by Brittany McSorley
Let’s talk about webinars. Thanks to the wonders of technology, there are limitless opportunities out there to learn about any topic, from respected professionals in the field, all the while wearing sweatpants and potentially having crumbs from your last meal stuck in your hair.
So… college. It’s like college. But many webinars are free, so your parents won’t be mad at you for like nine years if you mess this up. Refreshing!
I want to mention here that I definitely did not mess up college. On the contrary, I kicked its ass. In fact, as a classic Ravenclaw, I am on an eternal search for the orderly thrill of academic environments, otherwise known as several opportunities per day to prove that I’m right. In that spirit, I recently checked out a webinar offered by Hootsuite called “Social Trends You Can Put Into Practice in 2019.”
The presentation laid out five trends that businesses should be paying attention to this year with their social media marketing, plus some guidance on how to keep up. Having processed the information, allow me to now creatively rearrange the facts and repeat them back to you for approval and validation. (College.)
The first trend was rebuilding trust. You may remember that 2018 was a bit of a catastrophe. This caused several things to happen, including an exhausted Stephen Hawking declaring, “I’m out of here. Good luck, idiots.” It also resulted in decreased public trust in social media platforms, because we were all, “Hey, our data’s secure, right?” and Facebook was like, “Wow! What kind of bird is that?!” In order to rebuild some of the lost faith, businesses should focus on tighter circles of communication in 2019, emphasizing transparent and quality engagement, and getting out of the way so customers can have meaningful interactions. Consider creating a personalized Facebook group to complement your business page, identifying niche communities and creating a space for discussion. In the same vein, create branded hashtags that align with the values or your community and clientele, and consider going live on Facebook for personalized, intimate interactions like Q&A sessions.
Next up: storifying social. Stories will likely overtake feeds this next year. They’re a huge hit, because they feel more personal, authentic, and closer to real-time communication. Users love this immediacy, and realistic and spontaneous content is proving to perform better than edited, over-curated material. When it comes to stories, the less polished, the better. Find out what resonates best with your followers by testing story content. The “highlight” option can keep a story up longer than 24 hours, which comes in handy for big promotions and important announcements. You should also explore adding UTM links to your business’s Instagram, allowing followers a direct route from your profile to your website.
Also important in 2019 is closing the ads gap. There’s a lot of ad noise on social right now, to say the very least, so only the most engaging ads are standing out and converting. In your marketing design, emphasize personalization and creativity rather than sticking with standard practices that have worked in the past. Embrace new formats for advertising where possible, such as moving away from static feeds to evolving stories.
Cracking the commerce code should be a priority this year as well. These days, more is being done to bridge the gap between social media use and actual purchases. Shoppable posts on Instagram allow users to buy a product without ever leaving the app, so if you have an approved IG business page, you should be taking advantage of that convenience. Facebook’s Marketplace and Pinterest have similar capabilities, which increase the likelihood of promotional posts converting to an actual purchase. To keep your followers engaged, consider live-streaming product demos, projects in progress, or other behind-the-scenes content.
The final trend was presented, rather menacingly if you ask me, as “messaging eats the world.” Messaging apps are like, a big deal, guys. There are now more messaging app users than social app users worldwide, part of a global shift from public to private online spaces. Customers are eager to use messaging to communicate with businesses, which is particularly important for customer service. (This is no surprise. As I’ve said before, most millenials will choose any other option available over talking on the phone. So help me, I will send a carrier pigeon to an Etsy vendor and wait patiently on the widow’s walk for a reply before I use my literal voice to consult with an electrician.) This year, businesses should explore how direct messaging with customers can be implemented to streamline processes. Start with making sure Messenger is enabled on your Facebook business page. You can even set up automatic replies that kick in when a customer reaches out. There’s no excuse anymore for not being accessible.
If you’re looking to boost your skillset, webinars are a great resource for making the most out of your marketing. But they don’t have the jokes. I have the jokes. You just remember that.