15 Experts' Social Media Predictions for 2019.

Here are the social media and digital marketing trends the experts say you should be paying attention to...
TJ Kiely
December 20, 2018 - 10 min. read

There’s no better way to discover what digital and social media trends will impact marketers in 2019 than to ask those that live and breathe social media day in, day out. So, that’s exactly what we did.

Over the past month, we’ve spoken to marketing experts that have quite literally written the book on topics like influencer marketing to understand what digital marketing trends they’re focusing on in 2019. Here’s what they said….

1. Blockchain

Sam Hurley
Personal Branding Expert & Founder of OPTIM-EYEZ

The uptake of blockchain is one of my biggest trends to watch in 2019. Blockchain has been one of the most talked-about topics throughout the last couple of years, yet the general depth of understanding hasn’t quite matched the buzz surrounding it!

It’s only now we’re finally beginning to witness this technology in real, purposeful action for the benefit of marketing and surrounding fields.

Why does blockchain deserve your attention next year? Well, it provides all of this (at a far superior level to previous solutions):

  • Audience Incentivization: Reward your audience tokens (currency) when they show interest in your material—for instance, if they watch an entire digital ad.
  • Audience Targeting: Blockchain enables a reliable search environment that is beneficial/rewarding for all parties — so even the people who CLICK on ads can get paid. Yep! Turning Google on its head. (Check out BitClave.)
  • Data Collection: If you thought the GDPR was huge, what if data could be successfully shared but never actually transferred or even seen? Blockchain allows this to happen—a huge milestone amidst privacy turmoil we know all too well.

If you buried your head in the sand when blockchain first made headlines, now’s definitely the time to take note! I covered the topic of blockchain extensively on PostFunnel.

2. Social Communities

Amy Porterfield
Online Marketing Expert and Trainer

The one trend I will be watching in 2019 is the growth of truly engaged online communities. Gone are the days when marketers could exist on one-way communication with their ideal customers, even if that communication provided great value.

I expect to see new levels of success for the online businesses that take time to authentically engage with their communities, and who also encourage relationships between their community members. Our goal as online marketers is to provide our ideal customers with products and services that offer transformation—an active and engaged community is the best way to help that transformation reach new levels of significance.

Matt Navarra
Social Media Consultant

I think groups and communities are really going to do quite well next year. Social media groups have already been doing quite well in the last 12 months, and recently there has been a lot of effort by the social media networks to provide users with better features—and I think that will continue.

I also believe that the improvements in AI, chatbots and messaging bots will bring the quality of those sorts of interactions up so that we are not getting any sort of generic bots.

I still think that Stories, particularly those on Facebook, will be particularly interesting to watch. It will be interesting to see how Facebook Stories develop because they are really in their infancy and there is some skepticism as to whether or not they can be as successful as other Stories products.

3. Conversational Marketing

Casper Rouchmann
Traffic Manager at Templafy

I believe that we’ll be seeing a fundamental shift in the way we do advertising in 2019. We’re moving from one-dimensional ads to conversations. Whether we’ll see it through chatbots, conversation forms or other means is beside the point. The point is that we can combine our marketing, sales and service activities. This alleviates friction from sign-ups and helps shorten the path to qualified leads…but most importantly, it feels real.



4. Influencer Marketing

Marsha Collier
Author, Radio Personality and Educator specializing in online marketing

More agencies and brands have raised the question of social media influencer reach. In 2019 I think influencer marketing will be driven more by sentiment and brand alignment rather than just numbers. Reach will always be a factor, influencers will need to align with brands longer than one flight. Awareness doesn’t happen instantly. Influencer relationships develop more value for both parties when both have an emotional investment. By listening to (not just hiring) an influencer, brands can achieve more in long-term viability for a continued beneficial outcome. ROI is more than sales. It’s visibility.

Allan Askov Christoffersen
Global Partnership & Activation Director at momondo / KAYAK

Well, when I look at it from the things that I am working with, and that is the purpose-driven marketing, I think that we’ve already seen a lot more companies starting to work with purpose-driven marketing this year and we are seeing some great campaigns out there.

I also work a lot with influencers, and I do believe we haven’t seen the end of influencer marketing. And what I think is one of the big digital trends for next year is to see how businesses and brands actually scale their influencer partnerships because working with influencers can be quite time-consuming. So, next year I believe you will see some sort of automated process that allows brands to capitalize more on influencer marketing.

Neal Schaffer
Global Social Media Speaker and Educator

I think that the trend for 2019 is going to be influencers, especially as we begin to consider employee advocacy to be a branch of influencer marketing. When I speak to people, I am trying to educate them on all the different ways that they can leverage influencers.

I also think that we are going to see more storytelling-type content on social media, a lot of which will be derived from user-generated content—another form of influencer marketing.

Obviously, there are a few trends that marketers should be considering as we head into 2019, yet just because the calendar says January 1, 2019, marketers don’t need to do something completely different.

5. Employee Advocacy

Philipp Westermeyer
Founder and CEO of Online Marketing Rockstars

I think 2019 is going to be even more about people. The focus will shift more and more to people as social media rewards authentic, people-oriented stories more than anything else. And I think that many companies and organizations haven’t responded to that yet and haven’t put out employees as their ambassadors on social media.

I think we will see a lot more of that in 2019 because people drive so much more engagement and reach on social media than businesses. So, right now everybody is challenged to find the person that speaks for their brand on social media, and I think that we will see companies move more towards the background on social media and instead sending their employees to the front.

6. Content Marketing

Takin Kroop
Social Media Manager at Nordic Choice Hotels

One of the most important things we see as a big change is the ever-increasing importance of fresh content. Content has an even shorter lifespan now than before (if you exclude content for SEO purposes) – and the need for relevant and fresh content at all times from the consumer’s perspective is increasing. 

The social landscape is becoming more and more about timelines and short-lived content. On one side you have Facebook’s ruthless algorithms that punish bad content and hand out relevance scores, while on the other hand, you have this great opportunity to put your brand out there—for close to nothing. Trying to see the content from the user’s perspective and reflecting upon whether they will appreciate it or if it will be perceived as noise might help you create and publish better-performing content.

The past year was doomed as the end of organic reach and free results on Facebook. For us the reality has been different. Never before have we had a higher engagement rate, traffic to our website or organic reach than last year. This is mostly due to having a balanced paid distribution strategy combined with a diverse selection of content formats, including videos, live videos, links and images.

6. Chatbots

Lisa Toner
Senior Manager, Acquisition at HubSpot

Bots are getting smarter and more popular. I would strongly advise marketers to get educated on what’s now possible with conversational bots and how they can integrate them into their marketing strategies. More and more, consumers are expecting a personalized experience with brands and bots are a way to scale that 1:1 conversation effectively.

They can also become a great content distribution channel if you can keep your Facebook audience engaging with your bot. Check out HubSpot’s ‘How to Get Really Good at Marketing in 2020’ to learn everything you need to know about bots and how to be successful with them in your marketing.

7. Marketing Automation

Marcel Haertlein
Head Digital Transformation at Emmi Management AG

Marketing automation—get to know the consumer better, make marketing campaigns personalizable and measurable, and set up a data-driven marketing organization. Also, the insourcing of know-how makes sense. I, therefore, believe that not all tasks are outsourced to external digital agencies anymore, but that the company builds up the necessary capabilities to independently implement marketing campaigns in-house.

8. Social Video

Maria McKenzie
Global Social Media Communications Manager at Lonely Planet

2018 has definitely been the year of the algorithm. We’ve seen how an algorithm can elevate your brand, or drop your brand just as quickly. So this year we’ve worked hard to be reactive and on top of any platform or algorithm changes. This is something that we want to take into our strategy for 2019, as well as being aware of new platform features and where the platforms are all going.

In 2019, I’m really excited to see where long-form video goes. We’ve seen Facebook Watch expand globally this year, and we also saw the arrival of IGTV. So we are definitely keeping an eye on that and seeing where it goes at Lonely Planet.

We’ve also got an eye on Facebook Groups. We launched our Facebook Group in March 2018, and that now has a life of its own. So it will be interesting to see how that develops and how we can ignite conversations that connect with travelers there, as well as what new features Facebook will release for Groups next year.

9. Voice Technology

Madeleine Hall
Senior Digital Marketing Manager at Little, Brown Book Group, part of Hachette UK

I’m really interested to see what people are doing with smart speakers. I feel that people are using them a lot more than I have seen in the past, and I think that you can do some very clever things with these smart speakers.

In early 2019, 48% of US homes will own an Amazon Echo, Google Home or Apple HomePod.

Sabrina Rodriguez
Global Head of Social Media & Content at Dentsu Aegis Network

I’m always wary about talking about trends because as soon as you talk about them, people just want to jump on them without thinking about whether it’s actually going to add any value from a business perspective. So, I would start there first before looking at the market and what is trending right now.

But I do think that voice is going to play an increasing role, particularly when it comes to things like the integration of messenger bots and user interaction with the brand. I would definitely encourage social teams to become a part of that wider conversation around customer journeys in the online and the offline world in 2019.

10. Dark Social

Dr. Ewoudt Cloete
Head of Social Media at Wunderman SA

Something I’m particularly intrigued about is the concept of dark social, which is basically social media conversations that are happening in the offline space or happening between users on encrypted platforms such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. And I think that is a very interesting place to play, especially for brands, because we can’t really track a lot of that engagement that is happening.

I think it is going to be particularly interesting to see what happens with WhatsApp, given it is increasing its opportunities for brands to be on the platform. I’m interested to see how brands play in that space and find creative ways to engage with audiences on platforms like these in 2019.

11. Social Detoxes

Hanne Grainger
Global Social & Content Brand Manager at Jameson Irish Whiskey

A trend that I am seeing more and more is this movement towards a digital detox. Increasingly, people are trying to curb the amount of time that they spend on social media, and are instead trying to spend time with their friends. I don’t necessarily think that is a bad thing for marketers, it’s just another challenge. And all challenges are good challenges, right?

This shift away from social media or screens just means that we all have to be far more clever and deliver far better content, so that when users are spending time with a brand on social we’re adding value to their day.

Bonus: Neal Schaffer on the social detox trend….
I think that we are also seeing people spend less time on Facebook and that is a challenge for brands that finally got their Facebook marketing going. But it is still huge. A lot of people still spend their time there, but it just goes to show that you have to have an omni-channel approach to all of this. And I think that there are going to be ways of working social, both offline and online, into more things we do as a company. That I look forward to seeing.

12. Audience Targeting

Sree Sreenivasan
Digital and Social Media Consultant and Strategist

In terms of predicting what is coming up, I think it is not clear where things are going, but directionally we know what things are happening.

I think you are going to see more geolocation services connected to social; you are going to see more ways in which you can take and share video; you are going to see Stories become more important; and you are also seeing the rise of more niche targeting.

You should not always try to reach the maximum audience, but a more targeted audience. And if more of that can happen in 2019, I think that is good for everybody because you are not always going to be able to reach everyone that you need to.