The best laid plans leave plenty of room for changes, and a social media marketing playbook is no exception. In the fifteen years since Facebook was founded, it’s become clear that nothing about the platform or the habits of its users is set in stone.
Last year’s social media marketing landscape saw the importance of video media, personalized content, and social-minded posting. Now that we’re closing in on the second half of 2019, let’s take a look at the trends that have come to define this year in social media marketing.
1. Interactive content will win over social media followers.
With a decade and a half of experience behind us, social media users are tired of the same old gimmicks. Branded content is everywhere, and engaging concepts are buried under an immense volume of sales-y fluff.
Now that 89.3% of marketers believe that social media marketing is at least somewhat important to their overall plans, the problem is likely going to get worse, not better.
The nature of content needs to make a sharp pivot, and we know just the direction that could save brand activity. And no, it isn’t video.
Interactive content on social media is a creative attempt at using each popular platform’s features in original and engaging ways.
On Instagram, @thegoodadvicecupcake runs very creative stories that look and feel like interactive storytelling despite the very simplistic functionality of the feature.
A brand could easily point a camera at a product launch event, hit ‘record’, and call it content. Alternately, that same brand could plan their launch event with their followers in mind by setting aside some time to have their hosts or guest talent interact with viewers on Facebook Live.
Tomorrow’s most influential brands on social media will know exactly how to put creativity back into creative marketing.
2. Brands will race to earn follower trust.
With the rise of fake news and the spread of toxicity, social media marketing has had to contend with the problem of trust: positioning one’s brand as a positive factor in an ocean of bad news and corporate interest.
More businesses are catching onto the idea that brand trust is no small matter. With a growing number of consumers making purchase decisions based on personal and political values, it’s clear that sincerity should be a big strategic consideration for the remainder of 2019.
Trust building will take a number of forms, ranging from direct and personal attempts (e.g. finer targeting and personalization for email marketing campaigns) to broad changes to messaging (e.g. building whole narratives around brand values and commitments).
3. Social media marketing will pivot towards greater connections.
Something that only a handful of (now thriving) brands have discovered is that social media wasn’t built for one-way communication. The platform and its users are at their best when engaging in conversations.
The remainder of 2019 should see brands making a greater effort to have meaningful interactions with their followers in a bid to please the demand for connection and faster response times.
Image from Buffer
On Facebook, brands are forming closed groups to create and grow loyal communities around their products, services, and domains of expertise. Social media marketing is making the pivot towards stronger connectivity, and those that don’t ride the trend may risk losing good faith.
4. Influencer marketing will continue to thrive.
Influencers have become a mainstay in social media marketing, and their role isn’t looking to shrink any time soon. In fact, influencer marketing is on its way to becoming a $20 billion industry by 2020.
Brands are set to find more innovative ways to make use of the average influencer’s reach and personality. Look forward to seeing more intricate influencer campaigns, more authentic branded content, and more selfie videos as you swipe through your social media feeds.
5. The hype over Facebook chatbots will evolve.
Last year, chatbots were a major trend among Facebook marketers. Every business with a social media presence was racing to set up an automated bot to process their leads and inquiries, but their overall direction was questionable.
This year, more social media marketers are looking to pinpoint how a chatbot could benefit their business. Instead of rushing to spend on AI, there’s a more measured approach being taken to begin with a plan.
Building a chatbot isn’t rocket science, but it isn’t exactly a walk in the park either. As excitement over the tool grows more refined, so will the output: social media chatbots that are better at answering questions, handling leads, and generating ROI.
6. The best social media marketing strategies will involve employees.
It should be pretty clear by this point that authentic content is the goal of any social media marketing strategy. The best way to win over a customer is to show that a brand is trustworthy, and run by people who are invested in solving problems.
That being said, our final trend for 2019 is employee engagement in social media activity. Businesses have sat on their most compelling assets for long enough, and more brands are figuring out ways to encourage their employees to help out online.
Employee involvement can be as simple as commenting on official page posts, taking selfies and stories around the office, or even generating content that a social media marketing team could use for their work.
This last point serves a sort of synthesis, and lets us take a big-picture look at where social media marketing is headed for 2019. Having employees invested in a brand’s social media success is great for brainstorming creative content, earning trust by showing a human face, connecting with followers, and positioning new influencers. Along the way, you might even learn a thing or two about what makes for an excellent chatbot.
We’ve done our best to compile a data-backed list of social media marketing trends for the year. It isn’t definitive by any means, but we highly recommend paying mind to what the facts and experts have to say about social media marketing in 2019.
With eight months to go, this perspective can still go a long way.