2018 was a year of lasting impacts on the social media industry. The year began with a post from Mark Zuckerberg announcing the biggest algorithm update Facebook had ever seen. Then, news of the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke and the GDPR went into effect. There were positive changes for marketers as well. With the expansion of shoppable Instagram, huge growth of the Stories format and the launch of IGTV, marketers had more ways than ever to connect and engage with consumers.

Even in an industry marked by fast change, 2018 will go down in history as a big year for social media and all of the marketers who use it to sell their products or services. Now that we’re into the second quarter, 2019 is also shaping up to be a year of change. While we may not have a crystal ball, we can already start to see what the big trends in social media will be. Here are our top 10 trends for 2019.

Growth of Stories Graph

The number of daily users of stories across platforms like Instagram has grown significantly in the past two years.


Social Media Trends of 2019 #1. The Year of Stories

At the end of 2018, 400 million users were actively using Instagram stories every day. And that number is only growing. Users are responding to the ephemeral and unpolished nature of the platform. According to Instagram, they’ve learned that younger audiences, in particular, are “spending more time with amateur content creators and less time with professionals (Instagram).” This shift in content consumption has led to the social platform investing heavily in Stories and IGTV.

So what’s next for Stories in 2019? While Instagram Stories have been widely adopted by brands, only around nine percent of major brands post to Facebook Stories. As with most features on Facebook, there is typically an advantage to being an early adopter. Facebook is encouraging brands to post to Stories in order to consistently engage with their audience, making it very easy – you can automatically post to Facebook Stories from Instagram – and offering Stories a premium placement in the app.   

“When anyone in your audience misses a post, when they log on to Facebook, your story will be visible to them at the top of their newsfeed. It’s a great way to reengage a passive audience and bring updates to your entire audience in a dynamic way.” (Facebook)

Looking for more information on how to make the most of your Stories? Check out these resources:

2. Brands will need to invest in social ads

In 2018, marketers produced more social ads than ever before and increased their budgets by 32%. One out of every four Facebook Pages now use paid advertising as part of their social media strategy and Facebook accounts for 23% of total U.S. digital ad spending. All of these numbers suggest that not only is social advertising around to stay, but competition will only get more intense.

In 2019 the success with social advertising will mean that making investments beyond advertising budgets. In an interview with AdWeek, Hootsuite CMO Penny Wilson stated, “Progressive brands are recognizing the importance of pairing ad money with an equivalent investment of time, creativity and targeting savvy.”

Need ideas to supercharge your ads strategy? Read our 9 tips to maximize the impact of your social ads.

Welcome to IGTV Video

Welcome to IGTV


3. The Rise of Social TV

According to a recent report from Statista, more than 50% of digital videos are now viewed on mobile in vertical format. This is a trend that has been moving in a consistently upward direction since 2013.

It’s this trend that influenced the launch of Facebook Watch in 2017 and IGTV in 2018. And it’s this same trend that will make 2019 the year of social TV. By 2021, Instagram reports that mobile video will account for 78% of total mobile data traffic.

IGTV offers marketers a place to share mobile first, long-form video within the Instagram platform. While it’s still early days for this feature, brands should consider adding it to their 2019 strategy to feel the benefits of being an early adopter.


4. The move to Private Groups

Groups took off in 2018 as a way for brands to connect directly with fans without the algorithm affecting their posts. They’ve been used not only as a quick feedback tool but also as to support engagement and build authentic conversations.

As of 2018, Facebook reported that 200 million people are members of ‘meaningful’ Facebook Groups. (Meaningful is defined as a group that significantly improves their experience on the social platform.)


5. TRUST will be a key issue for consumers

After a year of scandal, trust in social media companies has never been lower. Users have grown distrustful of influencers and fake followers, relying instead on immediate friends, family, and acquaintances on social media, as well as traditional journalism outlets.

For brands, efforts should shift from maximizing reach on social media to nurturing trust. It will be important to invest in transparency, community building and creating personalized interactions. Four in 10 consumers say they are unlikely to become emotionally attached to a brand unless they are interacting via social media, but in 2019 consumers are looking for those interactions to be authentic and personalized.

Instagram's Close Friends Feature

Instagram’s new Close Friends feature allows brands to share exclusive content to a specific customer list, for example, loyal fans or top buyers.


6. Segmenting Your Social Following

Speaking of personalization, audience segmentation will be a big trend in 2019. Segmentation isn’t a new buzz word, but as marketers we’re conditioned to think of it primarily as an email marketing tactic.  This year, the savviest marketers will also incorporate segmentation into their social media strategies.

Through traditional engagement, messaging apps and Facebook groups brands have plenty of tools to create more intimate conversations with customers. Additionally, Instagram’s new Close Friends feature allows brands to share exclusive content to a specific customer list, for example, loyal fans or top buyers.


7. Employee Advocacy as the New Influencer

As we mentioned above, both consumers and brands are becoming increasingly wary of fake influencers and followers. As a response, more brands are looking to their employees to help build awareness. Employee advocates are also effective at increasing reach by tapping into their networks of friends and family, creating authentic connections and humanizing brands. There’s strong data to support these claims: employee-created content receives 8 times more engagement than content shared from the company itself and 61% of consumers are more likely to trust a recommendation from a friend or family member compared to a celebrity endorsement.

Is your brand looking to create an employee advocacy program? Products like Bambu help encourage amplification by allowing companies to internally distribute shareable content.


8. The Shift to Private Spaces

Messaging services continue to grow – the top messaging apps now combine for nearly 5 billion monthly active users. That’s more users than traditional social networks have worldwide.

And consumers are embracing the platforms as a means of getting in touch with customer service. In a 2018 survey of 8,000 people conducted by Facebook, 69% of respondents said that directly messaging with a company helps them feel more confident about the brand. This shift can be very beneficial for brands, as it offers a private means for addressing and resolving customer service issues.

Instagram's New Checkout Feature

Instagram’s New Checkout Feature


9. Growing influence of Social Media on Commerce

It’s no secret that social media is the primary way that individuals consume media, interact with brands, seek recommendations and ask for help. Increasingly, it’s also where consumers are making buying decisions. While the buyer’s journey is complex, bigger pieces of it are playing out on social media. A recent study by Curalate found that 76% of US consumers have bought an item they saw in a brand’s social post and 40% are actively deciding what to buy based on what they have seen on social media platforms, including reviews and recommendations.

With the launch of Instagram Checkout this past March on Instagram, shopping will become more seamless and integrated into the social experience. The beta feature will allow users to find a product they love, purchase it and receive order notifications all within the Instagram app. There is still progress to be made on the social commerce front (currently only 4% of those surveyed make a purchase immediately after seeing it), but 2019 is set up to be a good year for brands hoping to sell items within the social environment.

In an industry that changes at lightning speed, it’s important to take stock of both where we’ve been and where we are heading. As we move into the second quarter of 2019, the trends all seem to point to marketing that is personalized, trustworthy and creative. What trends are your brand embracing this year? Are there any that you would add to this list?

Looking for more?! Check out all of our latest insights into Social Media and be sure to register soon for one of our upcoming in-person or virtual social media marketing conferences!

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