Wow, what a year it has been for social media marketers! New Facebook algorithm leading to lower organic reach; LinkedIn hashtags enabled; IGTV launched; and also – Facebook data breaches spelling a serious PR crisis for the world’s largest social network. So what should B2B marketers expect in 2019? This is our roundup of the 2019 social media trends.
1. Employee Advocacy to Make up for Loss of Organic Reach
B2B marketers had to adjust to a new reality in 2018. Facebook’s new algorithm led to a significant drop in organic social reach, requiring marketers to try and find ways to counter this effect. According to our data, in the first half of 2018, this meant 48% higher posting volumes on Facebook, which, unfortunately, weren’t able to offset 66% lower organic reach.
2018 also saw a significant decline in public trust in social networks, as evidenced by a new Trust Barometer study. This survey found that 70% of social media users believe brands should pressure social networks to do more about false information proliferating on those networks.
Those two factors, the declining organic reach and the erosion in public trust in social networks, will require brands to find new ways to engage and foster relationships with audiences on social media. And this is exactly why we expect these changes to give rise to more social selling and employee advocacy than ever before.
Advocacy has the power to extend the brand’s organic reach to new social audiences. Beyond that, it also lends credibility and authenticity to brand messages and content, which buyers and customers crave and respond to.
In 2019, employee advocacy and social selling will become a key element in B2B sales and marketing strategies, as a way to adapt to the changes we have seen in 2018.
2. Instagram for B2B
In 2018, Instagram has been the fastest-growing social network, with 1 billion monthly users. While this is still significantly lower than Facebook’s 2.27 billion users, it’s an indication of the immense popularity of Instagram, whose image hasn’t been strained by privacy concerns.
While hesitant at first to embrace a social network with a strong focus on such verticals as travel, food, and fashion – all essentially B2C industries – B2B brands were quick to catch up and jump on the Instagram bandwagon.
2019 will be a year when more B2B companies join Instagram, while the brands that have already established their presence on this social network will try and up their Instagram game.
B2B marketers will not only become better – and faster – at Instagram marketing, but will also be able to divert more ad budgets to the network.
The goals B2B marketers pursue on Instagram will also see a change. Viewed until now mainly as a brand awareness and company culture channel, many B2B companies are boosting their lead generation efforts on Instagram.
Team photos, industry events, and inspirational quotes will still have their rightful place on Instagram – but in 2019, B2B marketers will do more to leverage its power to showcase their products and drive prospects to their websites.
With the introduction of IGTV, for longer video content, 2019 will be the year when B2B marketers will learn how to better engage their audiences on Instagram but also use it as a lead generation channel.
3. Stories and Video Reign Supreme
With the immense popularity of Instagram, came also the rise of Instagram Stories. Originating on Snapchat and embraced by Instagram and Facebook, Stories’ popularity seems to grow exponentially, with more users both watching and creating content in this format.
2019 was also a big year for social video. With more than 500 million users consuming video content on Facebook and 1 billion users who do so on Youtube, video is here to stay – and rule. To strengthen its grip on the video trend, Instagram launched IGTV this year, allowing users to upload videos of up to 10 minutes or up to an hour if you are a larger account or a verified one.
The wild popularity of both Stories and video marks a certain fatigue with “static” content on social networks, as well as a shift to more dynamic formats, with rich visual content.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that B2B marketers should abandon text-based social content. But it does mean that moving forward, they would need to come up with new, more creative ways to engage their followers. Facebook Live, LinkedIn Video, Youtube videos, or Stories – 2019 will be the year of compelling formats that will find new ways to capture audiences’ attention.
4. Social Networks Becoming a One-Stop-Shop
Issue with the product? You know about it because a customer tweeted at you. Promoting a new ebook or white paper? Buyers fill out a lead ad, without ever leaving the social network, and download the content directly. Sales reps trying to engage prospects? They will share content on social media and leverage social selling.
Social networks have become a one-stop-shop for customers and buyers alike, who perceive it as a direct engagement channel with brands, for all their queries and needs. This is driven by the accessibility of social networks and by the networks’ efforts to keep users on the platform, rather than directing traffic to external websites.
For social media marketers, this spells a challenge but also an opportunity. First and foremost, company profiles and social media marketers are expected to cater to multiple needs, rather than focusing solely on content distribution. Very much like what these guys are doing:
In 2019, B2B marketers will need to deliver a holistic social media strategy which will provide a superior customer experience for their audiences.
Whether it’s social listening to ensure that you’re aware of what your audience is talking about, or if it’s providing content to facilitate social selling – B2B marketers need to take into account the different hats they’re required to wear and cover all their bases.
5. AI to Leverage Social Media Data for More Personalization than Ever Before
The advent of chatbots. Sounds like a good title for a horror movie, doesn’t it?
But it’s just an accurate description of the social media reality.
Chatbots were everywhere in 2018. In a reality where social media has become one of the most popular customer care channels – for B2B and B2C alike – many brands have started providing this service on social media.
But chatbots are only one manifestation of this trend. AI has been gaining more and more ground in social media marketing. From determining optimal posting times to capitalizing on social media data to enhance marketing programs – AI has become a key element in social media marketing.
In 2019 we expect marketers to tap further into the potential AI holds for B2B marketing, in order to bring even more personalization to their audience. Social media data is an immense “treasure box” in that sense. By analyzing it, marketers are able to optimize their social media efforts and create more engaging content for their audiences.
However, the importance of social media data extends far beyond social media to additional marketing efforts.
Identifying and analyzing social signals with AI, marketers are now able to detect buyers’ sales-readiness or even negative tones – and alert the sales reps. Social media data can also be leveraged to create more targeted lead scoring, segmentation, and nurturing programs.
Learning from buyers’ shares, clicks, likes and comments, AI can be used to tap into content preferences and deliver a highly personalized experience to every buyer and customer. We believe that this trend will grow even stronger in 2019, as B2B marketers become better at capitalizing on social media data delivered through AI.
Want to hear more about the ways AI can help you supercharge your B2B marketing programs? Check out our blog on lead nurturing with social engagement data and start creating highly personalized nurturing programs.