The top 5 social media trends for 2019

|| March 29, 2019

By Jordan McDonald

55 comms social media coordinator

This week I’ve taken a slightly different approach – instead of pulling apart the past week of media news, I’ll be breaking down the famous Hootsuite annual Social Media Trends 2019 report that was released this week. It’s a fairly lengthy read so I’ve done all the hard work for you, no need to stress your busy schedules! Let’s dive in … 

For validity reasons I think it’s important to note that the data collected and discussed in the report comes from “3,225 Hootsuite business customers, interviews with industry analysts, and exhaustive research”. From this data, the report sets its focus on five key social trends for brands to watch and adapt to in 2019. These are:

  1. Rebuilding trust: brands get human as the circle of trust on social media tightens
  2. Storifying social: content teams adapt content for Stories
  3. Closing the ads gap: more competition on paid social requires marketers to up their game
  4. Cracking the commerce code: improved social shopping technologies fuel sales
  5. Messaging eats the world: customers demand better 1-to-1 social experiences

Rebuilding trust

It’s common knowledge that in recent months social media users called into question the privacy, accuracy, and ethics of nearly every social network available. And rightfully so as reports showed 60 per cent of people no longer trusted social media. Facebook suffered a 66 per cent drop in trust. What’s this mean? The rules of the game have changed – trust has reverted back to immediate friends, family, and acquaintances on social media. Users are also returning to traditional and trusted journalism and believe social media should do more to support high quality journalism.

The report presents a graph indicating the figures users trust most on social media versus those they trust least. In the top three (in order) it had: technical expert, academic expert, and “A Person Like You”. At the bottom of the list you had Celebrity. So, the point being made with this trend is that instead of assuming the one-size-fits-all approach and shooting for maximum reach, your aim needs to be generating more transparent engagement that produces more tangible and meaningful benefits for the user and business. Some useful tips to achieve this are:

  • Branded hashtag: created a branded hashtag that brings your community together around a common interest
  • Create a Facebook group: create a Facebook group with your page and focus it around a core audience interest
  • Micro-influencers: If it’s good enough for Adidas and The New York Times, it’s good enough for you – focus on influencers with smaller audiences of highly engaged users. These are more affordable for brands and perceived as more trustworthy to consumers.
  • Secret Facebook group: Exclusivity always makes consumers feel special. Similar to the above suggestion only this option means group members can only join via invite only. This is a great way to coordinate launch events and special promotions.
  • Monthly Q&A Session: These can be done in multiple formats, but I would highly recommend live video for this.

Storifying Social

Stories and vertical video are now growing 15 times faster than news-feed based sharing. In fact, in 2019 it’s strongly predicted that Stories are set to surpass feeds as the primary way people share things with their friends on social media. It’s a complete change in the way we consume; from text-based platforms originally designed for desktop computer use, to truly mobile-only networks that enable users to capture in-the-moment experiences – and Stories embody this. If you haven’t incorporated Stories into your marketing mix, then you’re behind – 80 per cent of brands are already using Stories. It’s not to say you can ignore news-feed style posts because it’s important to have a healthy mix across all media types. It’s that people are feeling that the less polished communication of a moment or story is the more realistic and these perform better. Some useful tips for Stories are:

  • Start Experimenting: It’s as simple as that. Explore Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, WhatsApp Stories and get a feel for it. It’ll help you work out which will fit best for your brand.
  • Create Story-Specific Content: Keep the raw, unedited, and live-action aesthetics in mind when creating your Stories content. It performs considerably better than pre-produced content.
  • Use Stories Highlights (feature): If you’ve captured something major or simple put so much effort in to capturing content that you’d like it to last more than 24 hours, create a Stories Highlight. It’ll live on your profile as long as you like and profile visitors can view it whenever they like.
  • Use Stickers: These are a great way to measure engagement on your Stories and a great way to learn more about your audience

Closing the Ads Gap

It’s well documented that Facebook’s organic page reach isn’t what it used to be – for a lot of businesses it became ‘pay-to-play’ if you wanted to see results. But as this grew more popular a new set of challenges arose: prices are increasing for ads and it’s getting hard to get noticed. According to a study mentioned in the report, Click-Through Rate costs have jumped 61 per cent, and cost-per-thousand impressions has jumped 112 per cent. Rising costs and fleeting attention combined have limited return on investment for brands and businesses. So how can you maximise the return on your social ad spend? Amplify your best organic content with paid boosts/ads. You know the content has already performed better than your other content, so target your audience/s with content you know a small percentage really found valuable. There’s other ways to help close the ads gap too, they are:

  • Understand and target the right audience: I know, it’s said so monotonously in just about every social media help article ever but it’s so important. Each ad campaign should target a focused group based on interests, jobs, relevant competitors, and previous interaction with your brand/business. If you aren’t 100 per cent sure, research your audience beforehand.
  • Define your goals and metrics: It’s important to show that social media has a positive bottom-line impact on your business which is why every social campaign should have goals and metrics that tie back to business objectives that you can measure.
  • Invest in high quality content: With an over-saturated ad space, dull content simply gets ignored. You need to create high-quality content that will resonate with your audience.
  • Repurpose concepts from top-performing organic content: Creating high quality ads takes time and money, so test your ad posts as organic posts first to see the response. Once you see what’s working, you can create more content like it and push this with ad spend to your audience.

Cracking the commerce code

Social commerce, (social shopping), adoption has been swift in Asia with 70 per cent of Gen Zers open to purchasing direct from social media. North America, however, hasn’t kept the same pace which indicates that there’s still a lot of people around the world who aren’t ready to buy on social media yet. However, there are a number of new technologies social has introduced to help: Instagram’s shoppable posts; Facebook Marketplace; Pinterest’s Buyable pins; and video marketing (vloggers) to highlight the most notable. So how can you incorporate social commerce into your business? It’s important to remember what distinguishes social commerce from other channelsL: it’s the social aspect. Show the consumer how the product fits into their lives, turn written product descriptions into videos, share livestream demonstrations, and encourage video testimonials. Here’s a helpful list of tips:

  • Set up shoppable Instagram posts: Before you can start selling on Instagram you need to have a business profile, and that’s both simple and free to set up. From there, add your product catalogue to Facebook with Shopify of BigCommerce (users preference), and Instagram will approve your submission. You’ll then be able to tag your products in posts you upload.
  • Share your products in action: Show consumers how your product might fit into their life, solve a problem, or provide value.
  • Leverage high-quality user-generated content: To nail social commerce you need to build a loyal following that loves your products and will share how they use them. When they do, grab the high-quality user content and repost it. Nothing makes a customer feel more special!

Messaging eats the world

Top messaging apps WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, QQ, and Skype now collectively count nearly 5 billion monthly active users in 2018, according to a study mentioned in the report. For perspective, messaging apps now completely eclipse traditional social network users worldwide. Users are now spending more time on messaging apps and less on sharing to the newsfeed as the shift from public to private spaces continues amidst looming trust issues with social media. For businesses it’s important to note: 9 out of 10 customers would like to use messaging to communicate with businesses. In the US, 69 per cent of people said it helped them feel more confident about a brand. But it’s even more important for businesses not to exploit this consumer trust and use messenger as ad space. So how do you up your messaging game and not screw it up? Here are a few tips:

  • Enable Facebook Messenger for your Facebook business page: Once you’ve done this, set up an instant reply for when users send a message to your page. This can be as simple as a short greeting, or you can provide additional information such as typical response times, support hours, or links to support pages or frequently asked questions.
  • Add plugins to your website that drive customers to messaging apps: Let your customers know you’re available to chat with a plugin on your website. They’ll be able to click this and get in touch with you instantly.
  • Run campaigns that incorporate messaging apps: There are a number of great tools out there, (like ManyChat), which work with Facebook Messenger to help you run effective campaigns. For example, you can target an existing post you’ve made and ask people to comment a specific word on that post. Using ManyChat, you can target that word so that anyone who comments on it subscribes to your Messenger. Later down the line you’ll be able to message all those people individually as your brand about that very product they initially engaged with.

And that’s it for another year! If you’d like to read the full report then visit Hootsuite’s website and follow the prompts.