A YEAR IN SOCIAL MEDIA
2018 was a big year for social media. On one hand, it saw the rise of Instagram stories, a disastrous Snapchat update and algorithms that were harder to predict than the British weather. But on the other hand, there were a few high-profile privacy scandals that were serious enough for Zuckerberg to don a suit rather than his usual grey t-shirt as he testified before US congress. Despite these leaks, social media continues to hold a significant impact within the digital sphere and 2018 marked the first year where mobile overtook TV in time spent on a platform. Not surprising when it was revealed at Facebook’s first UK agency day that 84% of the world is connected by mobile.
Video continues to dominate with 78% of mobile users watching video to collectively consume 100m hours of video every month – and its forecast that 80% of mobile data will be driven by video within the next 2 years. It remains the favoured format on Facebook for users and brands alike but the algorithm switch to a user-first approach meant that brands saw a drop of in organic reach – forcing pages towards higher paid media investment on the ‘pay to play’ platform. In theory, more user-first content should encourage more people to share their own content, thus putting more information out there for advertisers to capitalise on. However, the price of advertising has increased during this behaviour-change period, with less space on the feed being available to brands. This has put even more pressure on producing great creative campaigns, and thus the term ‘thumb stopping content’ became an increasingly popular (and marginally cringe-worthy) buzzword in 2018.
Instagram stories have seen some heavy investment in the last 12 months, with updates to the platform becoming more advanced. Filters, formatting, shopping and advertising have all had improvements made to them, plus third-party apps such as Unfold seeing a gap in the market for users wanting to create more stylised and curated story content. 50% of the 400m stories created daily are video and 60% of those are ‘sound on’ – contrasting with the likes of Facebook and Twitter who require sound off accessibility as a best practice standard.
Stories should continue to be a key focus area for businesses going into 2019 as one in three uploads are from business accounts, and a third of stories result in a direct message. From a brand perspective, the more casual element to stories means it is an opportunity to push brand guidelines and have a more ‘human’ element to the company social channels – the temporary nature of the platform means the level of risk is lowered considerably.
Snapchat definitely didn’t see the same kind of success in 2018. The platform saw a decline in daily active users from Q2 to Q3, stemming from the outrage over their update in July that pushed a lot of users to Instagram stories. Because of the similarities in features, including Instagram’s introduction of disappearing stories to a single person, suddenly the need to have two apps with similar functionality becomes unnecessary, and the switch was made.
Twitter saw the fewest updates in 2018, but great content and a strong customer service offering put leading brands head and shoulders above the rest. The platform continues to be personality-first, with brave brands that have established a strong tone of voice still gaining news coverage for their personable approach. Every day brands taking a standpoint against abusive content (think LNER calling out homophobia when offensive comments were made about their Pride activity) will increase brand sentiment and get higher volumes of online coverage than a lot of campaigns now will. In a world of trolls, Twitter really can be the platform for social good when it comes to brands.
Your social strategy for 2019
But what should you be looking at for your social media strategy in 2019?
- Ditch page like ads on Facebook in favour of engagement and video views – it can be used for retargeting and it means users will see your content, unlike the users who like your page.
- Invest in your customer service on social. As your business grows, so do the customer service queries, and with an increasing aversion to picking up the phone to contact a brand, it is vital that your business is replying to inbound complaints - particularly on Facebook and Twitter.
- Create video content that entertains, informs and ultimately stops your audience mid-scroll to entice them down a rabbit hole of viral videos.
Be brave. Take time to develop your tone of voice and use social media as an extension of your brand.