Social networking sites provide a major opportunity for marketers to reach a huge number of users. In fact, according to the 'We Are Social' report, three billion people around the world use social platforms every month. Best of all, many of these platforms allow for specific audiences to be targeted, improving the return on investment.
With that being said, social media in 2019 is going to be more saturated than ever before, with more social network users, more social marketers and more platforms providing opportunities to reach customers. It is, therefore, essential to have a good understanding of how the land lies moving into the new year.
This article will provide a breakdown of the key things you need to know to achieve success in the year ahead.
1. Choosing the Right Platforms
Successfully using social media as a marketing tool requires an awareness of the state of play. In 2019, it is no longer just about Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Pinterest is growing faster than Twitter, with 90 percent of its users using it to make purchasing decisions, while Instagram's 'Stories' have been a huge success.
As the following infographic from Statista shows, marketers have not yet fully embraced Snapchat. There are many potential reasons for this, such as difficulty calculating ROI. However, as only 8 percent of marketers currently use it, it represents a significant opportunity for those that are able to create relevant content.
Ultimately, it is relevance that is the key to success with social media in 2019. Rather than trying to cover all bases, marketers should focus their efforts on the platforms that are most relevant to their target audience. Snapchat, for example, primarily appeals to teens and young adults, while older audiences prefer Facebook.
2. Continued Growth of Video Content
Over the past few years, marketing experts have gone into over-drive highlighting the benefits of video marketing. The growth of online video content is showing no signs of slowing down and is largely driven by mobile. Indeed, mobile video has increased by almost 10 million viewing minutes per day over the past two years.
Many social platforms offer excellent support for video content. Facebook not only allows marketers to upload pre-recorded video content, it also includes built-in support for live streaming through Facebook Live, as well as support for 360 degree video. Twitter also offers excellent video support, as well as compatibility with Periscope, while Instagram, LinkedIn and Snapchat can all be targeted effectively via video too.
According to statistics compiled by SocialMediaToday, 500 million people watch Facebook videos every day and video accounts for 74 percent of all internet traffic. Meanwhile, 90 percent of customers say video helps them to make purchasing decisions and 64 percent say they often buy a product after seeing a video about it.
3. Customer Service as Marketing
Customer service delivered through social networks can produce excellent marketing benefits. For example, Facebook now gives companies that respond rapidly - within 15 minutes to 90 percent of queries - its special 'Fast Responder' designation, which is a great way to stand out from the competition. Meanwhile, helpful and even humorous responses to customers on Facebook and Twitter often go viral, attracting significant attention.
Research published by the Harvard Business Review found that customers who interacted with customer service reps on social media were more likely to make purchases, would spend more with that brand, and would be more likely to recommend the brand - regardless of whether the customer's original tone was positive or negative.
However, fast responses are imperative. HubSpot reports that 72 percent of people who complain on Twitter expect a response within one hour. Additionally, over a quarter of those who do not receive a timely response say they would tell family and friends about the experience and 24 percent would consider buying less from that brand.
The following infographic also highlights the benefits of quick responses in terms of revenue generation.
4. Understanding Privacy Concerns
While social networking sites continue to grow in popularity, people are also becoming increasingly concerned with online privacy. This has been exacerbated by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, as well as a subsequent decision by Facebook to suspend 200 apps as part of an investigation into the potential misuse of personal information.
According to one survey, carried out by Pew Research, 54 percent of Facebook users over the age of 18 have adjusted their privacy settings in the past year, highlighting the extent of concerns. Indeed, the same study also found that more than a quarter had deleted the app off their phones at some point.
For marketers, it is important not to add to user's concerns and fears, so interactions need to be handled carefully. If customers have issues that require you to ask for personal data, take it to the private messaging system. Concerns about privacy could also potentially lead to a decline in the effectiveness of interest based ads, especially if users decide to remove key personal details from the platform, so this is something to keep an eye on in 2019.
5. The Importance of Posting Images
Finally, images have always played an important part in marketing, but their use as a social marketing tool has become more obvious in recent times. For example, Instagram now has a billion active monthly users and is primarily an image-centric platform, while images continue to play a key role on Facebook and Twitter too.
The importance of adding clear visual component to marketing cannot be overstated. In actual fact, research shows that, on average, users remember 65 percent of a message they see, which is accompanied by an image, but they remember just 10 percent of a message they hear, with no such visual accompaniment.
For these reasons, creating eye-catching, compelling images, which are on-brand, is a vital part of any successful social marketing campaign and a great way to ensure your marketing messages actually resonate.
The Final Word
Social networking sites provide a great opportunity for digital marketers, but it is imperative that they keep up-to-date with the latest trends. In particular, effective use of social media in 2019 will require marketers to select the most relevant platforms, produce visual content and understand increasing privacy concerns.
Moreover, providing excellent customer service is one of the single most important aspects of a social marketing strategy. When this is achieved, and response times are quick, customers become more likely to buy from you, willing to spend more with you and increasingly likely to recommend you to friends and family.
Having worked in the Internet advertising and search industry for over 17 years, I have acquired a real passion for digital marketing. I am currently working as a consultant for ClickJump, advising on marketing strategies and implementing integrated campaigns for direct clients and agencies within a variety of sectors, including B2B. Follow me on Twitter @christellemacri