The start of the new year is a good opportunity to share with you our reflections on social media trends. Portland’s team of digital strategists keep abreast of trends and upcoming features to digital platforms, and have long-standing relationships with social media platforms and tools in order to provide our clients with the best advice.
This short update comes against a backdrop of a turbulent 2018 for social media with growing awareness of the risks, as well as opportunities, that online platforms can create. Data scandals mean people want more confidence in how their data is managed, there are ongoing issues with fake news and fake content, and some countries have tried to impose ‘social media taxes’ to tighten control over online conversations.
As a response to the uneasy landscape and audiences responding with trust and privacy concerns, social media platforms are churning out new features faster than ever, as platforms try to keep users engaged. It’ll be important to keep on top of new features to discover which ones will work for you, and which will be a flop.
Audiences want organisations (profit or non) to have a point of view and share it, so that your content is purposeful. This means audiences now engage more with live content and transitory content like Instagram Stories or SnapStories – which feel more personal and offer creativity – than newsfeed posts.
We’re also seeing the rise of “Nano-influencers”, as audiences are more sceptical of celebrity influencers and professional “Instagrammers” and want content from who they trust; their friends, families and smaller niche networks.
Organisations need to strategise the consequence of audiences turning their trust back to their own personal networks, using private messaging on platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram to share content over public newsfeed posts.
One opportunity is to explore private channels as a new medium for newsletters and press lists; WhatsApp is being adopted by many, working in countries with limited internet access as a more efficient way to liaise with journalists.
Automated direct messaging or “chatbots” is a growth area for organisations. They are easy to set up with huge potential reward for deepening audience engagement. For example, sending a message to your audience asking to share your new report with them, then digesting it into bitesize updates you can share with your interested audience.
Consider trialing a WhatsApp newsletter as a short version of your email newsletter, with a piece of content for your audience to forward on as a conversation starter with friends.
Over the last few years we’ve seen a shift of more organisations having to adopt paid promotions regularly to increase their reach and engagement with key audiences. It’s a result of social media platforms becoming advertising platforms and declining organic reach.
However, this increased need for paid promotion is met with savvier audiences who can ignore irrelevant ads and set up ad blockers. Organisations need a much more targeted approach to paid promotions, taking advantage of geo-targeting, custom audiences, lookalikes and network reach.
This year the big new platform for advertising could be WhatsApp. Owned by Facebook, they will roll out adverts in the “status” tab of WhatsApp early in 2019. 450 million people use WhatsApp statuses daily, so it’s an ideal place for highly-targeted and relevant adverts.
As a rule of thumb, you should spend as much on paid promotions as you do on creative and content production.
Tying all the above together increases the diversity between how your audiences use social media platforms. Twitter and LinkedIn are cementing their place as workplace platforms, Instagram and WhatsApp for creating and sharing content with networks. Content needs to be personalised and appropriate for each platform rather than replicated across all the platforms you use.
Social media platforms can’t be used anymore to push out content; audiences expect engagement, and this means more capacity for channel management.
There should be a high bar for launching any new social media channels, unless you’re sure this is where your key audience are online, and the channel has dedicated capacity to manage it.
Measurement and evaluation