— February 25, 2019
When you ask hundreds of marketers what’s coming around the bend for social media marketing in 2019, you might expect hundreds of different answers. But when hundreds of marketers keep repeating the same 6 themes… you know you’ve hit on trends that are influencing the entire marketing landscape.
I’ve curated a list of the most thoughtful and revealing responses that illuminate where we’re going, where we’ve been, and why these trends aren’t flashes in the proverbial pan – they’re reaching towards larger truths about sustainable, ethical marketing.
For scannability, I’ve put key ideas in bold.
Trend #1: Micro-Influencers are the new big thing
Are macro-influencers played out? Should influencers look for another job? Maybe not quite yet, at least for the biggest brands. But there is a definite trend towards smaller, niche audiences. But, there’s also a backlash against micro-influencers who fudge their numbers, opening opportunities for nano-influencers.
Macro’s out, Nano’s in
“The Age of Niche Influencers — In 2019, we will see a major shift in how we view the term “influencer.” We will see a significant increase the use of hyper-focused influencers across niche, vertical industries, especially in the business-to-business (B2B) market.” – Julie Murphy, Senior Vice President of Sage Communications
“Micro-influencers will continue to trend and rise. The group of micro-influencers we expect to trend this year are social sellers. Brands have started to engage with large groups of micro-influencers who can directly reach consumers on social media. This would also change how influencers get paid, where affiliate-like sales commissions will favour flat payments currently calculated on the basis of the number of followers.” – Anna Rehermann, Growth at jumper.ai
“Influencer marketing is going to shift away from macro influencers to favor more niche micro or even nano influencers with high engagement and more targeted communities. Influencers will be chosen based on data-driven performance rather than sheer number of followers, and authenticity will remain a priority. Consumers are becoming wary of influencers whose feeds are packed with sponsored content, and smaller influencers who embody more of a friend persona will breathe some fresh air into the industry.” – Carolyn Schlensky, Copywriter & Social Media Community Manager at Pelicon
“Micro-influencers are starting to be prioritized over major influencers, who have raised prices for their services. This has led small businesses to look for cheaper alternatives, like micro-influencers (who have followings of fewer than 10,000 people). You can find one for every specific niche and they usually have a stronger and more engaged audience, though you may be giving up some reach.” – Tim Absalikov, co-founder and CEO of Lasting Trend – Digital Marketing Agency
“In 2019, brands will use the strength of their communities to turn their superfans into micro-influencers. By building and promoting places for superfans to create content, share stories and shout brand love, companies will secure brand loyalty from the ground floor.” – Katherine Calvert, CMO at Spredfast + Lithium
“If there’s any hope to reclaim authenticity in influencer marketing, it’s with influencers who are true creators with something to say and the skills to deliver that message. Finding partners with a like-minded mission statement, and a captivated audience is the key to success. I believe 2019 will showcase the following trends in influencer marketing:
- Long-format content creators will be in demand
- Long-term partnerships will be more common
- Niche communities will be on the rise
- Employee advocates will become the new micro-influencer
- Advisory boards and FTC oversight will become more commonplace” – Gio Palatucci, Director of Social Media Services at Sparkloft Media
“ 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, and a closer proximity to their audience. I believe businesses should try to establish partnerships with these influencer who have a small, but highly targeted and responsive audience.” – Gregory Golinski, Head of Digital Marketing at YourParkingSpace.co.uk
“I believe influencer marketing will continue to rise in prominence during 2019 but we will see brands approach it with a lot more caution. The number of fake influencers (those who game their follower and engagement numbers) has stung brands too many times and they will look to new tools such as Social Chain’s Likewise to advise them on which influencers are legitimate.
We will also see a move away from a one size fits all approach, with brands focusing on influencers who are highly relevant to their niche. This may see a continued move towards using micro influencers.” – Henry McIntosh, Director of Twenty One Twelve Marketing
“There’s a huge saturation in the social ads market now; brands started off using huge influencers like the Kardashians to promote their products, but soon began recruiting armies of micro-influencers, too. Now, brands are turning to use nano-influencers (those with >10k followers).
Before we know it, everyone with a social handle will have a promo code for some kind of product or service, massively reducing the value in that kind of advertisement.
Brands need to start being a little more creative in the way they advertise themselves in 2019, then, if they want to stand out from the promo-code crowd.
I think that as our feeds become more and more overcrowded with promotions, returning to a more genuine way of promotion is key for any brand that wants to build loyalty without coming across as desperate for attention.
By simply being present in the lives of the right influencers, brands can have great success on social without the unclassy self-promotion that’s been present in recent years.” – Ollie Roddy, Business Development Manager at Catalyst Marketing Agency
Trend #2: Regaining consumer trust on social
In Hootsuite’s 2019 Social Trends article, the first trend they noted was “Rebuilding Trust” on social media, suggesting brands strategize more relevant, authentic, and genuine ways to relate to their customers. It’s a theme I heard repeated again and again: Trust, transparency, authenticity.
Transparency on social
“Transparency will become increasingly important as more consumers adapt the ‘farm-to-table’ desire to know who made their clothes, who grew the crops they eat, what are the people like who own the company they’re buying from and how are the workers treated? In order to successfully be seen as a transparent company, social posts will need to mirror the ‘about us’ page on the client’s site. 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.” – Jason Myers, Senior Account Executive for The Content Factory, a digital marketing firm
“In 2019, the name of the game will be transparency. Following Facebook’s data breach scandal last year, brands will be looking to regain social media users’ trust by generating more transparent, genuine content across all social platforms. By utilizing strategies such as Live video, influencer marketing, and Facebook Groups (and avoiding over-the-top self-promotion), brands can build trust with users and ultimately restore their audience’s confidence in social media as a whole.” – Jill Messinger, social media specialist at Page 1 Solutions
Social engagement = authenticity
“In the wake of 2018 where social media lost the trust of consumers, brands will engage in more social causes and increase their activations with influencers in 2019 in an attempt to regain that trust.” – Kevin Kelly, The Tangent Agency
“Through social there’s an incredible opportunity to not only involve your brand in the day’s social and political conversations, but take a stand on them. A Sprout Social study found that nearly two-thirds of consumers responded that it was either “Somewhat Important” or “Very Important” for brands to take a stand on social/political issues.” – Corbett Drummey, CEO of Popular Pays
“2019 will no doubt herald a new era of trust and transparency across social media platforms, particularly with regards to social media influencers. Instagram had already leaned into this shift in 2018 – removing fake follower counts and promoting a strong message to Instagram’s community that authenticity should be a driving force behind social media interactions. Social media giants have already begun to reward creativity and authenticity over (false) popularity – promising an optimistic future of increasing honesty across all social media sites in 2019.” – Jenny Tsai, CEO and Founder, Wearisma
Trend #3: Raising social capital with community
There’s been a subtle shift happening in the mindset of marketers where customers aren’t just customers – they’re community members. Building a community around your brand is a strong strategy and a natural evolution. You customers have a lot in common (it’s why they’re your customers). The trend growing out of this is to leverage your community on social.
“2019 will be the year brands leverage their social capital with consumers to help drive sales, answer questions, and act on the brand’s behalf in times of crisis. Digital social capital is a way for a brand to understand the value of its online social networks. Just as greater amounts of economic capital can lead to more opportunities, higher amounts of social capital can lead to a more significant impact on a brand’s audience. When a brand has more social capital, its community members are more likely to act on the brand’s behalf—think expressions of brand loyalty and communications that promote brand awareness.” – – Katherine Calvert, CMO at Spredfast + Lithium
“While Facebook groups are not a new thing, I see more brands taking advantage of this incredible way to interact with current and new customers. Facebook reported a 40% increase in group usage over the last year with roughly 1.4 billion members engaging with them. Groups are a great way to get around Facebook pages decreased reach. The Scott’s Cheap Flights Travel Community Facebook group has 81,000+ highly active members chatting travel 24/7/365.” – Andrew Hickey, Scott’s Cheap Flights
“A recent study suggests that brands experience better engagement and reach in tighter circles of targeted/aligned interest groups. Whether a support group for opioid addiction or a group of creative women looking for project referrals, through grassroots-style networking, brands and individuals can connect over issues and relatable circumstances to bring the necessary voices, tools and resources to those parties.” – Jessica Zweig, Founder and CEO of SimplyBe. Agency
Trend #4: Video, video, video!
Everyone’s talking about the rise of video content across all social channels – and new channels that are emerging around video content.
Why it’s happening now
“Video and rich content gains even more traction and drives growth.
In a mobile first world, you have less time to grab people, attention spans are shorter than ever so video will be used even more. Show, don’t tell, for maximum impact.” – Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO of Mavens & Moguls
“Video content is going to dominate the market. It’s continuing to grow and is rapidly becoming the main way people consume content online. The reason video is growing so fast is that it seems more authentic and is easier to digest than other content. This is especially true of live videos that increase perceived trustworthiness and relevance of a brand.” – Vladamir Sobur, content executive at Moshes Law
Old social, new video applications
“In August 2017, LinkedIn released native videos to their users. Prior to this new launch, the only way to use video on the LinkedIn platform was via YouTube or Vimeo. Native video allows members to record and upload directly to personal profiles.
LinkedIn Native Videos receive more exposure on LinkedIn than YouTube videos or other links or text, making it ideal for sharing projects, giving customers behind-the-scenes looks, how-to videos and other content.
My prediction is that innovative marketers will incorporate LinkedIn Native Videos in their video marketing campaigns in 2019. This new LinkedIn marketing tactic will allow early adopters to stand out among their competition.” – Sabrina Kizzie, MPA, Instructor, City University of New York Baruch College, creator of SocialMediaGlamour.com
“Instagram just introduced its IGTV app which is considered social television and is totally integrated with your current Instagram account. We will see the real push of social media morphing into television. In fact, the majority of new up-and-coming apps for 2019 are video related. Check out Lasso, Facecast and Vero.” – Ashley Nelson, Professor of Practice, A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University
“66% of users uninstalled the IGTV app a week after it’s launch.
But just as users were slow to adopt Instagram Stories, people will begin to understand and utilise IGTV during 2019. Brands can get a jump on their competitors by adopting IGTV now and creating the kind of vertically filmed, behind-the-scenes videos it was designed for.
Social media platforms are always keen to push new features further to encourage adoption, so get familiar with IGTV and make use of the fact few are effectively using… yet!” – Henry McIntosh, Director of Twenty One Twelve Marketing
Live interactions + video is the upcoming trend
“Video is merging with social media, and live interaction around watching our favorite shows will converge with the media itself. Rather than just ‘live-tweeting’ an event, we may soon be interacting with people simultaneously on the same screens where we’re watching entertainment.” – Tim Brown, Hook Agency
Trend #6: Social goes local
Facebook events are how we’re planning our social calendars these days, either by attending one or hosting one. Brick-and-mortar businesses are now using it to get on the radar of locals by hosting events, workshops and even sales.
“Based on what I’m seeing, I think more and more local discovery is going to take place on Social Media – Facebook’s search and advertising is getting to be so incredibly powerful that and the volume we’re seeing is increasing. People are finding local businesses and things to do tonight via Facebook.” – Matthew Alexander, Digital Marketing & Photography
Trend #7: Real-time communication becomes a must-have (not just for customer support)
Customer expectations for immediate response from brands have risen – and it’s safe to say they’re not going back. FAQ pages are losing ground to chat boxes and chatbots that answer questions in a more conversational way (whether they’re live or automated), and social media is getting more social as brands talk and sell to consumers in private messages.
“Real-time communication is becoming a big part of whether a business sinks or swims. Consumers expect immediate help when it comes to answering questions, which means chatbots and 24/7 customer support are becoming must-haves for every business.” – Igor Gramyko, owner of Highwater Standard, a full-service water filter company in New York City
“More than eight billion messages are sent between businesses and consumers every month on Messenger, and the volume of messaging conversations for major brands is already twice the volume of public social media. With that number already so high, brands can only expect consumers to crave social messaging as a way for them to quickly communicate with individuals to fix a problem. People will be looking for convenience and speed when it comes to getting in touch with a brand in the future. Consumers have changed and now it’s time for customer service to keep up. Luckily, the tools now exist for any brand to create an effortless experience.” – Joshua March, CEO of Conversocial
“Effective social media marketing in 2019 is about more than inundating consumers with articles and videos; it’s about fostering a connection with them. As part of your strategy, build in opportunities to build relationships with consumers.
- If someone leaves a comment or message, respond as quickly as possible. Make sure your reply shows you listened and understood, and if you need more clarification, ask for it!
- 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.
- If your target audience is on Twitter, form a connection with them through monthly chats! Hosting a live conversation via tweets can be a fantastic way to connect with users in real time.
- Similarly to Twitter chats, Run Facebook Live Q&As are “in the moment” videos that are a fantastic way to connect with consumers in real-time. Users can ask their questions and get an answer from a person right in front of them, plus they’re incredibly cost-effective (free!) to run.” – Emily Sidley, Senior Director of Publicity, ThreeGirlsMedia
Conversation to commerce
“In many ways 2018 was a tumultuous year for social media. Concerns around privacy have led social media users to more private channels like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat, creating unique opportunities for businesses to develop 1:1 relationships with customers, particularly as those customers increasingly prefer messaging for interactions like support.” – Penny Wilson, CMO of Hootsuite
“Throughout 2019, we’ll see more brands take advantage of emerging social media drivers like chatbots and voice assistants. But as brand adoption of this technology rises at a rapid pace, we’ll also see a shift in strategy where chatbots and voice assistants will be more tightly integrated with the rest of social media to create seamless user experience across all channels and funnels.” – Mark Lee, EightFive PR
“Turning social media engagement into sales has always been, and still is, one of the biggest challenges social media marketers struggle with. We believe the solution to the ‘engagement to conversion’ challenge has finally arrived – and it’s called “social commerce.” The term has been around for a while, but it’s commonly used to describe sending someone from a social platform to a product page to make a purchase. Our definition of social commerce is the ability to complete a purchase instantly, on the social platform. Making it easier, faster, and even conversational for customers to buy from a social media post is the future of ecommerce. Right now, there are few platforms that enable that functionality, but we’ve seen post engagement-to-sales conversion rates of up to 68%.” – Nyha Shree, Co-founder at Jumper.ai
In fact, jumper turned their predictions for social commerce in 2019 into an infographic that hits on many of the above points, from the rise of influencer marketing to the expectations among customers for instant responses from businesses.
The larger trends
The larger trends revealed here point to the need for more authenticity in marketing, whether it’s by using influencers who have garnered a great deal of credibility with their audiences, or by inviting consumers into your offices in a Facebook Live video.
An even more overarching theme: Building genuine, human to human, relationships with customers. Letting them see the real you, who you are, what you stand for. Talking with them one-to-one. Engaging with them as they engage with you. Relationships go both ways, after all.
These aren’t just trends in social media marketing. They’re everywhere. People crave connection and flock to social media to find it. But connections with brands are being held to a higher standard now than in the past, and forging trust with authenticity is key.