The month of January is always flooded with blog posts on social media trends for the year ahead. In this article, Carly Stringer of Keystone Virtual provides insight into the 6 social media trends for 2019 that Small and Mighty businesses shouldn’t ignore, with tips on how you can begin to incorporate them into your social media strategy.
Instagram Stories has 400 million daily users with its popularity still growing. And it’s not just on Instagram this type of content is proving popular. Snapchat (the pioneer of ephemeral content), WhatsApp and Facebook are in on the action too. According to Facebook’s chief product officer, Chris Cox, this year Stories are set to surpass feeds as the primary way in which users will share content.
So, if you’ve been shying away from using them or only using them sporadically without any real strategy, now is the time to up your stories game.
Keep your audience and social media strategy in mind – you Stories content should align with these. With Stories, Instagram is moving away from the level of perfection we’ve come to expect in our feeds. This is brilliant for small brands with even smaller marketing budgets. You don’t need any special equipment beyond your smartphone. So, put any fear to one side and just get going! Check out this blog post for the ultimate guide to Instagram Stories and consider joining a stories challenge (like the one in the Small and Mighty resources section) if you are looking for content inspiration.
I say again because Live video has probably been on every social media trend list for at least the last few years. So why am I including it in 2019? Because it’ll still take the top spot for boosting organic engagement this year and should be part of every business’s social media strategy. From Q&As to showing behind the scenes of your business to product demos, there is no better way to interact with your audience in real-time than through live video.
When you go live you want as many people to join you live as possible as it is the interaction from your audience that’ll make it a success. So, my top tip would be to plan ahead. Tell your audience the day and time you will go live at least several days in advance and keep repeating this message. On Facebook, you can even create an event for your live so that those who are interested in joining get a reminder. If you are holding a Q&A, ask your audience to submit questions in advance – this way if you don’t get the interaction you are hoping for live, you have a bank of questions to draw on. Planning ahead will also help you feel more prepared and less nervous when it comes to hitting that ‘go live’ button!
In an era of social scepticism, authenticity and building ‘know, like and trust’ has never been more important. Given that one of the best ways to do this is through endorsement from customers and fans, I think we’ll start to see UGC become a more prominent feature of brands social strategies in 2019. This is great news for Small and Mighty business owners. Why? Because your audience does the heavy lifting for you and the impact on your marketing budget is minimal. It’s, therefore, a win-win on the time and cost front.
Check for brand mentions and tags regularly and save and share the best content from your customers and fans. Go one step further and encourage people to share content featuring your brand/products by introducing a branded hashtag or hosting a competition, with sharing of such content as part of the entry mechanic. If you don’t already, include a note with your social handles and branded hashtags when you send your products to customers and encourage them to share their purchase(s) on social media.
Influencer marketing is here to stay, but I think we’ll see some changes in 2019. With more prominent influencers charging astronomical fees that small businesses can’t afford, influencer fraud hitting the headlines and an appetite for more relatable content, it’s time for the rise of the micro-influencer.
While significantly cheaper, working with micro-influencers will still leave a dent in your marketing budget. So, choose who you work with carefully. Take a look at their audience, the sort of content they have previously produced (and for who) and their engagement levels before making an approach. If you do go on to work with influencers, it’s best practice to have a contract in place detailing the agreed scope and fee. You’ll also want to be up to speed with the latest influencer guidance from the ASA.
With the introduction of shoppable tags, shoppable stories and a shoppable section on the Explore page, 2018 saw Instagram move from a place to browse and seek inspiration to a place where shoppers can check out without leaving the app. And it’s not the only social platform that has moved into the realms of social commerce over the last few years.
Data from Big Commerce shows that 30% of online shoppers would be likely to make a purchase through a social media network. Among millennials, this increases to more than half and for Gen Z and beyond it’ll be the norm. Selling to customers in the very place they spend most of their time is not just a trend you shouldn’t ignore…it’s one you can’t afford to ignore.
On Instagram, make sure you have shoppable tags enabled and use them strategically on your grid and in your Stories. But don’t make the mistake of treating your feed/Stories like a catalogue. Show your products in action and how they fit into your audience’s lives (trends 1-4 can help here!). Integrating social commerce into your social media activity will likely increase the number of customer queries you receive. So, give yourself time to check for and respond to these in your post comments and DMs at least daily.
Long gone are the glory days when it was easy to obtain organic growth and engagement. With changing algorithms and a decline in organic reach comes an increased need to ‘pay to play’, especially on Facebook. By 2020, Facebook will be making an estimated £3.8bn in UK ad spend. That’s over a billion pounds more than in 2018 and just behind the value of the entire commercial TV market. There is no ignoring it.
If you know what you are doing, paid social is undeniably a fantastic way to dial right into your target audience to increase brand awareness and sales. If you are still not convinced, check out these 8 reasons e-commerce businesses should be advertising on Facebook.
Before you do anything else, install the Facebook Pixel on your website. Advertise without it and you are throwing money away. Go beyond the boost and use Ads Manager – it’s got more sophisticated options that will help you get more from your ad spend. Testing is key to getting the most out of your budget. Test different audiences, creative and copy to see what gets you the best results. If just opening the Facebook Ads Manager gives you a headache, consider outsourcing to, or getting help from, a Facebook ad strategist.
Carly is a Facebook and Instagram advertising strategist and social media consultant with over 10 years’ experience in the communications industry. She supports Small and Mighty businesses increase their visibility and sales through social advertising.