instantLast year has been a turbulent year for social media in many ways. To protect their privacy, Penny Wilson, CMO at Hootsuite explained, many social media users now use more often closed channels such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat. This gives companies the opportunity to build a new kind of customer relationship, especially with many customers using instant messaging for interactions such as support requests.

The Hootsuite report, which we briefly present in the following, shows businesses executives, marketers, customer experience, and social media experts and how they see their opportunities in how to succeed in 2019: e.g. with videos posted via Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook Stories, followers can be addressed via "Storifying" instead of traditional "storytelling," which leads to more engagement. This allows brands to tell their own, more emotional stories that are important and relevant and reach their audience immediately.

The fact is, that as the organic reach decreased in 2018, brands had to invest more in Paid Social to spread their messages. As a result, competition has intensified here as well, which is why brands must once again look to new approaches in the coming year.

In addition, e-commerce is increasingly pushing directly into the social media channels, where customers can now even complete their purchases. Above all, this increases the convenience for users who already use social media to network with brands or search for articles, recommendations and support.

Hootsuite’s Social Media Trends 2019 are in a nutshell:

1. Rebuilding trust

Customers are increasingly paying attention to who they interact with in social media and to whom they entrust data. Therefore, brands must adapt their strategy and quickly bring more relevant content to their target audience, while being authentic and in line with the brand.

After the Cambridge Analytica scandal and congressional hearing, Facebook faced pressure from users and regulators to improve security, transparency, and accuracy, meanwhile, Twitter fought controversies over the large presence of bots on its platform, purging millions of fake accounts, To no surprise, 60% of people no longer trust social media companies by now and consumers, regulators, and media observers questioned the privacy, accuracy, and ethics of nearly every social network.

For brands on social media, this shift presents new challenges and opportunities, Hootsuite states. “Users have grown distrustful of many media and celebrity influencers whose followings, it turns out, are often bought or fake, so that trust has reverted back to immediate friends, family, and acquaintances on social media, as well as traditional and trusted journalism outlets”

2. Storifying Social

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, since the format is playing an increasingly important role in sharing and even buying, brands need to include stories in their repertoire in 2019.

Hootsuite explains: “Social media is pivoting from text-based platforms originally designed for desktop use (think early Facebook) to truly mobile-only networks that enable users to capture in-the-moment experiences—and Stories embody that pivot. Stories are overwhelmingly visual and meant to be created and consumed on the fly with nothing more than a smartphone and a creative eye. Because they’re ephemeral—often disappearing after a day—there’s more room for fun and experimentation. Stories feel real, immediate, and intensely personal.” That’s why brands increasingly embracing the intimate, multimedia look and feel of Stories.

3. Closing the ad gap

The growing competition at Paid Social is forcing marketers to come up with more than just spending more and more money. Instead, they need to take customers seriously and engage them with personally relevant content to add value.
But rising costs and fleeting attention are limiting ROI for advertisers. To counter this, paid social teams are pairing ad money with equal time investment, creativity, and targeting savvy. Their goal is to generate user discussion and engagement, rather than to simply “broadcast” an ad at an audience.

4. Cracking the commerce code

According to Hootsuite’s report social commerce adoption has been swift in Asia, with 70% of the Gen Z in China now buying direct from social, but social commerce hasn’t kept pace in North America despite the long-hyped promise of buy buttons.” New and evolving technologies are changing that—especially for young buyers: e.g. Instagram’s shoppable posts now allow users to go from discovery to checkout without ever leaving the app and the platform has even added a Shopping tab to its Explore page; Facebook’s Marketplace is now used in 70 countries by more than 800 million people; on Pinterest,55% of customers using the site to find and shop for products, and beyond the familiar YouTube, new formats—from in-stream buying plugins for Instagram to livestream shopping on WeChat—have emerged for integrating social video deeper into the buyer’s journey.

A key issue in 2019 will be that brands will make shopping on social media live, interactive and seamless - especially on mobile devices. The most successful brands will invest a lot of energy in 2019 to show their customers how their products and services fit into their everyday lives.

5. Messaging eats the world

The four largest messaging apps together have nearly five billion users who are active at least once a month. As a result, instant messaging is quickly overtaking more traditional social networks. Sixty-nine percent of consumers surveyed by Hootsuite say they trust a brand more when they can contact them through a messaging service. What’s clear, however, is that consumers don’t want more advertising channels but a better 1:1 social experience, hence, smart brands are using messaging apps for more high-value conversations.

Combined, these trends can provide great new opportunities for brands to build a deeper, more authentic and sustainable relationship with their customers in 2019 and beyond.

By Daniela La Marca