Social Media Predictions 2019

Cambridge Analytica, click baiting, fake news, political interference; 2018 has been a rollercoaster year for social media. The result is that distrust in social media companies has never been higher.

As we head into 2019, the stakes are high for social platforms and brands alike, but for the brands that get it right, the opportunities are plentiful.  Quality, value, authenticity and transparency will become ever more important for consumer interaction.

Influence Digital’s General Manager, Carlos Rodrigues, and Head of Client Services, Natalie Clarke, take a look at some of the trends to watch out for in 2019.

Short Lived Content Lives On

Ephemeral content – content lasting for up to 24 hours before disappearing forever – is hugely popular as it feels in-the-moment and real, as opposed to being planned and contrived.  Sharing via the Stories format is growing 15 times faster than feed-based sharing and Instagram Stories now accounts for 400M daily active users.

What does this mean for brands?

As people are getting used to these less produced but authentic, in-the-moment views into the lives of others, they’ll expect the same in their interactions with brands. This content allows brands to share more human stories, inspire customers and integrate partners with their content. While high quality content production will be still important, less polished, more personal content will continue to resonate with consumers in 2019.



Video is still King, but the 15-second limit no longer applies

This time last year, our best practice included short, snappy video content, but there is an increasing uplift and an embracing of long-form content. In June 2018 Instagram launched IGTV, its vertical answer to YouTube, Facebook Watch rolled out globally as did YouTube Originals. Facebook has also been prioritising long-form content in the algorithm and we’re seeing watch percentages of engaging video content increase, it is estimated that users watch over 100 million hours of video content on the platform daily. It is predicted that soon, 80% of what we consume online will be video content.

What this mean for brands?

There is a huge opportunity for brands to get creative with their social video content. While ephemeral content is raw and of the moment, users will be looking for their on-feed content to be engaging and relevant. They will be looking for more than a brand video, for content that continues to tell a story, in order to continue viewing and interacting.



One size no longer fits all when it comes to social adverting

With the update to Facebook’s algorithm in particular, we all know that organic reach on Facebook has declined significantly over the years, to the point where organic reach is virtually nonexistent for brands. The need to utilise paid media in social is more important than ever to reach, engage and convert audience. In 2019, social adspend is set to grow 18.3% year on year, outpacing other media channels. As this adspend grows, so will the competition for audience attention.

What does this mean for brands?

Gone are the days where putting one lump sum and one broad audience behind a piece of content would do the job. With increased competition, it won’t necessarily be the brands with the biggest budgets that will prevail. In 2019, we’ll see the need for brands to bring the two worlds of paid and creative closer together, coupled by sophisticated and personalised targeting. Brands will need to invest in social-first assets that are creatively-led and have high quality production. They will need to utilise the full range of creative formats such as stories, video and AR to resonate with their audiences, combined with agile testing and, most importantly, real-time optimisation in order to make the most of their budget.



Augmented Reality is More of a Reality Than Ever

Since the launch of Snapchat Filters in September 2016, it’s very clear that Augmented Reality (AR) and social media work well together. Facebook has open its Facebook AR Studio to developers to create their own AR experiences for the Facebook camera, Instagram is in Beta and Facebook Messenger is experimenting with using AR for e-commerce.  Yet, AR is yet to reach its potential within social media and the opportunity for brands is enormous. A study by Statista, IDC and Goldman Sachs predicts that there will be more than 1 billion users using AR applications by 2020. With Google, Microsoft, Adobe and Apple all creating their own version of AR the technology is yet to show off it’s true potential.

What this mean for brands?

Brands need to see AR as a new channel of opportunity and embrace it as part of their social media strategy. There are so many opportunities for brands; AR could make social commerce a much more engaging experience, for example, allowing customers to try on products. It can also bring events to life on social, allowing customers to attend or be part of events from the comfort of their own home. It can give customers access to exclusive and interactive content by integrating AR content within digital or print creative.



Artificial Intelligence for Customer Engagement

Artificial Intelligence, commonly referred to as AI, streamlines and automates many of the conversations that occur between a brand and a consumer. Hootsuite suggests that by 2020, more than 85% of all customer service interactions will be powered by AI bots. Facebook Messenger is by far and away the most used platform with 1.8B active users globally, but voice AI platforms such as Amazon Echo and Google Home are becoming common household applications.

What this mean for brands?

In 2019, the smartest brands will extend their customer engagement strategy to some of these platforms to serve their customers when and where they want to be served. Brands will need to ensure they integrate these platforms into the overall strategy and not silo them as a standalone solution.



Social Commerce is The New Shop Window

Rather than scrolling through a company’s website, users are scrolling through their social feeds. Social platforms are allowing customers to purchase without leaving the social environment. Facebook launched Instant Experiences, allowing brands to create a mini-website within the platform, and Collections which showcase tagged products under video or image content. There is now also a dedicated shopping channel on Instagram’s Explore section as well as shoppable tags for posts and Stories. Pinterest has also launched buyable pins that allow for in-app purchases. 1 in 4 people have now purchased a product or service via social media, and this is only set to increase.

What this mean for brands?

Proving ROI on social media has historically been one of marketeers’ biggest challenges. There is a huge opportunity for brands to look beyond KPIs of Fans, Followers, Reach and Engagement and to show how their efforts are converting. Brands are going to have to look beyond their website user experience and incorporate a seamless shopping journey on social into their strategies. Brands should ensure that their technology is set up to make the most of this new functionality and that they have a test-and-learn strategy in place in order to drive the best results. Is there a particular price range that sells on social? A particular category?


In conclusion, 2019 is an opportunity for brands to really connect with their audience in a much more immersive and authentic manner. It’s a chance to drive a deeper conversation, which ultimately drives more value for both sides.

Where brands focus their time and resource is entirely dependent on the objectives of the business and the role social can play in achieving these objectives. By integrating social into the overall business, brand and customer strategy, brands can effectively exploit these opportunities.

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