Social Media – Where It’s Going and How to Keep Up with It (Part I)

by Rachel Strella

Social Media Trends

The year is young — now is a fine time for businesses to start doing the right things, to take charge of their social media strategy by evaluating trends and revisiting and refining their plans. Positive changes made now will position the business for better outcomes all year long.

Gone are the days when companies can treat social media as an afterthought or a supplemental marketing channel. Today, social media platforms are where a business has an opportunity to consistently demonstrate its value and reinforce its voice. They are the go-to places where customers ask questions, offer accolades and air complaints. No business can ignore the significance of its social media presence, because it influences how people perceive its brand.

I’ve always been cautious about making social media predictions because the ideal social strategy is unique for every business. However, there are some online marketing trends worth businesses considering as they evaluate what tactics will grow their business.

1. The growing importance of personal branding to business branding. Especially for small businesses, putting a real, human face to a business name helps build loyalty. A brand that’s more relatable and has the human element naturally garners more trust — and trust is essential for building relationships.

One way to humanize a brand is to promote the personal brand of the business owner or a high-level leader. This tactic has become a staple for many organizations, as demonstrated through guest blogging, podcast and webinar appearances, and other publicity opportunities. Through allowing people to get to know the character and expertise of company leadership, a business can strengthen its brand reputation.

Businesses that embrace this in 2019 will have a distinct advantage over companies that hide behind their logo.

2. Long-form content for making an SEO impact. While word count is not the only thing that can impact how prominently an article will appear on the search engine results page, SEO experts say long-form content will be able to provide an edge. Although Google doesn’t penalize blog posts if they fail to reach a certain word count threshold, it stands to reason that a high-quality article with 1,600 words will likely outrank a high-quality article with 500 words. It’s for that reason we’re seeing more publishers requiring guest authors to submit articles with a minimum of 1,000 or more words.

We’ll see more company blogs embracing long-form content and incorporating it into their content strategies. Therefore, businesses that have found they aren’t getting SEO traction with short posts may want to “go long” and add longer articles rich with information and insight that will attract readers and give Google a reason to rank them more favorably.

3. Acceleration of personalized marketing. With more companies digging into their data and using it to create customized marketing campaigns that target individuals’ interests at different points in the buyer’s journey, the pressure is on. Customers have come to expect brands to tailor special offers and discounts to their wants and needs. To accommodate that expectation, more businesses will need to consider targeted advertising and retargeting campaigns on social media channels. I anticipate that social platforms will continue to refine their targeting offerings as the demand for individualized content grows.

4. Video’s prominence as the preferred form of content. In a survey by Wyzowl “The State of Video Marketing 2018,” 97 percent of marketers said video has helped increase user understanding of their product or service and 76 percent said it has helped increase sales. Additionally, live streaming video will continue its emergence as a powerful way to engage people on social media. In fact, according to statistics compiled by Go-Globe by 2020, 82 percent of internet traffic is expected to be live video.

Video’s prominence is tied closely to the first trend, personal branding’s influence on the business brand. Video allows a company to put a face to the business. It enables prospects and customers to get to know who leads and works in a business. Video gives businesses an opportunity to show not only what they do but also “who” they are.

Also, social media algorithms might give video posts better organic reach than other types of posts.

5. “Pay to play” — the path to more exposure. In 2012, brands could expect, on average, approximately 16 percent of their fans would see their updates, according to an article on Hubspot. Fast forward to today, and that reach has plummeted even more.

With the diminishing organic reach of business content, most companies will need to invest in sponsored posts, boosted posts and social media ads if they want to stay top of mind. Fortunately, social media advertising doesn’t have to break the bank; a small amount of money can go a long way, and this trend should continue well into 2019.

Change: An Ever-Constant Trend

The one trend business can always count on resurfacing year after year is, they must — to some degree — adjust their social media approach to gain broader awareness and increase engagement with customers.

The thing about trends is, following them doesn’t guarantee success. While businesses are wise to pay attention to social media trends, they should — before jumping on the bandwagon — carefully evaluate if incorporating them in the marketing strategy will be consistent with their brand and practical for their business.

[Part II of this article is “How-tos for Social Media — Dos and Don’ts for 2019”]

Rachel StrellaRachel Strella is the founder of Strella Social Media, a social media management company serving dozens of clients nationally. She is a regular contributor to Small Business Trends and Social Media Today, and has been featured in Forbes,ABWA Magazine, PR Daily, SmallBizDaily, Business Insanity Radio and SiteProNews, among numerous other outlets. She’s an avid blogger with her award-winning blog (six awards), having more than 75 posts syndicated internationally, as well as a well-respected speaker.

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