Social media will continue to be central to business marketing as we move into 2020—especially as a way to build brand awareness and trust. To help small businesses succeed on the social front in the months ahead, we researched the top social media trends, touching on things like multimedia use and consumer engagement.
Building the right kind of social content and strategy takes time, however—time many small businesses don’t have. Fortunately, a platform like Fiverr can help. Starting at just $5 per task/post, you can hire a social media expert to help you create content or develop a strategy that builds and maintains an authentic community around your brand. Click here to get started with Fiverr.
Here are the top 10 social media trends marketers should leverage in 2020:
1. Messenger Chatbots Deliver 24/7 Support
Consumers are shifting from sharing personal experiences on public social profiles to engaging in messenger apps. WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat, QQ, and Skype enjoy a 5 million person user-base (and rising), more than all the public social networks. While WhatsApp had 16.2 million users in 2015, by 2021, it will likely have 25.6 million users. Likewise, Facebook Messenger had 126.3 million users in 2018 and is predicted to have 138.1 million by 2022.
Brands that meet consumers in these apps enjoy an 88% open rate for their marketing messages. The problem for small businesses often arises in consumers’ response expectations. Among today’s consumers, 82% of them expect an immediate response from brands when they contact them. In addition, 90% of them say that an immediate response (within 10 minutes) is very important. So, brands must provide 24/7 support—a difficult task for small businesses.
While small brands often don’t have the funding to provide 24/7 support, technology can be a solution. Messenger chatbots powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning make it possible for brands to offer the 24/7 real-time support customers expect. For this reason, 46% of companies did or plan to implement a chatbot in 2019.
2. Influencer Marketing Becomes Accessible to Small Businesses
Influencer marketing is the use of popular niche experts to market products. In 2015, global influencer marketing spend was $500 million; by 2020, it will be $10 billion. The trend is rising in part because it’s become more affordable to businesses of all sizes. Smaller companies are increasingly leveraging micro-influencers (niche experts/personalities with 10,000-90,000 followers) and employee influencers (employees with a following around a company niche).
Another trend bringing influencer marketing to small businesses is the use of micro-influencers—niche experts or personalities with fewer than 10,000 followers. While companies pay thousands of dollars for celebrity or influencer partnerships, micro-influencers are more affordable, with the average paid campaign costing less than $500. Still, micro-influencers boast a 60% higher engagement rate than celebrity influencers and offer a 22.2% conversion rate.
On the business side, a Sprout Social report reveals that 71% of social marketers are turning to brand employees as influencers—in part to cut costs. But it also works; employee-generated content drives 561% higher audience reach than content shared on corporate channels alone. And, 45% of consumers say that brand thought leadership (content created by company employees) led them to buy from a company.
3. Ephemeral Content—Like Disappearing Posts— Boosts Engagement
Ephemeral content includes posts and stories that disappear within a set amount of time, usually 24 hours. Many brands publish ephemeral content on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. Content is not shared within audiences’ normal feeds, so brands can publish as often as they’d like without spamming users. In addition, limited access to the stories allows companies to create a sense of urgency (or fear of missing out).
As an ephemeral content channel, Instagram boasts an impressive 200 million engaged people monthly, up from 100 million in October 2017. This reach makes it cost-effective for brands to showcase limited-time deals or behind-the-scenes peeks into their companies, products, and culture. In turn, they enjoy a rise in engagement. Among brands with ~10,00 followers, regular posts enjoy an 11.3% reach rate while Instagram Stories enjoy a 32% reach rate.
Snapchat is also an effective platform for ephemeral content. Warby Parker, for example, uses Snapchat to showcase behind-the-scenes looks into company offices to reveal their casual, creative culture. After developing a following, they began experimenting to turn brand followers into customers by offering exclusive deals for limited edition designer glasses. The frames sold out in record time.
4. Live Video Offers New Marketing Outlet for Small Businesses
Live video is the recording or streaming of video in real time. Among small businesses, it is exceedingly popular, with 95% of executives planning to use it for marketing; a remarkable 91% say they will do so via Facebook Live. The reason is simple—their audiences demand it; 82% of people say they would rather watch a live video than read a social media post. Moreover, live videos get six times the engagement (likes, comments, shares) as pre-recorded videos.
A 2019 Buffer study offers insights into small businesses’ plans to use live video. In a survey of over 1,800 small business marketers, the top reasons cited for not using video more is limited budget and time. Live video solves this. Consumers value authentic, raw video, and companies spend less time producing and editing videos. Mobile device cameras also create the authentic feel followers want (see No. 6 below) without costly production equipment.
5. Social Media Ads Poised to Surpass Traditional Advertising
While publishers like The New York Times experience double digit declines in ad revenue, small businesses are turning to social ads in droves. Facebook now has 6 million advertisers while Instagram enjoys 2 million monthly advertisers. On these channels, small businesses can reach potential customers with easy targeting and multiple ad types; social advertising is also much less expensive than advertising in traditional media.
In fact, by 2020, social media advertising is poised to surpass newspaper advertising, a traditional media option small businesses have long used to reach local consumers. The simple truth is, with an average $11 per 1000 views, small businesses can showcase their products better via Facebook and Instagram ads, allowing them to compete using the same social media strategies as big businesses.
For example, Pela Case finds new potential customers via ultra-flexible Instagram Carousel ads. Using this ad type, the company can use multimedia—including image and video—to help consumers take a deep dive into product exploration. Then, they add a link for consumers to click and buy. Supplementary sponsored stories boost this effort, ensuring paid content is prominently placed in target audiences’ feeds.
6. Social Media ‘Stories’ Help Brands Showcase Authenticity
The relatively new Stories feature in social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook has become exceedingly popular among consumers. In 2016, 100 million users engaged with Instagram Stories; in 2019, 500 million do. Similarly, while Facebook Stories may have only been introduced two years ago, it now boasts a user-base of 500 million. Due to increasing popularity among consumers, 2 million brands are meeting consumers there.
Facebook Stories make it easy for brands to tell the authentic stories their followers love. To tell the story around an event, for example, companies can create image and video slideshows of the event preparation and sneak peeks into what the event will entail. During the event, they can invite attendees to contribute to the story. Support for Facebook Stories in businesses’ Groups & Events means users can contribute their own user-generated content to the story.
7. Social Listening Makes It Easier to Understand Customers
Social listening is the use of monitoring tools to listen to and analyze how people speak about your brand, industry, keywords, and competitors. This may seem creepy, but consumers prefer it. While 90% of social media users reach out to brands on social media, 83% of consumers like when brands respond to their questions and 68% of them like when brands join their conversations on social media. To respond or join conversations, brands must first listen.
But this isn’t just a win for consumers. In 2019, the number of social listening tools is poised to rise by 31% in response to company demand for them. By listening in, brands can learn of problems associated with their brands to create proactive responses that retain customers. They can also keep track of industry or brand complaints, as well as consumer interests, in order to offer solutions that keep customers satisfied and attract new ones.
For example, Bella Brava, a vegan pizza restaurant that focuses on healthy living, wanted to open a new location. To find a community that would embrace their values, they plugged keywords like “healthy,” “vegetarian”, and “authentic Italian” into social listening tools to follow conversations around them. They narrowed in on locations where people were most involved in those conversations and then found a range of locations for building new restaurants.
8. Social Media Groups Create Greater Marketing Reach
While social media platforms like Facebook were created so people could connect to their communities, brands have been using it as a virtual corkboard for their content—and consumers want more. They want meaningful relationships and a sense of belonging, so 1.4 billion of them have joined private Groups, a user-base that has risen 40% in the last year. In turn, when choosing content for people’s feeds, Facebook algorithms prioritize Group content.
Not surprisingly, then, brands are engaging Groups to get their content back in consumers’ feeds. This has prompted social platforms like Facebook to roll out new Group business features, like the ability to participate as a business page, post live videos, and create learning units (courses) for members.
Because Facebook’s algorithms prioritize Group content in feeds, brands enjoy greater reach when marketing within Groups. As they do, they gain access to an audience for promoting exclusive peaks into new products and deals, and gaining in-depth information on consumer interests and pain points (which can be used to create targeted ad campaigns).
9. B2B Social Selling Earns Higher ROI, Favored by Salespeople
Social selling is the use of social media by salespeople to answer customer questions and engage in business or industry-related conversations. As they do, they teach customers and leads about their industry and products, thereby earning consumer trust and nurturing prospects from first brand awareness through to purchase.
Social selling is especially effective for business-to-business (B2B) brands—largely because the primary decision-makers within B2B businesses are between 18 and 34 years old, which is also the largest demographic on social media. Unsurprisingly, decision-makers use social media to assess brands and products before purchasing: 84% of senior executives use social media to support purchase decisions and 75% of buyers are significantly influenced by social media.
This means B2B brands enjoy superior results by reaching decision-makers where they’re most comfortable. Salespeople who leverage social selling earn, on average, a 31% increase in ROI than those who use traditional selling tactics. Further, social sellers enjoy 6% better sales quota attainment, and 7% higher renewal rates compared to when they try to sell via more traditional sales avenues.
It’s also important to note that the returns are long-term and affect the entire company’s success. Social selling helps companies gain, on average, a 16% year-over-year increase in revenue, which is four times what is generally achieved by those who don’t use social selling.
10. A Focus on Building Trust
In 2019, society as a whole has trust issues. The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that 73% of people are worried about fake news being used as a weapon. Further, the report reveals that only 56% of people trust businesses. Even nonprofits are seeing trust issues, with only 57% of consumers trusting nonprofit organizations.
In contrast, 75% of people trust their employer and 92% of consumers trust product recommendations from people they know. Indeed, consumers are shifting their trust from large, mass businesses and sources to the people and businesses within their trusted communities. What’s more, they expect brands to earn a trusted place in their little community, which includes friends, employers, and like-minded people.
So, brands are working to become part of the authentic, trusted communities people normally rely on. To do so, they’re listening to and engaging in social media groups conversations, providing 24/7 social media support via chatbots to prove to customers they can count on brands; and using user-generated content (in Stories, for example) and micro-influencers rather than hard pitches to build trust.
Bottom Line – Latest Social Media Trends 2019
As we look toward 2020, it’s clear that brands must embrace a reality in which trust in business is suffering. That’s why the latest social media trends feature businesses using Groups, micro-influencers, social selling, 24/7 support, and storytelling via ephemeral content to reconnect with buyers authentically. To make up for algorithm changes in social feeds, they’re also turning to paid ads and social listening to understand consumer preferences.
Making the most of these trust and community-based marketing strategies takes a huge time investment, however, that’s often untenable for small businesses. Fortunately, contract platforms like Fiverr can give them extra hands to help. Starting at just $5 per task, Fiverr’s social media experts can help you enact social marketing strategies that build and maintain an authentic community around your brand. Click here to get started with Fiverr.