It’s safe to say that 2018 was a fairly turbulent year for social media and if there is one thing we have all learnt, it’s that it is ALWAYS changing – from apps to algorithms and everything in between. As a small business owner it may feel like mastering social media is as difficult as nailing jelly to a tree, but it is so important to keep your finger on the pulse when it comes to these shifting trends and technologies. By understanding what’s happening around you, you’ll be able to create a significantly more relevant and effective marketing strategy to stay connected to your audience. Get yourself a cup of tea and settle in because it’s time to polish up your knowledge and decipher the key social media predictions for 2019.
1. Authenticity is everything
After a tumultuous year of #fakenews, data privacy scandals, instabots and more clickbait promo codes than you can shake a stick at, social media users are craving authenticity, transparency and insightful content. Large influencer accounts and media personalities are seen as less trustful sources causing users to revert back to focusing on friends, families and acquaintances on social media. It’s time for businesses to move away from the obsession over followers and reach, and instead pay more attention to generating genuine engagement and creating thoughtful content that appeals to your target market.
2. The rise of the ‘nano-influencer’
Many brands are beginning to realise that lots of followers does not necessarily mean lots of engagement. Big time influencers with high fees and low engagement are becoming less attractive to invest in. Meanwhile high quality accounts with under 10k followers tend to demonstrate more authenticity and personality in their posts, which then generates higher levels of engagement. What’s more, these smaller accounts that aren’t used to payment for their posts are more inclined to accept a deal for a lower price or in exchange for free products. This allows brands to spread the word about their business or product at a lower investment than they would expect to pay for a larger influencer. Sounds like a win-win, right?!
3. Collaborations are key
Those small business owners that are getting tired of giving away items to big accounts for free are going to like this one! Step aside influencers and say hellooo to business collaborations. With hashtags such as #communityovercompetition on the up, it comes as no surprise that businesses are clubbing together to form mutually beneficial partnerships to rise together, rather than end up out of pocket.
For example, let’s say you and 5 other businesses with a similar target market (but different products and USPs!) join together for a photoshoot that generates 2 months worth of social media content, that means that you will then be tagged in 5 other businesses posts for the next 2 months and vice versa! Therefore benefitting from the exposure of 5 different audiences PLUS ending up with an awesome photoshoot brimming with beautiful products that you might not have been able to get your paws on before.
4. Stories will continue to grow
I hate to say I told you so, but I did… right here – Instagram Stories 101: A Guide for Businesses.
Zuckerberg himself recently stated that Facebook expects News Feed usage to decline and that efforts at FB HQ will be focusing on building new features and ad products for stories in 2019. And it’s not just Facebook and Instagram, apps such as Whatsapp and Snapchat are big on featuring stories too. If you aren’t already on board the story wagon it’s time to change your strategy and start taking them seriously! They are an amazing way to boost engagement and reach, as well as demonstrate that uber important authenticity! Check out my article above for some tips and tricks to level up your story game.
5. Video is the future
We are living in a fast paced society that is busier than ever and therefore we are less inclined to read a story than we are to watch a video (she says on point 5 of a very long blog post…). The development of IGTV and live streaming was a big ole clue that social media channels are becoming more focused towards videos and this year we’ll see that evolve even more. Embracing live streaming will help you to create more personalised and intimate connections with a behind-the-scenes realtime look at your brand. Start brainstorming how you can get your brand in front of the (live) camera – whether it’s a product launch or reveal, a how-to, a demonstration of product features, a tour of your office or an interview with your biz partner.
6. Data privacy crack down
It sounds ironic for social media to be focusing on privacy, but after all the data controversy of last year such as the GDPR coming into effect and the Cambridge analytica scandal, we will see a big rise in social media users having more authority on how their data is used. This means that a huge tightening of social media advertising rules is probably headed our way, so if you rely heavily on paid or sponsored advertising, make sure you keep your ear to the ground.
7. The promotion of positive social change
Consumers have a much more positive image of a brand that stands for something such as a social or environmental issue. So whether it’s switching to eco-friendly packaging, donating a percentage of your profits to charity or associating your brand with a positive social change, it’s time to use your following and your voice for the greater good! Hoorah! And what better way to let your customers know about the issues that you’re supporting than by hopping onto social media and shouting it from the live-streaming-rooftops?!
I hope these social media predictions help you to shape your strategy effectively for the upcoming few months. If you need some more help developing your social media strategy for 2019 and beyond, please get in touch here for a free consultation!