This week our social media team listened in on Hootsuite’s webinar, “Social Trends You Can Put Into Practice in 2019.” We had some great discussion about the trends within our group, which prompted us to share our thoughts with our online audience, too. (Watch the webinar here.)

Here are the five trends from the webinar with short recaps, followed by a few words from each of us on each topic.

Rebuilding Trust

Recap: Following numerous data breaches and increased privacy concerns, 60% of consumers now distrust social media platforms. Going into 2019, it will be increasingly important for brands to rebuild trust with their consumers on social networks.

Jessica

Trust in social media content has been harder to establish since before the 2016 election. With the ease of sharing on social media, a lot of misinformation is spread without warning or anyway to slow it down. This doesn’t even address the privacy issue of people’s data being hacked or misused.

I recommend the following actions to combat the lack of trust on social media.

  1. ALWAYS verify your sources. Make sure any curated content you are sharing is not only reputable, but truthful.
  2. Don’t abuse your customers’ data. Only use CRM data in your paid efforts if your consumers have opted in for marketing messages. People like – no, expect – personalized advertising these days, but they do not like to feel like their privacy has been violated.
  3. Be transparent with your customers. Respond to reviews and comments with honesty and integrity. People can tell when companies try to sugar coat things.

Jared

While I think at this point we’re all unsurprised at each new social media privacy scandal that arises in the saga, I agree that it’s important to take steps to make audiences feel safe – at least as safe as they can be. I’m unconvinced that any experience on these platforms is completely transparent or secure from a data or privacy standpoint, bur for now, they’re the only game in town, which means we’ll continue to play by their rules.

Melissa

One of the strategies mentioned under this trend was using Facebook Groups to allow customers to interact with each other in a safe environment. I’m not sold on the “safer” part of that because it’s still within the Facebook platform, but I do like the general idea. I think this strategy probably works better for B2C brands whose customers are very passionate about the products or the activities in which the products are used (i.e. make-up brands or climbing gear retailers).

Matt

I think this is easier for local brands to navigate compared to national brands. Facebook pages are often used as a de facto website for businesses so I think as long as you aren’t using your Facebook page to share unverified articles you should be fine. I think people have a distrust of Facebook as a company, not necessarily the businesses that use Facebook.

Storifying Social

Recap: Stories are growing 15x faster than feed-based content, so brands should heed that growth by creating story-specific content, experimenting with AR and creating custom gifs.

Jessica

I am not surprised by this trend. Beyond the superficial reasons that people like stores – awesome filters, stickers, Bitmojis and more, stories harken back to the beginning days of Facebook and Twitter when you were ONLY connected with your friends and posted random weird updates about your day. That’s why I think Snapchat gained so much popularity. It’s a way to send random updates to your friends without everyone you’ve ever met seeing it. It’s simple. And Instagram was smart to copy the format and functionality.
Companies can maximize engagement with stories by embracing the raw format of the content and giving their customers an authentic peek into what goes on behind the brand. We’ve also used stories to promote special offers, events and content pieces such as recipes. I can’t wait for the reporting on Stories to become more robust.

Jared

This strategy is particularly scary to me as a content creator, because the things I create will go away faster. That said, this looks like the future to me, mostly because it means we will all need to be on all the time – on these platforms that is. After Instagram and Facebook adopted what was essentially the basis of Snapchat’s unique selling point, stories have only grown as a feature. Looking forward I expect we’ll be seeing more story based shopping, AR, and event-based/experiential marketing on this feature.

Melissa

I’m all about this strategy. I think social stories and live video both resonate more with consumers because the content comes across as more authentic and less corporate. Sometimes things that seem too overdone, Photoshopped or scripted also seem unattainable and unrelatable. Behind-the-scenes or “imperfect” content can make consumers feel included in the process and closer to the brand.

Matt

Brand stories are a great way for businesses to humanize their brand and show a less polished behind the scenes look at their brand. It’s also a great way to communicate time sensitive information to customers.

Closing the Ads Gap

Recap: More and more brands are using social ads (since they pretty much have to to be seen), so they need to get creative and really invest in high-quality, relevant content. Brands also need to embrace new ad concepts to stand out.

Jessica

This may be new to social media, but this challenge is not new to advertising. Creative directors need to design for the social media format rather than repurpose artwork from more traditional channels. I see way too many social media ads that look like billboards or worse, print ads.

Think about how your audience uses a specific platform and then creative you messaging in a style that will draw and hold their attention. It has to be impactful. We’ve gotten way to good at tuning out ads everywhere. I mean this is the same problem that set us up for the invention of DVRs.

Jared

This is a no brainer. Take your previously posted organic content and pay for it to actually reach someone. ‘Nuff said. Unless you’re a shop dedicated to making viral content, there’s really no other way in my mind.

Melissa

I hate that social has become pay-to-play, but alas, that’s where we’re at. I think the strategy that discusses repurposing concepts from top-performing organic content is easily applied, especially for smaller brands that have fewer resources. Why reinvent the wheel all the time when you can boost content that others have already given the thumbs up?

Matt

As algorithms change and everyone is being pushed towards paid ads, repurposed ads aren’t going to cut it anymore. Standing out among the crowd is now more important than ever.

Cracking the Commerce Code

Recap: Brands should utilize shoppable posts in 2019. Shoppable posts are just gaining traction in the U.S., but 70% of China’s Gen Zers have already been purchasing directly from social posts. Brands that make their products easy to purchase within social apps and share videos/livestream them in action will likely see big returns.

Jessica

The idea of shopping within a social app gets me so excited as a marketer. Finally, a way to show real immediate results from social media to sales. It definitely helps to blur the lines between content and ads even further. To get started on this, I recommend picking a limited number of products and start on one platform. Once you get that under your belt, move on to other platforms and expand your products.

Jared

I see this being a huge area of growth for these platforms, because shops and brands are already paying to reach people on these platforms. Making shopping take less steps just makes buying your products easier.

Melissa

Shoppable posts are dangerous for me personally, but amazing as a social marketer. Turning followers who already have interest in your brand into customers without them even visiting your site is (sort of) like free advertising. This makes your Instagram page just as valuable as a page on your actual ecommerce website, so it’s important to make sure the customer experience/checkout is just as seamless.

Matt

This is just the natural evolution of social media. Why send people off of the page when you can bring ecommerce into the platform?

Messaging Eats the World

Recap: There are more messaging app users than social users worldwide, meaning people are shifting from public to private spaces. Consumers are using these apps for customer service inquiries and more private brand interactions, so incorporating services like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp into social marketing is becoming more important.

Jessica

When Snapchat first came out, I didn’t even consider it to be social media. It was just a different way to message my friends. So this trend doesn’t surprise me either. There was bound to be a counter culture to the widespread use of “public” social media. People weary of the constant barrage of content on social media are taking breaks from the 1-to-many approach; and reverting back to a 1-to-1 style of communication.

Marketers need to keep this in mind while using social media. While the 1-to-many approach still works for now, the 1-to-1 style that users are adopting is limiting the opportunities to reach potential consumers. However, the rise of messaging apps and that style of communication does present great opportunities for personal engagement between brands and customers. Direct messaging should absolutely be part of your customer service toolbox.

Jared

I think that bots really have to be used carefully because people will hate them/you if they show up uninvited. When it comes to utilizing messaging apps, I do think brands can benefit from being available and automating linear workflows like booking, but however effective messenger ads might be, nobody wants them in what is supposed to be a private environment. Proceed with caution.

Melissa

Most of us agreed that we’re not super into messaging apps as a customer service strategy. They’re fine for FAQs or setting up very step-driven processes (like setting up appointments), but brands that use too much automation drive me/us nuts. I don’t want to type out my question(s) to a bot and end up having to wait for a real person in the end anyway. A client account I work on uses Facebook Messenger regularly to field questions about orders and issues, and I do think they do a good job with it all. I know it can be done well, but only if brands commit and have a defined strategy in place.

Matt

Using messaging apps is a great way to multiply the customer service wing of your business, and it makes it easier for customers to connect with your brand and ask simple questions.

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