Anyone who works in social media knows all too well that the landscape is always changing. Whether it’s new platforms cropping up and gaining traction or declining organic reach forcing brands to allocate more ad spend on Instagram and Facebook, there are many factors that keep the social media scene in a constant state of flux.

For brands and marketers, that means you need to be constantly on your toes to keep up with the latest trends and shifts – it’s the only way to continue engaging your target audience and generating ROI from social media. What worked yesterday might not work tomorrow, so the only way to survive is to continuously adapt.

With new technologies like AI becoming more widespread, and consumer demands for always-accessible, omni-channel customer service growing, there’s a whole new crop of trends to stay ahead of these days – beyond simply knowing what social networks your audience is using and what times are best to post for maximum engagement.

To help you make sense of the social media landscape today as 2019 gets underway, we reached out to a panel of social media marketing experts and asked them to answer this question:

“What are the most important social media trends for marketers to be aware of in 2019?”

Meet Our Panel of Social Media Pros:

Read on to learn about the biggest trends in social media you should be aware of in 2019.


Jeff NealJeff Neal

Jeff Neal is the founder of The Critter Depot.

YouTube is definitely our biggest social media target for 2019. Our data shows that retention and engagement is much greater on YouTube than any other platform. And it gives us a chance to actually talk to potential customers. We share tutorial videos on how to care for bearded dragons, or how to raise crickets. And these educational videos help improve our credibility has a supplier. We are definitely all in on YouTube for 2019.”


Balazs Hajde

Balazs Hajde

@authorityhacker

Balazs is responsible for content publishing at Authority Hacker. His primary responsibilities include maintaining the highest standards of content quality and the efficient implementation of projects throughout the numerous sites managed by the company.

“We’ve been monitoring and utilizing social media throughout 2018 and we have noticed a few trends that are beginning to emerge.

“Although Facebook has seen its fair share of controversy, retargeting is still a very successful way of reaching out to potential customers. Expect to see more and more companies utilize this method in 2019, as it’s still the cheapest from of Facebook advertising and it’s incredibly efficient.

“Another thing to note is the continued flourishing of Facebook groups. Building an active and passionate community around your brand/product/company is a powerful way to retain existing customers and to entice new ones. Most groups are open, which is a risk in terms of moderation, however the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.”


Jakub KliszczakJakub Kliszczak

@CrazyCallApp

Jakub Kliszczak is a Junior Marketing Specialist at CrazyCall, a cloud-based calling application that helps sales teams and call centers do their job effortlessly.

“In my opinion, the biggest trend in social media will be a switch to video/audio content.

“Of course, nowadays, the video is quite big and thing like stories, live streams, etc. are taking off but I believe 2019 will be a year of complete video takeover. Thus every marketer should include some sort of video and audio content in their marketing strategy.

“Things like Facebook Live and Facebook/Instagram Stories are must for any brand that wants to stay online with their audience.

“Also, both video and audio are the best-to-consume type of content and are getting much more views than, for example, posts.”


Maurice 'Big Mo' FlynnMaurice ‘Big Mo’ Flynn

@BigMoMauricFlyn

Maurice ‘Big Mo’ Flynn has spent 30 years in marketing, tech and data science. He has trained hundreds of companies on social media best practice.

“One of the most important trends is to use today’s simple AI solutions to hugely improve personalization and therefore results in social media. The problem with social media today is that the most common tools used allow limited personalization. Personalization has been proven in research to drive positive engagement. Most people are scared by artificial intelligence tools as they think they need lots of tech or data science know-how. However, a new generation of tools are now emerging where the data science and tech know-how needed is minimized. The aim is to democratize AI for all. You will start to see these tools in the app libraries of your favorite social media management tools. But be careful – some are trying to take advantage and overcharge for these new services. Study the market carefully before you choose, try the free tools first and don’t be bamboozled by jargon.”


Sam BarnesSam Barnes

@Sam_Barnes90

Sam is the owner of 2B Digital – a personal digital marketing consultancy in the UK.

“2018 felt like a breakout year for video content. 2019 is going to be even bigger…

Watch times are up, engagement is even higher and when it comes to organic visibility on a variety of social networks, video is the king.

“I’d say the common misconception is that you have to produce extremely corporate, Hollywood-style video to succeed. Nothing could be further from the truth. A quick 1-minute video taken on your phone is perfect for viewing on social media. Add some subtitles to ensure that people can watch the video without sound and you’re on to a winner!

“Not only do you get a chance to show your personality, but you’ll help your engagement rates in the process.”


Chris PalamidisChris Palamidis

Chris Palamidis works as the Head of Social Media & Google Advertising for Mindshare Greece. His main area of focus is digital media strategy. Chris has worked with tens of multinational clients and has helped them implement innovative digital media campaigns to reach their business goals.

“Influencers seem to permeate the social media marketing landscape. Their perceived value has skyrocketed over the past couple of years and subsequently so did their fees. In contrast, the plethora of brand content originating from influencers now seems to challenge their credibility.

Now is the time to see the rise of micro or nano-influencers with smaller and highly engaged networks, more personal feel and more reasonable fees. Micro-influencers will give access to brands to niche audiences who have developed a personal relationship with the micro-influencer who introduces a service or a product to her audience by incorporating it in her content feed.”


John SurdakowskiJohn Surdakowski

@john_avex

John has over 15 years of experience in the digital space, working with brands such as HBO, Google, Shutterstock & Kith. Today, John is the CEO of Avex, a digital agency in NYC.

“The three trends we see common among the brands we work with are:

“Live Video: Every year, video on social media grows exponentially. In 2019 we see live video becoming more popular. 80% of consumers would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog. From Instagram to Facebook and other channels such as LinkedIn. Live videos from both brands, consultants and influencers will be very popular in 2019.

“Personalization: People are now seeing through the noise and irrelevant content on social media. Personalization, such as content targeted to a consumer’s lifestyle, wants and needs, will become necessary for brands.

“Messaging: Consumers are preferring to interact with brands via social channels. More brands are starting to respond to this form of customer service. We see this growing and it’s very important for brands to engage with their customers in the ways they prefer.”


Damien BuxtonDamien Buxton

@midascreative

Damien Buxton is the Director of Midas Creative, working with businesses to increase online exposure and revenue streams through strategy and consumer trend forecasting.

Without a doubt, one of the most important social media trends that has seen year on year growth is the use of video in marketing campaigns. In fact, one third of all online activity is spent watching video; if you’re not already using it then you’re already ‘behind the curve.’ With an increase in mobile device usage and the introduction of super-fast G5 internet speeds being rolled out, this is set to explode even further. People will have the ability to stream more video content on the go with ease without the restriction of bandwidth issues that some face today. Make it a key part of your social media strategy before it’s too late.”


Jordan HarlingJordan Harling

@BlindsDirectGB

Jordan Harling is the Chief Digital Strategist for Blinds Direct.

The biggest trend to watch is Instagram becoming an ecommerce monolith. We all know Instagram as a thriving social network, but the social network made its intentions to become an ecommerce hub clear in the past year when it started to allow business accounts to tag products in their images. These tags are more than just labels though; they allow you to link your images directly to products on site, allowing users to buy from you without having to leave the Instagram app.

“Instagram is all about immediacy and instant gratification, engagement is quick and the amount of content is never-ending. Tagged products feed into this in a wonderfully streamlined way, allowing users to buy your products with a minimal amount of effort. Someone can scroll, see and buy within seconds. With this small improvement, Instagram has grown into a fully fledged ecosystem which can help sustain your business. So if you have product that is perfect for impulse purchases, in 2019 you need to be tagging your products on Instagram.”


Adam RiemerAdam Riemer

@rollerblader

Adam Riemer is a marketing strategist who focuses on ROI driven digital marketing campaigns. He has been working in SEO, affiliate and social for more than 15 years.

One big trend for marketers with regards to social media is going to be the shakeup on Instagram PODS. They picked up in popularity substantially in 2018 and because history repeats itself, those using them may find themselves getting banned from Instagram by accident (or on purpose) as they could be mistaken as spammers or bots. Their visibility will diminish and the brands that hire and use PODS or who work with influencers that use them to boost exposure may see a strong decrease in exposure.

“Much like PBNs (private blog networks) which penalized websites ability to rank in Google, Facebook comment and like groups which diminished relevance and killed exposure, we’re probably going to see the algorithms updating fast and targeting bots as well as POD users. A good indicator this is coming is the update to the API on December 11th where personal account tracking is no longer available. You also need to use filters for tracking hashtags, and you need to change over to a business account.”


David AlexanderDavid Alexander

@mazepresscom

David is a digital marketer and ‘web guy’ with over a decade under his belt helping SMEs & individuals to use technology not only to survive but to thrive in the new digital ecosystem. He also documents his experiments, failures and interesting tools at Mazepress. He’s a total nerd who started programming at the age of 13, but if truth be told, much prefers the arts. David has also been an advocate for cryptocurrencies, decentralization and blockchain technology.

In 2019, expect to see reduced organic reach continue on the majority of social platforms. As the various social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter fight to increase profitability, a trend that has been happening gradually over previous years will continue to do so in diminishing the organic reach potential of your posts.

“These networks will do so to push people to use their native ad platforms to generate attention and traffic to off-platform web properties like your own websites and blogs.

“While this isn’t a new trend, it will continue to become a pain point for social marketers and content producers looking to leverage quick wins from their social followings, but all hope is not lost. Native ads on social media platforms are an important facet of the social media ecosystem and learning how to use such tools can give you the edge over your competition.

“If there was ever a time to learn about Facebook ads and ads on other social platforms, now is the time.”


Spencer X SmithSpencer X Smith

@spencerXsays

Spencer X Smith is a speaker, instructor in social media at the University of Wisconsin & Rutgers University, and founder of social media marketing agency AmpliPhi.

“The top social media trend for marketers in 2019? Using LinkedIn for company branding. LinkedIn gives us the ability to target employees of particular employers regardless of company size, and show them specific content based on their interests.

“For example, if a fire suppression company wants to grow from, ‘I have no idea who you are’ to, ‘I’ve heard of your company,’ in the mind of decision makers at Boeing, we can make content specifically targeting those at Boeing who may be the most likely to buy the fire suppression company’s products. We can use targeting options that are not just company-specific, but also job title-specific as well. That way, we can ensure we’re only paying for the right people to see our sponsored content.

“In a phrase, micro-targeting company-by-company on LinkedIn is going to continue to grow in 2019.


Sherrilynne StarkieSherrilynne Starkie

@sherrilynne

Sherrilynne Starkie is an award-winning digital communications consultant with more than 20 years’ agency experience in Canada, Britain and the USA. She has an international reputation as a social media innovator, is a prolific blogger and podcaster and is an active IABC volunteer.

Stories will dominate as a social media format that lets advertisers tap trends to gain high engagement and high impact exposure. Snapchat innovated the stories format and Instagram perfected them. They are gaining traction with Facebook users and Google and YouTube have both announced Story format features. 2019 will be the year for ‘Stories’.”


Keri LindenmuthKeri Lindenmuth

@kyledavidgroup

Keri Lindenmuth is the marketing manager at KDG. For over 17 years, KDG has been helping businesses improve their processes, their customer experience, and their growth.

In 2019, we will continue to see social media rely more on visual content than textual content. Infographics, videos, and other imagery will be popular. Social media is meant for scrolling, which is why visual aids are so popular. They don’t require more than a second or two of a user’s attention. However, if you want your post to be effective, you have to make the user stop mid-scroll. You have to capture their attention.

Live features will also continue to gain popularity. Be on the lookout for live video content. Businesses should look at ways they can implement live webinars or interviews in their social campaigns.

Finally, AI will also take over in 2019. Live Chat with businesses over Facebook became popular in 2018. Expect this trend to continue. There are numerous AI chatbots that are being developed and released that improve the customer experience by answering user questions and concerns as seamlessly and as quickly as a human customer service representative would.”


Brian WinumBrian Winum

@MAXPlaces

Brian Winum is the co-founder and Digital Marketing Director of MAXPlaces Marketing, LLC, a full-service digital marketing agency with offices in New York City and Long Island.

One of the things we’ll be keeping an eye on for sure in 2019 is the ability to leverage WhatsApp on behalf of our clients. Now that Facebook has decided to monetize the platform with ads and their new business API, I can definitely see an accelerated growth rate as a tool for both paid and organic customer interaction. WhatsApp has a user base of 1.5 billion, with 1.0 billion of those being daily active users. With 60 billion messages, 4.5 billion photos and 1.0 billion videos shared each day on WhatsApp, it is a true multimedia juggernaut that is only trending upwards. Whereas Twitter is currently the leader in brand/consumer social interaction, WhatsApp is poised to gain a huge market share as Facebook begins to push their investment hard.”


David EricksonDavid Erickson

@derickson

David Erickson is the principal of e-Strategy Media and co-host of the Beyond Social Media Show podcast.

“I think the re-emergence of dark social is something marketers will need to take into account for 2019.

“Social sharing via channels that are not easily trackable is a dynamic that has always been present but largely overlooked because of the ease with which the other channels are measured.

“Several factors will contribute to the sharing of content via dark social channels such as email and messaging:

  • The rise of privacy legislation such as GDPR in Europe and California’s privacy act
  • A growing consumer distrust in social media due to scandal
  • Mobile-first behavior where messaging is the most convenient sharing channel

“Marketers should establish protocols for measuring this behavior, such as clicks on email icons from sharing tools on site and the configuration of analytics to account for visits from dark social channels.”


Gregory GolinskiGregory Golinski

@ypsuk

Gregory Golinski is the Head of Digital Marketing for YourParkingSpace.co.uk.

Nano influencers will become even more important for your social media strategy in 2019. These nano influencers aren’t superstars. They’re more than happy to work with businesses to get that extra exposure, even for free. You don’t need to beg them.

“Nano influencers can also help you reach a very niche audience that’s interested in your product. This smaller audience can be much more responsive to your messages than a bigger, non-targeted audience. You should definitely reach out to them in 2019 as part of your social media campaign.”


Hung NguyenHung Nguyen

@smallpdf

Hung Nguyen is the Marketing Manager at Smallpdf.

“As organic reach and engagement on social media are stagnant and ads being on the rise, those that cannot afford to allocate financial resources on advertising will look into alternative social media channels to promote their business.

Quora is becoming increasingly popular, as views, engagement, and traffic is driven by producing high-quality content, rather than pumping money into ads. We love Quora here at Smallpdf, and our profile gets over 10,000 views every month.”


Allisa LindoAllisa Lindo

@AllieLindo

Allisa Lindo is the growth marketing manager for a company called Brandox. She’s worked in digital marketing within the tech industry for over three years. She previously worked for an influencer marketing agency.

“2018 saw a lot of controversies pop up for major social media stars, especially on YouTube. While some of these stars were able to recover, the controversies highlight a 2018 trend of major stars becoming Kryptonite for socially conscious brands.

“Besides the potential for toxic controversy, there’s plenty of evidence to show that microinfluencer led campaigns are far more effective and have better ROI.

“Effective influencer marketing is based on authentic relationships between influencers and their audience. Smaller influencers have more one-on-one interactions with their followers and that makes them more useful partners to marketers. It doesn’t hurt that micro influencers are much cheaper to work with.

“To capitalize on this trend, marketers should look to develop influencer campaigns that are scalable and can be repeated with multiple influencers without having to make major changes.”


Nate MastersonNate Masterson

@MapleHolistics

Nate Masterson is the CEO of Maple Holistics, a company dedicated to cruelty-free, natural, and sustainable personal care products.

Live-streaming is definitely in and sticking around for the new year. Consumers like to get an insider’s view when it comes to companies they are purchasing from. So whether that means getting to know some of the staff, seeing how products are made or watching a DIY video using some of the products, get yourself a creative team which can deliver interesting content to the public.

“And in line with this, increase online customer engagement in the coming year. More and more, customers want to be noticed by the companies they are supporting. So reply to their comments, repost their shout-outs, and hold giveaway contests to create more dialogue with your consumers.”


Richard JanesRichard Janes

@RichardJanes

Richard Janes is an Emmy-winning personal brand coach and founder of Hollywood digital agency Fanology whose clients range from Toyota all the way through to America’s toughest trainer Jillian Michaels.

“2019 is the year of…

Multi-Post Narratives. As social platforms continue to tighten their organic reach for brands, we need to give consumers a reason to keep with engaging over the long term. This has always been the case with general social media – following the lives of our friends as they go through the year and experience ups and downs – but brands have been dancing to a different beat. That has to change for 2019. No longer can we look at the value of a single post as a stand-alone piece of content, but as platforms give more and more weight to friends sharing their life journey, so too must brands. The key lies in multi-post narratives so that users look forward to what is next, poised to engage with the content for the next part of the journey. Ultimately, this is the transition from an advertiser to a media house that a small handful of highly established brands have been making over the last few years, and this trend is expected to fully take hold in 2019. Every company has a story to tell that can build affinity and engender loyalty, we just have to focus a little more on unlocking that story and stop looking to social media platforms as a place for ‘single post’ calls to action.

Embracing The Core Fanbase. Marketers spend a lot of energy and money on negative sentiment monitoring. But one of a brand’s most underutilized assets is its core fanbase. It is these rapid fans that have a fantastic ability to spread the message and empower the core fanbase to market a brands story. Nurturing a consumer down the path to become a superfan costs more money than acquiring a traditional sale, but the lifetime value of a superfan both in terms of their own spend and their influence to attract others is well worth the investment. This starts with listening for fan stories on social media and then taking action around those stories to celebrate the fan in a way that they least expect. The stronger the core fanbase, the better a brand can weather price fluctuations, competitor product launches, and negative sentiment. Car brands are leading the way with this but expect other industries to catch up as social media advertising costs rise and we have to unlock greater value from each consumer.

Retargeting, Retargeting, Retargeting. It is amazing how few marketers are not fully utilizing the ability to retarget on social media and embrace it as a tool to continue building relationships. Yes, we all see the posts advertising the product that we’ve just visited on a website, but in most cases this is where the retargeting comes to a halt. As email platforms such as Active Campaign and Influsionsoft get more and more specific with segmentation and data capture, the opportunity to guide a consumer to purchase vs. beating them into submission is huge! It’s the carrot and the stick analogy. Now, there will always be the abandoned cart retargeting or cyclical ads for monthly/quarterly services you consume, but for 2019 we are going to see a trend of longer lead retargeting. One of the first things they teach in marketing class is the rule of 7 Touch Points Before Purchase, and this rule is now going to catch up with retargeting and nicely loops us around to my first point of multi-post narratives. Pioneers in this space are coming from the self-help industry, and we can see their multi post narratives playing out as they retarget ads focusing on deeper story journeys which ultimately lead to a sale once the consumer has ‘bought-in’.”


Steve PritchardSteve Pritchard

@BenSherman1963

Steve Pritchard is a Digital Marketing Consultant for Ben Sherman, a men’s fashion retailer.

Stories have become increasingly popular across different social media platforms in 2018, and will certainly take 2019 by storm, eventually eradicating the need for content-filled-tweets.

“Video marketing has already proven its popularity when it comes to social media. The new art of uploading short video stories, that disappear now adds that element of mystery; providing a platform for quick, easy and digestible information, from facts to news, which journalists want to share and consumers want to see.”


Patrick DelehantyPatrick Delehanty

@MDigitalPatrick

Patrick Delehanty is the Marketing Manager with Marcel Digital out of Chicago, IL. They specialize in website optimization that focuses on utilizing multiple digital marketing efforts, including website optimization, SEO, branding, marketing, design, development, and more, to create a holistic marketing approach customized to each client. They’re also a Google Partner, Hotjar Founding Member, and ConversionXL Certified!

“For me, a trend every social media marketer should be aware of for 2019 and beyond is relevancy. The reason for this is that your entire marketing and social media strategy relies on providing a relevant experience to your audience based on their goals and your business goals. This will also influence the platforms and tactics you use moving forward. Audiences follow brands and the people behind those brands because they are providing a relevant experience to them and their needs. When you provide relevant content, whether through photos, posts, videos (like IG / Facebook stories or TV), and engage in comments and discussions, you create a true social experience. With so much talk about social fatigue happening, it’s more important than ever that social media marketers focus on relevancy in the content they put out on social media, the platforms they use, and how they track performance of their performance – it’s a trend you can’t afford to miss.”


Danielle K RobertsDanielle K Roberts

@BoomerBenefits

Danielle K Roberts is the co-founder of Boomer Benefits, a licensed insurance agency that specializes in Medicare-related insurance products. Her agency has a social media following of over 70,000 baby boomers and seniors.

“Though there are many trends to watch and be aware of, one of our team’s biggest focuses heading into the New Year is community. As nearly all of your competitors crowd into the social media space, simply posting content will no longer cut it. You must begin to understand your customer and engage them on a personal level. It is no longer just about how many followers you have but also how many you are following and engaging with. As you engage, interact, and build relationships with clients – you are building a community that no marketing budget or ad campaign can compete with. Facebook groups are key for this and will continue to thrive.”


Kara StrangKara Strang

@karastrang

Kara Strang is a digital marketing professional and account executive. She is currently the Senior Account Manager at NoHype Digital Inc., a marketing agency that uses data and sophisticated marketing technologies to unlock vast markets for real estate agents.

Innovative social media platforms like Steemit and Minds will see a rise in active users due to fewer content restrictions and supporting content creators through a direct monetary exchange. Marketers will need to re-think how to target for campaigns as users migrate away from traditional platforms like Facebook and Twitter.”


Todd KunsmanTodd Kunsman

@EveryoneSocial

Todd is a digital marketing executive having worked in various industries, start-ups, and remote positions. Currently, Todd is the Head of Marketing at EveryoneSocial. He writes in his spare time about marketing, tech, music on various publications and about personal finance on Invested Wallet. You can also find him adventuring outdoors and hiking.

In 2019, there is one big strategy for social media that marketers need to know: employee advocacy. I’ve avoided the word trend because although it may be for the new year, it’s something that will stick around long beyond the new year and has been growing in recent years.

“Essentially, employee advocacy is encouraging your workforce to be engaged in social media marketing on behalf of the brand. Companies provide blog content, third-party content, industry news, company culture content, etc. for employees to share with their networks. This helps spread brand awareness, drive more social engagement, increase web traffic, increase leads, and much more.

“Social media can no longer be blocked or ignored by employers and many employees are already talking about their company online. Companies are starting to embrace that social media is not going anywhere, realize that its where customers and buyers are, and that people trust people. Another big reason is social media algorithm updates continue to put preference on the individual, instead of brands and publishers. This greatly affected many brands, but employee advocacy can help ensure content is still seen and awareness continued.

“Yet, for this strategy and program to be successful, marketers need to be smart in their approach. This includes creating a plan, how to roll it out to employees, what social policies are needed, training sessions to ensure employees who are interested aren’t making mistakes, and to have the right technology in place to make this easier to organize and show ROI. Some well-known companies have already been doing this and seen a lot of success like Dell, Adobe, Starbucks, T-Mobile, Indeed, and Coupa, to name a few.

“It’s important that marketers and company leads do not force this on employees, but allow employees to have their own thoughts when they share, and approach this with the long-term mindset. Results can happen fast when you have a large number of employees sharing, but effective growth happens over time.”


Jeff RizzoJeff Rizzo

@TheSlumberYard

Jeff Rizzo is the Founder & CEO of The Slumber Yard, a digital media company based in Reno, NV. Jeff has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley where he graduated with high honors.

The biggest social media trend for marketers in 2019 will surround in-app messaging. Services such as Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and Twitter will increasingly serve as an outlet for brands to communicate directly with consumers.

“It won’t be a team of customer service agents that handle the messaging, however, the interaction will be largely handled by social chatbots. I’ve seen some estimates that Facebook Messenger already has over 100,000 chatbots in service that manage product advice, take orders, and more.

“In-app messaging is the next step in social media marketing, as the communication will feel more personal to the consumer, and brands will be able to increase productivity without increasing costs proportionally.”


Kyle AustinKyle Austin

@BeantownMV

@kyledaustin

Kyle Austin is the founder and managing partner at Beantown Media Ventures (BMV), a PR, content and digital marketing agency that has helped hundreds of venture-backed startups drive inbound leads and build valuations. Throughout his career, he’s created, executed and managed successful marketing communications campaigns for startups to Fortune 500 companies, and has been a member of teams honored with some of the industry’s most prestigious awards including a Silver Anvil from the PRSA and the 2008 IPRA/United Nations Grand Award. He has an MBA from Babson College and is a mentor at MassChallenge, one of the largest non-profit startup incubators.

“There are two important 2019 predicted trends to watch.

“1. (Social) Publicity Stunts Are Back: Remember publicity stunts? Over the last decade, they have become a smaller and smaller aspect of PR toolboxes as the industry moved to digital from analog. However, new socially-centered publicity stunts will continue to give the older practice a renaissance in 2019. As a Trump-dominated, 86,400-second news cycle makes it increasingly difficult for any brand to get their 15-seconds of fame, social stunts are becoming an attractive option for sticking out. What makes social stunts work? Making fun of the social status quo. Two examples in 2019 included the influencer-only go90 stunt and the recent Payless Shoes ‘Palessi’ stunt. Unlike stunts of the past that were often pulled off to garner media attention directly, these stunts are aimed at bubbling up on social media to create a groundswell of awareness that ultimately leads to media coverage. Very 2019.

“2. PR Tactics Will Be Splintered by Generational Media Consumption Differences in 2019: When it comes to news and information, no generation has consumed media socially like 18-29-year-olds do today. In fact, the differences between how generations are consuming media have never been greater – and that will continue to alter approaches to PR in 2019. According to PEW, young millennials and Generation Z aged 18-29 consume 36% of their news via social media. This came out well above other mediums for news consumption among this generation: News websites (27%), TV (16%), Radio (13%) and Print newspapers (2%). Compare this with the news consumption on social media of these demographics 30-49-year-olds (22%), 50-64-year-olds (14%) and 65+ (8%). For PR practitioners this is important to consider in 2019 as the media that matters to a brand and ultimately their target market is largely driven by the generation their prospects fall within.

“Therefore, a brand targeting costumers that are aged 50+ will still be able to rely on PR tactics in 2019 that have been successful with driving TV influence for decades — as over 65% of those aged 50+ still consume the majority of their news via the tube. However, for brands targeting the highly coveted 18-29-year-old demographic, influencer marketing and media relations geared at publications that drive social sharing will become more vital in 2019. For the brands we work with that target this younger demographic, we regularly use tools like Muck Rack’s WhoShared to measure social share volume. This plays into us targeting outlets that millennials read (on mobile devices), and have the highest social shares of stories: Buzzfeed, Business Insider, Cheddar, etc.”


Erik OlsonErik Olson

@iamerikjolson

Erik Olson is an award Winning Digital Marketer. Founder & CEO of Array Digital – a digital marketing agency focused on advertising, SEO, social media, and websites.

“First, the heavy use of short videos will be commonplace and begin to edge out text-only posts. Video is easier to consume and is more effective at communicating within social media.

“Second, video shot in portrait mode (tall) will become more prevalent than video shot in landscape. As mobile viewership continues to dominate over desktops and laptops, video will continue to transform for the devices that the majority of people use the majority of the time.

The third trend for 2019 will be the continued growth of voice. The number of smart speakers sold during the 2017 holiday season led to a surge in demand for Amazon skills and flash briefings, and for podcasts. Smart speaker sales are projected to also be strong during the 2018 holiday shopping season. With that, more brands will start matching the demand with voice programs. Expect the number of podcasts and flash briefings to continue to experience strong growth.”


Randi WhiteRandi White

@marketingsjc

As an account coordinator for SJC Marketing, Randi writes social media content; collaborate on social media marketing strategies, campaigns and visual media plans; conduct keyword research; and create graphics for distribution on social media platforms. Additionally, she provides SEO and editing expertise to the team’s efforts as needed.

“Stories — the tool and the experiences: Self-made Instagram influencers (a.k.a. Instabloggers) are pros at using the Instagram Stories tool to foster emotional connections with their followers. Part of their success comes from the willingness to be authentic with their audience and share real-life stories full of life’s daily challenges and successes.

“In order to compete for and win consumers’ attention, businesses need to get real and start sharing customers’ experiences in a story format, rather than a sales pitch. Brands will need to increase and perfect their use of the Instagram Stories tool as a part of this strategy.

“‘Influencers’ takes on new meaning: Consumers’ sudden awareness of how much privacy they’ve sacrificed, combined with some missteps on the part of social media platforms, has created distrust in social users’ minds. As a result, they’re leaning even more heavily on recommendations from friends and family. Brands will need to build strategies around the idea that friends and family are the new influencers.

“Visuals: Visual content is no longer something only big, trendy brands do. Visual content is a MUST, and a good chunk of that will need to be video. Everything from behind-the-scenes to how-to to Live video sessions is monopolizing viewers’ attention. So, a content marketing strategy heavily weighted with text content is sure to leave you short of ROI goals.”


John HuntinghouseJohn Huntinghouse

@jhuntinghouse

John Huntinghouse is the Director of Digital Marketing at Epic Marketing. John has over 10 years of digital marketing experience and has been featured in Forbes, Buzzfeed and numerous online publications for his work in that space.

“The most important trends for social media in 2019 will be the following:

Brands telling a cohesive story about their company/employees/products across all of their digital platforms. We all know the power of storytelling but even the brands that do this the best are disjointed when it comes to telling a cohesive story across all of their digital marketing efforts. You’re going to start seeing more and more brands that create platform-specific story lines that weave across platforms to create an overall story arc that takes social engagement to the next level.

The increase use of VAs running personal brands and interacting with their followers as the personality themselves. While this trend is not public-facing (most of the public isn’t aware of this), it’s definitely a trend that has started in 2018 that I expect will blow up in 2019. We all know that you need to increase engagement with your followers, but personal brands have taken it to the next level. They are hiring out VAs to learn their voice and tone and to mimic them as they respond to hundreds of comments and threads on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook. I would expect that at some point in 2019 you are going to have a story that comes out of a VA who said something offensive and the personal brand blaming the VA for the controversy.

The coming of age of LinkedIn for content marketers, thought leaders and influencers. LinkedIn has exploded in engagement levels this year as they publicly announce that they are trying to redistribute where all of the engagement has been occurring from the top 1% to the many of the micro-influencers/thought leaders who are posting regularly on LinkedIn. As such, you’ll see an explosion of growth when it comes to how active individuals are on LinkedIn and in LinkedIn being the platform of choice for many business professionals, period.”


Liz CoffmanLiz Coffman

@LizCMarketing

Liz Coffman is head of content marketing at Riotly Social Media. She’s dedicated to creating resourceful and innovative content as a way of connecting people to the world around them. Her work is focused around constant personal evolution, increasing her knowledge base and sharing that expertise with others.

“In the last few years, consumer trust of mainstream institutions around the globe has been rapidly plummeting. For the first time in history, consumers trust their peers just as much as technical experts and more than CEOs, governments or academics.

“What does this mean for the future of social media in 2019? According to Edelman’s annual global study of consumer confidence, 39% of surveyed users reported using social media networks as their source of news. With trust in mainstream institutions declining, micro-influencers, customers advocates and employees have never been more relevant.

“This shift in trust is arguably the most important social media trend for marketers to be aware of. A successful marketing strategy or social media campaign in 2019 will focus on a strong sense of community. Consider leveraging influencers to appeal to consumers who look to their peers for products and expertise. Put individuals, consumer advocates and employees at the center of your marketing strategy. When trust in mainstream institutions is depleted, the best way to reach consumers is by appealing to them on a personal – and therefore trustworthy – way.”


Kris HughesKris Hughes

@Kris_Hughes

Kris Hughes is with Austin-based project management software company, ProjectManager.com, where he leads their social media and content initiatives. In previous roles with digital publishers Wide Open Media Group and Rant Media Network, he led large teams of social media managers and content creators, while also maintaining his own individual contributor responsibilities along both lines.

“There are three trends likely to grab a substantial foothold as we head in 2019:

“1. Social Listening – Brands are more concerned than ever about how they are being portrayed via social media, and how this reputation crosses over to the general reputation of their brand. To protect against reputation damage, brands are turning to social listening software to help them actively identify potential issues and put out those fires one by one as necessary to ensure the general feeling about the brand among target consumers is positive, and the damage of any negative interactions/reviews etc. is actively minimized.

“2. Micro-Influencers – The ‘influencer industry’ has been under increasing scrutiny in recent years as ROI for brands using influencers with large followings has been shaky at best, and questions are being asked about what really constitutes an influencer, and if using them even makes sense anymore in the new business landscape. Given this, micro-influencers (individuals with strong branding, but following counts less than 10K on major platforms) are starting to be used more often by companies. There’s more of a personal touch here, when the following count is lighter, and the micro-influencer is working to build a business, than there is with a traditional influencer with millions of fans who is purely a mouthpiece for whichever brand can bid the highest, and brands are being attracted to this.

“3. Humanized Mediums – Visitors to a company’s Facebook page, Twitter account, and website now have a reasonable expectation of being able to chat with someone in real-time thanks to the emergence of bot technology and chat software. Being able to chat with a human is comforting to a website visitor, in particular, and has been shown to dramatically increase conversion rates when applied properly. It’s no longer reasonable for brands to hide behind their social mediums and websites as an afterthought. The new normal is a high degree of interactions driven by humans.”


Yuval Ben-ItzhakYuval Ben-Itzhak

@socialbakers

Yuval Ben-Itzhak is the CEO of Socialbakers. Yuval brings over 20 years of business and technology experience. He is a frequent commentator in the media, speaking on topics such as the future of mobile, security, privacy, consumer dynamics, and disruptive innovation. Prior to joining Socialbakers in 2017, he served as CTO at Outbrain, before Outbrain he was CTO at AVG Technologies for 5 years where he was instrumental in taking the company public in 2012. He was the CTO of Finjan, and in 2000 founded the web application security pioneer, Kavado.

“When comparing ad spend distribution by social media platform from 2017 to 2018 between the two main Facebook-owned services, Instagram ads increased in 2018, while the percentage of overall ad spend on Facebook decreased. Overall, brands are shifting their investments between the services.

“Photos are the most heavily promoted type of content compared to any other format. However, video promotion soared in 2018 and converged with photos in September, indicating that the popularity of this type of medium is on the rise.

“In 2018, Instagram ad campaigns rose, reaching their highest adoption rate in June. Though it has tapered off, as Instagram audiences continue to grow, so will marketers’ advertising investments.

“Facebook usage on mobile is overwhelmingly dominant, as mobile users consume more ads than desktop users.

“Engagement Trend: Facebook vs. Instagram

“While the report examined multiple social media platforms, it found that marketers looking to drive value for their businesses via digital marketing can find more value in terms of scale and audience engagement from Facebook and its family of applications than they can from competing platforms. With 2.6 billion monthly active users, Facebook’s family of applications is still where most consumer-to-brand engagement happens online.

“However, in terms of engagement per user, Instagram reigns supreme. Socialbakers’ data found that while Instagram has a smaller total audience compared to Facebook, Instagram users are far more engaged than Facebook users. Instagram is becoming increasingly powerful as a platform for capturing quality engagement within small, targeted communities.

Instagram is becoming the number one social media platform when it comes to engagement for brands. When we look at engagement on an absolute level, Instagram has a lot more engagement for brands than Facebook does, despite having a significantly smaller audience size. As a result, we see businesses leveraging Instagram for advertising more than ever before.

“Mobile Continues to Be an Important Trend

“According to Kleiner Perkins, an average user spends over three hours per day consuming digital media on mobile – a growth of nearly four times over just the past five years. Mobile ads present a huge opportunity for marketers, but they need to utilize mobile-friendly content formats.

The key with mobile content is to focus on understanding each of the personas in your audience and tailor mobile-first content at scale. Brands should leverage digital platforms to identify the personas and learn what content sparks a conversation with each of them. That content will then drive engagement and achieve their marketing performance goals.

“The Influencer Industry and Minimizing Fraud

Influencer marketing is projected to become a $10 billion market by 2020. It has become an important marketing tool for many brands across industries around the world. With so much money on the table, it’s not a surprise to find fraud in the influencer marketing space. The first challenge involves identifying real versus fake accounts. Right now, a bulletproof strategy does not exist. However, Socialbakers has been able to identify three types of fraudulent activity within influencer marketing: fake followers, fake engagement and fake interests. The research showed that brands can minimize the risk of working with fraudulent influencers by looking at two key data points: the influencer’s performance over an extended time period, and their engagement level per 1,000 fans. In addition, benchmarking the performance of a few influencers over time can help to identify anomalies resulting from fraud.

“In the Digital world, Data is Still King

“For the foreseeable future, data will form the foundation for any successful campaign, empowering companies to communicate effectively with customers, make strategic changes quickly, and ultimately build strong brands.

“If you want to successfully leverage digital platforms like Facebook and Instagram for your marketing efforts, you need solid data to drive your decision making. In 2019, good data will still be imperative to help you know precisely where to invest your advertising budget in order to maximize reach, engagement and business impact.


Alexander SirachAlexander Sirach

@YouScan

Alexander Sirach, co-founder and CMO at YouScan, is an experienced Chief Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the internet industry. Alexander is a strong business development professional skilled in Marketing Management, Digital Strategy and Sales.

Recent massive investments in AI should significantly change the social media landscape during the next few years. As a Social Listening vendor, we can share clients’ demand and plans. AI-powered Image Recognition technology, introduced by major SML vendors, including ourselves, is already being used by some brands which are early adopters and innovators and is ready for global demand. This technology brings a whole new level of marketing insights to consumer brands and agencies. It helps them to understand better their consumers’ tastes – even though the brand is not mentioned explicitly in their social media posts. It is an excellent way for marketers and social media specialists to learn more about product consumption situations, and uncover valuable consumer insights.

“Another huge step forward is anonymization that actually brings even more insights to marketers preserving user privacy. Platforms are working hard to provide valuable and safe information to brands to make their products better.”

 

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