Rebuilding trust – key to social media marketing in 2019, Hootsuite finds

In 2019 social media marketing will be all about rebuilding trust with consumers and creating interactive, personalized and genuine content to engage the modern consumer according to Hootsuite.

This past year was a tough one for social media sites, with the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal starting off 2018, followed by numerous data leaks, election interference and almost no social media site was immune. And all this took a toll on how people feel about social media itself.

In fact, only three per cent of social media users have a lot of trust in the information they find on the sites according to Pew Research Institutes study on social media use in 2018.

This isn’t all bad news though. Hootsuite’s annual report on social media trends for the upcoming year states that brands just need to shift strategies in order to make their content more interesting and relevant to the increasingly aware consumer.

“In many ways, 2018 was a tumultuous year for social media,” Penny Wilson, Hootsuite’s chief marketing officer stated in a press release.

“Concerns around privacy have led social media users to more private channels like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat, creating unique opportunities for businesses to develop one-on-one relationships with customers, particularly as those customers increasingly prefer messaging for interactions like support,” she said.

In 2019 Hootsuite’s report predicts social media marketing will be about:

  • Rebuilding trust
  • Storifying social
  • Closing the ads gap
  • Cracking the commerce code and;
  • Messaging eats the world

Rebuilding trust

Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have been facing increased pressure to improve transparency, security and accuracy of their content. Hootsuite’s report quotes research from the Ponemon Institute that finds trust in Facebook alone has dropped 66 per cent.

Data breaches caused major distrust of social media in 2019. Courtesy: Hootsuite

For brands this using these sites for social media marketing this means that consumers likely distrust or are at least weary of their content as well.

“In an age of social skepticism, the rules of the game have changed. Users have grown distrustful of many media and celebrity influencers (whose followings, it turns out, are often bought or fake). In a major pendulum swing, trust has reverted back to immediate friends, family, and acquaintances on social media,” states the report.

“Users are returning to traditional and trusted journalism outlets and local news sources” – Hootsuite’s Social Media Trends 2019

By surveying more than 3,250 small to large Hootsuite business customers as well as industry specialists, the report found that in order to rebuild trust brands need to create personalized content and experiences.

“Smart brands are focusing less on maximizing reach and more on generating transparent, quality engagement,” states the report, “the very definition of ‘engagement’ has matured from simple clicks to behaviours that have more tangible impact on brand value and long-term ROI.” It goes on to say that the one-size-fits-all approach has given way to context and audience-specific messaging.

It mentions brands like Adidas and The New York Times that are working to create “intimate, meaningful dialogue with smaller, more valuable audience groups,” by creating communities and sharing insightful content.

In order to keep up with this trend in 2019 Hootsuite suggests that social media marketers:

  • created a branded hashtag aligned with community values
  • participate and run Twitter chats
  • build a Facebook group around a core audience interest

Closing the ads gap & cracking the commerce code

Generating transparent, quality content can sometimes seem at odds with paid social media content, however, paid is the name of the game. According to Hootsuite, marketers are increasing social ad budgets, up 32 per cent in 2018 alone.

“Prices are increasing and it’s becoming harder to get noticed,” states the report about the condition of paid ads on sites like Facebook.

Competition for paid ads and content is tougher than ever. Courtesy: Hootsuite

When it comes to closing that ads gap Hootsuite suggest pairing paid content with investment in creativity and targetting that amplifies the best performing organic (non-paid) content with paid boosts.

The report highlights Netflix and Spotify as two companies that lead the way in creating social ads that are “personalized and entertaining, rather than just bland banner ads squeezed into a news feed.”

But what about the ROI of these paid ads? Well Hootsuite predicts that in 2019 buying directly from social media sites will increase in North America.

“In Asia, social commerce adoption has been swift, with 70 per cent of China’s Gen Zers now opting to buy direct from social. In North America, however, social commerce hasn’t kept pace,” states the report.

With an increasing number of ways to easily make purchases straight from social media, such as Instagram’s shoppable posts and Facebook Marketplace, Hootsuite’s report finds that more brands and consumers are going to start using social commerce more.

It suggests the best way to meld social commerce into a brand’s social media page is to make the shopping experience live, interactive and seamless, even on mobile devices.

Storifying social & messaging eats the world

Mobile devices will also play a bigger role in social media in 2019, Hootsuite finds, specifically when it comes to ‘stories’ and messaging apps.

Snapchat-style stories on Instagram and Facebook, for example, are “growing 15 times faster than feed-based sharing, according to the report, and for brands, this requires a major shift in focus in 2019,” the report states.

Using Stories is one way for brands to create personalized content. “Stories are overwhelmingly visual and meant to be created and consumed on the fly with nothing more than a smartphone and a creative eye. Because they’re ephemeral, often disappearing after a day, there’s more room for fun and experimentation. Stories feel real, immediate, and intensely personal,” Hootsuite states.

It suggests that in 2019 brands:

  • create Story-specific content
  • use Stories Highlight feature
  • experiment with augmented reality (AR) and GIFs

Messaging apps are also increasing in popularity, with close to five billion monthly active users on the top four messaging apps (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, QQ and Skype).

Courtesy: Hootsuite

According to the report’s findings, “as we head into 2019, 69 per cent of customers say that directly messaging a company helps them feel more confident about the brand.”

In order to engage one-on-one with customers, Hootsuite suggests that brands:

  • add plugins to your website to drive customers to messaging apps
  • use direct messages (DMs) or messaging apps to streamline customer service queries
  • set up bots or in-app assistants for frequently asked questions
  • run campaigns that incorporate messaging apps

When it comes to social media marketing in 2019, not matter what way you look at it, the new year is going to be all about creating personal, genuine, engaging content and rebuilding the trust that was lost in this past year.

“Combined, these trends represent tremendous new opportunities for brands to establish deeper, more authentic, and longer-lasting connections with customers in 2019 and beyond,” Wilson stated in the release.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Meagan Simpson
Meagan Simpson
Meagan Simpson is a staff writer for IT World Canada. A graduate of Carleton University’s journalism program, she loves sports, travelling, reading and photography, and when not covering tech news she can be found cuddled up on the couch with her cat and a good book.

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