Last year had its lessons, including that the key to social media success is being socially conscious and even if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million. There’s no doubt that 2019 will set us on its own path of double-takes and pivots — especially in the agency world. In testing these new marketing waters, I’m predicting a few key trends that are sure to catch the eyes (and handles) of marketers in 2019.
Continued Influencer Growth
The question is no longer if brands should pursue influencers, but how to execute influencer marketing best. Throughout 2018, my agency emphasized the importance of using industry-relevant macro- and microinfluencers (as I discuss further here) to connect with audiences in an authentic way based on a client’s desired scale and budget. The key is knowing how to take advantage of this ever-growing phenomenon.
Instagram has proven to be the go-to platform for influencer campaigns, with 93% of collaborations occurring on the platform in the last year. We’ve also seen that developing longer-term relationships with a brand-specific network of influencers allows for the most consistent messaging and authenticity.
Of course, influencer talent can’t solve the marketing puzzle entirely — it’s a supplement, after all, not a solution. Brands must pair great talent with well-developed ideas and the room for creative freedom. When adding influencers to your 2019 marketing plan, be sure to play to the distinct strengths of each personality and work with collaborators to create genuine, engaging content.
Integration Of AI In Customer Service & Experience
We never thought we’d send a bot to do a marketer’s job, but the possibilities of artificial intelligence (AI) grew well beyond “How can I help you?” chatbots in the last year. From voice-recognition systems like Alexa to fully developed personas like Ava for Autodesk, even virtual agents are getting a facelift.
Still, the “wow” factor for brands isn’t just in voice commands. Image-recognition systems are one AI aspect that advertisers should be keen on suggesting to their clients. With retailers like Gap and Target already implementing their own systems, we’re seeing the potential for image-based digital payment, order verification, product searching and more.
Plus, trying to keep up with the constantly shifting tides takes enough of a marketers’ energy. Why not leave some of the grunt work to AI? With automation keeping its place at the forefront of tech, integration doesn’t just prevent burnout, it allows marketers to test out new features that maximize efforts and charm shoppers.
Telling Your (Instagram) Story
Since Instagram infamously began using Snapchat’s signature feature, almost every platform has joined the race with their own version of “Stories.”Although Gen Zers and younger millennials lead the Instagram crusade, all generations are currently enjoying the platform and its features. And with momentary content that takes away the picture-perfect social media pressure, brands can enjoy the movement, too.
Story content can be shared from one user to another with a simple click, making it easy for a brand’s followers to spread the word on upcoming launches or collaborations. You can tack on a campaign hashtag to snag a spot for any post — feed or Story — in the Discover tab. And of course, Story posts take away the pressure of crafting a perfect grid or feed. With such short lifespans, post strategy can be rethought and reinvented in as little as 24 hours.
The opportunities are endless: Send audiences swiping for more info, show products in action, announce company news or an upcoming giveaway, even partner with influencers for an account takeover. The key is pairing on-brand lifestyle content with more informative advertisements that call audiences to action.
Data Going Into Privacy Mode
Facebook’s oversight in the spring of 2018 led to new consumer demands for ethical and transparent data use. While Zuckerberg dealt with a PR nightmare, marketers had to reconfigure the way we developed and delivered content to our audiences.
My agency knows that tailored content is a win-win for everybody: It delivers better products to consumers and better return on investment to brands. And thankfully, consumers agree — as long as brands don’t abuse their power. So, rather than completely abandoning data, let me recommend some ways to keep your audience insights without losing their trust.
Last summer, my company redesigned our clients’ strategies to accommodate Facebook’s new ad-targeting requirements. This boiled down to telling our audiences where we sourced their information from and how we planned to use it (i.e., giving them more products they loved and less they didn’t care to see). In 2019, the focus on making information accessible and keeping consumers in the loop will have to become the standard. Audiences are already apprehensive, and they will be looking to brands to see who’s in tune and who’s tuned out.
Taking advantage of live video on social platforms became the norm for brands in 2018, and I predict that it will only continue to grow in 2019. According to a Facebook report, daily watch time for Facebook Live broadcasts quadrupled over the course of a year and one in five videos on Facebook are now live videos.
We encourage our clients to integrate live video into their day-to-day social plans, offering behind-the-scenes looks at company headquarters, conferences and events, product demonstrations, Q&As, interviews, webinars and more. These live conversations offer more personal touchpoints between the brand and consumers and allow real-time dialogue and interactions. Most importantly, live video is a free service. Even when not physically together, consumers and brands can easily share intimate moments and experiences together.
With almost two months of 2019 already in the books, it’s time to take action. With the above tips and trends in your back pocket, you now have the confidence you need to form even stronger relationships with your current customers and capture the attention of a larger, more diverse audience.