Social media marketing is no longer a novelty but an everyday reality for most companies. In fact, research reveals that 90% of customers have already used social media as a way to communicate with a brand while another 63% of customers actually expect companies to offer customer service via social media.
The problem is that while most brands have enthusiastically adopted a social media presence, few are using it to build a genuine connection with customers. Most social media marketers we speak with are confused about where their social media strategy is going, and end up creating random content for the sake of consistency, without enough clarity on how to achieve their marketing goals.
While it’s not the only thing to factor in, an important starting point of any good social media strategy is the choice of social media channels. There are so many different social media platforms today, all of which seem compelling in their own way. It’s important to recognize which channel is best suited to your product, your marketing goals, and your brand voice. It’s also important to be aware of the latest shifts in social media usage so that you can stay ahead of the curve and design a futuristic marketing strategy that pays off in the medium to long-term. In this article, we will break down the social media channels of 2019 and help you decide which ones you should incorporate in your marketing strategy.
Is it the end of the road for Facebook?
There are a number of recent changes that many experts believe will herald the end of Facebook’s domination. For instance, the changes in their newsfeed algorithm have wiped out massive organic reach for so many brands and advertising now seems like the only way to build a following. The Cambridge Data Analytica scandal and the recent privacy issues also mean the brand reputation has taken a hit. Finally, there’s Facebook’s biggest challenge — it simply isn’t hip anymore. The younger demographic across the world is increasingly moving towards Instagram as its go-to social media channel and Generation Z looks upon Facebook activity as infra dig. Reinventing itself is the biggest challenge Facebook will face in the next decade.
So should you just give up on Facebook marketing altogether? Of course not. Despite its shortcomings, Facebook, with its user base of over 2 billion and rich marketing features is still the platform with the widest reach. Yet, keep these things in mind when you’re leveraging Facebook.
- Focus more on newer features like stories, Messenger, and groups. Facebook is looking to build groups in a big way so this is the right time to build and nurture a thriving online community.
- Definitely, do not put all your eggs in the Facebook basket. If your social media marketing strategy is predominantly Facebook-dependent, start diversifying immediately.
The Challengers: Instagram and Linkedin
Last year, Instagram crossed the milestone of 1 billion users. More exciting than the number itself is the fact that they actually doubled their user base in 2 years. With a much younger demographic (Users under 35 make up more than 70 per cent of Instagram accounts) and higher levels of engagement (the average Instagram user spends 53 minutes per day on the Android app), Instagram has definitely emerged as a massive marketing opportunity.
With features like Stories that see amazing engagement rates, Instagram is the platform of the present and the future. For a long time, marketers have complained that Instagram simply isn’t as marketing-friendly as other platforms but the slew of marketing features they have launched in 2018 will change that. Instagram marketing is definitely something that should become an integral part of your marketing mix.
LinkedIn is the other incumbent that will really shine in 2019. LinkedIn has always had a stronghold in B2B marketing but it has consolidated this position with a well thought out strategy and feature roll out. LinkedIn doesn’t suffer from the loss of credibility and trust that other social media channels have been subjected to. Over time, it has grown into a platform that’s much more than an online resume. It’s a place where people engage meaningfully over work-related conversations and that will not change anytime soon.
The Up-and-comers: Whatsapp and Tik-Tok
2019’s round-up of the best social media channels is incomplete without talking about two new entrants. Although both are at very different stages, they are both still new for marketers, who are still finding their feet with the platforms. The first of course is Whatsapp. After years of relentless focus on user experience with no thought of monetization, Whatsapp has finally launched its Whatsapp for Business app which already has more than 5 million users. Given Whatsapp’s strict focus on user experience and privacy, chances are it will never become the thrust of your marketing strategy. Yet, Whatsapp can be a great complement to your primary marketing channels, especially to deliver better customer experience.
This brings us to the newest kid on the block; Tik-Tok. The platform has grown at a phenomenal rate and already boasts of 500 million monthly active users. Tik-Tok is the new avatar of Musical.ly after its acquisition by Chinese tech giant ByteDance. Although the channel is still very nascent and building marketing features is probably not in the picture yet, this is undoubtedly the channel of the future. If you’re looking to build a futuristic strategy, this is the time to start experimenting with some organic brand content on the platform and get ahead of the curve.
At the end of the day, the choice of social media channels and the emphasis on each one is a very personal decision. It is a combination of factors — previous performance, suitability to your product, and relevance to your current goals. Having said that, it’s important to be aware of the shifting trends in social media channels so that you stop playing catch up and are able to build a competitive strategy.