Social media has been alive and well since the dawn of the internet and since the mid-2000s, businesses have been developing ways to use these friendly forums to reach users, customers, and clients. As the founder and CEO of Odyssey New Media, LTD Robert Stoubos explains, significant portions of people’s attention every day and every week are spent consuming information and engaging with pals, influencers, and brands. In fact, Facebook, Instagram, and the whole gamut are arguably more engaging than watching TV or playing video games these days, according to Stoubos.
This requires companies to not only have a platform on social media but to always invest in the most effective strategies that evolve over time and throughout industries. In fact, Stoubos estimates more than 70% of businesses use at least one social media platform for their marketing campaigns, and less than half view them as part of their ROI strategy.
“This has been a very interesting change in the traditional ROI driven approaches for digital marketing of the past. There is more of a holistic view of where social media falls for businesses and its importance in engaging and influencing their customers as well as the knock-on impact to conversions through other channels like PPC and SEO,” he continues.
So, how can you set yourself up for #success? Here, social media experts make their predictions:
Audience demand for that informative, engaging content will continue to rise.
Usually, references as ‘UGC’, user-generated content and micro influences are set to reign in 2019, as their influence will make the largest impact on their sphere of followers, according to director of PR and social media for Ignite Visibility, Samya A. France.
What are the stats for this bracket of marketing? France explains these Instagram or YouTube stars usually have a following between 10,00 and 50,000, which makes it easier to strike a deal with them … only if you’re selling something their audience will be genuinely interested in.
“That’s why you need to make sure you’re only contacting influencers who fit within your niche. Users will continue to expect that companies will communicate with them in the ways they like. That’s why it’s vital for marketers to be aware of their customers’ communication preferences,” she explains.
Facebook may not always be the king of social.
Unless you’ve ignored all of the news lately while traveling around the world with no WiFi, you likely have heard about Facebook’s bouts with privacy, political implications and internal chaos.
For these reasons and others, social media guru and associate digital marketing manager for Spectrum Brands, Jordan Rosenbaum predicts Zuckerberg’s steamroller might take a back seat in 2019. Though you’ll likely still spend a pretty penny with FB, it’s smart to consider other avenues, too.
“The social network should still demand a lion’s share of the average social marketer’s budgets and time through 2019, but this year taught us that the network giant is mortal,” he explains. “The privacy Pandora’s Box that opened this year is going to be impossible to close, and it leaves the door open for new, nimble privacy-focused social networks to attack Facebook.”
Business LinkedIn Pages will become more prominent.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you probably have a business LinkedIn page — but when was the last time you thought about it? As 2019 progresses, Stoubos predicts this profile will become more important across all sectors.
“They will look to align them more closely to something similar to Facebook pages in terms of features and also prominence on its platform,” he shares. “This will enable businesses to better advertise their products and services via LinkedIn and could also mean that LinkedIn can provide payment gateways and mini sites from within their platform.”
No product category is safe from being upended.
Don’t want to leave your house? You don’t have to since hey, you can get pretty much anything direct-to-consumer. From mattresses to teeth straightening systems, Rosenbaum says this trend is prepared to enter every product category over the next five years, and to be successful, they have to rely on social.
“Some of them get big enough to move to TV and other ad mediums, but social is where they thrive — showing consumers that the products they’ve grown to know and love aren’t the only ones on the block,” he explains. “Social marketers in established businesses should keep their eyes peeled, no product category is safe from social-first startups in 2019.”
The vertical video will rise.
It might seem like a simple shift, but it is actually paramount across various channels, according to digital marketer and strategist Melanie Long. She explains the way people consume content is changing with IGTV — aka, Instagram television. Artists and progressive brands have started to go against the horizontal norm and release vertical video instead.
“It makes sense because fewer and fewer people are using their laptop to scroll through. Vertical video is more user-friendly on a mobile phone. In the meantime, businesses should budget for creating video content in multiple formats to fit different platforms,” she explains. “If your 2019 marketing strategy is mobile-first, consider vertical video content.”
Small businesses will need to invest in social media.
Even if you have less than five employees and you’re a regional business, Rosenbaum says social isn’t an optional add-on anymore. It’s a requirement. He even goes as far to say, particularly in the cut-throat restaurant industry, being where your consumers are is a prerequisite. Or really, any place where customer opinion not only matters but is published for the world to see.
“Focus less dollars on social networks and more on location-based platforms like Google Maps and Yelp. They’re the places customers look before they walk through your doors — sometimes when they’re sitting in the parking lot,” he explains. “Social proof has never been more important for small business success, luckily — consumers have never been more likely to leave reviews.
“Go above and beyond to deliver great service and you’re golden.”
Buying directly on social media will be easier.
Long explains in 2018, Instagram announced the ability to buy tickets and make reservations directly through the app. While this was huge for ticket brokers and chains, there’s still a lot left to explore.
After all, when you follow a celebrity or a blogger and you’d love to find out where they purchased their earrings, you have to go through a complicated process on Instagram to actually snag ’em. That’s bad for brands and consumers, so it’s time for an upgrade.
“In 2019, we’ll see the rise of being able to buy direct through social apps. Which also means businesses’ approach to social advertising could shift,” Long predicts.