By Jackie Maness

2019 Marketing Trends: March Update

How real is your 2019 social media strategy?

Social media is no longer “new,” and savvy businesses already understand that not only do they need a social presence, they also need a well-developed strategy. But the key to winning social media in 2019 isn’t just an editorial calendar of well-produced content. This year, social media marketing will move beyond mass broadcasting content and focus on addressing customers in a way that’s real.

Smart, curated content is still going to separate winners and losers, as always. But the trends we think could really create results, increase customer bases, and inspire deeper brand loyalty this year are authenticity, engagement, and influence. Here is the quick breakdown:

Be Authentic.

By now, we all know that social media is about relationships and engagement. But the number one key to that is authenticity – interacting as human beings, not as marketers or corporations. To some degree, this means just being present and personal. Responding to every single individual customer is never going to scale tactically and stay real. Responding quickly to customer complaints, issues, and questions is important, but that alone will never scale as a tactic. Creating a distinct competitive advantage here requires more than just responding; it means doing it with sincerity and humanity that people will recognize and appreciate.

This kind of heavy social 1:1 engagement is proven to create the kind of brand loyalty that harnesses your customers into growing your brand for you. Eighty three percent (83%) of the people who sent a tweet to a company and received a response felt better about the company and were more likely to do business with them. And, since nearly 3/4 of people who follow brands on Twitter are likely to purchase items or services from them, it pays to be real with your customers. Statistically, your reach will grow with each customer who feels they were truly heard and assisted in their moment of need – far more so than by simply pumping out more generic content.

Be Engaging.

Visual messaging is powerful. Research shows that articles with an image placed every 75-100 words received double the social media shares of those with fewer pictures. Likewise, Facebook posts with images average 2.3x the engagement of those without.

But static content is no longer enough to win the social sphere. Reports anticipate that soon, 80% of what we consume online will be video content. Successful marketers are already moving to video (34% now include it in their strategic plan) and reporting favorable results. Plus, they’re seeing even higher engagement rates with love video than expected. Facebook videos report an engagement rate of 4.3% live versus 2.2% non-live.

With video tools growing exponentially – from video re-marketing to deep analytics – it’s vitally important to understand how, when, and where your customers consume media. For example, while you should post cross-platform to reach each unique audience, consider that one-minute videos earn almost 500% more reach on LinkedIn than Facebook.

High quality production elements are no longer a substitute for engaging content. The skyrocketing number of smartphone-produced videos has shifted the threshold and altered user expectations. Brands must engage in relevant, human, and interactive video strategies to make gains in the space. Ultimately, to capture audience attention and drive engagement, it’s vital to tell stories that matter to people – not just to your brand.

Be Influential.

Influencers, micro-influencers, and even nano-influencers are the coin of the day in social marketing. It’s been said that “When it comes to social, everyone is someone.” That perspective should drive the relationship development strategy for brands in 2019.

Nurturing influence requires knowing when and how to speak to individuals and when to stop and listen. Developing these kinds of quality relationships with key customers is not easy to map out and replicate – but it is the kind of next-level strategy that separates you from the pack.

Treating individual customers as assets to be nurtured can leverage your social media base into an army of ambassadors, loyal beyond reason, to carry your messages, drive viral content, and help amplify the value of social media marketing to your bottom line.