For this column, I will take a look at social media trends that are growing stronger – or emerging — in 2019. This will be my last Social Media Bytes column. I have enjoyed coming up with topics that would appeal to readers on social media and the online life. I would like to thank all my readers for their feedback, questions and support over the four years this column has been running. I thank you also for taking the time to read my words.
For this column, I turned to two of my favorite Internet and marketing sites (Hootsuite, Business2Community) to see their predictions for social media trends in this coming year.
Hootsuite is a social media management site that offers tools for aggregating and managing social media channels for business and non-profits. Hootsuite recently conducted a survey of over 3,000 clients to determine what trends will be influencing social media in the coming year. They found that top trends will be:
- Rebuilding consumer trust online. People are questioning the security, transparency and accuracy of information from social media companies. Think Twitter’s fake accounts or Facebook’s epidemic of fake news. In fact, according to Hootsuite’s study, 60% of people no longer trust social media companies. Going forward, brands will need to focus on transparency and meaningful engagement with consumers, if they are to be trusted. Creating communities and carefully researching content will be the ways that smart brands can re-engage with their critics.
- SnapChat Stories. These short-lived videos that disappear after a certain period of time will become the primary way that people share events and stories online in the future – more than Whats App, more than Instagram and more than Facebook. Hootsuite’s blog said that disappearing ‘Stories feel real, immediate and intensely personal.’ In other words, more like real life, and less like social media.
- Increased social media and online advertising budgets. Brands are seeking to find better, more impacting, ways to put their message or story in front of consumers, and will continue to pay more to do so.
- Boosting and widening the use of social commerce. Social commerce is when a product or service is bought as a direct result of social media ads or messages. In the past, businesses have found it difficult to gauge how social media impacted sales, as much buying still took place off-line or through websites. With new tracking and selling technology – Facebook’s Marketplace or Instagram’s shoppable posts — users can now buy directly through an app or social media site, and sellers can clearly see how much of their sales happen via social media.
- The rise and rise of messaging apps. The way consumers spend their time online is changing – they are moving away from social media channels and spending more time using messaging apps, such as Whats App, WeChat or Facebook Messenger. According to Hootsuite’s survey, 90% of consumers would prefer to use messaging channels to communicate with business, instead of social media. Businesses that make greater use of online messaging will see a greater trust from consumers, according to Hootsuite.
Business2Community is a site that watches business, digital, technology, marketing and finance trends. They’ve put together a list of the top trends they see coming next year and include:
- Generation Z consumers. Generation Z – or Gen Z, as it’s often called – are those people now in their teens and early twenties. They are beginning to emerge as an influential force online and in terms of their consumer choices and habits. Gen Z’s are digital natives – they’ve grown up online and they social media for everything from communicating to shopping to making political decisions. They are financially and socially conservative, preferring to save money, work for themselves, become entrepreneurs and not take financial risks. They do not trust easily – having been influenced by the Global Financial Crisis and the epidemic of fake news.
- Augmented Reality (AR) will become increasingly popular. AR is the interactive experience in which things or places in the real world are ‘augmented’ by computer-generated perceptual information to form a hybrid experience for users that combines both on and off-line worlds. Think Pokémon’s popular GO!
- Social Influencers. Brands will continue to expand their use of social influencers. These are people active on social media, often bloggers or Instagrammers, who have large followings and can inspire trust and loyalty in a brand’s products among their followers. Companies will often pay social influencers directly to post Tweets or Instagram photos that promote their products. Influencers are also invited to live events, paid to attend conferences and given products or services for free. As influencers are often called on for comment by conventional media, their influence can extend far beyond their own social media circles.
- Live Streaming. Companies are increasingly using live video as a marketing tool. Videos on social media have more engagement than any other type of content. Watch the trend of live streaming video streaming continue to grow.
I would like to leave you with my thoughts about using social media and having an online presence in the digital age. Hopefully, you’ve read my past columns about how the Internet and digital devices are affecting all of us or how we can use them to improve aspects of our lives. The digital era – the Internet Age – is here to stay. Humankind is heading down a path that will likely lead to human/tech augmentation, bioengineering and AI algorithms that make more and more decisions affecting our lives. In short, we will be – we already are – living in a science fiction world. We can be alarmed or informed – hopefully, you will be the latter. Like climate change, we ignore history unfolding before us at our own peril.
I’d like to leave you with a book recommendation that may help give you a broad look at where humankind may be heading with all our digital devices, Big Data, AI, robots and hi-tech. The book is 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, by Yuval Noah Harari. You should also read his other book Homo Deus, which is a more in-depth and broader look at our possible human-tech future.
Thanks for reading my column and stay informed.
Email Liz at LizinBali@gmail.com
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