Social Media Trends (2019)

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May 13, 2019 0 Comment

This guide is designed to walk you through the social media trends for business you need to watch out for in 2019.

Social media is changing so much these days – and it’s becoming even more challenging for marketers to keep up with the current social trends.

It’s May now, so it’s the perfect time to reassess our beginning-of-2019 social media marketing resolutions and to see whether they’re in tune with the social media trends today.

Keep on reading for an in-depth analysis of what moves the needle in social media in 2019.

What Have We Learned From The Social Trends of 2018?

2018 was quite an eventful year for social media, but aren’t they always?

Regardless of the changes, one thing’s for certain – just the same as ever, it all comes down to understanding what moves your audience.

Social trend #1: Building a Lasting Relationship With Your Audience

The phrase “social media engagement” has been used so often and so unsparingly that it’s probably lost its meaning by now – it might even sound like an empty phrase people use when they want to seem knowledgeable about social media.

However, there’s an important lesson on engaging with your audience to be learned from all the brands that have been nailing it the past year.  And it turns out it’s all about transparency, ethics, and keeping a brand image that’s honest and authentic.

Transparency & Branding

The Social Media and Transparency report released by Sproutsocial shed even more light on exactly how much the modern consumer values brand transparency. According to the report:

  • “86% of Americans believe transparency from businesses is more important than ever before” – that’s close to 9 out of 10 people who answered this question.
  • “81% of people believe businesses have a responsibility to be transparent when posting on social media—that’s higher than the standards they set for politicians”.

Apart from the fact this clearly shows we live in a deeply consumerist society,  what does “transparency” actually mean in this context?

Let’s show you a few examples of how brands can present themselves as transparent:

  • Brands can decide to leave negative reviews on their website or social media posts and deal with them in a professional, honest and responsible manner.
  • Brands can focus on making information about their brand easily accessible – from how they source their ingredients, to how big is their carbon footprint.
  • Influencers can be transparent about sponsors and affiliates when reviewing.
  • Brands can (and should) inform customers of the way they use their personal data (GDPR).

There are quite a few examples of emerging brands who’ve managed to give industry leaders a run for their money simply because of their transparent approach. They cater to a target audience that wants to make informed choices about the products they buy,  and their success has set a new industry standard that’s changed the game for everybody – even established legacy brands.

Main takeaway?

Most brands will eventually be forced into being more transparent, as:

  • Consumer trust in brands is on the decline.
  • Emerging brands are raising the bar and setting new benchmarks.

Ethical Brands

Why is it so important to position your brand as ethical?

The 20th century marked the first boom of marketing and established a playing field that has changed a lot since. Nowadays, the fact that audiences have been marketed to for quite some time means that they’ve become fed up with traditional marketing methods. Once upon a time consumers may have fallen for sensationalist claims, but in post-modern times, consumers get burned by their purchasing decisions every now and again, and they become even more marketing-savvy every time.

The result is a generation of consumers which, after having to endure a lifetime of ads, has grown immensely suspicious of ads and overly salesy marketing tactics.

But that’s only one part of the equation. Purchasing decisions are no longer solely driven by the quality or popularity of a given product. On the contrary, the new generations of consumers – mainly millennials and Gen Z have brought about a new way to look at buying products – they have made purchasing decisions a political act.

These new, more informed and more aware consumers would likely pay more for products if they perceive a brand as ethical and transparent, or if they know that, for example:

  • The brand sources ingredients ethically.
  • The brand cares about the environment and is sustainable.
  • The brand is inclusive.

Let’s help you visualize this using the famous example of an ethical advertising campaign by Patagonia:

Actionable Tips for Building Authentic and Honest Relationships:

So, here’s the conclusion: in order to cut through the clutter of social media posts and information, brands have to be more in tune with how customers want to use social media than ever before, respond to their purchasing needs and help them make informed purchasing decisions. As a brand, you’ll need to:

  • Tell stories that matter to your users, not stories that matter to you.
  • Listen to your customers on social media so that you’re perceived as a brand that cares.
  • Rather than constantly asking your followers for something, try to create content that naturally creates engagement, like user-generated content.
  • Use referral campaigns to leverage word-of-mouth marketing and let your loyal customers be your sales team.

When you’re devising your social media strategy, think in terms of customer retention and lifetime customer value, not only lead generation and customer acquisition.

You’ll see that the only thing that works for that is being consistent in how you treat your customers – with honesty and respect. Your social media channels should reflect that.

Social Trend #2: In-the-moment Content

Snapchat has really changed the way we think of content since its, well, practically “invention” of ephemeral content in the form of Snapchat stories. There’s been a battle between the two types of content ever since – in-the-moment content and evergreen content. And while brands are completely used to content strategies that revolve around evergreen content that ranks overtime, in the form of resources, opinions, reviews, and guest posts to name but a few, many of them struggle with adding a touch of spontaneity to their content strategy.

To a marketer, investing resources into creating content that’s going to disappear might sound counterintuitive, but temporary content is a great way to use social media the way consumers do .

Here, the most helpful thing you can do is research your most successful competitors, as that can be far more valuable than any type of general advice we can give you in an article like this one.

Your particular niche might have its own laws, and while the current social trends can provide some much-needed direction, they may not be all equally relevant for all the brands out there.

Stories Are Here for the Long Haul

The social trends of 2019 have shown that platforms continue to deepen their focus on temporary content – Stories in particular.

YouTube Stories for creators was a feature that rolled out towards the end of 2018, and we can definitely look at it as confirmation that the platform giants are all gearing up towards temporary content more and more every year. If you need more proof, just take a look at Facebook Stories, a feature that was completely overshadowed by the success and growth rate of Instagram Stories, but that, as of Q1 for 2019, passed the 500 million user mark.

With evergreen content, an already well-established part of content marketing, you can polish out and plan, put your social media content calendar to use, schedule things to death, and make sure your quality of production is high. But with ephemeral, the important thing is to let all of that go (well, at least some) and show your brand’s spontaneity and maybe even give a behind the scenes look.