13 January, 2019

The world of social media marketing is continually evolving – who would have thought a decade ago that we would have moved away from traditional marketing methods and focused all our efforts on the internet and digital campaigns?

Fast-forward to 2018, and social media is at the forefront of all great marketing plans, with a majority of funding going into influencer fees. However, what worked in 2018 (and the years before then) won’t necessarily work in 2019.

To remain ahead of the curve and maintain a strong social presence, consider adopting these top social media trends that will be at the centre of marketing strategies in 2019.


1. Visual Content

Visual content has been on the rise over the past couple of years, and it’s not going to slow down any time soon. With a higher engagement rate on photo and visual sharing tools like Instagram and Facebook, brands are moving away from a text-first approach and instead are focusing on visual content instead.

Instagram pages are becoming a visual magazine and are one of the most influential ways to increase sales in 2019. According to marketing guru Neil Patel writing for Forbes, ‘Instagram remains the undisputed king of per-follower interaction rate (2.2% for Instagram vs 0.22% for Facebook.)’, proving how powerful captivating visuals can be.


2. Live Video

Live streaming has only just begun, and it’s only going to grow in 2019. Indeed, Patel says that it’s ‘going to be a $70.5 billion industry by 2021’. So, with no signs of slowing down, it’s important to understand why live video is so popular.

Social media users want real-time access; they want to see behind the scenes, view day-to-day activities and watch live broadcasting just as it’s happening. The fear of missing out drives increased traffic to these clips, causing more and more brands to jump onto the bandwagon - which is why over the past year social platforms like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube have adopted this live feature, which Snapchat originally created.

Twitch, meanwhile, also noticed a niche in the market well before live streaming was a trend, and formed a live streaming (only) gaming site in 2011, which now dominates the market with over 140 million monthly unique users.


3. Micro-Influencers

While everyone is focusing on celebrity endorsements, most companies are moving their sights on micro-influencers (regular people that are relatable and influential on their level). These influencers have a following of 10,000-plus followers, but they are highly engaging and influential to a specific audience.

Marketers have noticed that micro-influencers convert a higher rate of sales because they give a more authentic opinion, they interact more with their followers and they’re focused on a specific niche.

A great example of a brand moving to micro-influencers is British supermarket chain Iceland. Instead of endorsing celebrities (mainly Peter Andre and Michael Bublé) that don’t really relate to their brand, they now hire vlogger mums that are more likely to buy their products. This not only frees up their budget for other campaigns, but a recent study also shows that their target audience is more likely to trust online videos (35%) than regular TV ads (31%).


4. Personalisation, AI and Algorithms

Given the immense amount of information that social media platforms, in particular, have on every user, as well as advertising algorithms, it’s becoming increasingly easier to personalise a user’s experience while they are on the app. Users have now come to expect a more personal experience, and social platforms are able to offer just that.

Instagram, for example, provides videos and posts based on your interests – they even separate them into categories. Facebook, meanwhile, suggests videos you might be interested in watching, while YouTube sends you notifications when the accounts you’re subscribed to post a new vlog.

And while data privacy has been at the forefront of the news in 2018, it still won’t be an issue in 2019. Despite the potential legal issues it creates, digital platforms will continue delivering a more personalised experience to users - as long as social media users demand this service, behavioural tracking and AI will still exist.


5. Chatbots and Messenger Apps

Many brands are also increasing the personalisation branch through private messaging. You can now solve any customer service complaints through Facebook Messenger and Instagram DM’s without having the need to call a toll line. This, in turn, has increased brand awareness and it has made contact more accessible.

Chatbots (the software designed to interact with a user and answer their questions without actually having to talk to another human being), on the other hand, have also been on the rise. They are a great way to increase engagement throughout the customer journey and are also more likely to result in a sale.

Let’s look at Dominos, for example, who launched their bot Dom this year, an interactive bot that assists users when placing an order through Facebook Messenger. The campaign was so successful that it reached over 10.4 million views, effectively becoming one of the most successful launches in 2018 and paving the way for how businesses will operate on social media in 2019.


6. The End of Fake Followers

While many individuals and brands have increased their audience by purchasing fake followers, 2019 is the year where this will end. Instagram has already started removing inauthentic likes, follows and comments from accounts that use third-party apps to increase their popularity. They have built machine learning tools to identify fake activity and to block and remove them from their platform.

2019 will see an end to fake followers and a shift of focus from the number of followers to the interaction and engagement that brands and users have with their audience. In other words, you no longer need to chase to increase your follower count, but rather should aim to make meaningful relationships with your consumers.


7. Story-Specific Content

While businesses focused on creating captivating images in 2018, 2019 is the year of planned video content, also known as vertical videos. This live type of content is essential for any brand to connect with its audience and grow its reach.

Take beauty mogul Huda Kattan, for example, who has nailed this trend impeccably. She creates easy-to-follow makeup tutorials teaching her followers how to use her products (among others). She then delved into her own reality series called Huda Boss, which took her followers on a behind-the-scenes journey showing that her life isn’t airbrushed like her pictures appear to be. The show was filmed and aired by Facebook, pushing all her Instagram following to log in to the app and watch her show.

Similarly, Instagram spotted an emerging trend in 2018, when it launched IGTV (Instagram TV) and its live shop function, which allows users to shop at the click of a button. They see something they like in a post and buy it, allowing sellers to monetise this ‘buy now’ feature and proving just how accessible vertical videos are in 2019.


8. Augmented Reality

Although augmented reality has been around for a while (think back to the rainbow-puking Snapchat filter), it’s a trend that will continue to grow over the next couple of years. It’s already established itself from an interactive filter to a live augmented game (Pokémon GO) and a 3D bitmoji that can be placed in the real world, as well as a selling tool for big brands (like Kylie Jenner’s Lip Kit Instagram filter).

AR now also allows customers to try on products and then direct users to where to buy that product (Snapchat’s Shoppable AR). It also allows you to create your own emoji and it moves as you do in real life (Apple’s Memoji). 2019 should see more companies adding this engaging feature into their storytelling, too.


9. Podcasts

As Generation Zers move away from lengthy content due to their increasingly busy schedule, they are spending more time listening to informative articles in the form of podcasts. As they are now accessible directly on smartphones, Generation Zers are taking advantage of and listening to podcasts during their commute, their workout and even on the beach. And this engagement has seen a growth rate from five to seven podcasts per week per user.

While it’s not a new digital trend, it is something you can consider incorporating into your 2019 social media strategy. Starting with short clips, then moving to lengthier ones once you build a following, can be a great method to increase activity and engagement.


10. User-Generated Content

Spending all your time and effort creating the perfect social campaign isn’t enough anymore. Instead, you should focus on something that can be shared with your user, a campaign that unpaid fans can get involved in, which in turn will generate a larger audience.

A great example of an impactful user-generated campaign is Calvin Klein’s 2016 ‘I ­­­­­­­­­_______ in #mycalvins’ campaign. This campaign included a series of images involving big-name celebrities like Justin Bieber, Kendall Jenner and Kendrick Lamar, who posed for pictures and explained what they do in their Calvins. The social campaign was so popular that it encouraged over 179,000 people to get involved and post their own picture with the hashtag.

In 2019, businesses should focus on creating their own powerful user-generated campaign on social media and let their consumers do the heavy lifting – it’s a lot more effective than pricey endorsements and video creation.


11. The Rise of Social CEOs

One of the most noticeable trends in this digital age is how we view company leaders, which is why we will see an increase in active CEOs on social media in 2019. These leaders are no longer people that sit in the corner office and rarely appear in the news. Today, CEOs are the face and voice of their company – they are the people that connect with their audience and help increase its popularity.

Elon Musk is a prime example of a social CEO – although he’s created controversy online, his name and business have been at the forefront of the news in 2018. Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos both actively speak as the voice of their businesses, aiding to the success of the most popular companies in the world.


12. Content Catered to Generation Z

The second youngest generation (Gen Z) is the only one that has grown up on social media, and to them, social media is reality (unlike millennials, who can differentiate the two). As this new generation is at the forefront of social trends, it’s vital to cater to their needs and wants going forward.

The new generation is looking for small, bite-sized content. With so little free time, they want to make their time viewing a video or reading a post well-spent. So, in 2019, focus on creating short and powerful clips for social media. A great example of this is Adidas’s Here to Create campaign – within 25 seconds, the brand has managed to encourage women to get off social media and do something creative that will make a change.


Social media marketing has become increasingly complex, and what worked last year won’t necessarily work this year. So, it’s important to understand emerging methods and technologies and incorporate them into your marketing plan.

Do you need help handling your social media strategy? Get in touch to discuss the best course of action by allowing us to do the hard work for you!