Heads up for 2019! Here are my Social Media Predictions!

Jan 18, 2019

So what will 2019 hold for social media marketers?

Well I’ve fired up my crystal ball and here are my predictions!

1. Building TRUST following the Cambridge Analytica Scandal

In March 2018 a major scandal erupted involving data firm, Cambridge Analytica, President Trump and Facebook. It emerged that Cambridge Analytica had harvested personal data about millions of Facebook users. An academic survey “This is Your Digital Life” was completed by hundreds of thousands of Facebook users. This gave the data firm access to not only their personal data but also the personal data of people in their social network. This data was then used to run campaigns to influence voters in the 2016 US election.

The scandal really left a sour taste in the mouths of Facebook users. People felt betrayed. In general I think people are funny when it comes to security on social media. Oftentimes I find that the people that complain the most are the very ones who don’t secure their accounts using security settings. In saying that I was pretty annoyed … at Facebook, for letting this happen in the first place but also at any of my Facebook friends for consenting to a survey which allowed them to share my data with a third party. And yes.. they would have clicked a button to do this…

So what’s the upshot..2019 will be all about rebuilding “Trust” with consumers.
Consumers are more passive than ever on social. They are watching more and engaging less. Brands that want to build trust must

  • Brand themselves. Consumers are moving at speed, generally on a mobile device. Only businesses that effectively brand their channels and stay on message will catch the attention of fast moving consumers.
  • Position themselves. Brands need to be super clear about what they offer their ideal customer and why they should care. Consistency of message will be the key here.
  • Produce authentic content. Consumers will filter out boring, stiff, sloppy messages. Forget the idea of ticking a box.. using a schedule to determine when to post on your page. Only authentic content that resonates with your ideal customer will have an impact
  • Listen and respond. People build relationships by communicating with each other. That’s why it’s so important for brands to start having conversations with their connections on social.
  • Be consistent. This isn’t an exercise that lasts a few days. Brands that succeed in building trust know that this is a long game. Success rarely comes overnight…

2. Has GDPR signaled the death of our much loved Lead Magnets?

On the 25th of May 2018 the big talking point was GDPR.. An EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union. GDPR benefits consumers because it offers them more privacy. It penalises companies that breach it (Facebook would have paid out way more if the Cambridge Scandal was after the new GDPR came into effect).

I know it’s a good thing. But honestly… it was so head wrecking… figuring out how to be compliant and then having to deal with the 101 + emails from everyone who had ever emailed me seeking my opt-in. (ps… I ignored all the opt in emails and guess what…. I‘m still receiving emails 😮 )

So how will GDPR impact how we manage our social media in 2019?

  • Lead magnet. Gone are the days where you can offer someone a free download of some kind in return for their email address which was populated straight onto a mailing list. Now, consumers have to consent to being added to the mailing list. So in theory they can download your shiny lead magnet and escape future emails. I must admit – when I first read this my heart sank…. So now there is such a thing as a free lunch. But… on mature reflection I realised that someone who doesn’t want to be on your mailing list will unsubscribe anyhow. The key will be impressing prospects so much with the lead magnet that they want to hear from you again and they actually consent to being added to your list.
  • Lead Forms. As you are collecting personal data from individuals when you run Lead Form Ads, you will need to state how the data will be processed. Facebook has this covered in the Lead Ad Terms that you must consent to. So read the small print to ensure you are GDPR compliant.

3. More Lurkers than Interacters

Over the last year or so I have noticed people are sharing less personal content on social media channels. Conversations have moved to messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Messenger. People are having multiple conversions in messaging groups rather than sharing general content on Facebook and other social media platforms. They may have a “family” WhatsApp group, a book club WhatsApp group, a local friends WhatsApp group, a soccer club WhatsApp group and so on.

I remember posting an update on Facebook asking if someone could collect a package for me from a neighbouring town… nobody responded publicly to my request, but I received seven phone calls and messages within the space of an hour.

Consumers are still using social media. Facebook still has the widest reach worldwide with 2.27 billion active users and 2.1 million active users in Ireland. I don’t see this changing. One of the main aspects of Facebook that sets it apart from other social media platforms is the number of connections people have built up through the social network. They have “friends” that are old school pals, college pals, neighbours, first cousins, second cousins living all over the world and so on. And for many people, Facebook is the only place that they connect with these people. This is one of the main reasons that I believe people will continue to use the platform.

So rather than sharing content and visibly interacting, people are happy to watch or lurk! Good to know. As marketers we can still get our message out there. People will still see it. They may not interact as much (react, comment, share) but they will see it, click on it and react in a more private way (perhaps by messaging your page).

So how can brands respond

  • Focus more on “reach” and expect more silent interactions…..Don’t expect people to make themselves visible.  It’s not you…. it’s they way they are interacting in general.
  • Create more clickable content. Rather than sharing one image, share multiple images. People will click through these images to have a nose…. And all the clicks count as interactions
  • Publish more video content. People are three times more likely to watch video content and you can remarket to video viewers through Facebook and Instagram Ads.
  • Stop producing boring passive content and move towards content that stands out and that really resonates with your ideal customer

4. You Still Need to Get the Basics Right ….. Strategy is Key

One of the most common questions I get asked about my Facebook Marketing book is if it has gone out of date. I delight in responding that my book will never date! My book is all about creating a social media strategy. The fundamentals relating to creating a strategy never change. So when businesses look towards 2019 they must implement a strategy which includes the following steps:

  • Branding their social media channels. To be successful, businesses should clearly position themselves by communicating to prospects why they are different and why they should do business with them.
  • Creating content for each stage of the sales funnel. Brands that understand “the customer journey” and the relevant content to produce for each stage of the journey produce better content and run more successful ad campaigns.
  • Understand how to publish content to maximise organic (non paid) reach. It’s really important to understand how the algorithm works in the social network you are using. Content should be repurposed taking into account the intricacies of each social media channel. (My book clearly sets out what works on Facebook!)
  • Augmenting organic reach with Facebook Ads. According to a survey conducted by Hootsuite, “One of every four Facebook Pages now use paid media. And Facebook already accounts for 23 percent of total U.S. digital ad spending”. Brands need to understand the difference between cold and warm audiences and how to use Facebook Ads Manager to create them. Other factors which influence the success of Facebook and Instagram Ads are
    • Selecting the right campaign objective
    • The target audience selected
    • The ad schedule
    • Ad placement
    • The budget and duration of ads
    • The media used for the ad creative
    • The Ad description
    • The ability to interpret results to inform future campaigns.

My book is now available in Kindle format for just €7.99/£6.99 on Amazon. My 6 Week Facebook Marketing Bootcamp covers each aspect outlined above over a 6 week period. It combines eLearning with weekly online meetings (using Zoom) and a weekly video review of progress.

5. The Move towards Facebook and Instagram Stories…

Facebook is running out of space…….. and so they have created a second newsfeed in the form of Facebook Stories.

Stories is the feed which runs across the top of a persons news feed. They can be images or short videos but what makes them different is that they disappear after 24 hours.

Facebook “borrowed” the story format from Snapchat and initially rolled it out on Instagram (which they also own..). In March 2017 Facebook introduced Facebook Stories and has been testing and playing with them since. However, over the last year, Facebook executives have made it clear that Stories are the future, with sharing via Stories set to outpace sharing to feeds. According to consulting firm Block Party, Stories—”the vertical, disappearing videos invented by Snapchat—are now growing 15 times faster than feed-based sharing”.

So how can brands embrace stories….

  • Stories exist for 24 hours…. They are meant for the now, what’s happening right now in your business. Raw unedited real stories perform better than stories that are more polished and heavily edited
  • They are created by individuals – don’t be afraid to get in front of the camera……
  • They are easy to create and should be fun and engaging
  • They are spontaneous and they don’t necessarily require much editing before uploading them
  • Authentic stories will always perform better.

I’m planning to roll out training on Facebook/Instagram Stories.. let me know if you’re interested in finding out more..

6. The Rise of the Nano influencer

We’ve all heard of influencers and even micro influencers. In 2019 we will see the emergence of the “nano” influencer.

Influencers are categorised according to the number of followers they have, usually on social media. Brands work with influencers to reach their target audiences through product placements, endorsements, reviews and affiliate programmes. The cost of working with influencers depends on how many followers they have.

Nano Influencers are people with a small loyal following. It can be anything from 1000 to 5000 people. The chances are they are not inundated with free products to review and nobody is beating down their door to offer them a brand ambassador contract! Therefore, you may need little or no budget to work with them. They may be happy to review your product and genuinely recommend it to their followers if it is in line with their ethos and brand values.

My advice for working with nano influencers is

  • Spend time identifying nano influencers that match your brand values.
  • Remember this tactic will only work if the people that follow them also match the profile of your ideal customer
  • Build genuine relationships that are mutually beneficial
  • Building this into your overall strategy so you don’t miss key dates and industry opportunities.

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