In recent years, brands have increasingly put social media and social media managers at the center of their overall marketing strategies — and for good reason. Social media allows brands to build strong communities and drive sales, fine-tune campaigns and get insight into market trends.
But with new platforms emerging all the time and customer expectations shifting at a rapid pace, it can often be difficult to determine how and where to allocate budget.
In 2019, social media will become even more closely connected to your brand’s bottom line, and it’s up to your social media managers to maximize the immense opportunity it presents.
Here are the top five social media priorities that savvy social media managers are pursuing in 2019.
1. Boost Sales Through Instagram Stories and Content
Instagram Stories really came into its own in 2018. In 2019, social media managers should make sure their brands are following best-practices to get the most return-on-investment from this channel. The numbers are hard to argue with. Consumers who view video are 1.8 times more likely to purchase a product than those who don’t, and 72% of people prefer to learn about a product through video instead of text or images.
Brands such as Isle Surf & SUP are highlighting user-generated content of fans using their products in their lives as a way to boost engagement and sales, while also driving traffic to its website by giving users a peek into new content around their products.
Warby Parker, meanwhile, used Instagram Stories for a behind-the-scenes look at the work of one of its graphic designers. Throughout the rest of the year, social media managers should focus on leveraging Instagram stories to build community and provide unique and relevant content that seamlessly fits into this medium. Regular Instagram posts, however, still command the lion’s share of engagement and conversion on the platform.
In 2019, Instagram is putting brands first with the new shoppable content feature. But connecting these purchases through to analytics can be done with existing platforms that allow content to be shared across platforms, and provide real-time data that can be used to test and improve content.
2. Find the Right Influencers
Social media managers are often at the forefront of relationship management with influencers, micro-influencers, and even nanoinfluencers to grow their audience and drive sales. Influencers can do all of these things, and more, but brands have to be careful about who they partner with, as many social media managers are realizing. Brands also have to strike the right balance between oversight and creative freedom because an influencer that appears to be reading from a script will have less of an impact of on their followers.
Over the next year, brands should focus on tapping a broad range of influencers across demographics to get in front of new audiences that would otherwise be hard to reach. This doesn’t mean randomly selecting followers. Instead, brands should drill deeper into analytics to find the people who can best showcase their products and bolster their brand image.
Customers increasingly crave authenticity and appreciate the advice of the influencers they follow, who achieve their status by being trustworthy. This unique bond gives their words a heightened sense of word-of-mouth marketing. Brands can’t afford to miss out on the opportunity that influencers offer — 71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase after a referral and 78% of consumers said social media posts influence their purchasing decisions.
3. Embrace Community Marketing
Community marketing is becoming synonymous with social media marketing in 2019. Brands from Glossier to Madison Reed have embraced community marketing to build loyalty, anticipate trends, and drive sales. Glossier, which reaches out to its community for direction on product launches and store decisions, has grown 600% since 2014.
Driving community engagement should be one of the main priorities in every brand’s social media strategy over the next several months. By creating dedicated forums for customers to interact with the brand and each other, protocols for communicating with fans on social media, and exclusive opportunities for engaged fans, brands can set in motion a long-term growth strategy predicated on their most loyal customers.
4. Become Audience Obsessed
Similar to the previous point, brands have to approach social media in a way that is highly tailored and authentic to their target audience. There are countless ways to understand an audience, but the core theme for all audiences is appearing authentic through content they can relatable.
Through analytics, brands can learn the dimensions of their audience and then craft social media strategies for each significant group of followers. Oftentimes these approaches will showcase how diverse your brand can be through the audience’s eyes. By developing specific approaches and messaging to each in-group, brands can ensure high engagement across channels.
5. Scale your User-Generated Content Operation with Artificial Intelligence
User-generated content improves email engagement, doubles conversion rates on Facebook and Instagram, and enhances website product galleries. In 2019, social media managers should focus on improving how their brand’s use of this vital resource by following best practices.
First of all, getting the fundamentals right is key. Brands can leverage more UGC when they encourage followers to use branded hashtags and mentions. Customers who are celebrated for tagging a product with a personalized comment and a chance to represent the brand tend to feel more closely connected to this brand, making them even better advocates. Even more, when brands respond to customer feedback, customers will be more likely to tag brands when they post photos and videos. Social media managers need to take into consideration the best channels for their audience as each social media platform can provide different types of UGC. It’s not as manual as it sounds. Artificial intelligence is helping to improve UGC collection and deployment.
2019 is off to a promising start in the world of social media. Many brands are hitting their stride with their audience as digital natives become an increasingly large part of a brand’s purchasing demographic. Even in the wake of customer data concerns, social media privacy issues, and decreased consumer trust, brands have a better opportunity than ever to make their social media efforts authentic and impactful.