Year on year, social media continues to evolve and present marketers with new opportunities, and challenges. Already in 2019 we’ve seen several notable changes from the major social platforms. In this article we’ve summarized the biggest developments, and explained their impact for marketing professionals.
Over recent years Facebook has borne the brunt of a major backlash against social media’s role in the rise of fake news and the misuse of personal data.
A lot of research has been carried out into the connection between social media activity and decision-making patterns on issues ranging from consumer trends to voting behavior. The security and ethical use of this data has come under sharp focus.
Although sentiment towards this issue is consistently and largely negative, as of February of 2019, Facebook held about 53% of the market share of most popular social media sites in the United States. Facebook has held onto to its position by reasserting its own ethics and best practices with several updates to their platform that directly affect social media marketers:
Facebook knows that the quality of content on people’s timelines needs to improve in order to retain users – too much spam and misinformation will drive them away. Adjustments to Facebook’s algorithm has ensured users are able to see more content from friends and family and less from marketers (or wily political bots). This information is significant to marketers as they’ll now need to be careful to ensure their social media content can’t be mistaken for Fake News – so dressing up marketing messages to look like genuine editorial content is not a good idea.
Topics to Watch
This new in-platform feature identifies emerging trends and organizes them in one place. The tool offers a summary of new trends along with data visualization on trend growth and demographics. This is an immediately useful tool for marketers to find new content ideas as well as a strong bank of keywords to focus on for further advertising efforts.
Vision for Social Networking
Less of an update and more of a rallying cry, Mark Zuckerberg recently released a statement outlining his “Vision for Social Networking” as it pertains to privacy and data aggregation. His message reaffirmed previously hard-hit themes that he leaned on during his congressional hearing:
- Private interactions. People should have simple, intimate places where they have clear control over who can communicate with them and confidence that no one else can access what they share.
- Encryption. People’s private communications should be secure. End-to-end encryption prevents anyone — including us — from seeing what people share on our services.
- Reducing Permanence. People should be comfortable being themselves and should not have to worry about what they share coming back to hurt them later. So we won’t keep messages or stories around for longer than necessary to deliver the service or longer than people want them.
- Safety. People should expect that we will do everything we can to keep them safe on our services within the limits of what’s possible in an encrypted service.
- Interoperability. People should be able to use any of our apps to reach their friends, and they should be able to communicate across networks easily and securely.
- Secure data storage. People should expect that we won’t store sensitive data in countries with weak records on human rights like privacy and freedom of expression in order to protect data from being improperly accessed.
With Facebook working so diligently to win back trust and demonstrate integrity, marketers will have to work just as actively to not be mistaken for clickbait and propaganda by producing timely, high-quality, and targeted content to specific audiences. The effective execution of this will require smart use of social insights.
Owned by Facebook but enjoying a markedly more positive public reception, Instagram is also rolling out new 2019 changes to their channel.
Instagram Checkout takes Facebook Marketplace a step further and allows individual users purchase and check-out from business accounts without ever leaving Instagram. The tool saves your check-out information once you initially enter it and will even give you shipping update notifications in-app. Brand beta-testers included heavy hitters such as Oscar de la Renta, Nike, Kylie Cosmetics, and Adidas. This is an excellent tool which drastically limits the number of steps a potential customer might take between initial exposure to your brand or marketing and actually spending money.
Interactive Stories Ads
Instagram estimates that 500 million accounts are using Instagram Stories every day and brands of all sizes are using this tool. Instagram recently implemented interactive stories, wherein users can engage with elements such as polls and questions. Instagram estimates that on a monthly basis, 60% of businesses on Instagram are utilizing an interactive element already in their stories, in the form of poll stickers, hashtags, and mentions. This interaction is now coming in the form of an actual targeted, interactive advertisement. This is big news for marketers, because Instagram claims that in 9 out of 10 beta campaigns, an Interactive Story Ad increased story viewing by 3 seconds. This featured coupled with the newly implemented Checkout tool means that a genuinely engaging ad can now convert instantly into a business transaction.
The first thing to say about Snapchat is that it appeals to a very specific demographic. According to Snapchat’s internal data, 71% of the users are under 34, and 45% of users are between 18-24 years old. The second and slightly more important thing to say about Snapchat is that content here (and possibly the whole draw of Snapchat in general) is intended to have zero permanence and be fairly exclusive in audience. Duplicating Facebook or Instagram content here simply won’t work. Here is the opportunity to offer your followers original, exclusive content like sneak-peaks, one-on-one interviews with employees or industry leaders, and behind-the-scenes looks at the brand itself.
Organic reach on Snapchat is essentially nonexistent, so there will need to be separate marketing efforts for the Snapchat account itself, but once your Snapchat presence is engaged, the 2019 updates offer very strong options:
These ads are the traditional, full page snaps that we’re already used to, but the unique feature here is that there is some very specific ad targeting features which limit audience by demographic of course, but also location. This location specification is advanced to the point of having the option to only display ads in a specific radius of a designated location. There is also a targeting feature which shows your ad to the same viewers repeatedly. This feature is called Ad Sets and you can essentially create a “playlist” of different ads which you can then target to a distinct group of users.
Augmented Reality is a fairly underutilized tool which, in addition to having the novelty factor for many users, allows for an interactive and immersive ad experience. This makes for a memorable experience which holds the user’s attention – think: all the universal engagement and use of Snapchat’s facial recognition flower crown filter, but for your brand’s advertisement.
This is similar to Snap Ads but allow the page to feature a list of products at the bottom which can direct the user to the product page. This feature allows your marketing efforts to cast a much wider net in terms of product exposure but affords you the benefit of directing your ad traffic to specific pages with specific tools or products to assist even further with future targeting data.
If you want some help understanding how the latest social media platform developments impact your marketing strategy, let us give you a demonstration of Meltwater Social.