audience wants to see, and in what form. You should be constantly checking in with your engagement levels to identify which content is performing the best, and you have the corrent social media management platform in place. Take care to look out for patterns and always be questioning ‘why’. Ask yourself ‘why did this content perform so well?’ or ‘why did this post perform better than this post’?
“Understand that your customers may be different on different social networks and may want to consume content in different formats. A content plan is always essential, but make sure that social media marketing is seen as a vital part of the overall marketing strategy not just as a small supporting part of a campaign.” - Lucy Hall
“Video will continue to fail on Facebook and it will lower the priority of it in the newsfeed. The average viewing time of video on Facebook is less than 3 seconds and 90% of people don't listen to the video. That means the majority of video doesn't work.
“Advertising costs will continue to go up which will mean we need to invest more in conversion optimization. As organic reach goes down, more businesses will need to invest in ads, and with less inventory, ad costs will go up. If you want to continue advertising you need to build and optimize better sales funnels.
“More dark social. Dark social is where conversations are happening behind closed walls. Having a Facebook Page and relying on organic reach is pointless for most businesses at this stage but building an engaged community can still drive a lot of engagement/interaction.”
“We'll see more ads on platforms that are growing (e.g. Instagram) and Facebook trying to desperately stop the rot in terms of stagnant user growth and people being bored with it. 360 video will grow as phone hardware allows and 360 cameras drop in price.”
“The most successful brands will not take themselves too seriously, and continue to humanize using video, particularly vertical video.”
“AI Customer service bots will become more sophisticated due to demand from large retailers. Social media ad targeting and opportunities will become more sophisticated. Brands will take more social media capabilities in house. Influencer marketing will continue to take centre stage. Social listening will offer more data than ever (with the advent of being able to track images with AI). We expect to see voice begin to play a bigger role in social media!”
“There's going to be more of a focus on creating content specifically for each platform, not just repurposing or promoting your blog / podcast / video elsewhere.”
The top of our list for social media marketing in 2019 is Instagram. Instagram basically has everything going for it right now; it’s visual, it’s got stories, and it’s not as saturated as Facebook (not yet anyway).
“Instagram will also grow as Facebook declines.” - Ian Cleary
From what we’ve seen in 2018, they appear keen to develop and are constantly surprising us with new features and updates. As a result, we have no reason to believe that Instagram’s popularity will be calming down anytime soon.
“Instagram, and specifically Instagram Stories, will continue to grow exponentially.” - Chris Strub
LinkedIn is another social network that is near constantly evolving. Over the last couple of years, it’s slowly become more than just a space for company updates and contacting people in your industry ‘without seeming weird’. With the introduction of video content, a well-defined algorithm, and lots of opportunities for B2B businesses, LinkedIn has the potential to keep on growing and developing into 2019. Some even say that LinkedIn advertising can produce leads that are 500% more likely to convert. Our advice? Don't forget LinkedIn when it comes to social media marketing in 2019.
“LinkedIn has been underused by many for years, but it's already having a bit of a renaissance after a lot of investment in new features. I think this will continue into 2019 and will become a priority for many.” - Ian Anderson Gray
Facebook definitely hasn’t had the easiest of rides in 2018 with privacy data scandals, security breaches, and several top executives leaving the company including Jan Koum, founder of Whatsapp.
While in many ways, Facebook seems like they’re going a bit downhill, let’s be realistic - is Facebook really going to roll over and die? It’s seems pretty unlikely. We reckon Facebook are putting the events of 2018 in the past, and knuckling down to work out what they can do in 2019 to rejuvenate their reputation and give their users something to get excited about.
“I think Facebook will continue to tweak their platform features and functionality, and I predict that they're going to keep pushing advertising at every opportunity, despite trying to reposition themselves as wanting to bring their platform back to the 'old' Facebook, when it was just about people you know.” - Fi Shailes
Youtube, although not always considered a social media network, is a huge force to be reckoned with in the social media universe. With over 1.8 billion users every month and more and more content creators joining the platform everyday, it’s an incredibly saturated place for video content, and a buzzing hub of online activity. Youtube is definitely something we'll be seeing more of in conjunction with social media marketing in 2019.
In 2019, Youtube will be making developments to help their content creators make better content, and profit from it.
“YouTube will dominate 2019. They're adding new monetization features, investing in live video and making it far easier for content creators.“ - Ian Anderson Gray
Unless you’re a fan of video games, you may not have heard of Amazon’s live streaming network, Twitch, where users can view streams of people playing games, or stream themselves for the enjoyment of others. Much like Youtube, you can earn a pretty penny if you gain a decent following.
Twitch has been on the scene since 2011 but really began to pick up steam in 2018. We can’t help but wonder what Amazon have got planned for it next and how it could be used for social media marketing in 2019.
“Twitch will continue to evolve and grow with it becoming a platform not just for gamers but for influencers with wider interests, the platform is owned by amazon who have a put huge resource behind it.” - Lucy Hall
- Quality not quantity (in relation to everything)
- Responsiveness is so so important
- You can never know your customer too well
- Social amplification is worth a try
- Video content - live video, stories, 360 video, vertical video
- A continuation of influencer marketing
- Advertising costs to rise
- More dark social
- Brands to become more human
- AI customer service bots to become more clever
- A bigger role for ‘voice’ on social media
- Content will be tailor-made for specific social networks
- Advertising to become more sophisticated
Here at ContentCal, we’re big fans of planning ahead and are always keeping a look out for future trends coming to our social media automation tool. We believe that reflecting upon the previous year as well as checking on your own social media analytics is an incredibly valuable process; one that will show you where to devote your time in the coming year.
We’d like to thank our experts Ian Cleary, Paul Ince, Chris Strub, Fi Shailes, Lucy Hall, Ian Anderson Gray, and Andrew and Pete for sharing their wisdom and advice for social media marketing in 2019.