The year ahead promises to be exciting and challenging for social media marketers.
From endless algorithm changes to the increasing costs of paid channels, marketers must work hard to keep pace with the new social media marketing trends in 2019.
In this article, I will review some of the key developments in 2018, and suggest areas that you can experiment with in 2019.
Social Media Marketing in 2018: A Brief Review
While some are still grappling with the algorithm shake-up introduced by Facebook in early 2018, others embraced the social network’s new focus on conversational content with much aplomb.
Following the slew of legal challenges by jurisdictions around the world, Facebook has proactively policed its network, seeking to minimise user privacy and data leaks and be more transparent in sharing information with users.
Other social media platforms have rolled out major changes in the past year.
LinkedIn introduced native videos for company pages, empowering marketers to tap on videos to improve engagement on their company pages. The social network has also rolled out new algorithm changes to give greater news feed priority to private users, putting greater emphasis on closer connections within your network.
Twitter’s efforts in eradicating spam bots in 2018 was both good and bad news. While it may make it more difficult to automate your Twitter feed, it also helped to cleanse the network of its unceasing auto-reply bots. Oh, and forget about posting repeated identical tweets – that may get your account penalised!
What about YouTube? Well, we do know that the video sharing platform is putting more emphasis on total Watch Time (ie minutes watched) than Video Views per se. This means that longer and more valuable video content that gets people watching to the end would perform better.
And Instagram? So many changes have been rolled out here that it is difficult to keep track of them all. According to this source, you can now create a ‘Close Friends’ list on Instagram, include voice messaging in your Direct Messages (DMs), and use alt-text to make your images more searchable. And let’s not forget Instagram Shoppable Posts – a boon for blogshop and e-commerce players.
Now that I’ve covered some of the major changes in 2018, what should you focus on in 2019?
#1 Shoot and Share B2B LinkedIn Videos
If you aren’t yet active on LinkedIn, you really ought to change your tune. After all, 61 million LinkedIn users are senior level influencers, and LinkedIn is the top channel B2B marketers use to distribute content (94%).
But what’s truly exciting here are LinkedIn videos, especially if you’re in the B2B business. Here are some recommendations on how you can score here, taken from LinkedIn’s blog:
a) Create a Script and Storyboard
Like any good video production process, it helps to begin with a script and a storyboard. The source material could be a blog article, eBook, course material, infographics, or any other text-based content that is already doing well.
b) Experiment with Different Creative Options
Depending on the length of your video, you can consider different formats as proposed by LinkedIn below:
- B2B Teaser Video – These are like trailers and teasers of what’s coming next, and are usually shorter than 15 seconds. To make this work, consider editing it out of a longer-form video that you’re releasing later.
- Short-form Video – These are the most popular formats (in terms of consumption), and usually last from 15 to 60 seconds. Be sure to hook your audience’s attention in the first 3-seconds, followed by their emotions in the next 12 seconds (eg by explaining the “Whys”). Thereafter, you can share one key takeaway.
- Long-form B2B Film Making – Lasting anything from 1 to 3 minutes or longer, these videos may contain a couple of pointers. Use examples to flesh out your points, and animation to keep attention going.
LinkedIn Video Influencers Who Are Rocking It
Here are two ladies who are rocking it on LinkedIn as video influencers.
The first is Goldie Chan, whose characteristic green hair makes her profile stand out relative to others. But what I like about her is that she shares really valuable tips on her LinkedIn videos, and also pays attention to the text on her posts, using emojis to grab visual attention.
Here’s an example of a short video of hers, complete with a useful takeaway…
The other example is Fyiona Yong, a “millennial leadership coach” who communicates with much empathy and authenticity on her LinkedIn videos.
Here’s an example of her video post, where she shared a useful tip on leadership that instantly connects with her audience.
#2 Experiment with Augmented Reality (AR) Features
Augmented reality (AR) isn’t new on social media. Snapchat was one of the first to pioneer it, using filters like doggie ears, deer antlers and funny hats to amuse users. Instagram and Facebook followed suit, and the rest – as they say – is history.
What’s exciting about AR though is that Facebook is making it easier for developers to develop their own AR overlays using their own Facebook AR Studio function.
Here’s a video showing how Facebook’s new Frame/ AR Studio kit works, highlighting the possibilities for social media marketers:
Beyond using AR to introduce cutesy overlays in your selfies, Facebook is experimenting with using AR features on its advertising platform.
Beginning with Facebook Messenger and moving on to the News Feed, Facebook is testing new features that allow consumers to “try out” sunglasses and make-up and clothes on themselves before making a purchase.
Courtesy of Techcrunch
If you are already advertising on Facebook, and are selling fashion or beauty related products, this could be an area to invest time and money in.
#3 Use Chatbots and Instant Messaging Apps to Improve Customer Service
Instant Messaging (IM) has grown to become a huge thing on social media. According to Facebook, it has over
From WhatsApp, Twitter Direct Messages, website pop-ups, to Facebook Messenger and LinkedIn, IM (or chat) has grown to become the real killer app in the social age.
To handle the vast amount of messages coming your way, consider automating part of your conversation with chatbots.
According to this source, the best way to do so is to consider the following steps:
- Allow the customer to control the conversation using natural language support
- Identify the full sequence of steps needed to answer customer requests via phone calls, and substitute with chat
- Work with chatbots that have good enough AI to parse the content on your company’s website into simple snippets of information (eg Virtual Spirits).
- Ensure that your chatbots have a self-learning mechanism
- Integrate chatbots with live customer service representatives
Wish to try creating your own chatbot? Here’s a tutorial showing how you can create a FREE Facebook Messenger bot using Manychat:
#4 Grab Attention with Animations and Short Videos
In case you don’t already realise, videos are fast becoming the de facto content format for social channels like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter (duh..of course!)
My recent conversation with a Facebook Marketing Expert further cemented this fact, with the additional kicker that folks here in South East Asia and Singapore engage a lot more actively with videos than still image or plain text posts.
However, unlike YouTube, videos that get the most attention on these platforms tend to be short ones that are a minute or less.
To create short social media friendly videos cost effectively, do consider the following options:
- Slideshow Style Videos: These are the easiest to make, and you can DIY using FREE apps like Lumen 5, Adobe Spark, or Biteable.
- GIF Style Videos: These are great for meme-tastic videos, and you can easily create them here.
- Simple Home Made Videos: If you wish to do some shooting and editing to create your own videos, you can use your smartphones to shoot your footage, edit them with a movie editing app (like iMovie or Movie Maker), and then upload them on your social channel.
- Work with Freelancers: If all of the above sounds like too much work, consider outsourcing your video production needs. You can go to Upwork or Fiverr to hire your video producer of choice, or you can hire us!
#5 Stream Live Videos using Facebook Live
Courtesy of FB Newsroom
If you haven’t done live video streaming using Facebook Live, 2019 could perhaps be the year for you to do so.
The beauty of a Facebook Live video is that it will reside on your page or profile after you have created it. This allows those who may have missed your live broadcast to view it at a later date of their convenience.
Facebook also prioritizes live videos that are streaming in real time over other videos, making them more attention grabbing on your timeline.
To do so effectively, consider making your Facebook Live streams a regular broadcast on a certain fixed day and time of the week.
You should also ensure that you have the right equipment to shoot and stream your videos. – while most advanced smartphones can produce reasonable video quality, you need to consider your broadcast bandwidth (stable WIFI rather than 4G or 5G), voice recording (use a plug-in mic), and stability (use a tripod).
Here are some content ideas for your Facebook Live videos:
- Answer questions that your audience may have sent to you
- Showcase your company culture (eg a day-in-the-life type videos)
- Go behind the scenes in creating or launching a new product or service
- Share useful and relevant updates pertaining to your industry
- Conduct a live auction or sales event if you are in the fashion related trade
- Teach a useful tip or three
Oh yes, one last thing. Try to keep your live broadcasts a little longer – 10 to 15 minutes at least. These will help you to attract a larger audience.
#6 Film Longer (and More Engaging) YouTube Videos
If short videos rule on Facebook and Twitter, long videos rule on YouTube.
Increasingly, Watch Time of your videos will be considered as a key ranking factor for your videos to appear on YouTube searches. This is defined as “The amount of time in aggregate that your viewers are watching your videos…”
According to the YouTube Creator Playbook, “YouTube optimizes search and discovery for videos that increase watch time on the site.”
This emphasis on Watch Time means that longer YouTube videos may generate better analytics, especially if they’re able to retain viewer attention right to the finish.
Beyond length, you need to also study your YouTube analytics, and consider the following:
- Where are your videos most viewed?
- When are your videos most viewed?
- What is the age and gender for the bulk of your viewers?
- Which are your most popular videos?
To learn more about optimizing your YouTube efforts, read my guide to YouTube Marketing here. You can also download the YouTube Creator playbook to learn more about the basics of your YouTube channel here or watch the video below to learn more about audience retention on YouTube.
#7 Spin Interactive Instagram Stories
Yes, videos are huge on social media. Which is why 5 out of 8 of my suggestions for 2019 revolve around videos.
Including this one on Instagram Stories.
Most Instagram power users have focused on crafting interactive and engaging stories to capture the often larger audience thumbing through each 15 second segment.
While you needn’t make every 15 second segment a video, doing so helps to make your IG stories more engaging than images and text alone.
To create engaging and interactive Instagram Stories, consider adopting these power tips from Instagram Guru Sue B Zimmerman:
- Ask a rating question: Use the sliding scale poll sticker, stick the best emoji, and position it on your IG story
- Get people to send a Direct Message (DM): This can best be done if you can answer any questions they may have
- Add clickable stickers: From tags of other Instagrammers, location tags, and others, doing so improves engagement
- Promote your content: Use IG Stories to promote your latest blog post or a YouTube video or your IG posts on your feed. This is especially useful if you’ve incorporated Instagram Shoppable posts in your content.
- Ask an open question: This would be a good way to get audience feedback on what they wish to see more of
- BONUS: Conduct a poll: People love to respond to “This or This” type questions, and IG Stories have stickers allowing you to do so
#8 Make Your Brand Personal
Gary Vaynerchuk owns North America’s largest digital agency, but he still posts daily on social media.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, you need to make your brand great (and personal) again.
This may not be new to many of you, but it needs reminding: brands fronted by personalities and influencers get more traction on social media.
This applies across all platforms, from blogs and forums to Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest and others.
To make your corporate or product brand more personal, consider the following tactics:
- Spin Staff Stories: Yes, we do love the state-of-the-art technology that you’re introducing to the world, but who are the scientists and tech wizards behind that invention? What challenges did they face coming up with it?
- Inject Humour: Large soulless brands are the bane of social media. Introduce a little humour and fun into your posts.
- Unleash Your Chiefs: Now its ok if your CEO isn’t as camera-ready as Steve Jobs or Jack Ma. All we need are some soundbites and quotes from him or her, or a photo of him or her next to your newest widget/ service offering/ thingamajig.
- Show Social Impact: If your product or service can truly transform industries and lives, it’ll be good if you can show how this is done. Once again, shine the spotlight on the people affected the change – not just the buildings, organisations, or infrastructure.
- Get Your Team Involved: The most important influencers in any organisation are the employees working there. Where possible, get them to be equally excited about your new initiatives, and to like, comment or share your social media posts.
But what if you are a solopreneur, consultant, trainer or freelancer? Consider these tips for building your personal brand in 2019 from Goldie Chan on Forbes.
Like the year before it, 2019 will continue to see social media growing in commercial prominence.
While data protection and privacy concerns continue to dog social networks, it doesn’t look like consumers will be fleeing them anytime soon.
From LinkedIn videos to Chatbots, FB Live Videos to interactive IG Stories, 2019 could be a year for you to experiment with emerging content formats on social media. I’m certainly going to test a few of these out myself, and I challenge you to do so.
Need help with your social media marketing efforts? Drop me an email([email protected]), and I’ll be most happy to offer you my inputs.