5 Social Media Trends To Look Out For in 2019

Original article by Nupur Singh on LinkedIn

What are the digital marketing trends that we are looking at in 2019? According to a recent report from Nielsen (data and measurement company), U.S. adults spend 10 hours and 24 minutes per day interacting with media across all of their devices.

Given that so much time is spent online, it is pertinent that brands and business keep themselves up to date with trends on how users consume content on online platforms, especially social media. To have an eye for emerging tech and trends and its early adoption helps massively to stay ahead of the curve.

Having personally worked with various brands and influencers, here are some of the trends, I think are essential to keep in vision while navigating the social media landscape in the coming few months.

  1. Nano Influencers –

With trends continuously affecting purchasing decisions, influencers have a huge impact on how brands engage audiences and spend money on ads. Marketers are investing more of their budget into influencer marketing.

However we are seeing a huge shift in terms of what kind of influencers brands are approaching. One of the biggest challenges influencer marketing faces is the lack of guaranteed sales from campaigns. To solve this, a-lot of brands are resorting the the avenue of nano-influencers.

Nano influencers (even smaller than micro-influencers) refers to everyday consumers who have a small but loyal following. Brands have started using identifying influencers from their current consumer base who already believe in the brand They incentivise them to promote the brand that they already love through social channels and word of mouth. Since their community is intimate, they are trusted by their circle, thus creating valuable awareness for the brands.

According to a Forbes article, Kate Edwards the COO of social marketing technology startup, Heartbeat, that works with over 200,000 nano influencers and 250 brands says, “Brands have always known that word-of-mouth marketing works well, but it hasn’t been until now that we’ve had the technology to activate this channel in a scalable, cost-effective way,” explains Edwards. “That’s why brands are moving away from influencers and celebrities, and more toward recognising the voices of everyday consumers.”

What does this mean? – Brands need to revaluate how they are spending their influencer marketing budget and segregating it to fit their goals. It’s important to define goals the campaign before deciding the kind of influencers a brand wants to work with.

2. Chatbots/AI

AI and chatbots are on the rise to drive personalised customer experiences across different channels. Platforms like Google and Facebook have been continuing to adopt artificial intelligence to enhance customer interaction.

Facebook for example, uses AI in the form of neural networks and deep learning for image recognition that makes it easier to find friends. Filtering timelines and streaming has also become much more efficient with the use of AI. Twitter on the other hand, is also working on using AI and machine learning to categorize every single tweet. The aim is to provide content people care most about at the top of their feed.

AI on a whole can also help brands understand buying habits, environmental factors and what motivates them to make decisions. By learning these factors, companies can curate content for their consumers in a much more tailored fashion.

When it comes to chatbots, we are seeing a steady rise in the usage. Community management and customer service has become a huge focus area for most companies and that’s where chatbots are making a deep impact. A lot of e-commerce sites have shown success in chatbots handling first customer interaction or even handling complete cases.

For example, Amazon has a bot that tries to solve your questions as much as possible. However, when the bot is unable to navigate through the scenario, it seamlessly switches to an employee.

In fact, according to Gartner’s forecast, by 2020 organisations will succeed in capturing 85% of customer contact with technology.

What does this mean ? Companies need to market and sell smarter by exploring and investing in tools that use AI or chatbots -as their usage is going to become much broader in the coming months. Adoption of such tools will assist to expedite operation and help companies identify their target market and customer persona more accurately.

3. The rise of Vertical videos

Do you usually capture content on your phone horizontally or vertically? Likely the answer is vertically. In fact, as per the Movr research, we hold our phones vertically 94% of the time.

Keeping this data in mind, content is adopting a new format – the vertical video

Snapchat pioneered the vertical video content format and Instagram followed suit first with it’s stories, stories live and then IG TV

We also saw the rise of vertical videos in sports media such as ESPN that launched a vertically oriented version of its flagship show, SportsCenter via Snapchat. The segment was launched to target younger viewers who are consuming stories in short bursts.

Buffer also performed a testing to gauge the effectiveness of vertical videos on Instagram and Facebook. It found out that vertical video outperformed square video within the Facebook and Instagram News Feed especially stories. Brands today understand that they have to produce content that grabs attention from consumers in the moment and tell a story. And vertical videos succeed in providing that intimate look which makes consumers part of that story.

Plus the ease of shooting through vertical videos makes it easier to capture and share content which is a huge part of marketing products.

Another thing to keep in mind is that vertical videos are constantly evolving. Instagram is adding new features almost everyday from interactive polls, Q&A to stickers, etc. Augmented reality continues to change both the storytelling landscape and consumer experience – opening up more ways fans to engage with their favorite brands.

What does this mean ? – Brands need to rethink their video strategy and editing process. They have to move away from producing just the regular run of the mill pre-recorded videos and instead think about integrating live content in their video marketing strategy that is relatable, captures the emotions of the moment and is easy to share.

4. Curated & Immersive Experience :

One size does not fit all. More brands are adopting this mantra to change the way they provide experience to their users.

Whether it is Netflix suggesting you shows to watch based on your likes/dislikes, Stitch Fix making shopping easier by sending you personalised styled outfits, Airbnb recommending personalised trips and activity or even e-commerce sites showing “you may like” products based on your past purchases – the usage is becoming endless.

Consumers expect brands to remember who they are, what they like, what they dislike, whether they prefer purchasing online or in-store and are willing to spend a premium to receive such custom-tailored service.

A lot of brands and marketers are thus investing more time and budget on data analysis to understand what their audience wants. It helps them curate their customer service, UX, emails or even packaging to entice the audience and increase revenue, loyalty and decrease drop-outs.

Another popular trend to take notice of is – the growth of immersive experiences.

Franz Aliquo, Creative Director at ad agency RPM quips – “The easiest way to create shareability is to give people an experience.”

Whether it’s the brightly-colored, instagram-worthy rooms of the Museum of Ice Cream ( MOIC), curated design photo booths at the Color Factory or even immersive theatre like “Sleep No More” – A theatre experience set in an abandoned building in Manhattan. Participants follow characters and explore different areas of an intricate “hotel,” as performances inspired by Macbeth unfold in parallel throughout the building.

It’s these powerful, unique and “FOMO-inducing” models of curated marketing to immersive experience that creates a framework for shareability – for people to get involved and take ownership of scaling the experiences.

What does this mean ? – Brands need to be more creative than they ever have. Whether it is in your post, blog, video or customer experience, it’s no longer a luxury to provide tailored experience, rather than a necessity. “Make them notice” is become the new norm of 2019 marketing.

5. Omni Channel Marketing

Today’s Gen Z has become very comfortable in shopping online. So much so, that they expect online shopping to have the same benefits as in-store if not more. And that’s where omni-channel marketing comes into the picture.

“Omni channel refers to the approach that provides the customer with an integrated shopping experience. The customer can be shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, via phone, or in a brick-and-mortar store, and the experience will be seamless. It ensures [retailer] marketing strategies are geared toward enabling customers to convert on any channel. “(Google Definition)

Another reason why it’s imperative to have such a seamless experience is because most people own multiple devices these days. In fact, according to a research done by Google, 90% of multiple device owners switch between an average of three devices per day to complete a task. This means that a purchase can start or end at any time, at any plce, on any device. Therefore it’s becoming more necessary for businesses to provide an integrated user experience to prevent customer drop-outs. Starbucks is a prime example of a brand who is nailing the omni-channel marketing with their app rewards and ease of order in-store.

As opposed to the traditional multi-channel marketing, omni channel marketing is a new approach that focuses on curating a cohesive user experience for customers at every touchpoint. This differs from traditional marketing, where individual channels were optimised without taking the whole experience into mind. The goal here however is to transcend any one medium and provide shoppers what they want, when they want, where they want. Omni channel marketing puts the customer at the center of the experience.

What does this mean ? – Companies need to start thinking about the digital experience as a whole rather than one medium at a time. Instead of having various channels like ads, blog, social media, email, online or retail compete against each other, they need to work in tandem and provide the same experience individually or as a whole.

What’s the biggest trend you think will play a pivotal role in the digital landscape?