2018 marked a year of big changes to the most popular social channels, and that means major updates to your 2019 marketing tactics.
How successful were your marketing efforts in 2018? And are you ready for 2019?
At the beginning of a new year, I like to reflect on my marketing efforts of the previous year. We don’t always notice what we did well and not so well, and how the market and tools themselves have changed. This reflection time allows me to get off on a better foot and be more alert for the upcoming months.
2018 saw some significant changes in the world of digital marketing, especially in the world of social media. Two of the biggest platforms in the world—Facebook and Instagram—made significant changes to how content is created and distributed.
In this article, I’ll explain what those changes mean for your business, how you can get the most out of the big three social channels—Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube—and how to make influencer and live content strategies work.
Digital marketing is ever evolving and, if I’ve learned anything from last year, 2019 is going to see just as many twists and turns. So, strap in. Here’s my take on the most important things to know about 2019 marketing tactics:
Social media is still the best way to reach a large audience with little dollar investment, but each platform—Facebook and Instagram in particular—are growing more and more aware of what their audience wants to see, and are tailoring their algorithms to support the results.
In January 2018, Facebook overhauled the way they rank content, creating a greater focus on posts from people and showing less business content. Companies saw a decline of, as much as, 50% with their organic reach and follower growth. Facebook continued to tinker with the News Feed throughout the year, making it difficult to reach the high numbers companies were used to seeing in years prior.
I saw the decline in reach first hand. A client, for which I manage social media, went from an average organic reach of 3,000 to about 800.
Once we realized Facebook was placing a better ranking on video and strong visual posts, we adjusted our strategy and started seeing the organic reach climb back up to that 3k figure. The shifts that we made in both strategy and content were minimal—we just needed to know that we had to make them.
All signs point to Facebook continuing to focus on a community News Feed, so be mindful of your strategy. Their newer algorithms favor photo and video and seem to overlook posts that link to sources outside of Facebook, like a blog or web store.
If you do have a blog article that is essential for content marketing, try distilling the information into an infographic and post as a photo with a link to the full article in the description, or share a video of yourself talking through the information, and again, linking in the description.
Keep in mind that Facebook isn’t trying to make it harder for businesses, but better for the audience. Their shift in focus should be seen as a positive. Let it be a fire under your butt to produce more engaging content!
Facebook ad-spend grew 40% in 2018, while Instagram grew a whopping 177%, according to this Merkle report. If you aren’t using IG to its fullest potential, you’ll definitely want to add it to your digital marketing plan for 2019.
Make sure that your profile is set to “Business” so you can take advantage of their Insights, or analytics. Instagram strategies are a bit easier to develop, being that you can only post videos or photos, but the Stories add an exciting twist. 2018 saw rising popularity in Stories, but you’ll want your Instagram presence to be dynamic, so you should approach feed posts and stories differently. Here’s how I like to think of it:
Feed, or posts that stay forever unless deleted, are like your storefront. When Instagram users land on your profile, they’ll see a feed of photos to set their initial impression of the brand. Storefronts or store windows are dressed to capture the minds of people walking by. Do the same with your feed. Create an inviting, telling atmosphere showcasing your products, services, and values.
Stories, or posts that disappear after 24 hours, are your quick interactions. Any good retail store is staffed with friendly, knowledgeable brand/product experts. They’re there to give more details about the products, make the customers feel welcomed, and hopefully, build a familiar, friendly repertoire. Stories should do the same.
I’ve seen a lot of great brands use beautiful professional photography for their Feed and fun, quirky, behind the scenes videos for their Stories with great success. This approach shows all sides of the brand, both product and personality, without overwhelming and fatiguing your audience.
Behind Facebook, YouTube is the most popular social media outlet, and THE most visited educational site online. YouTube is the best way to capture new audience members at the beginning of their journey. Just don’t fall into the sales-only mindset and start producing videos that sound like ads!
To create hard-hitting content, include useful educational info that empowers the viewer right off the bat. Tell your audience how to solve their problem without using your product or service. This might seem counterproductive, but this is the best way to garner trust. Plus, if your product is as good as it should be, they’ll want to use it anyway!
Producing high-quality videos is easier than ever. All modern smartphones are equipped with near pro-grade cameras. Get a phone tripod, some good lighting, and you’re on your way.
A good library of YouTube vids also makes for great Facebook content!
If you’ve spent any time at all on social media in the past year, you’ve probably noticed social media personalities showcasing some new product that they love. You can bet they’re getting paid or at least getting some free product to tout that message. This is social influencing.
For a lot of companies with the time, capital, and surplus of product on hand, it might be a very effective model. But for most of us, the time it would take to track down, contact, and put together a deal simply doesn’t exist.
But, if we think smaller, social influencing becomes much more obtainable.
Think about local figures in your community. Who out there is doing great, newsworthy things that align with your brand values? Local celebrities and do-gooders are more apt to take a call or message, meet for coffee, and get on board with the work you’re doing. They also probably have very respectable, but not staggering, social media followings.
The more personal your relationship is with an influencer, the more sincere their messaging will be. This will also help to create a longer, more meaningful partnership.
Going live is a powerful feature on both Facebook and Instagram. Both platforms put live video right at the top of your feed, so you can rest assured that as long as you are hosting your live event when your audience is online, you’ll get in front of your target audience.
(To figure out when your audience is online, you can check out both platforms’ respective Insights.)
Live video is great because it’s honest—a big concern for today’s consumers. It allows your audience to see you and your brand in action, and in real time. But like all other initiatives, it needs a strategy to back it up.
Bumbling through a half-baked idea is the best way to lose an audience fast. Have a plan, a specific topic in mind to discuss, but keep it loose. No one wants to watch a lecture. Interact with the audience as they join the video and comment. Respond to their questions and let it be more of a discussion.
The Final Word
Overall, the world of digital marketing has seen trends that favor personalization and interaction. Our audience and users want to feel like they have a special connection with the brands they follow. They not only want to be part of the bigger conversation, they want to be heard.
It’s also worth mentioning that many of the most widely publicized media advancements, like virtual reality, interactive content, and artificial intelligence, are not yet affordable for small and even medium-sized companies. Eventually, however, they will be viable new marketing options, so it’s important to keep an eye on those trends.
With a good strategy and the right features, we can meet our audience’s needs. 2019 is setting itself up to be a year of even more personalized engagement, and your business can make the most of it without breaking the bank!