Well, here we are at the end of 2018 folks! And what a year it was for Social Media. Some of you got hacked on Facebook, while others are noticing a sudden drop in your Instagram followers this week (thanks Instagram). Now that we are no longer freaking out about Net Neutrality, and most are done weeping over how badly Bitcoin failed you, let’s get ready to bid adieu to 2018 and start with a clean slate and a head start. After all, it is our goal to make Social Media great again!


So let’s dive into all the need to know social media trends for 2019 and how they’ll benefit your brand.


1. The Emerging AR & VR Trend


The need for augmented and virtual reality should be no surprise. After all, who doesn’t want to take a break from real life, right? BUT, this current trend is estimated to skyrocket and become a 300 billion dollar industry by 2023.  How so, you may ask? The need coming from consumers who want to experience this technology is causing huge demand that will inevitably make the technology necessary to create the product faster, cheaper, and more accessible.

For example, museums are taking this idea to the next level with the launch of Mae Jemison’s hologram exhibit for the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum at the Smithsonian. This exhibit allows the viewer to take a tour of the Space Shuttle Enterprise and even experience a digital galaxy of stars. Now while you may not be creating holograms of historical figures, or taking your clients on a space tour, one thing you can do is customize valuable experiences for your clientele and potential customers.

Whether it’s creating a virtual interior design experience to help envision a finished home, or going on a virtual scavenger hunt like Facebook set up at this year’s F8 conference, it is essential to begin strategizing how you can incorporate AR and VR into your marketing strategy and budget.

2. Combine Online + Offline Experiences

 

We all saw the success that Pokemon Go had by combining an online experience with real-world interaction when it launched in 2016. That exciting trend sparked the realization that even though we are so consumed by our need of the digital world, we love when it causes a frenzy in the physical world as well. In a more relatable sense to your business, this could be as simple as combining an online promotion with a physical event or response; like the increasingly popular trend to open a pop-up shop.

3. Give Them Stories or Give Them Death!


Since the launch of Facebook Stories post their acquisition of Instagram, which came after Instagram’s temporary adaptation of this feature from Snapchat (yes folks, nothing is original anymore), the amount of users creating stories, as opposed to your run of the mill daily content, has risen to about 200 million users every month.

This year alone, the sharing of stories has grown about 15x faster than feed sharing. How does this affect your business? For starters, we no longer have to overthink clever headlines that will capture interest in under 140 characters. Instead, you’ll consider things like what kind of filter, background, overlay, and sound will captivate your potential customer. No pressure, you have a video production team on-hand right? If not, don’t fret! That leads right into our next pro tip.

4. Storytelling vs Selling

 

There’s no shortage of cliché salesman-like tactics out there in the marketing world. All of them being exhausted on endless efforts to win the customer and close the sale. But, one very important emerging trend out there is that most people now – don’t want to be sold.

Today’s consumers want to feel like they are a part of a compelling story or movement that speaks to them. And, by the end of which, they’ve experienced an entire journey encouraging them to buy in all along the way. To put it plainly, consumers want to feel like they’ve made an informed decision and arrived at their conclusions about your product – on their own.

For this reason, genuine and authentic content is key in 2019. You can no longer ramp up your relevancy by putting a celebrity in your t-shirt and expect to rake in the profits. Rather, shift your focus to creating reasons your audience can believe in your brand; regardless of who might be sporting and/or supporting it. In 2019, it’s going to continue being all about the, “why”. Why does a certain buyer want to wear your brand, for example, and what statement does this help them make?

 

5. Stop Relying on Stock Photos

 

Listen, we get it. Sometimes it’s hard to resist the urge to jump on your favorite stock photo website and type in “woman sitting at the table eating salad while laughing” in order to find that specific look you’re going for. However, what used to pass as carefully curated stock content is now widely recognized as being inauthentic. And that’s exactly what turns consumers off the most. We’ve seen an uptick in engagement and overall positive reception of a more all natural, non-GMO tactic if you will, when it comes to visual content on social media. People are starting to lean towards grainy, raw images, or the not so perfect filter which creates a more genuine connection. Keep that in mind the next time you’ve capped out on basic content and consider snapping your own photos. What you’ll undoubtedly find for yourself is that not everything needs to be executed with cookie-cutter precision and, in fact, is often better when it’s not.

 

6. Chatbots Are Taking Our Jobs!

One of the most important emerging trends for 2019 that you will want to seriously consider is utilizing auto-generated bots to handle your run of the mill FAQs that come in daily from all your social media accounts.  As consumers become less willing to pick up a telephone and dial a phone number that connects to a call center, they are relying instead on messaging you about your business wherever they can find you online; Facebook Messenger, Instagram direct messages, and the like.

Instead of obsessively interrupting your workflow to immediately check and respond to messages, over and over throughout the day, you can program a chatbot with pre-written answers to simple questions like, “What are your business hours?”

Much like the attention span of consumers has slowly dwindled away, so has their patience when it comes to waiting on a response from your organization. Chatbots are a great way to stay ahead of the curve, remain relevant, and satisfy your customers’ appetite for instant gratification and service.

7. Group Chat Apps & Targeting Gen Z

 

What is a chat app? Hint: It’s not the dreaded group chat you get looped into with 15 different relatives who can’t text. One great example, is an app that is only two years old called, Houseparty. If you haven’t heard of it yet, that may be because you aren’t 19 years old. Now, let’s not discount the credibility of this type of platform just because it’s only popular with Gen Z.

Since its inception, back in 2016, this app has expanded globally to about 20 million users and counting. Now that we have your attention, remember that this younger demo still has plenty of purchasing power. Yeah sure, it may be mom and dad’s money at the start of your relationship but, believe or not, Generation Z has already started entering the workforce. As long as they keep getting good grades, getting that financial aid, working those part-time college jobs, and so forth, they’ll keep right on spending. In fact, some experts are already predicting that this app, or apps like it, will have a serious impact on Facebook users and engagement going forward.

 

8. Video Kills the Still Image


For years now, video content has been overthrowing the success of your standard single image or even carousel posts. Video gives everyone the ability to broadcast themselves and share more of their story. Whether it comes to organic posts or paid media placement, video is still reigning supreme in the Social Media world.  

 

9. Micro-Influencers


This is one of our favorite Social Media trends for the upcoming year. There has been a huge push toward the “support local” lifestyle across the board. Produce in your grocery store now states which farm your apple came from, for example.  Big brands such as Lush, the cosmetic giant from the UK, make sure you know the name of the person who hand-crafted your bath bomb. But, how is this trend affecting Social Media? Less and less consumers are being influenced by big-name celebrities and are instead now paying more attention to a local hero or someone who’s more relatable to them.

Take the recent Covergirl campaign featuring Massy Arias; a new mother who built an empire from her humble fitness videos, showing other women how they too can incorporate that type of routine into their lifestyle. Why is this so significant? Because women everywhere who once believed that they were too busy to be active and be a mother while upholding a career, saw a real-life human example of how it can be done. As a micro influencer, Massy Arias didn’t have the total luxury of say, Beyonce, who could have a team dedicated to her daily meal plan and a different personal trainer for each body part, if she wanted. This is an influencer who looks like us, talks like us, and has the power to encourage us. Your goal is to find a micro-influencer who speaks that same kind of personal message about your brand.  

 

10. The impact of User-Generated Content


We realize UGC is not a new component of Social Media strategy, but now more than ever brands need to start incorporating real-life, organic content created by those who already support your brand. Not only does this align with the huge trend of authentic creative that doesn’t look canned, but this will build your brand’s credibility and make you more believable. Embrace user-generated content and take the opportunity to engage directly with those who are your fans.

 

11. More Personalized Content


The thought of personalized content may sound daunting. It’s so much easier to schedule out a mass post to all of your accounts about National Ugly Sweater day and just leave it at that. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy anymore. The content that performs much more successfully is content that resonates with your viewers. Be keen to mention things that matter to them, and show you’re up to speed and involved in their world.

 

12. Conversation-focused Content


One unexpected success we saw throughout the past year was the expansion in popularity of hyper-focused groups on Facebook. One of the most well-known examples is the Condé-Nast Traveler group called, Women Who Travel. With a membership reaching nearly 60K, about 73% of these members engage within the group on a monthly basis. This type of niche community created a safe space for like-minded people to engage with each other. This is a tactic that can encourage your viewers or fans to have meaningful conversations, with your brand at the center of what humanity inside us all craves in this digital era – personal engagement.

 

13. Business Profile Audits & Other Instagram Updates


Now if you have stayed up-to-date at all on Instagram and its new API updates, it’s time to clean house and make sure your business is set up correctly on the platform. It may sound like a no-brainer but let’s face it, we are inevitably capable of sometimes making mistakes.

Part of the API update requires your Instagram profile to be a business account that must also be connected to a Facebook business page. You may have also noticed a cool new Instagram update that is great for retailers. Users are now able to bookmark specific items to their own shopping wish list called a “Shopping Collection”. This allows for a seamless purchasing funnel via Instagram that takes the user straight to your product when they are ready to convert.


14. Hello IGTV, Good Bye YouTube?


That’s right, we said it. Even though IGTV was only released in June of this year, it has already been projected to greatly threaten YouTube’s existence within the next 5 years. Although that may seem hard to believe this early in the game, if you think about it, it totally makes sense! With the heavy focus on video content overall, paired with the rising desire to be able to broadcast ourselves, it was only a matter of time before social media platforms found a way to put their users on “TV”.

 

15. Building Relevant Brand Partnerships


Co-Branding is a great way to take over two seemingly unrelated demographics. This strategy allows you to deepen your influence in the market and increase overall brand awareness. One extremely successful campaign that launched this year was the Adidas and Parley for the Ocean partnership. These two forces came together to grab two demographics, one that cares for the environment and cleaning our oceans, and another that is a fan of stylish running shoes. It’s no coincidence that Adidas was the 12th highest riser in brand value this year. Who could you partner with to take over a new fan base?


16. Instagram as a Main Strategy

Instagram is continuously rising in importance with over 500 million active users on the platform daily. Our current social climate is trending towards visual content. Users don’t want to read about your life or product, they want to see it. Instagram capitalizes on this trend and offers you a limitless audience. Further, with the recent addition of shoppable posts, users never have to leave the app to make purchases, simplifying the buying process.

17. Smart Speakers Taking Over                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Smart speakers are slowly becoming an American staple with a quarter of U.S. households now owning a least one. Stay ahead of the game by creating more unique audio content for the emerging platform like promotions, upcoming events and even customer support. It is also crucial to optimize your content for smart speaker searches, similar to SEO optimization.

18. Socialize Your CEO


In this, the age of social transparency, it’s important that consumers feel they can trust a brand or business before making a purchase. Having your CEO increase their online presence helps to humanize your company and demonstrates to consumers that you care about their satisfaction and feedback.

19. Live Streaming

Live streaming has become one of the most effective ways to engage your audience, with Facebook reporting that people spend more than 3x the time watching a Facebook Live video than standard video content. Live streaming also helps to strengthen the bond between businesses (or brands) and their consumers by breaking the fourth wall and giving them behind the scenes access. Research also shows consumers are more likely to purchase a product after watching a video of it, taking the products live will only boost their exposure.

 

Conclusion: If you have made it to the end of this article, then congrats. By that alone, you are already on the cutting edge of the biggest social media trends for 2019. Alright, now you can all go back to playing Fortnite.