Woman taking a selfie using a mobile phone

In this article, we explore 10 social media trends for 2019. Social media continues to dominate as one of the most powerful marketing channels. But these platforms change radically and often. If equine businesses don’t keep up, they risk falling behind.

I talk with Glenys Cox at Horse Chats about the top 10 social media trends marketers are predicting will matter most in 2019.

#10 Trust and Privacy

2018 was a turbulent time for social media platforms. Consumer confidence in social media is still on shaky ground. At the centre of several controversies, were Facebook and Twitter.

While Facebook responded to the Cambridge Analytica crisis, Twitter was forced to purge millions of fake accounts from its platform. The credibility of celebrity-level influencers has also waned as Instagram takes steps to remove inauthentic likes, follows and comments.

We all know that trust is hard won and easily lost. In the wake of a year of uncertainty, 2019 presents businesses with the opportunity to regain trust and restore privacy. As the remaining social media trends will show, 2019 is the year for creating meaningful connections.  

#9 The Year of Authenticity 

2019 is predicted to be the year of authenticity on social media. According to Anna Crowe, Assistant Editor of Search Engine Journal, “That means less static updates and more behind-the-scenes, raw and intimate stories. Stories create a more transparent and meaningful relationship.”

The trend towards authenticity was tipped in early 2018, when Facebook announced its focus on more meaningful interactions as part of an updated algorithm. This algorithm favours genuine engagement and penalises baiting tactics, such as asking people to like, comment or share posts.

Businesses need to get better at storytelling if they want to cut though the clutter. Social media platforms Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook are embracing more dynamic ways for people to tell their stories and brands to share their narratives. 

#8 Build a Better Brand Narrative

People don’t buy products, they buy stories. One of the most effective ways for businesses to better connect with their customers is to share their stories. After all, people do business with those they know, like and trust, and sharing honest, personalised stories builds trust. 

It comes as no surprise why first Snapchat, now Instagram, Facebook and Youtube and most recently, LinkedIn have created Stories. This vertical form, visual content – aptly named Stories – taps into the very biology of humankind and our shared heritage in telling stories. 

Consumers respond positively to brands who open up and show some vulnerability. Stories, live videos and other interactive content that capture moments, particularly behind-the-scenes, add personality and create engagement because it is real and it is human. 

#7 Add a Personal Touch

Adding a human element to any brand is a must, especially on social media. Using a real person’s face is key in building trust and loyalty on social media platforms.

For small businesses, a popular trend is promoting the personal brand of the business owner or a high-level leader within the company. An up-close, personal view of a real person immediately strengthens brand reputation, making it instantly more relatable.  

However, don’t feel limited in only focusing on founders or directors. Employee-created content is also innately powerful and highly credible. Employees participating in Stories, videos, blogs, podcasts and webinars humanise and personalise a brand.

Showing a real human face, instead of hiding behind a logo, makes your brand instantly more relatable.

#6 Video, Video, Video

Videos continue to hold top spot as one of the most engaging forms of social media content. Today, businesses are no longer limited by just one video format. Short videos, long videos, vertical videos, live streaming and selfie videos each have their uses. 

  • Short captioned videos, less than 30 seconds, are the most effective video format on Facebook
  • Long videos, 60 seconds or more, are ideal for video platforms like Youtube and Vimeo
  • Vertical videos typically last 24 hours and are perfect for display on mobile screens
  • Live streaming videos are simultaneously recorded and broadcast in real time
  • Selfie videos are the evolution of selfie photos, but in video format

2019 is a year to experiment with video content, including for advertising. Videos are also a useful way to extend the shelf life of a blog, webinar or podcast. Given the rise of Youtube and IGTV, create short, mobile-friendly videos to share excerpts of your best content.   

#5 More Sophisticated Advertising

Businesses who don’t see a solid return on ad spend on social media need to get more savvy or engage a professional marketing agency, like Archer Creative. According to a 2018 report, 55% of respondents discovered a product on social media then proceeded to purchase later on. 

Facebook appears to be the first channel, followed closely by Instagram and Pinterest. Advances in online shopping within these platforms are on their way. It’s clear social media is fast changing from awareness and engagement, to consideration and purchase in the sales funnel.

Not only are ad formats evolving, with new channels like Facebook Messenger and Instagram Stories gaining ground, but the targeting capabilities of social media platforms are enabling businesses to promote their products and services to highly niche audiences with a better ROI. 

#4 Use Groups to Create Communities 

The power of social media lies in its ability to connect businesses with customers who want or need what they offer. This is important in how advertising is targeted. Additionally, it’s important in how content is created and shared on social media platforms.

As Author Mark Schaefer says: “Businesses have systematically been taking the ‘social’ out of social media for more than a decade. The smart companies are beginning to realise that people want more than artificial attempts at engagement.” Enter Facebook and LinkedIn Groups. 

In 2019, businesses should invest in creating and managing Groups to foster deeper connections with more intimate communities. Groups satisfy a sense of belonging and allow businesses to segment the messages they share on social media.

#3 Automated Customer Support

Artificial intelligence in the form of chatbots and automated messaging is continuing to infiltrate social media. One example is their growing use within Facebook Messenger to respond to frequently asked questions with predetermined responses. 

While advances in AI are certainly exciting, poor-performing chatbots and one-size-fits-all automated messages can do more harm than good. There is simply no substitute for a real person. That being said, chatbots and automation shouldn’t be scrapped altogether.

In fact, the opposite is true. With real people pulling the levers, AI tools can greatly enhance a customer’s experience when utilised well.

#2 Micro and Nano Influencers

It’s real people, whose opinions and recommendations, that we take to heart when considering purchases, including on social media. While influencer marketing is nothing new, the costs of celebrity-level influencers are often prohibitive to many small and medium enterprises. 

As a result, 2019 will see more small and medium businesses engage micro and nano influencers, a new breed of social media influencers. Micro influencers have more than 10,000 followers and nano influencers have between 1,000-5,000 followers respectively. 

With smaller audience sizes, comes a decreased cost to elicit an endorsement or recommendation, when compared with influencers who have hundreds of thousands or over a million followers. At last, SMEs can get a piece of the influencer pie for commercial gain. 

#1 Start Conversations, Not Sales Pitches

Lastly, 2019 will see a shift away from 1:many broadcasting, to 1:1 interactions. Kevan Lee, VP of Marketing at Buffer believes a company’s “…Biggest competitive advantage will be doing things that don’t scale: replying to every request, jumping into the comments of your posts” and so on.

The newness of social media is waring off. Businesses are no longer on the social media bandwagon simply “because everyone else is”. Businesses are on social media because they acknowledge its role in customer service. Social media enables businesses to provide information of value and be helpful.

A business with 100 highly engaged social media followers – of customers, referral partners and strategic alliances – will outlast another with an audience of 10,000 who largely ignores them. The pathway to success on social media begins and ends with a true desire to build relationships.

Looking for some outside support? Don’t wait for success, create it — with the experts in equine marketing, Archer Creative. To learn more about how we can help you exceed your growth goals, call us on 1300 077 126 or visit www.archercreative.net.au.

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