The Quick Guide to Social Media Marketing Trends in 2019

Now a few months into the year, as a new season unfolds, many marketers are re-evaluating what strategies work and what needs to change. Consensus is clear among industry leaders: consumers are responding best to five specific trends.

1. Rethinking Influencer Marketing

    “The question is no longer if brands should pursue influencers, but how to execute influencer marketing best,” Forbes says.

    For starters, finding the right voices to speak for the brand is key.

    The good news is that consumers trust everyday shoppers more than celebrities, so if you can’t afford to put Olympians on cereal boxes, basketball stars in sneakers, and supermodels in fashion ads, don’t sweat it. The reality is only three percent of consumers would consider buying a product in-store if it was endorsed by a celebrity anyway.

    At the end of the day, consumers value the advice of friends and family most.

    These regular folks are known as micro-influencers (with social media followings of less than 10k) or nano-influencers (less than 1k).  Such small accounts may seem hardly worth the attention, but it is precisely because they are intimately known that these influencers are able to generate greater conversions.

    “People tend to trust nano influencers more than they trust the message that big brands or even web superstars are trying to convey. That’s because these nano influencers look like everyday people. There is something very genuine about what they say,” explains UK digital marketing executive Gregory Golinski of YourParkingSpace.

    Choosing influencers based on shared values, authenticity, and data-driven performance – rather than the sheer number of followers – is proving to be more effective than ever. Don’t be afraid to partner with smaller influencers “who embody more of a friend persona,” Pelicon Copywriter and Social Media Manager Carolyn Schlensky advises. When consumers see peers talking about a brand, they pay attention, and the more highly-targeted and responsive the audience, the better your brand’s ROI.

    Related Read: “Nano-Influencers: When Friends Promote Brands”

    2. Restoring Trust and Transparency in Social Media

      Social media is recovering from a truly tumultuous year. Between the Cambridge Analytica debacle, accompanying misuse of Facebook user data, and the millions of controversial bot accounts discovered on Twitter, consumers questioned the security and accuracy of social networks. This occurred to such a large degree that 60 percent of people no longer trust social media companies.

      Caught in the crossfire, brands face a unique challenge, and it’s why Social Media Specialist Jill Messinger says transparent practices are an absolute must this year. Sharing more authentic content through tools like live video, influencer marketing, and private Facebook groups can reinforce trust with users, Messinger believes, and perhaps even “ultimately restore their audience’s confidence in social media as a whole.”

      What might seem counter-intuitive – telling audiences where information was sourced and how you plan to use it – is actually a smart move, social media agency president Kelly Ehlers writes in Forbes. “In 2019, the focus on making information accessible and keeping consumers in the loop will have to become the standard,” Ehlers says. “Audiences are already apprehensive, and they will be looking to brands to see who’s in tune and who’s tuned out.” For example, go ahead and let customers know access to any information provided will be used to give them more of what they love and less they don’t care to see. Honesty is refreshing, and as long as you are respectful of privacy, most consumers appreciate tailored experiences.

      The overall transparency trend is akin to the farm-to-table movement – the desire to know who made their clothes, who grew the food they eat, what the people who own the company are like and how workers are treated.

      But in order to be seen as transparent, brands need to show a more vulnerable side, insists The Content Factory’s Senior Account Executive Jason Myers. “Social posts will need to showcase what the people behind the product are like via PR links citing the brand’s owner, podcasts, interview snippets, live video, friendly photos, and things that make the company more relatable to the people who will be investing in it by voting with their wallets.”

      To give audiences a clearer picture of your brand values, consider creating a social media hub to display company posts alongside candid UGC.

      3. Embracing Real-Time Communication

        Due to privacy concerns, many social media users moved beyond public posts to messaging apps. Platforms like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, QQ, and Skype account for nearly 5 billion monthly active users -- more than traditional social networks have worldwide!

        Brands shouldn’t fear the exodus, though. Nine out of 10 consumers are eager to communicate with businesses through messaging apps, and in the U.S., 69 percent of survey respondents said direct messaging helps them feel more confident about the brand.

        Fortunately, most messaging apps include additional features, like stories, news updates, automated customer service bots, and e-commerce functions. More than ever, brands are equipped to developing 1:1 relationships through:

        • Highly-personalized interactions
        • An easy-to-use interface that’s fast and convenient for consumers
        • The ability to integrate augmented reality, embedding camera effects to boost product awareness, consideration, and purchase
        • Instant customer service through programmable chatbots

        Big brands and publishers appear to be adapting quickly. Coca-Cola recently hosted a giveaway competition through Facebook Messenger. Fans were invited to message the company with bottle cap pincodes and find out instantly from the chatbot if they won. The chatbot could also help answer any questions about competition, allowing consumers to find the information they needed 24/7.

        This is the kind of unconventional, effective marketing shoppers are looking for in 2019, says publicity director Emily Sidley. But Sidley cautions, “In addition to featuring your products or services, make room in your social media marketing strategy for team members to step out in front and shine. Revealing the human behind the brand can be a powerful way to connect person to person.”

        4. Telling Authentic Brand Stories Through Video

          According to the Social Media Examiner, 80% of content consumed online this year will be video. Indeed, across four major platforms – WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat – nearly one billion users are already sharing content through “Stories” daily. This trend has prompted Facebook’s Chief Product Officer Chris Cox to predict the Stories format will surpass feeds this year as the primary way people share things with their friends.

          Stories are bursts of short-lived content, typically video or photo narratives, often disappearing within 24 hours. This gives viewers the feeling they’ve been lucky enough to get in on a company secret. It’s raw, intimate content like the barista showing how to brew the perfect cup of coffee, the cruise ship captain giving a behind-the-scenes tour that resonate.

          In 2019 and beyond, expect more storytelling and fewer static updates.

          Of course, much like posts on a news feed, Story content can still be shared among friends. Brands can incorporate a campaign hashtag to promote the piece or tag fans and partners for greater reach. Audiences may “swipe up” for more info, watch products in action, participate in giveaways, or get a behind-the-scenes look at brand events. The opportunities are endless.

          But videos don’t need to be reserved just for Stories. All formats are worthy of attention. In a recent study by BrightCove, 74 percent of consumers drew a connection between watching a video on social media and making a purchase! That could happen through Stories, videos posted on company feeds, or live streaming.

          Yes, video can be risky. Things may go wrong, but followers are likely to understand and even view the brand with increased respect. After all, it’s only truly authentic content that leaves room for genuine mistakes.

          5. Presenting Employees as Brand Advocates

            It’s easy to make a case for employee advocacy. Much like influencer marketing, consumers trust company employees (far more than executives) to share credible information on everything from business practices to product performance.

            In fact, recent studies show:

            • When shared by employees, company branded messages reach 561% further than through branded channels.
            • Employee-created content receives eight times more engagement than content shared from the company itself.
            • Nearly 31% of high-growth firms have employee advocacy in place, and 64% of advocates credit the program with attracting new business.

            Numerous resources are available to guide companies in launching a program, but beginning with a small group of influential employees is going to be the best course of action. As Edelman’s Julia Leitman says, “Equip them with powerful content and empower them to share it in their own voices. Find employees who are natural storytellers, love what they do, aren’t afraid to say it and are already active on social media.”

            Some free-spirited brands, like Zappos, take pride in promoting company culture. From costume parties to brainstorming sessions, if content involves employees, it gets a moment in the spotlight. Others, like Reebok, place an emphasis on product relevancy – encouraging employees to share their passion for fitness through the brand’s #FitAssCompany hashtag. Both techniques work beautifully in improving brand recognition and providing a competitive advantage.

             “As organic reach becomes harder to achieve in competitive social media environments,” LinkedIn’s Katie Levinson explains, “amplifying content through employee networks is one of the best ways to consistently drive impressions and engagement for the content you create and share. We only expect this dynamic to become more pronounced going forward.”

            For more ideas on how to promote shared enthusiasm around an idea, product, or community, check out our solutions gallery. Then, kick off your own success story with a free 7-day trial of TwineSocial. Let us know how we can help!

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