— January 8, 2019
Ah, yes. It’s a brand new year and you’re scouring the internet for what you should be paying attention to on social media.
As a small business owner, you’re likely already on a race against time when it comes to your marketing. That’s why it’s important to know where to focus your energy and what will have the greatest return for your effort.
Unfortunately, it can be hard to predict just what will be this year’s “big thing” in the always-changing realm of marketing. After all, if you take a peek back at lists just like this one from a few years ago, you’d probably laugh and say, “wow, that would never work today!”
Social media is fast-paced and it’s important to always stay on your toes
Still, there are a few things we can say with confidence will be a BIG deal this year. These five trends are guaranteed to make a splash in 2019, so fold them into your planning to make the most of your social media marketing:
1. Visuals, visuals, and more visuals
It feels like every year the internet is abuzz with the “video is on the rise” speech, but it’s true. By this year, 80% of the world’s internet traffic will be video. With a statistic like that, it’s easy to see why video is worth your time and investment.
According to WordStream, 82% of Twitter users watch video content on Twitter, and more than 500 million hours of videos are watched on YouTube each day! As video – particularly mobile video – continues to rise, you may be wondering how you can use video in your business’ marketing strategy.
Here are some ideas to help you get started:
- Introduce yourself – Your business is likely getting new followers all the time and some may not know the backstory of how you got to where you are today.
- Share customer testimonials – How often do you get someone else’s opinion on a product or service before you spend your money? Customer testimonials help people on the fence take the next step.
- Show off your company culture – Do you have a super fun office? Did your business just throw an awesome event for its employees? Believe it or not, highlighting your culture doesn’t just help for recruiting. Buyers want to know they’re spending their money with a business that cares for its employees.
- Thank your customers – After all, you wouldn’t be where you are without them. While “thank you” videos are typically an end-of-year item, your customers are buying from you every day, not just during the busy, year-end holiday season. Take a quick moment to thank them and don’t be afraid to use some humor or let your personality shine through!
Remember, you don’t need to be a professional videographer with expensive equipment to take advantage of video for your business. Simply pick up your cell phone and start recording!
2. It’s time to go live
Speaking of video, live video is on a steady rise. While live video has been around for a while, it’s popularity on Facebook and, more recently, Instagram has made it a big opportunity for marketers in 2019. According to a 2018 Visual Networking Index by Cisco, live Internet video will account for 17% of Internet video traffic by 2022.
Going live is a great way to build trust and loyalty as it is an authentic way to communicate with your audience. Of course, there is innate risk in doing a live stream; things may arise during the stream that you had not planned for, or you may struggle from camera shyness and seek comfort in being able to edit videos before they are posted for your followers to see. However, there are many benefits of live video. Live streams are engaging, have a huge potential for reach, and can increase conversions for your business.
If you don’t know where to start with live video, think about what your customers might be most interested in watching. Maybe you run a bakery and want to highlight the visually stunning process of making macarons. If you sell a product that is complex, live video is a great way to do a tutorial or walkthrough to better educate the customer on how to use it. By using live video to interview one of your team members, your followers will see the human side of your business and be more likely to spend with you. The opportunities for live video are endless, you just have to take the leap to begin!
3. Be open, honest, and transparent
One of social media’s biggest challenges in 2019 is going to be trust and transparency. In 2018, amid data breaches and privacy concerns, people’s trust in social media dropped to only 41% globally.
What does this mean for you? Well, it’s more important than ever to build trust with your audience.
You can do so by being transparent with your customers, whether that involves admitting a mistake or updating them on a recent change in policy. It may seem like a small task, but assuring your customers that their information is safe with you may be the difference between keeping them or losing them to another business who does.
And remember – never buy social media followers! Users become distrustful of your brand if they realize that you’re engaging in this questionable practice (that goes for your email lists, too!). In 2018, most of the major social media networks also took a stand against fake followers, removing the fake accounts en masse.
4. Let your advocates do the talking
You’ve probably heard of influencer marketing. When a brand uses an influencer marketing strategy, they focus on an influential person rather than targeting their audience. For example, if you own a makeup brand, you would partner with a popular person within the makeup industry online, such as someone who posts daily makeup videos and reviews on YouTube, who would promote your products on their social media accounts.
The theory behind influencer marketing is that when a person with great influence over their large following posts about your product, it has a bigger impact than if you try to target the audience yourself. This is because many people online trust the opinions of others more than posts from a brand themselves.
Now, you may be thinking, “that sounds like something that could cost me a lot of money,” and you’re right. Influencer marketing really took off in 2018 and influencers have more bargaining power than ever before. However, micro-influencers are going to be a huge trend in 2019.
The concept that an influencer must have hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of followers to be valuable to a brand is simply misleading. Micro-influencers, or influencers with a smaller following (typically in the thousands), often have the same dedicated audiences your brand is looking for, but may have even better engagement with their audience than the typical influencer.
How can you take advantage of micro-influencers for your business? Take the time to find the influencers in your industry by looking at social channels like Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube to determine who is posting about topics related to your business. Once you have identified them, reach out with information on your business to determine if you’re a good fit for each other. It’s not just about finding someone who is a good fit for your business – most influencers want to make sure they’re partnering with a business that is the right fit for them as well!
5. Instagram is the place to be for one-on-one engagement
Social media inherently offers many opportunities for your business to engage with customers and be discovered. In particular, Instagram is trending as the channel that offers the most effective one-on-one engagement, particularly if your audience is Gen Z.
With one billion monthly users, Instagram remains a high-growth channel while other social channels, such as Facebook, struggle with stagnant growth. Instagram offers an ideal platform to promote products in creative ways, from teasing new products with a combination of artful photography and special offers to experimenting with videos on Instagram Stories that capture your product aesthetic or company culture.
How can you take advantage of this trend? From eye-popping posts to engaging Stories, Instagram offers an ideal platform to not only talk about your product or service, but to also convey your brand ideals. Today’s consumers are looking to connect with brands on a more personal level. If your business is passionate about an issue, such as the environment or inclusivity, Instagram posts should reflect that passion. Take the time to review and respond to comments, while researching the availability of appropriate micro-influencers with the same brand ideals with whom you can potentially partner.
What is your winning marketing approach for the new year?
Overall, 2019 is going to be a year of highly personalized and engaging content. It’s time to truly engage with your customers through live videos, spark one-on-one conversations on Instagram, and be open and honest, or risk losing trust.
It’s time to start treating your customers like close confidants and friends.