Social media management platform Hootsuite shared five trends that it sees for the sector in 2019.
Hootsuite chief marketing officer Penny Wilson discussed the social media industry’s experiences in 2018 and what she and her company see in the cards for 2019.
“In many ways, 2018 was a tumultuous year for brands, marketers and customer experience leaders,” Wilson said. “Concerns around fake news and data privacy led individuals to question their trust in politicians, media outlets, social networks and businesses alike. Those same concerns extended to how brands forge relationships with customers and the data they use to do so.”
She continued, “The slowdown in organic reach on social required that marketers dive deeper into paid strategies to get their messages across. And the constant need to prove the return on investment of marketing spend remained, demanding that chief marketing officers and their teams balance brand and performance marketing to optimize the impact of their efforts against broader business objectives like brand health, revenue growth, customer retention and profitability.”
As for next year, Wilson said, “While 2018 had its challenges, they translate into tremendous new opportunities for brands to establish deeper, more authentic and longer-lasting relationships with customers in 2019 and beyond—connections that will help achieve those broader business objectives.”
Trust in social networks is on the decline. Edelman’s 2018 Trust Barometer found that 60 percent of respondents no longer trust social media companies, and independent research firm Ponemon Institute said Facebook was hardest-hit, as trust in the largest social network is down 66 percent.
The latter is no surprise, as Facebook’s 2018 was marred by numerous issues, including the Cambridge Analytica scandal over its handling of user data, appearances before Congress, failure to appear before foreign governments, the use of its platform to sway the 2016 presidential election in the U.S., issues with the analytics it reported for video ads, security breaches that compromised user data, its ongoing fake news problems and questionable tactics by Definers, a public-relations firm it hired.
Facebook was not alone, as Twitter dealt with fallout from the use of bots and fake accounts on its platform.
The mistrust is not exclusive to platforms, however, as Hootsuite said trust in celebrity influencers and the media is on the downswing, with people relying more on family and friends.
Hootsuite added that Edelman’s 2018 Trust Barometer found that 71 percent of people agree that social platforms should do more to support high-quality journalism.
The company said brands are focusing less on maximizing reach and more on “transparent, quality engagement,” adding that the focus has shifted from “hollow clicks” to long-term return on investment, and posting the same content across multiple platforms has given way to context-specific and audience-specific messaging.
Hootsuite cited The New York Times and Adidas as brands taking steps to engage in meaningful dialog with smaller but more valuable groups of people, adding that more brands are turning to experts and employee advocates as an alternative to celebrity influencers.
The company concluded, “Users are increasingly conscious of whom they’re interacting with on social media and what data they’re sharing. Earning trust and providing real value are key for continued engagement. We’ve spent the last few years emphasizing ‘content,’ but there’s an increasing emphasis on the critical role of context in delivering that content.”
And Wilson said, “The key to turning all of these trends into a competitive advantage is to do so in a manner that regains customer confidence. That starts with respecting their privacy, being open and transparent about when and why data is collected and then leveraging the data that customers are willing to share to create personalized one-to-one experiences that deliver unique value.”
The ‘storification’ of social
The stories format has exploded on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp—it is even being tested by LinkedIn—and consulting firm Block Party found that sharing via that method is growing 15 times faster than feed-based sharing.