Now that the year 2018 is slowly coming to an end, of course, I will not tire you with all the trends of the 2018 year and whether or not they have come true, because we all know that video and mobile have again grown enormously and there is no need to discuss these further. Nevertheless, when it comes to social media and social marketing, there are certainly a number of notable developments to mention.
Goodbye interaction, shift to performance
I expect that the decline of interaction (likes, shares, comments) in 2019 would continue, and the focus on performance ( e-commerce, conversion) would increase further. Research by Buffer, in which 43 million posts were analyzed, shows that the interaction has decreased by more than 50 percent in the last 18 months. There is no going back: social media has become a conversion channel.
The breakthrough of live stream
Live content has indeed developed enormously over the past year. Especially in the form of stories. Whether it’s Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook, (live) stories are frequently the basis of content creation on various platforms. Later in this blog post, I will further discuss my expectation for next year.
New legislation is underestimated
If you are in the European Union, like us, you know that in 2018 the AVG / GDPR swept the internet into a mass hysteria surrounding this new law. Although the legislation will not always be enforced in the coming years, many companies have become more cautious from this year on, when it comes to privacy. In precise terms, this translates to the fact that many brands no longer dare to use advertising methods such as Custom Database Audiences from Facebook. It should also be noted, that many companies and agencies do not have their affairs in order right now when dealing with privacy issues and the way they distribute advertising.
Chatbots for service and sales
Admittedly, I had expected that the development of (basic) chatbots would go faster, and I was a little disappointed to see that this side of technology is still somewhat in its infancy. Apparently, this kind of development often takes a little longer than expected. Why? It turns out to be more difficult than many would have thought for a well-functioning chatbot to be operational.
Consequence: more budget is allocated and directed at social media.
My expectation was that, in view of all new developments, social media could count on substantial budget growth as a marketing tool. This prediction came true. In addition to the growth that I see with my own customers, figures from IAB show that digital spending has multiplied. That is primarily thanks to the video ads on social media. And now, time to look forward to next year, in which a lot is about to change again. A brief overview, in random order. Let’s look ahead into 2019:
The 10 social media trends for 2019
Social media is shifting to e-commerce.
Last year several social media giants rolled out one e-commerce feature after another. It is clear that social media as a channel is increasingly moving towards e-commerce. This is also clear in cases from Zalando and Adidas. Although it is not a burden-click conversion channel, social media is competing with other channels in the area of e-commerce, where previously *branding* and *reach* were the main objectives.
Stories are the new standard.
For years, brands have been used to adding content in the form of posts on the company page. Those posts were then promoted to their target groups. This form of marketing is going to change fundamentally. Snapchat, (later blindly copied by Instagram) and now also Facebook, turned the social media content world upside down with the arrival of “stories”. This new form of content, much more focused on offering short, temporary full-screen story lines, is the new benchmark.
In short, the content strategy of your brand on social media should be focused in the coming years on the use of stories – and not purely on the creation of timeline posts. Even immersive full-screen advertising formats such as Instant Experience (formerly known as Facebook Canvas) are becoming increasingly important.
Fear inhibits growth
2018 is so far an eventful year for social media, and especially for Facebook. Because of all the controversy, which also coincided with the new GDPR legislation, many brands and consumers have become somehow anxious.
We see this particularly in companies that have a lot to do with sensitive information, such as financial institutions or retailers with large client files. This fear, whether it is justified or not, can put a brake on the growth of digital and social media as a marketing channel.
The revival of groups
We all have been members of a LinkedIn or Facebook group… many years ago. Am I right? The private groups were one of the building blocks of social media back then. Suddenly, they disappeared a bit from the radar in the wake of pages, likes, and advertisements that often violated our privacy. Groups are, as a trend, busy with a recovery. Large channels such as LinkedIn and Facebook introduce new features that put groups back in the foreground. For example, you can now participate in groups as a brand page, and many new features have been introduced to make your marketing strategy a lot easier.
Direct messaging becomes commercial.
Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp increasingly determine the social media landscape. Messaging platforms are prevalent around the world. Same as WeChat in Asia. With their growing popularity, you also see a shift in advertising opportunities towards the messaging platforms. Facebook Messenger is leading the way, but WhatsApp will also catching up and getting a light commercial touch.
Enforced by the increasingly debating discussions surrounding privacy and security, the various social channels are becoming more and more transparent towards users. They don’t have a choice. So now you can see as a Facebook user which ads the brand has. This transparency will increase even more, as social media (as a channel) becomes more mature.
Voice makes its appearance.
Social media originated because people wanted to share their opinion with one other. “Comments” as a direct form of interaction, have also been one of the building blocks of the social platforms for years. Previously, comments were always textual. Meanwhile, many social networks also enable to respond with video messages, pictures, and gifs. And now, even voice makes its debut. LinkedIn already announced, for example, that users can add voice fragments as comments. Maybe, because podcasts are also on the rise, there seems to be a clear trend in which voice will play a more prominent role in social media.
Augmented reality shopping
As mentioned earlier in this blog post, social media is developing rapidly as a conversion medium. Undoubtedly, retail chains use social media not only to bring their brand to the center of attention but also their product range. In order to enhance the user’s shopping experience and increase conversion together with it, augmented reality is a golden opportunity. What do you say about those beautiful sunglasses that fit digitally on Facebook just before you buy it? Moreover, it is actually already is possible to test Facebook with augmented reality shopping ads.
Finally, I want to discuss two trends/developments that probably do not relate to the user side of social media, but that do play an essential role in the social media marketing industry.
Blockchain for social advertising
One of the magic words of 2018 is without a doubt “blockchain”. But what exactly is that? Just look this description up on Wikipedia, and you are already a lot wiser. Whether it will happen in 2019 is doubtful, but blockchain can and will play a major role in digital advertising – and subsequently social advertising. It can contribute to making digital advertising more transparent and more explicit, one of the main problems in our industry.
Forbes published an interesting piece about the rise of blockchain in advertising. Definitely worth reading.
The war on talent requires automation.
The digital industry is doing well, and therefore also the agencies that focus on social media are blooming. But the lack of (experienced) staff is beginning to slow the growth of the industry. DDA research shows that finding and retaining talent is a major challenge. The ‘war on talent’ also requires that agencies start thinking more about the dynamic tuning and automation of their processes so that the personnel can optimally focus on providing value (and thinking about the clients).
I am very curious about your opinion on the developments of social media in 2018 and 2019. If you believe I skipped any exciting trends, then, of course, I would like to hear it!