— January 14, 2019
Posting, tweeting, sharing, instant and easy connections with friends, family and brands – these are what makes social media such a popular platform for millions of people each and every day across networks like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Social media is also much more than making connections – they’re also incredibly effective platforms for businesses.
Whether social media marketing is something you already do or a channel you’re considering investing in as part of your advertising strategy in 2019, there are some trends and techniques that can help you find success. As we kick off the new year, let’s look at some of what we expect to be important for promoting your business or brand on social networks this year.
Video Killed the Social Media Post
Writing posts is so 2015. Today, video is all the rage on nearly every platform, offering a visual way to share ideas, information or events with audiences. Facebook Live videos are among the leading ways that brands can engage with their followers. Introduced in 2016, these videos are shot on the scene and stream instantly to Facebook, often alerting followers to tune in and see what you’re sharing.
The videos are incredibly popular, as well, with Facebook reporting last year that at the two-year mark, more than 3.5 billion live videos had been shared through the network. Social Media Today also reports that these videos are also much more engaging, with audiences interacting six times more with live content than with traditional video uploads. Live videos are also available on Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat, meaning that you don’t have to limit yourself to Facebook as your primary engagement platform.
Whatever network you prefer, shooting a video is easy with a smartphone with a camera. You don’t have to go live, either – you can create a video and upload it later if you have poor signal quality or a limited data plan. Live or canned, video is a surefire engagement tool, but do yourself a favor and shoot it in the orientation appropriate for the platform. Snapchat videos and most “stories” posts should be in portrait orientation, whereas traditional timeline posts are best shot in landscape.
Moving on from Millennials
While the Millennial generation continues to be a major demographic for companies to target (even if they are being blamed for “killing” everything from Applebee’s to yogurt), 2019 marks a big milestone as the earliest members of “Generation Z” are now coming of age and entering the workforce.
As Reuben Yonatan writes in Business2Community, this up-and-coming age group was born and formed amid the technology revolution, growing up with laptops and tablets, social media and instant access to information. This means that to succeed, your brand needs to reach out to them where they are. Being active and engaging on social media can help you find success with this younger crowd, and reaching them on platforms they use like Snapchat, Twitter and especially Instagram – with 70 percent of its more than 800 million active users under age 35 – can bring these customers to your business.
Autobots, Roll Out
Social media itself is a product of modern technologies and the interconnected world we live in, so it’s only natural that other technological advancements are being implemented to help make social media even more social. There has been a lot of excitement around digital assistants with the explosive popularity of amazon Echo Speakers and Google Assistant, but a different type of digital assistant is making a big impact on social media markets – the chatbot.
A chatbot is an automated messaging software that is programmed to understand basic inquiries, provide answers and execute tasks, mostly for customer service purposes. In the context of social media, they can be implemented into messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger to automate certain promotional and customer service messaging. For example, as Digital Trends reports, Whole Foods used a Facebook chatbot to allow users to ask for recipes directly on Facebook that would then lead them to their website, with no human interaction required by Whole Foods’ employees.
This rise of the machines is likely to continue through 2019 and beyond, and it’s entirely possible that chatting with an automated assistant will become the standard on social media within a matter of months. However, for those not ready to praise our new robot overlords quite yet, automated message response tools like those offered on Facebook can provide a hybrid solution, responding quickly to let a user know that their message has been received and giving you an opportunity to get to it during normal business hours.
Augmented Reality – Reality 2.0
Augmented reality (AR) is another technology slowly making its way to social media, mostly in the form of facial filters, geofilters and other basic smartphone applications. These AR effects are most commonly associated with Snapchat’s Lenses, but Adweek reports Facebook is already starting to test augmented reality for shopping ads and plans to adopt AR for even more applications on its platform. The first such AR ad was a photo overlay from Michael Kors that allowed users to try on sunglasses virtually in real-time, creating a sort of digital fitting room to try different styles and fashions before making a purchase.
While AR tech is not yet widely available to the average user or even entirely useful to most advertisers in its current form, technology and social media changes and evolves on a daily basis. By the end of the year, AR advertising will likely only increase as more brands start to see the benefits and other new technologies in other sectors, such as AR glasses or connected dashboards, become more commonplace. For now, utilizing more approachable technologies like existing filter overlays or 360-degree video on YouTube, can help your business cut through the cluttered social media landscape and reach your audience with interesting and engaging content.
It’s All About the Money
In the early days of many popular social media platforms, posts, videos and other content was delivered to users chronologically. You followed your friends, family members and businesses and when they posted something, it popped up on your timeline – simple as that. That all changed when Facebook and others started monetizing their platforms with ads.
To incentivize businesses to utilize paid products like boosted posts and paid advertising, Facebook implemented an algorithm that determined what type of content was shown to users and when. This algorithm prioritizes user-generated content above brand generated content. This means that posts from organizations, brands and businesses reach fewer people, regardless of how many followers they have.
The solution for brands to get around these new limitations is with paid social media advertising. This is not exclusive to Facebook by any means – and is nothing new for 2019 – but it’s a significant trend that will continue to drive performance on social media for brands. Based on previous updates to Facebook’s algorithm, official and unofficial announcements from Facebook and general industry consensus, it’s even believed that content from brands will continue to receive less and less organic exposure, as Social Media Examiner reports. That means that for any business to reach audiences on social media, a paid strategy won’t be simply a recommendation – it will be a requirement. While this trend is most notable on Facebook, it’s also an indication of what’s likely to become the norm on other platforms.
The good news is that pay-to-play doesn’t necessarily mean pay-a-lot-to-play. Even a modest social media budget can go a long way toward growing your audience, increasing engagement and building brand awareness, especially compared to a completely organic strategy. The other bright spot in the seemingly dark social media future is that most social media platforms offer very sophisticated tools to advertisers with robust targeting capabilities, presenting advertisers with opportunities to reach specific and narrow audiences in ways not possible with traditional media.
Adapt and Change – The Constants of Social Media Success
The social media landscape and the habits of its users are ever-changing, making it nearly impossible to predict its future. For all anyone knows, an entirely new platform could emerge as a leader in 2019, just as Snapchat did not too long ago and Instagram before it. The only certainty is that the way people and brands use social media is ever-changing.
With the sheer amount of competition in the social media space, popular platforms are routinely shifting their focus to emphasize more personal connections, making advertisers work harder – or pay more – to make connections as users clamor for new features and unique, engaging content like live videos and AR.
The brands that succeed in this changing landscape are the ones that change with it. Don’t end up like MySpace or Google Plus and find yourself left in the dust.
This article was originally posted on the J. Fitzgerald Group blog.