As social media marketing competition rises, organic reach dwindles and social ROI gets tougher, AccuList USA clients will need to hone their social media marketing data, targeting and creative strategies. Here are just a few big social media trends to include in planning for next year, based on analysis by Hootsuite and Social Media Today.
A Need to Re-build Trust and Transparency
Trust in social networks has declined. Edelman’s “2018 Trust Barometer” found that 60% of respondents no longer trust social media companies, and Facebook is among the hardest-hit, thanks to headlines about its role in 2016 presidential election interference, ongoing “fake news” abuses, and security breaches compromising user data, reports Hootsuite. Twitter has its own trust problems because of the use of bots and fake accounts. As a result, Hootsuite sees brands focusing less on maximizing reach and more on “transparent, quality engagement.” Instead of posting the same content across multiple platforms, marketers are more likely to favor context-specific and audience-specific messaging that reaches smaller but more valuable groups in 2019. The need to balance privacy demands with personalized treatment is also leading marketers to be more open about when and why data is collected and then to use only willingly shared information to create personalized one-to-one experiences and unique value offers. Yet personalization still drives success despite privacy issues. Social Media Today (SMT) reports that up to 96% of marketers surveyed believe personalization advances customer relationships.
Micro-Influencers Replace Celebrity Influencers
As the number of social media influencers has grown over time, prices for their services have climbed, and, at the same time, trust in celebrity influencers has declined, both Hootsuite and SMT report. One solution is to increase use of experts and employee advocates over celebrity influencers, notes Hootsuite. Meanwhile, SMT suggests more micro-influencer marketing. As opposed to major influencers, micro-influencers exist in every marketing niche. While they have followings of fewer than 10,000 people, most of the micro-influencers’ followers are genuinely interested in what they have to say. Since micro-influencers are not massively targeted by advertisers, they also are seen as trustworthy and down-to-earth, notes SMT.
Stories Format Challenges New Feed Use
Hootsuite predicts that “the news feed may be slowly becoming a thing of the past,” as social media users increasingly prefer content in a stories format. Certainly, the stories format has exploded on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp–and is even being tested by LinkedIn. In fact, Hootsuite cites a recent finding by consulting firm Block Party that sharing via that method is growing 15 times faster than feed-based sharing. One way marketers can ride the trend is to push intimate, less polished content in a stories format, suggests Hootsuite, although the company acknowledges that the stories format’s intimacy and spontaneity do not fit with all brands.
ROI Gets Tougher, But Shopping Gets Easier
Social marketers who rely mainly on organic reach are behind the curve. The pay-to-play era is here and driving larger social ad budgets, Hootsuite notes, with “The CMO Survey” reporting a 32% increase in social budgets in 2018 alone. As the price tag for social ads rises, along with competition for audience, ROI is getting tougher. Hootsuite can cite the most recent “Internet Trends Report” from Mary Meeker, which found that while click-through rates on Facebook are up 61%, CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) have soared 112%. But good ROI is still attainable, especially as the gaps between social media and commerce narrow. For example, Meeker’s 2018 report also showed that 55% of survey respondents have purchased products online after social media discovery. Shopping is being made easier by technologies such as in-stream payment tools and video plugins along with social media special features such as shoppable posts, Instagram’s Explore shopping tab, Facebook Marketplace and Pinterest’s Buyable Pins. Video is especially effective in social ads, with a study by video marketing company BrightCove showing that 74% of respondents cited a connection between watching a social video and making a purchase.
Growing Real-Time Messaging and Listening
Messaging applications are becoming integral to social media business relationships. Hootsuite cites a survey from Twilio, which found that nine out of 10 respondents would like to use messaging apps to communicate with businesses. Plus a study by Facebook IQ finds that 61% of U.S. respondents used a messaging app to contact a business in the prior three months. The audience reach of messaging is undeniable. According to Meeker’s report, the top five messaging applications—WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Instagram and Twitter—total some 5 billion monthly users. However, there are challenges, warns Hootsuite, such as messaging scale and using artificial intelligence in a way that avoids privacy infringement and unsolicited communication. The next step, predicts SMT, is use of social listening (monitoring) to actively generate leads and facilitate social selling. Social listening is the act of crawling the web and social media platforms to find all mentions of a brand (or keywords) on social media platforms, blogs, forums and news sites. Monitoring tools such as Awario, Brand24, Mention, Brandwatch, and Hootsuite now are used mainly for customer service and reputation management, but a few brands are already monitoring to find leads, and some monitoring tools are introducing features for lead generation!