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Happy New Year everyone! If you’ve been following our posts (and, candidly, why wouldn’t you be?), then you know that earlier this year, we made a couple predictions for what we saw as the biggest potential social media marketing trends of 2018. It’s been a big year in marketing, with tons of changes and new advancements (hello visual search and voice assistance, we see you), so we are using this post as an opportunity to reflect on our predictions and see how they held up as the year draws to a close.

Our Predictions on the Biggest Social Media Marketing Trends of 2018

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Prediction #1: User-Generated Content Will Be King

2018 will be remembered as the year user-generated content (UGC) earned its crown. In fact, more than 86% of businesses have utilized some form of UGC in their marketing strategy. Why? One main reason is that UGC posts resonate on a deeper level with social media audiences.  

  1. UGC-centric posts shared to social channels see a 28% higher engagement rate.
  2. 55% of consumers across all ages trust UGC over other forms of marketing.
  3. 48% of customers say that UGC is a great way to discover new products.

Not sure how to integrate more UGC into your marketing strategy? Here are a few ideas for your 2019 marketing plan:

Take Advantage of the Holidays

Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Christmas, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Easter, Mother’s Day, etc. are all major opportunities to capture great user-generated content. Create a holiday-themed hashtag for people to share their content and search for others.

Incentivize User-Generated Content

User-generated content is all fun and games but it’s not always easy to get people to create content on your behalf. A UGC contest can help create a sense of urgency and provides content ideas or themes for people.

Thank Your Creators Publicly

Whether you do a contest or not, sharing and thanking the UGC made for your brand is a great way to encourage others to create on your behalf as well. Who wouldn’t love a shout out from their favorite brand’s page because of something they created?

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Prediction #2: Instagram Stories Will Be Huge

Snapchat was fun while it lasted, but in the past two years, Instagram stories have stolen our attention and amassed an audience of over 400 million active users. The Story feature became so popular that there were 250 million daily active users within its first year.

What makes stories so popular? They’re a fast, fun, and easy way to share content and reach both current fans and new audiences. The story feature, like a fine wine, just keeps getting better with age.

Today, the feature has blossomed into a totally new creative outlet within the established Instagram app. Instagram has invested heavily in the story-feature, providing brands with a wide variety of options to engage with their audience including (deep breath here):

  • Using different, stylized fonts
  • Adding GIFs
  • Shooting photos in portrait mode
  • Adding links within their story
  • Reposting and re-sharing stories
  • Sharing songs
  • Taking polls
  • Asking questions

And that’s just some of the functionality of the platform.

As you know, organic reach has dropped on standard Instagram posts and even with paid and sponsored posts, people are still missing their favorite brands’ posts. Thankfully, stories have become an easy way to increase your visibility on Instagram.

To learn more about how Instagram has changed in 2018, check out our latest white paper.

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Prediction 3: B2B Businesses Will Continue to Embrace Employee Advocacy

Whether you’re in FinTech, have a SaaS offering, or provide any support to businesses, employee advocacy is becoming increasingly essential to many B2B marketing strategies. An employee advocacy program is a social content-sharing program built specifically for your employees to easily and consistently share company-approved content to their personal social channels, provide valuable feedback to your organization, and promote your company’s recruitment efforts.

All to fantastic results.

Customers referred from employee advocates have a 37% higher retention rate. Content distributed by employees is shared 24x more frequently than if your brand were to share the content.

If your brand doesn’t already have an employee advocacy program, make a resolution for 2019 to be the year you start leveraging the social sharing power of your employees. Be sure to curate a rich library of brand approved content for employees to share with their friends and followers online. Using your employees to share Ebooks, white papers, and informational blog posts can position your brand and employees as industry thought leaders and experts.

To learn more about starting an employee advocacy program, be sure to check out our “101” post on the subject here.

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Prediction #4: Influencer and Advocacy Marketing is Here to Stay

Back in January, we mentioned that by 2020 the influencer industry market is expected to balloon to $10 billion. But, like any growing industry, influencer marketing is quickly evolving before our eyes and may surpass this number as easy as next year.

Historically, traditional celebrities have received the lion’s share of the influencer marketing money being spent by brands. These are your actors/actresses, singers, etc.

However, today’s marketers (and their customers) are more interested in micro-influencers rather than the big mega-influencers. 70% of teens say they trust influencers more than traditional celebrities, which means that more brands are shifting their dollars away from marquee talent and spreading their investment around multiple influencers.

2018 saw marketers embrace micro-influencers as well as influencers who have amassed a following on multiple platforms (think YouTube AND Instagram). With 30% of consumers more likely to purchase a product or service recommended by an influencer (than a traditional ad), it’s no surprise that influencer marketing is reigned supreme in 2018 and will continue to grow in importance well into 2019 and beyond.

Stay Tuned

2019 is nearly here and we’re ready to help you step into the new year with confidence. If you’re curious about what SocialToaster can do for you this year, contact us today to request a free demo.