The social landscape is ever-changing.
Developing a social advertising strategy that aligns with the latest trends is enough to keep any small business owner awake at night. Sometimes just knowing which platforms to use and how to effectively use them is enough to trigger anxiety.
Although social can be overwhelming at times, it allows you to connect with your audience, reach new potential customers, and sell more products.
In the coming year, social advertising will present even bigger opportunities.
Here’s a look at where social is going in 2019 and how your small business can adapt to the latest trends.
A Surge in Live Videos
If your small business hasn’t explored live video to promote products and services, now’s the time to leverage it.
Cisco predicts that live video will grow 15-fold from 2017-2022, with video traffic accounting for 82% of all online traffic by 2022.
Consumers are living in the moment and like to engage with brands in real-time. About half of U.S. internet users watch live video at least once a week, according to Magid, and nearly a quarter (23%) say they watch live video at least once a day.
Videos don’t have to be elaborate or lengthy to be effective. In the last year, 75% of all videos were shorter than two minutes, according to Vidyard’s 2018 Video in Business Benchmark Report, and nearly half (46%) of viewers watched all the way to the end.
Consider how your store could use live streaming to connect with shoppers. Instead of making a sales pitch, aim to engage in fresh and interesting ways so viewers have a reason to interact and like your live stream.
A Move Toward Messaging
Messaging apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat and Viber will continue to grow in popularity in 2019. These apps allow small retailers to obtain a deeper engagement with customers and provide a more personalized experience beyond public posts on social media.
Statista data shows that more than 1.5 billion users access WhatsApp each month, making it the world’s most popular messaging app.
Rather than communicating via email or live chat, small businesses can explore messaging apps to build authentic, personal relationships with customers.
Most people (89%) prefer to communicate with brands via messaging, according to Twilio. If your audience regularly uses messaging apps, your business needs to interact with them there.
Stories Will Capture More Attention
If you’re not adding Stories to your social advertising, you’re missing out.
Stories are growing 15 times faster than feeds, according to TechCrunch, with the Stories format on track to surpass feeds as the No. 1 way users share content.
Small businesses that want to tap into new audiences can explore a world that’s watching.
WhatsApp Stories draw more than 450 million daily users, Instagram’s Stories attract more than 300 million users, and Snapchat reached 191 million users.
Snapchat recently unveiled the option for users to create custom geofilters. For small businesses, there’s an opportunity to create a custom graphic for tradeshows, grand openings, and other special events. Pricing depends on several factors, but on average, Snapchat charges about $5 per 20,000 square feet.
When it comes to Stories, small businesses can also check out Google’s AMP Stories, YouTube’s Stories feature and Netflix’s Stories for mobile movie previews.
In 2019, Stories will demand more attention, no matter which platform you consider. According to Hootsuite, four in five major brands are already using the Stories format.
A Growth in Native Advertising
If you haven’t given much thought to native advertising, now’s the time to consider how to incorporate it into your small business.
Native advertising rises to the top of the digital advertising market, which is projected to grow from $15 billion in 2019 to $85 billion by 2020, according to MI News.
You can use native video ads as sponsored posts on Facebook or Instagram, promoted videos on Twitter, promoted pins on Pinterest or recommended videos on YouTube.
Depending on the device, viewing times vary. Desktop users, 70% will watch a native video for six seconds or more once it’s launched, while only around half (45%) of mobile users and 55% of tablet users will watch six seconds or longer, according to the AdYouLike State of Native Video Report 2018.
To make the most impact, small businesses must capture attention in the first six seconds before watchers start to drop off.
Niche Markets Come into Focus
In 2019, small businesses can explore YouTube Live, Reddit or dozens of other niche social networks to expand their market and get in front of customers in new ways.
Reddit draws more than 330 million users each month, according to Social Media Today, making it an appealing platform for marketers to engage in personalized, thoughtful ways.
Through Reddit’s Promoted Posts, small businesses can engage with their target market through the Reddit app. Advertising was previously only available through desktop and mobile websites.
Small businesses can succeed at advertising on Reddit and other niche social networks by taking time to understand the platform and users’ expectations.
More Collaboration Between Brands
In the year ahead, watch for cross-promotion via social advertising to be a leading trend.
When you connect with other small businesses, you both get a boost in exposure that can lead to increased sales. The key is to collaborate with shops that make sense and relate to your niche in some way without directly competing with you.
Reflect on your small business community. Is there a store you could team up with to build awareness and break into different markets?
There are many ways for small businesses to join forces, from mentioning each other’s businesses on social channels to offering discounts if customers buy products from both stores.
A Greater Focus on Establishing Trust
In an era of fake news, people don’t always believe what they see on social networks. According to Edelman, only 41% of people say they trust social media.
In 2019, watch for businesses to work to regain customers’ trust. Small retailers can strive to be transparent and create authentic conversations with fans and potential customers.
Rather than pitching products, use your social channels to take care of customers. Nearly three-quarters (71%) of consumers change their perception of a brand after seeing a positive response to a review on social media, according to ReadyCloud.
By responding to complaints, answering questions, and communicating in a public forum, you’ll re-establish trust and build real relationships.
An Uptick in Social Commerce
In 2019, the gap between social and e-commerce will continue to narrow as brands look for ways to make shopping seamless and interactive. In 2017, the top 500 retailers brought in nearly $6.5 billion from social shopping, according to Adweek.
Shoppers desire more personal connections with brands, making it important for retailers to actively engage customers—not just strive for more followers.
Nearly a third of consumers use social media to browse for new purchases, according to Socialnomics, and more than three-quarters (78%) say companies’ posts influence their buying decision.
However, it’s important to remember the social aspect. Integrate videos or tag multiple products so shoppers can see how different items look. Post polls or host contests. Allow consumers to get a feel for your products without visiting a physical store.
Use Social Advertising to Stand Out in 2019
If you need a fresh approach to social advertising, make 2019 the year to finetune your paid social acquisition strategy. It doesn’t take a massive budget or a full-scale social team to maximize social advertising for your small business. Start small and take a focused approach to build your social efforts over time.