Like all trends, social media trends change constantly. Nevertheless, trying to predict what’s next is a huge part of staying relevant. Luckily, big data companies do much of the work for you. By tracking millions of posts and hashtags, they can anticipate what’s coming so you can better plan your social media strategy. There is no better time to start looking ahead than now. Here’s a look at six social media trends to you’ll probably see quite often.
1. A Crackdown on Fake Followers
At the end of 2018, Instagram joined the list of social networks that are cracking down on fake followers. Fake followers and accounts have presented a real issue for platforms in the past few years. Many businesses and want-to-be influencers buy followers in order to grow their presence on the platform.
More followers create the illusion that a page is popular. As such, fake followers can lead to an “influencer” getting brand deals when they might just have a handful of real followers. For businesses, buying followers might be a marketing strategy to grow their online reputation. In either case, these fake accounts represent part of what Instagram calls “inauthentic activity.” The site has made moves to rid the platform of inactive, duplicate, and bot-operated accounts.
YouTube is facing a similar battle. As a result of recent efforts to remove fake YouTube accounts, millions of subscribers have disappeared across the platform. For a single creator alone, these efforts led to the loss of over 200,000 subscribers. This particular creator remains the second-most subscribed channel on the site, but the massive removal of fake accounts has impacted multiple users.
This battle will continue throughout 2019 and beyond as social following continues to hold more and more importance in the digital world. From individuals looking to get a ratings boost to influencers trying to make more money to businesses trying to build a reputation, many people participate in buying likes and follows.
Continued algorithm updates will go hand-in-hand with removal efforts. For instance, YouTube will continue to focus less on subscriber count and more on organic interaction when deciding which videos to feature. Such updates can actually hinder creators with a lot of followers unless a large percentage of their audience is consistently engaging with their content.
2. Growing Popularity of ‘Stories’
Instagram Stories are not new, but their usage continues to grow. Instagram made a bold move when its parent company, Facebook, chose to copy the concept of Snapchat, its very successful competitor. Instagram Stories are nothing more than Snapchat Stories on a new platform. But, it was a move that proved valuable for Facebook.
Continued popularity for the feature last year led to some calling Stories “Instagram’s smartest move yet.” Stories has proven to be so successful because it has helped re-engage users on a regular basis.
In a way, the platform’s success was working against it before the launch of Stories. Posting something “Instagram worthy” became such a big deal that many users stopped posting at all. Stories revived daily posting culture.
With the casual format and the fact that Stories disappear after 24 hours, users went back to posting again without the stress of the photo feed.
Perhaps more shockingly, Instagram Stories has taken away from Snapchat’s audience. Since November 2017, Snapchat’s growth has stagnated at about 190 million. In that same period, Instagram Stories has seen an increase of 100 million daily users. Today, more than 400 million use the feature every day.
3. Rising Expectations of Instant Customer Service
Yet another trend that businesses should take note of is the shift to “instant” customer service. Twitter is probably one of the best examples of this. More and more companies are setting up customer service accounts on social platforms so that users can get quick help when they need it.
Salesforce went so far as to call Twitter the “new 1-800 number” for its service potential. After all, over 700 million users are on the platform, and many of your customers likely are too. It’s really a case of going to your customers instead of making them come to you.
For many businesses, it’s working out well. Over 67% of customers report using social media to get support. Twitter is ideal thanks to its 280-character tweets. It forces agents (and customers) to be more concise in their responses. No big worry about proper grammar or formalities either. All of that reduces the time spent handling a case.
Plus, if many people are asking the same question, a single Tweet can answer it for all of them. This saves even more time and makes a bigger impact on your customer base.
These tweets are also public. Even if you choose to take the support request into a private message, the user’s request for help and the agent’s quick reply work to build a solid image for your brand. These fast public interactions also help make your company more personable and approachable.
4. Increasing Product Discovery and Sales Enablement Potential
The way we approach product discovery is rapidly changing thanks to social media. Organic product discovery is now a huge thing because of branded content. And, if you don’t think it’s effective, think again.
One report found that 76% of consumers will purchase items they find on social media. The average internet user spends more time on social websites than anywhere else, so that presents a lot of promising potential.
This is why Instagram and other platforms are hard at work trying to make shopping through social media simpler. Their mission is to make it a seamless process so that buying an item can really be as simple as a couple of clicks.
With the right interface, a fan could literally be scrolling through their feed, see a product they like, and buy it in less than 60 seconds. This is a big trend to watch as this technology continues to develop throughout the year.
5. The Takeover of Micro-Influencer Marketing
As brands are realizing, it’s not about how many followers a person has. It’s about how engaged a person’s followers are. This mindset shift is taking attention away from the big influencers who have a massive following. Instead, brands are now giving more focus to “micro influencers.”
When influencer marketing first took social media by storm, it led to some real issues. Users were buying thousands of fake followers to trick brands into paying them more to promote content through them. Meanwhile, brands were wasting money on posts that ultimately never reached the right people.
Micro-influencer marketing integrates marketing’s key principals. That is, it’s enabling brands to target the right audience by finding a niche influencer who has the right following.
When working with micro influencers, brands don’t really have to worry about the person buying fake followers. That’s because they may only have a few hundred or few thousand followers to start with. The point is, the influencer has a targeted and engaged niche following.
By working with influencers who have a niche following, brands are able to better predict and control who their content reaches. In turn, they will get better results from the branded content they pay influencers to put out.
6. More Live Streaming and Videos
Video is king. That’s the mantra many companies are taking with them into 2019. After countless studies have proven the potential of video, countless platforms are looking to emphasize it more in the new year.
Video already accounts for more than 80% of consumer internet traffic. It’s also the most sharable and engaging form of content on the web. Whether presented on its own or next to text-based content, video steals the spotlight. In fact, a person will spend 2.6x more time browsing a site that has video.
This is leading more businesses to YouTube and other video platforms. However, video is also very powerful on Facebook and Instagram where its usage is just beginning to take over.
Meanwhile, live streaming is also a new power trend to watch for. Similarly to video, it’s an extremely engaging form of content. By all calculations, the market for live streaming is going to be worth over $70 billion by 2021. That’s a lot of anticipated growth for 2019 and beyond.
Make a Plan of Action
These trends are well underway and as a business, it’s your job to keep up with what your users want. That means studying the markets, reading the studies, and thinking about how all these statistics add up in your favor. Don’t get left behind by your competition. Make a plan of action and incorporate these trends before they pass you by.