Change is a constant in many high-tech fields, and there’s nowhere that’s truer than in the sphere of social media. Just when we get used to one set of rules dictating how and where content flows, fresh trends and new tech disrupt the landscape and redefine the game.
2019 is already primed to bring dramatic developments to the social media world. Privacy concerns, political activity, mental health, and technological advancements (particularly in AI) are all going to be important. Here are our key trend predictions for social media in 2019:
Nano-Influencers Gain Power
A nano-influencer is a content creator who commands a small audience, usually less than 10,000 followers. We expect to see brands pay more attention to these individuals in the coming months. Why? Because they are realising that a huge following does not, in itself, guarantee the high levels of engagement they’re looking for. Nano-influencers offer a greater level of authenticity and typically hold much more sway with their followers. I have a few friends at the nano-influencer level who are already being courted by brands, scoring free material and often payments in exchange for brand advocacy. Nano-influencers are good deals for brands, as exposure can be bought at this level much more affordable than from past ‘influencers’ with bigger audiences. Nano-influencers are generally new to the world of compensated social media, so they’re hungry for experience as well as money.
The endless march of technology rewards cleverness and forward thinking amongst brands on social media. Capitalising on the latest technological possibilities offers multiple challenges. Perhaps the most important one, in terms of social activity, is education. Brands and organisations find themselves not only in need of clear strategies for using the latest tech such as animation production but also with a need to educate and inform their potential user base. Hybrid clouds, machine learning, quantum computing, IoT security: Brands need to do more than plan the most advantageous ways to employ these tools. They also need to teach users and the public what to expect from them.
The Story Format Will Grow – From the Marketer’s Side
The idea of providing content in the form of ‘Stories’ – ephemeral pieces posted to a social platform that will disappear within a day – has successfully taken the marketing world by storm. The platforms themselves have taken note, too. Mark Zuckerberg has already noted the rise of Stories over the News Feed on Facebook, and he has re-tasked the company’s internal developers appropriately. It would be no surprise at all to see new Story-focused ad products emerge from Facebook in 2019. The big question to keep in mind this year is that we can’t say for certain yet how organic this interest in Stories is. Marketers and social media operators love them, but how much do users actually like them? We need to be careful not to be taken in by an ‘astroturf’ swell of popularity that actually comes from advertisers and marketers.
Social Video Experimentation
Combining the human touch of video content with the unprecedented global reach of social media is a powerfully promising opportunity. When executed well, social video can be the literal next best thing to person-to-person support or selling. Both marketers and social platform operators understand what’s at stake here. Once the formula is perfected and the user experience is solidly positive, social video can as much of a revolution in the 21st century as television was in the 20th.
The range of different platforms available and the granular segmentation of audiences should steer brands and marketers away from ‘one size fits all’ approaches. Astute estimation of relevance and matching content to the individual viewer better could lead to hyper-personalised content with formidable effectiveness.
Using These Predictions
Only time can tell if we’re on-target or off-base with our 2019 predictions. We hope they’re useful food for thought as you plan out your content strategy for 2019.