It doesn’t seem 12 months since we last revealed the trends that would shape 2018. But what about 2019? We have a fantastic collection of social media experts, marketing influencers, and PR consultants to give you insider insights into what will be impacting your strategy next year. We’ve even found the best social media campaigns of 2018, that foresaw the trends for some early impact.
With contributions from some of the biggest experts in the industry, like Rand Fishkin, Sarah Hall, Neal Schaffer, Chris Penn and many more. To help your journey through the trends, we’ve split them into 3 categories:-
- The next age of data – trends surrounding changes in data.
- The technology revelation – trends involving technological changes.
- The self-adoration society – societal changes that will impact marketing.
It’s time to get planning. Let’s reveal the trends…
The next age of data
We can’t cover the big trends without looking at data. With the rise of GDPR and a greater awareness of the protection of personal data, brands & analysts need to handle their data streams effectively.
Not only that, but how businesses integrate data into their marketing strategy is changing. KPIs are merging, departments are realigning and businesses are getting more data savvy. 2019 is going to shake things up.
Who would have thought that 4 letters could be such a problem? Expect 2019 to be the year when businesses become more aware of the importance of secure data, and the dangers of unreliable/dirty data. We’ll also see how brands will handle the minefield of data transparency, and measure the impact of GDPR.
“Every data scientist and machine learning practitioner in the world, at every company and every level, needs to be taking a hard look at their governance and ethics procedures around bias.
We’re seeing more cases every day of algorithms creating emergent, unintended consequences (see the most recent high-profile case where Amazon scrapped its AI-powered hiring algorithm due to systemic bias against women) where insufficient time, effort, and resources went into mitigating bias.
If we want businesses to survive and thrive with AI, we must begin with proper data preparation and aggressive, proactive searches for bias in our data. Anything less sets us up for massive, high-visibility, high-risk failure.”
Christopher S. Penn Trust Insights
“I think that there’s so much more of a focus coming up in terms of just getting more out of your data. Trying to get a sense of what it’s really doing for you beyond just merely quantifying it.”
David Berkowitz, Serial Marketer.
Vanity metrics are dying. The next big social media trend will be to focus on ROI as the key to measuring the impact of social and PR actions… We’ll see in 2019 when campaign success will be driven by more tangible metrics that ultimately lead to sales.
“As we move into 2019, more and more CMOs are coming to us and saying “Marketing isn’t working anymore”. It’s true to say that “what got you here, won’t get you there”. People don’t look at adverts, GDPR has killed off email marketing, events have just become sales pitches and cold calling just shows you as a company are desperate.
Add to that the average output of corporate content just adds to the noise we all try and avoid. 2018 has proven out the test cases that you can close $1M deals through social and moved the buyer of these services from early adopter to majority.
In 2019, we will see further acceleration of social techniques adoption as social media and social selling move from tactic to strategic go-to-market for companies and brands.This will have a major impact on the skills we all need to execute both marketing and sales successfully in 2019 and beyond.”
Tim Hughes social-experts.net
“There’s a difference between vanity metrics and actual ROI. Unilever and other high-level brands have been burned using “influencers” and have stated they won’t use influencers in the future. With Twitter and now Facebook/Instagram removing accounts that are either bots or using tools to create fake growth, the days of fake vs real numbers are coming to an end.
At the same time, Facebook is being sued by advertisers for manipulating the results of their videos. We just don’t trust the numbers anymore. Expect more 3rd party tools like Sparktoro’s “Fake Followers Audit”, that can analyze and provide legitimate attribution data for advertisers and brands. It’s time to put money towards influencers and platforms that can truly provide ROI.”
Christina Garnett Marketing Media Maven
“Digital Marketing Industry today has matured and we are thinking over and beyond the metrics of Reach and Impression. Marketers are learning and relearning the art of converting buzz into business. The need of the hour is to lay down a Content Commerce roadmap.”
Mrinil Mathur Rajwani Social Samosa
“Social media marketing is reaching a state of maturity with business leaders realizing that social media marketing isn’t only about followers, reach or post likes. Ultimately, it all boils down to the core business metrics, especially the ROI. Social media and PR budgets can no longer be justified using ambiguous metrics.
Hence, digital marketing teams are increasingly focusing on proving the social media and PR ROI, resulting in a higher budget allocation for these channels. The successful digital marketing teams of 2019 will have strong data analytics and measurement capabilities and will be focused on driving a strong return on every dollar invested in social media and PR.”
Durgesh Kaushik Wishfie
As KPIs and metrics co-align, marketing and PR are going to integrate more and more in the coming year. That’ll mean closer cooperation in strategies, and more consistent brand output, driven by a single source of truth. If you want to prove the value of your PR, you need it to work alongside your marketing efforts.
“Uggggggg. It makes me sad that marketing and PR are more readily becoming one. I am a big proponent of metrics and making decisions based on data, but the PR industry should have stood up 10 years ago and taken control of this. Instead, our marketing brethren have known exactly what to do with data and are owning it.
Which means PR will most definitely become more integrated with marketing—and, unless the company is extremely savvy and has a sophisticated PR team, PR will never again own a seat at the proverbial table.”
Gini Dietrich Spin Sucks
“Marketing and PR teams alike need to quantify how their areas are contributing to the C-suite in a clear, quantifiable, and relevant way — a great example is the co-alignment of initiatives and key performance indicators (KPIs) for brand health. Brands need to have an “always on” reputation measurement framework for quantifying both long-term KPIs (e.g., overall brand reputation) and short-term KPIs (e.g., earned brand social media mentions, sentiment, and traditional media mentions.)
KPIs should be fact-based, defined, derived, visualized from a single source of truth with success defined up-front, which helps elevates the discussion to business outcomes. Money talks and brands that respond effectively to a crisis in a timely and effective way (empathetic, transparent, and actionable) perform ~15% better in their stock value.”
Jerry Nichols SAP Global Marketing and Communications
The big business strategy trend next year will be to focus on data maturity. Brands will finally encapsulate a complete data set into their strategy and operations, to manage data more effectively, and drive more impact.
“In 2019, businesses will finally take control of their data. The world is changing fast, and businesses need to manage their data more effectively. By aligning key KPIs across all aspects of their brand, with clearly defined benchmarks and customer-focused data sets, they can truly scale their business.
We’re going to see more businesses focused on growing their social data maturity. Brands will have to learn to handle big data completely or risk being drowned in fruitless KPIs and metrics. Only then will they be able to define the true ROI of their entire marketing and PR efforts.”
Christophe Folschette Talkwalker
“Data has been a thorn in the side of marketers and brands for so long, but 2019 will represent a sea-change in how we embrace the metrics. Single-view dashboards along with proper tracking across channel and device will see brands get better results.
There will be a new respect for data and a greater understanding of what metrics really matter. Understanding the full customer journey, cross-channel and cross-device will allow marketers to interpret behaviour to create better experiences. After all, digital age consumers expect a seamless experience.”
Joanne Sweeney-Burke Digital Training Institute
The technology revelation
Technology is advancing every day. From AI to live streaming, the social media marketplace is an entirely different beast from the start of 2018. Next year will be when marketing personnel and social media networks will integrate these advancements into their brands.
This is the year AI will make a noticeable difference to marketers, helping them with practical solutions on handling large data. After all, it does empower faster brand insights for AI marketing.
“AI IS making an impact on marketing and public relations and how those pros do what they do. While still in its infancy, there are areas like influencer marketing in which AI is already playing a role. There’s much more to come. Areas to watch include voice recognition and image and video recognition.”
Michelle Garrett Garrett Public Relations
With the likes of Alexa and Google Assistant now establishing themselves in homes, and the rise of ephemeral content, the way people search will change too. 2019 is when you will have to shake-up your media strategy to account for this.
“The past few years I have been very interested in the possibilities of image recognition.Image recognition is already in the hands of many brands that often leverage it to spot their logos and products throughout the internet but there’s a new use that really has caught my attention. Snapchat just announced a partnership with Amazon to offer “visual search” shopping directly from the Snapchat app.
This technology allows users to take a picture of say their friend’s shoes and if recognized and available on Amazon they will be brought to that product page, instantly in position to purchase something. As consumers how amazing would it be to see something you like, take a picture, and be able to buy/research it at a moment’s notice? It’s like Shazam for shopping.“
Travis Hawley Viral Nation
“Simply linking back to our blogs/podcasts/video channels or repurposing our content for social isn’t going to build a massive following. The companies that are winning are the ones creating original content natively to a specific platform.”
Andrew and Pete andrewandpete.com
7. Virtually different – Expect AR/VR to make an impact
2019 will bring in a new reality. But will it be an augmented reality, or a virtual one? Expect there to be more blurring of the lines between reality and artificial, as virtual influencers increase through the year. And next year could be the year VR finally takes off.
“I’d love to say I see Social Media transforming itself with Virtual Reality (knowing I got married in VR May 2017), but we can all see adoption of VR is slower than many had hoped. Putting it simply the ‘killer app’ or use case just doesn’t seem to have been found yet.
I remain hopeful that Social Virtual Reality will eventually become a way to connect at a different level – it is down to one thing whether is happens though…content. And this is where being an ‘avatar influencer’ may come into its own – through well crafted VR shows: entertaining, educational, and innovative – this will give people a reason to move attention from looking at avatars in 2D, don their headsets, and step into the metaverse. The experience is radically more engaging.”
Martin Shervington MartinShervington.com
Next year, the likes of Amazon and Netflix won’t control streaming services, with social media platforms like Facebook and Snapchat expanding their live video options with original content.
“With nearly 60% of the US now using streaming services (and much of the world following suit), it’s no surprise the major social networks are launching their own original content streaming options in 2019. Streaming creates this generation’s watercooler moments. And these new channels will allow you to attach your brand to these emotionally charged shows, through sponsorships, product placements, and social ads. It’s a risk, but one that will pay off for the early adopters of this new opportunity.”
Elena Melnikova Talkwalker
The self-adoration society
Society is changing. And with a new generation, comes new expectations, new marketing channels, and new challenges. This is what we expect to change in society in 2019 that you need to know about.
With influencer marketing platforms like Influencer One making this stream of marketing much easier, expect brands to continue growing influencer campaigns in 2019.
With more accurate result and ROI tracking, it won’t be celebrity influencers that will be leading campaigns. But will be more focused on brand ambassadors with engaged audiences, like the more impactful micro-influencers and entrepreneurs.
“One of the really interesting things that I think will happen in 2019 is that we’ll have a new breed of influencers to contend with: entrepreneurs. What I mean by that is that influencers have grown a lot over the past few years and the market has gotten to a point where influencers have become businesses in their own right. More and more influencers will try to find new ways to increase their reach and monetize it – the question is, how will this affect their influence within their niche?”
Lilach Bullock LilachBullock.com
“Influencers will continue to establish themselves as a traditional channel to distribute information relevant for their communities. However, 2019 will be the year of the micro influencer since they will be the ones who will make the biggest impact, contribution, and return on investment. Micro influencers will provide a quality driven focus to a win-win situation for brands.”
Karen Freberg Ph.D KarenFreberg.com
“Every audience pays attention to some set of publications and people. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about a super-niche, B2B buyer in chemical engineering or a broad consumer base like women’s fashion. In every market, there are podcasts people listen to, events they attend, individuals to whom they listen, media they consume, websites they visit, and social accounts they follow.
But a weird thing has happened in the marketing world: agencies and brands have stopped looking for all the sources that influence their audience and instead shifted an enormous amount of attention and dollars to buying promotional posts on just one place — Instagram — from very specific kinds of individual “influencers.” It’s bizarre.
It’s almost nonsensical. But the reality is that the definition of “influencer marketing” has gone from a logical, reasonable one in 2012. i.e. “find all the publications and people that influence my target audience and reach them through multiple kinds of marketing” to a hype-filled, overly-specific, inconsistent-ROI one in 2018, i.e. “pay half-naked Instagrammers to post a photo with my product. Let’s hope this is one trend that reverses itself in the years ahead.”
Rand Fishkin Sparktoro
“Influencers are now an integral part of marketing strategies, we’re regularly being brought into all agency meetings and for some brands, leading their marketing strategy. Influencers are going to continue growing as an industry, shifting spend from paid, ppc and digital media budgets. They represent a trackable and authentic channel with competitive ROI that the industry simply cannot ignore. Goat is working on the most disruptive and large-scale influencer campaigns in industry; our plans for 2019 are going to set a global precedent of what influencers can achieve.”
Harry Hugo The Goat Agency
“Macro influencers have either priced themselves out of the market or have engaged in ways that many brands feel does not make their content look authentic enough. The whole idea about influencer marketing is to leverage people to spark word of mouth. If celebrities are posting about a different brand every day, this becomes difficult to do. That’s why brands are focusing more on micro-influencers and even nano-influencers as a way to foster authentic engagement around their brand and lower the risk of fake followers and artificial engagement.”
Neal Schaffer NealSchaffer.com
Generation Z are now entering the workplace. Which means adapting your customer experiences to meet the demands of a new generation.
“There is a social media revolt. Young people everywhere are rejecting the notion that social media needs to be a part of your life. Because of this, companies need to find ways to make social media helpful and useful, educational, or entertaining to people, or lose them forever.
But the average company on social still uses it to push marketing messaging with little or no impact or engagement. With the amounts of data being generated with social interactions, purchase decisions, and subscriptions, companies can, and really need to tailor content to each individual user.”
Eric T. Tung GoTo Marketers
“In 2019, brands are going to find it increasingly difficult to attract and retain their audience’s attention on social media. The brands that develop creative content strategies that tap into themes that are culturally relevant (and topical) to their audiences, will win.People don’t go on social to see content about your brand, they don’t care about you or your brand. They want to be educated, entertained and inspired. The sooner you realise that and start creating content that fulfils those needs, the better.”
Dan Knowlton KPS Digital Marketing
Expect the buying cycle to change dramatically next year. With integrated sales in places like Instagram Stories and Facebook Messenger, and an increase in the relevancy in reviews, you will have to adapt your social media marketing to drive direct sales.
“Stories have redefined the way brands communicate on Instagram, and creative marketers are now learning to use this format to address each stage of the customer journey, from awareness to direct purchase. We’ll see even more investments in this channel in 2019.”
Todd Grossman Talkwalker
Brand purpose is going to drive more decisions than ever before. With the rise of campaigns like Iceland’s recent #NoPalmOilChristmas, which went viral on social networks after being banned on TV, expect brands to focus more on their consumers’ emotional drivers.
“Social purpose is rising up the corporate agenda as consumers look for companies demonstrating (not just talking about) shared values. Watch out for brands taking Iceland’s orangutan lead and placing accountable leadership at the heart of their organisational strategies – and social media – to drive company value over the long-term.”
Sarah Hall Sarah Hall Consulting
“Consumers used to accept that their favorite brands were neutral. “Don’t pick sides, and avoid topics and statements that alienate any audiences” were the common PR marching orders. Today, there is a different set of consumer expectations. Businesses are required to have a voice and to take a stance for their customers on important topics.
Maybe it is climate change, gun control, politics or other social issues? Social media and the citizen journalist have ignited brand purpose and social activism. There are businesses not only ready to join the conversation and be the voice, but they’re also helping to create the change their customer wants to see.”
Deirdre Breakenridge Pure Performance Communications