The month of January is ripe with complex and conflicting emotions. On one hand, you’re full of good intentions and trying to keep all of your resolutions (ps we can help). And on the other hand, it’s a depressing cold month with minimal daylight and a steep post-holiday anticlimax.
Thankfully, the proverbial life reset button known as 1/1 can fan the flames that drive change and evolution, washing away most negative vibes. People are eager to start fresh when a new year begins — in life, in love, and in career. Which is precisely how new currents emerge.
Trends are born out of the need for change or as a progression of an existing one. They tend to mirror the global cultural climate, as an expert explained, reflecting what’s going on in the world at a specific moment in time. And that goes as much for fashion and beauty trends as for food, entertainment, business, politics, tech, and so on.
That brings us to today’s topic of discussion: what will 2019 bring in terms of social media trends? Smart marketers (you) are always looking to get ahead of the game by attempting to forecast what’s going to be hot before everyone else catches wind of it. So let’s do this, fam.
Here are seven things you should keep your eyes peeled for this year.
1. Video Production
There’s been a lot riding on video creative in the past few years thanks to literally everyone hailing it as the future of content. Instagram itself has proclaimed that by the year 2020, 75% of all data we consume will be a motion asset. So this year, more brands are going to be launching YouTube channels or dive into IGTV, and production value will get lit (more in terms of effects and filters and stickers, less in terms of perfect, unrelatable studio production — more on that later).
It’s also going to ramp up on the paid side of things, with more brands creating videos for Stories ads as well as in-feed. Which leads us to our next prediction…
2. Paid Social
Paid social is going to be of equal importance to organic. It’s just the direction things are headed in, thanks to reach being affected by overcrowding. A lot of businesses are now hiring for paid roles separate from the standard social manager. In 2019, brands will develop fully integrated paid strategies to run alongside organic, ensuring that all angles are covered.
3. Relationships, Relationships, Relationships
If 2018 was the year of community, 2019 is going to be the year of social media relationships. By that we mean that hiring influencers for one-off transactional ads might have worked at one point, but it’s just not effective anymore. Audiences can tell when the person they’re following is just pushing a product they don’t particularly care for — so they’re certainly not about to feel drawn to it either.
If brands want their influencer marketing strategies to be effective in 2019, they’ll need to partner with true fans of their product and foster a relationship with them. If there’s a real connection between the influencer, the brand, and its offering, that will transpire every time they publish a #spon post.
4. Old School Brands Finally Get It
It’s no secret that brands established pre-digital revolution had a hard time “getting it,” leaving a gap for newbs to fill and thrive in. It certainly takes time to break old habits and build new ones, especially when there’s a generational divide and involved corporate hoops. But it’s safe to say they’re all mostly up to speed now, often times acquiring the smaller guys and learning from them.
Indie brands might have been a big threat at some point, but 2019 is the year where established corporations throw their hats in the ring to prove they’ve still got skin in the game.
5. Transparency Will Rule
As we mentioned in point #3, audiences are getting wiser by the minute, and are fed up with the bs being served up by brands and influencers (real talk). The very reason for why social took off to begin with, the nectar of its being, was because the young folk was tired of what was deemed phony, untrustworthy traditional advertising.
What social platforms offered was a more raw, authentic visual world than what had previously been the norm. But with brands now having flooded these channels and influencer clout having mutated into a marketing instrument (and sometimes hiding it, thank you FTC), audiences are left feeling confused and duped. They want to know if the people they’ve come to admire and brands they are loyal to are taking them for a ride.
So, with all of that said: influencers are going to become way more upfront about their partnerships and business deals, as well as with their feelings on certain topics.
6. Data and AI Will Permeate Everything
2018 was a big year for AI on social, and in 2019, it will power just about all areas where creative assets live. “AI is going to become more important for everything from website experience to image selection for social media,” predicts Danica Calderhead, Dash Hudson’s very own director of brand strategy.
We’ve already seen how our computer vision tool (aptly named Vision, natch) has been instrumental in helping top brands unlock their optimal performance level on Instagram. This year, it will extend to where all visuals digitally reside. With the assistance of AI, brand content will become way more effective on all consumer touchpoints.
7. Less Precious Imagery
The evolution of Instagram led to its sensibility going from raw to overly staged and produced. People went from capturing and sharing off-the-cuff moments to producing very high-quality imagery telegraphing more put-on scenes. While the latter makes for beautiful photographs, it’s been said that less contrived or precious-looking content resonates more with users.
Hence the crazy success of Stories — a place serving up realness and a seemingly more candid peep into one’s universe, even if planned and orchestrated. Less editing will creep back into Instagram narratives, and that goes for in-feed images, Stories, Live, and IGTV.
There’s no doubt that a ton of landscape changes await us through the year, as they always do. Countless micro currents that evolve from past ones will show up and change things as we know them, but the above seven predictions are undoubtedly going to be pillars of social media trends in the next twelve months.
Now it’s time to prepare.
Header image: @netaporter
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