Social media is constantly witnessing the influx of new ideas, formats, methods, challenges and unspoken rules to propel customer engagement in 2019.
Thankfully, in most cases, these ‘talking points’ aren’t entirely sudden, but incremental and rather predictable.
Let’s dive straight in and navigate what’s already looking like a breakout year for the socially driven.
1.Original, Vertical, Ephemeral and Live Videos
Even as the growth of video content continues to scale new heights, experts suggest that it’s likely to account for 80% of what we access online.
From the successful launch of iGTV to the continued (and unprecedented) engagement via Instagram Stories, video marketing is becoming increasingly alluring for brands and users consuming that content.
It’s just a matter of time before videos, stories and live streaming officially take over the reins of social media.
Could 2019 be that year?
Let’s look at some staggering numbers.
- Facebook Live broadcasts have attracted a whopping 150 billion reactions
- 2 billion+ people have accessed a Facebook video broadcast
- 400-500 million people have already gone Live on Facebook
- The number of video broadcasts has doubled since 2016
- 200 million Instagram users use Instagram Stories each month
Vertical videos (Instagram Stories) allow improved viewing experience, and as such is a trend that will see phenomenal rise.
- Emotionally engaging
- Fun and easy to create
- Don’t usually need a lot of editing
- Don’t typically last more than a day
According to Chris Cox, Facebook’s Chief Product Officer, stories will overtake news feeds as the primary means of sharing content in 2019.
More crucially, almost 1 billion users on Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat and Facebook are already turning toward stories.
Ephemeral storytelling – where stories are replaced every 24 hours – leave plenty of scope for creative experimentation, real-time feedback and most importantly, personalisation. And brands are increasingly observing that real-looking and less polished stories are doing way better than massively airbrushed pieces with distractingly heavy-handed CTAs.
Besides the incredible advantage of interactivity – making it a wonderful engagement tool for all types of brands – the authenticity of Live and Ephemeral stories is a compelling attraction for the audience.
Inevitably, this authenticity helps build trust and promote brand loyalty.
Even the inadvertent technical glitches (that can otherwise make a live event go haywire) can be turned into an opportunity to reinforce trust with a brand – thereby granting them permission to make mistakes – because the audience is likely to be forgiving of a brand that is not afraid to make mistakes.
2. Trust Revisited
Sadly, 2018 will be remembered as a crisis-ridden year for those who value trust.
In the aftermath of the scandal involving Cambridge Analytica and the subsequent public backlash, Facebook was practically bulldozed by regulators into improving data transparency & security.
Similarly, Twitter was not impervious to controversies, considering that tens of millions of fake profiles were purged.
The end result: 60% of people simply don’t trust social media anymore.
The silver lining: Many leading brands are viewing this paradigm shift as an ideal opportunity to atone for past mistakes.
Consequently, users are weary of trusting celebrity/media influencers, (with fake followers) and are therefore, going back to respected journalism platforms, personal acquaintances & friends on social media.
In these trying times, one must try to take advantage of recommendations and review features to slowly but organically gain customer advocacy and win customer trust back.
Behemoths like Adidas are even engaging in meaningful dialogue with smaller audience groups and sharing well researched and actionable content in close-knit communities.
3. Micro and Nano-Influencers
With proliferation of the influencer market, large influencers often become untenable for smaller brands. That’s exactly where micro-influencers come into the picture.
While micro-influencers may not have the same reach as full-blown celebrities, they can certainly have an even equally strong influence among their own followers.
For instance, an apparel brand could do well by collaborating with a fashion blogger of 20-50K followers as compared with a world-famous TV personality who may eat up a major chunk of the budget.
Similar to micro-influencers, the trend of nano-influencers – who have up to 10K followers, is also gaining ground.
Despite their clout over a small set of audience, they can continue to influence by:
- Their hard work and storytelling capabilities
- Interaction with their community
- Their passion about a particular niche/topic
4. Paid Ads
Every social media expert won’t contest to the fact that this is an era of pay-for-play. This year alone, marketers are increasing their budgets for social media by 45%, to create more impactful ads.
For example, Facebook, which makes up 23% of the total digital ad expenditure in the U.S., is already leveraging paid media on 25% of its pages.
Now while reducing attention span and increasing costs are posing daunting challenges for advertisers, social media teams are combining ad investment with creativity and targeted focus to maximise the outcome of their content.
The end result: Real user engagement.
5. Messaging Rules the Roost
Across social media channels, people are spending more time messaging each other than sharing news. The transition from public to private spaces is set to radically shape customer expectations in 2019 and beyond.
According to a survey involving 6,000 people worldwide, 9 out of 10 respondents said they’d prefer using messages to communicate with businesses.
Similarly, in another 2018 survey done by Facebook among 8,000 individuals, 69% participants confirmed that the ability to DM a brand makes them feel more confident about its reliability.
Despite being illuminative, these findings are hardly surprising given that FB Messenger, WhatsApp, QQ, WeChat and Skype account for almost 5 million active users each month – surpassing the user base of even the biggest social networks globally.
New brands can up the ante in messaging by:
- Adding plugins to their websites that directly take the audience to their messaging app
- Leveraging chatbots to address consumers’ queries
- Set in-app assistance to answer FAQs
- Initiate campaigns that include messaging apps
Yes, social media is as dynamic and complex as ever. But if you’re betting your budgets against these composite platforms, remember the play is to stay focused, while keeping a gaze into the future.
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