Every year, some of the biggest brands, names and influencers in the Social Media world release their predictions for what they believe will be the biggest trends in the upcoming year. It can be a little overwhelming for any Small/Medium business looking to not get left behind in the Social World. So, we’ve trawled through 100’s of blog posts to find the common denominators that small businesses should be looking to master in 2019.

It’s no secret that the rise of Instagram Stories has been monumentous since it’s release, and this form of in-the-moment content shows no sign of slowing down. Especially now we’ve seen this format flow on to Facebook and other social platforms over the last year.

So, why do our audiences care so much about in the moment content? Because, it ads a layer of authenticity to a brand that is hard to achieve from highly planned and pre-scheduled content. It allows brands to show real time glimpses into the inner workings of the business, which provides a more trusting and ‘real’ perspective of the brand to their following.

A big plus for brands wanting to use more in-the-moment content, is that it doesn’t have to cost a fortune for you to take advantage of this trend. If you’re an Ecommerce store, showcase short videos from behind the scenes at photo shoots. If you’re in the Hospitality industry, show case images or video content of the perfect cocktail. If your offering is more of a service, then showcase your team. Create stories that show the people behind the brand.

Remember, the goal is for the audience to see real, authentic in-the-moment content , so they can see a different side to the business.

Brands have been profiting from the use of influencers for what feels like an eternity in the social world, so it’s no surprise that this trend will continue throughout 2019. But, something that we expect to see more of this year, is the rise of the Micro-Influencer.

A Micro-Influencer is generally categorized as someone who has less than 10,000 followers on their social platform. They have a small yet highly engaged following and often considered by their audience to be experts in their particular niche/market. As the impact and sway that a ‘large’ influencer can have on a particular brands target market has vastly increased over recent years, so has the cost of doing business with them. With some major league influencers charging 100,000’s of dollars per post, the viability for the average business to work with them is declining.

This is where the Micro-Influencer comes to the rescue for small to medium businesses. From the brands perspective, you get exposure from a reputable and trusted influencer within your target demographic, AND you get quality content you can re-purpose on the brands own social profiles to showcase the collaboration. The benefits are also there for the M.I. too, as they get the fee or free product for working with you, and they get more content to post across their channels to continue to grow their following.

2018 was the year when consumers and audiences all over the world began to question their trust in the brands they know and love. Transparency was a key focus for business last year, from the disclosure of the use of cookies and audience tracking on websites, to refining privacy policies and making them easily accessible for their audiences.

In 2019 we believe the focus on trust will only continue for businesses. This year, we believe we will start to see more brands put a face to the name. From CEO’s being more front and centre across media outlets, to more ‘meet the team’ content being released through their communication channels with their potential audiences.

Now more than ever it is crucial for businesses to put transparency at the front of their strategy. This goes way beyond disclosing the use of cookies on websites. But actively sharing company values, changes in product make-up and processes, to trivial elements such as honest responses to comments and messaging from your audience across Social Channels.

Adding a human element to a brands attempt to show their transparency is a great way start. Not only does this show an authenticity to the message, but also humanizes the communication from the brand – which can often get lost in auto-responses from emails and messages.

Video is a powerhouse of Social Media content. And that isn’t going to change anytime soon. Sight, sound and motion is a proven way to capture and keep the attention of your audiences across social channels. What we believe we will start to see a shift in this year , is the type of video that resonates and performs well with your audiences.

The attention span of our audiences is pretty low, with distractions everywhere and a huge amount of other brands competing for their attention.. speed is key! The times of being able to share 6 minute videos and have your dedicated audience watch the majority of it are long gone. Now, people want fast, memorable, engaging content to consume.

How can small businesses play this to their advantage? Think vertical video! Sharing quick behind the scenes snippets and exclusives via Instagram Stories. The full screen vertical content allows for less distractions, and the fast consumable nature of it is appealing to audiences. There are so many ways you can leverage vertical video content – from going live with your audiences, to filming quick styling shoots or FAQ’s answered by employees etc.

Be creative – but keep it short!

Moral of the story, quality conversations and interactions are a two way street – and that’s what your audiences expect in 2019.

If you’re going to post content encouraging your following/audience to engage with your posts – then respond to them. If they are going to take the time out of their day to interact with your brand, it’s far more authentic if the brand actually responds back. So many times we see brands posting content such as “share your e XYZ stories below” etc, they have a stream of engagement attached to the post but none of it is from the brand. This doesn’t make your audiences feel valued and heard – and that doesn’t translate into a good experience.

The same rules apply to messaging. Now people expect real time communication and responses when they reach out to a company via formats such as Facebook messenger. Auto responses are great for letting your audience know you will reach out to them as soon as someone is available, or for finding out more information about their inquiry. But don’t over auto-mate your conversations with potential customers. This can be incredibly frustrating for them, and again can lead to bad reviews and experiences.

The truth is, when it comes to Social Media and really making an impact within your target market.. you have to spend money to make money now.

Whether you are wanting to focus on branding, story telling, sales or loyalty, to stay top of mind and cut through the noise – you will need to invest in social. While building a following around your brand is great for increasing awareness of your offering – considering the majority of your fans won’t see every post your make (thanks to the infamous decline in organic reach) you’ll need to be more proactive to get the end result. This is where paid ads across social channels such as Facebook and Instagram should be part of your advertising strategy and key to driving the consideration and sales of your offering in 2019.

Well, there you have it. This is our pick for the top Social Media trends small businesses should be looking to master and take advantage of in 2019.

If you’re looking to kick start your advertising efforts in 2019… or looking to scale the success of 2018, reach out to us today to find out how we can help!

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