Our Top 6 Social Media Predictions for 2019!
Keeping up with the ever-changing world of Social Media and the almighty algorithm can be daunting. If it sometimes feels like the deck is stacked against you, you’re not alone.
Across platforms, organic reach is decreasing as we see brands and businesses being increasingly encouraged to pay to play to reach their audiences and fans. That means it’s harder than ever before to grow a following and keep your audience engaged.
In case your Social Media strategy for 2019 is ‘more of the same’, I’m going to share a few predictions with you which may make you want to shake things up a bit.
Of course, I don’t have a magic crystal ball to predict the future with all certainty, and it would be impossible to cover everything in detail in one article, but I thought I’d give it a stab, focusing on the most pertinent trends shaping Social Media right now. If you disagree or would like to add something I’ve missed, I’d love to hear your predictions as well!
#1 The evolving role of Facebook Pages
Today it’s often still standard for companies to actively manage Facebook Pages, however I predict this will become less important in future and that Facebook Groups will take precedence.
No way, you say? Here’s my thinking:
As Facebook goes further down the pay-for-play road, Facebook Pages now have such low organic reach, it’s become next to impossible to see significant ROI from all your efforts without running promotions.
At the same time, Facebook wants to become more relevant again as a tool to connect people and Facebook Groups are becoming increasingly more important, with several successfully cultivating highly engaged communities that don’t depend on ads to create meaningful engagement and conversation. In fact, Facebook is trialling subscription models with some of these highly engaged groups across the world to see if this could become a new avenue of growth for the company.
People are already taking note of this and changing their tactics, using existing groups or even setting up their own to build their following. It’s likely that companies and brands will start to follow. However, the question will be how, as many existing groups do not allow blatant self-promotion and consumers are looking for a more authentic experience.
With this shift starting to take place, the way people and brands will use the platform will change completely and the role of the Facebook Page, beyond SEO and creating a direct communication channel for consumers to reach brands, may become questionable in terms of serving content and engaging audiences.
#2 Instagram Shakedown
Instagram is the fastest growing Social Media platform, yet it’s more difficult than ever to grow an audience organically. Because of this, many services have popped up promising a huge following through shady tactics like purchasing fake followers and creating engagement through bots.
For those who have tried to cheat the algorithm and have invested in these services, I understand the temptation, but as this is starting to impact the experience and quality of Instagram for brands and users, I predict a massive shakedown will come to crack down on these activities.
Why? Because inevitably, Facebook will start to commercialise the platform to a greater extent and for that to be seen as a valuable investment by companies and brands, the engagement seen on Instagram needs to be real.
So, if you want to be serious about your Instagram, steer clear! It may take much longer, but quality content and genuine engagement is still the way to go.
Of course you need eye-catching images, but don’t underestimate the importance of your captions. Give yourself the best chance of connecting with your audience by using location tags, timing your posts strategically, doing hashtag research (use them in Stories as well as posts!), and posting as consistently as possible — ideally at least once per day.
The other prediction for Instagram? Well, there’s a whole new twist! Facebook has recently announced that at a deeper level, Facebook will integrate Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, so that a Facebook user for example could communicate directly with someone who only has a WhatsApp account without ever leaving one app for the other. This work has already begun!
What will this mean for brands? Only time will tell but this seems to be a continuation of the theme of Facebook wanting to revive and deepen its role of connecting people as a company and thereby uncovering new opportunities for itself, brands and users alike.
#3 LinkedIn will continue to morph into Facebook
Do you sometimes find yourself toggling between the Facebook and LinkedIn apps on your phone, wondering mid newsfeed which platform you’re on right now? They’ve become a bit similar haven’t they…?
LinkedIn is already an extremely useful channel for B2B companies, and this will only become more true as LinkedIn has launched a host of tools (that we’re already familiar with from Facebook) to encourage users to be more engaged on the platform. These include carousel ads, video and a more powerful ad platform with plenty of tutorials.
It may be difficult to grow a following and LinkedIn advertising is still more expensive, but with more new features coming online, I predict more people will be curious to experiment with the channel, as they look for new avenues to promote their businesses.
If you want to be ahead of the curve, educate yourself on the most strategic ways to use LinkedIn. Understand what’s appropriate to post and what’s not (hint: you probably want to keep those personal posts on Facebook), share useful content that truly shows thought leadership, and don’t forget the importance of engaging with other people’s content.
#4 A comeback for Twitter
People have been predicting Twitter’s demise for years, as key execs have left, the platform’s user growth stagnated and becoming profitable seemed a distant pipe dream. But then the platform went and surprised everyone by actually making money! I predict this upward momentum will continue in 2019.
Whether or not you should be using Twitter depends on the nature of your business and how much time you can dedicate to it. You can’t just create a page and expect results. It’s called Social Media for a reason; you have to be social!
On Twitter, that means posting frequently (ideally several times a day), and commenting on other posts as well. As Twitter’s ad platforms improves, there could be new opportunities there as well.
#5 SEO and SEM on the rise
As mentioned, across Social Media channels the trend is clear: organic reach is down and ads are growing increasingly competitive. That’s a frustrating reality for many, especially those who don’t have the knowledge or budget to buy ads effectively.
As a result, I predict more and more people will start talking about SEO and SEM, trying to make sense of it and how they can use it to grow their businesses. Such tactics will not be easier than Social Media, but as more people will attempt to crack it, it will be harder to get away with ignoring it.
So, instead of putting all your eggs in the Social Media basket, educate yourself on SEO/SEM, or hire someone who can help you. Experiment with buying AdWords, do an SEO audit on your website, and start paying attention to what Google Analytics are telling you. If your Organic Traffic is of low quality or non-existent, you really have a problem!
Finding a good provider can be tricky. So make sure to learn about the fundamentals to ensure you have the right expectations and can identify people who can really help you achieve your goals.
#6 People will get better at Social Media
I’ve talked a little bit about the kind of tactics that don’t work, like buying fake followers, or just putting up a page and expecting results. This year, I hope people will think more strategically about how to use Social Media, what they can expect from each platform and what role Social Media can play in their businesses. In turn, they will see better outcomes.
Cracking the Social Media code isn’t getting easier, so you’ll need to make a serious investment if you want to make it work. That might mean investing your own time to educate yourself on each channel, keeping up with trends, and really engaging on every channel you decide to use. Or it could mean finding the budget to hire experts who can advise you on the right channels to use for your business, and manage your accounts for you.
If you take one thing away from this post, it’s that there is no simple answer, no one-size-fits-all solution, no easy cheats. If you want a great return on your investment, you have to get there the hard way — or better yet, the smart way!
Always start with your goal, take time to really understand your target audience and what different channels are good for, as well as how they work, to identify the right tactics for your business!