- Live Video
- The Rise of Instagram
- Generation Z
Though live video, Instagram, and Generation Z have all existed prior to 2018, these three entities have emerged as key social media trends that have shifted thought leadership in the digital community over the past twelve months. Additionally, they have sparked conversations about the future of social media engagement and how brands can reach their target audiences.
Live streaming video is currently available on multiple social media platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitch. This allows fans to interact with an influencer or a brand in real-time via chat while the video streams and receive immediate feedback either verbally or through text as the fans watch the video. Since the video is live, fans of the page or profile or performer can plan ahead to watch the video when it comes out, or catch the replay. However, in some cases, like the Instagram Stories feature, the video will only be available for 24 hours. Therefore, some fans will have a greater sense of urgency to stay tuned on the profile and on the platform so that they don’t miss any content.
Live video can be effective for building a brand’s engagement with its fans. It helps a brand generate trust in its audience. For example, to promote their television series Kim’s Convenience, actors Jean Yoon and Paul Sun-Hyung Lee did a live video on Instagram in November 2018 to discuss the show and their excitement for Season 3. Though the next season doesn’t begin until January 2019, the actors enjoy interacting with their fans and maintaining engagement throughout the year.
To improve and expand upon an example like this, brands should establish consistency with their live video offerings. Certain micro-influencers like Becky Mollenkamp and George Kao host pre-scheduled live video sessions on a weekly basis in their Facebook groups to answer audience questions, share small business insights, and make announcements. Comedy podcast We Hate Movies scheduled a pre-taped video that aired live on YouTube in November 2018 to announce the show’s December 2018 schedule. The promotion for the live YouTube occurred on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, so fans across multiple platforms tuned in on YouTube to watch the announcement. Larger brands should take note and plan live video opportunities ahead of time to generate consistent engagement, trust, and loyalty from their fans.
The Rise of Instagram
Instagram was founded in 2010 and acquired by Facebook in 2012. According to Statista, as of October 2018, Facebook has 2.2B active users, as compared to Instagram’s 1B active users. (https://www.statista.com/statistics/272014/global-social-networks-ranked-by-number-of-users/) However, according to Adweek, “Marketers began shifting ad dollars from Facebook to Instagram in 2018, and social media management platform Socialbakers only sees that trend gaining momentum in 2019.” (https://www.adweek.com/digital/will-ad-dollars-continue-shifting-from-facebook-to-instagram-in-2019/) Furthermore, per MediaPost and Socialbakers, “in terms of engagement levels, Instagram is actually supplanting Facebook’s flagship app as the preferred channel among marketers.” (https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/328866/for-engagement-marketers-prefer-instagram.html)
Additionally, even though Instagram is owned by Facebook, it has not received the backlash that their parent company has gotten for dishonesty about how user data is manipulated. The platform is also younger than Facebook, in terms of both founding date and user base, which could allow for better adaptation to changing audience needs. With this combination of benefits, Instagram can capitalize on the institutional memory of Facebook–the reigning emperor of social media platforms–while appealing to a savvy audience who would like to engage in social media on platforms that they trust.
To improve and expand Instagram’s momentum into 2019, the platform would benefit from reestablishing their B2B advertising brand separate from Facebook. The consumer facing brands are different and separate, but businesses who want to purchase Instagram advertisements are directed to the Facebook Ads website. Having an Instagram-centric advertising portal would encourage businesses to create campaigns specifically for Instagram that make sense for the culture of the Instagram platform.
According to Forbes, “Generation Z is composed of those born between 1995 and 2010,” meaning they range in age from 7 to 23 years old. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/deeppatel/2017/09/21/8-ways-generation-z-will-differ-from-millennials-in-the-workplace/#623b42bc76e5 ) Though they are the generation that came after the Millennials, Generation Z is not the youngest cohort on social media. That would be Generation Alpha, users born in 2010 and beyond. (https://digiday.com/marketing/forget-millennials-gen-alpha/)
For the past decade, Millennials have the target of scrutiny for business and media outlets, with corporations wondering how to reach them. But now that Millennials have aged out of the teenage years, increasing attention has been placed on Generation Z, who has grown up right alongside the development of social media platforms like Friendster, MySpace, and Facebook.
For brands who want to reach Generation Z, these users tend to be more engaged on social media than older generations, and tend to be active on YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. Another platform popular with Generation Z is TikTok, “a mobile-only social network that allows users to create 15-second videos.” (https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-tiktok-wildly-popular-video-app-gen-rules)
The benefit of focusing on this market is that they are native digital users who speak the language of social media. The challenge posed by this group is that the majority of them are children under 18, which raises ethical and legal questions about actively engaging these in conversations with the goal of getting them to give your business. Therefore, depending on the brand, to effectively engage with Generation Z, brands should place focus on the 18-23-year-olds in this demographic. Even though this is a small section of Generation Z, it is the section that includes adults, who are more likely to be employed, have access to their own disposable income, and can make more independent buying decisions than their younger counterparts.
To improve and expand conversations with Generation Z, brands should engage micro-influencers–another trend that will dominate 2019–instead of big celebrities, as Generation Z users see micro-influencers in their niche as more trustworthy and interesting than a less engaged influencer with more followers. (https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/5-social-media-marketing-trends-that-will-dominate-2019/543477/) Additionally, transparency is important to Generation Z, as is video. So incorporating the live video trend above will help brands better effectively engage with this demographic.
New for 2019: Instagram Groups
A new social media tool that would increase engagement in the digital community is Instagram Groups. Instagram allows for group conversations, similar to group chats in WhatsApp. However, Instagram does not have groups like Facebook groups or LinkedIn groups, where communities are built and business can be conducted. Instagram Groups would be used in the same manner: to build communities for new and existing brands to generate engaged conversations.
Instead of users following a brand on Instagram, posting a comment, and then leaving the platform, possibly to have a discussion in the brand’s Facebook group. This would produce a sticky effect for Instagram, increasing engagement on the platform beyond liking and commenting on photos.
One large industry that Instagram Groups would benefit is traditional and new media. Film franchises, television series, and podcasts are three media segments that could incorporate Instagram Groups in their promotional campaigns. Like Twitter, Instagram allows users to search for content by using hashtags, which franchises like Fast & Furious and television series like Insecure employ to engage their fans and host scheduled chats. On Facebook, podcasts like The Flop House and Murder, We Spoke use their Facebook groups and pages to interact with fans and alert them to episode releases.
Instagram Groups would harness the community building powers of both Twitter and Facebook, on one, visually stimulating, growing social media platform. Film franchises like The Avengers can get their biggest fans excited for the next worldwide premiere. New and existing television series can host live video chats in the group every week the show airs. And podcasters can share the behind-the-scenes photos and videos with their fans, engaging them between recorded episodes. Instagram Groups would put Instagram on track to stake a claim as the platform with the largest actively engaged audience.
Adweek, “As Gen Z Reshapes the Social Media Landscape, Marketers Need to Be Open to Change”, https://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/as-gen-z-reshapes-the-social-media-landscape-marketers-need-to-be-open-to-change/
Adweek, “Will Ad Dollars Continue Shifting From Facebook to Instagram in 2019?”, https://www.adweek.com/digital/will-ad-dollars-continue-shifting-from-facebook-to-instagram-in-2019/
Artsy, “Welcome to TikTok, the Wildly Popular Video App Where Gen Z Makes the Rules”, https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-tiktok-wildly-popular-video-app-gen-rules
Entrepreneur, “10 Influencer Marketing Trends to Keep Your Eye On”, https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/324177
Forbes, “4 Sales Trends That You Need To Know About In 2019”, https://www.forbes.com/sites/lilachbullock/2018/12/03/4-sales-trends-that-you-need-to-know-about-in-2019/#37daae362857
Hootsuite, “Top 5 Social Media Trends in 2019 (And How Brands Should Adapt)”, https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-trends/
OZY, “You Call Them Gen Z, We Call Them ‘Philanthroteens’”, https://www.ozy.com/acumen/you-call-them-gen-z-we-call-them-philanthroteens/90361
Smart Insights, “Social media marketing trends 2019”, https://www.smartinsights.com/social-media-marketing/social-media-strategy/social-media-marketing-trends-2019/
Social Media Today, “5 Social Media Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2019”, https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/5-social-media-marketing-trends-that-will-dominate-2019/543477/
Talkwalker, “Social media trends that will impact 2019”, https://www.talkwalker.com/blog/social-media-trends
TheStreet, “Who’s Afraid of Facebook? New Social Apps Could Chip Away at Facebook’s Empire”, https://www.thestreet.com/technology/facebook-social-apps-killer-new-apps-14797599
Vidooly, “The Complete Brands Guide To Live Streaming On Social Media Platforms”, https://vidooly.com/blog/the-complete-brands-guide-to-live-streaming-on-social-media-platforms/