Changes in Social Media Platforms for 2019

Social media is a constantly evolving entity. With more than 3.48 million people using social media globally and 225 million in the United States alone, businesses and brands cannot afford to dismiss these platforms.

But like most things in marketing, social media is not stagnant. Due to algorithmic changes in social media platforms, what worked for brands in 2016, 2017, or even last year, may not work in 2019. To stay up to date with social media platform changes, here are a few trends to look out for in 2019 and in the (not-so-distant) future.

Overarching changes

Transparency

In the wake of recent data misuse scandals in the headlines, social media users have become even more discerning about how their data is used. As a result, social media platforms have pushed brands to become more transparent about how and when user data is collected, manipulated, and distributed.

Focus on Video Content

The Story feature has become a ubiquitous characteristic among most major social media platforms. Every major social player from YouTube to WhatsApp to LinkedIn and more is jumping on the original Snapchat stories bandwagon.

However, it isn’t just stories that are getting the love. Video content in general is becoming a priority, which is evidenced by algorithmic changes that we’ll get into later on.

Prioritization of Personal Connections and Highly Relevant Content

Social media is ultimately about being social. Telling your story and having meaningful connections with those you know personally and those with whom you share similar interests are more important than ever. Brands that only push branded content without much thought to engage with their followers are having – and will continue to have – a difficult time succeeding with their social media marketing efforts.

Enhanced Shopability

Several major social media platforms have made it even easier to sell products over the last year. In some cases, users do not even have to leave to leave the social app to make a purchase, which drastically cuts the number of steps users must go through to make that ultimate conversion.

Changes in Individual Social Media Platforms

Facebook

Facebook is the behemoth of the social media world. With 2.41 billion active monthly users, it is the largest social network of all, and the second most-used among adults in the United States.

Transparency

Due to its massive power to influence, Facebook has taken measures to be more transparent with its use of user data.

Now when users see a custom ad and tap on “Why am I seeing this,” they will find a more in depth explanation that includes the name of the company that accessed the user’s data and where that data may have been shared.

Users also have access to all of the active ads that a page has in their Ad Library. This is useful not only for users who are curious about the types of ads a company is running, but also for competitors who are looking for information on how another company is structuring their ads.

Discrimination Protection

It is difficult to eliminate biases that inadvertently make their way into the algorithm itself, but Facebook has attempted to crack down on discriminatory practices by eliminating certain marketing choices at the ad creation level.

If yours is a company in the housing, employment, or credit business, you now have a separate ad category. This ad category “will not allow targeting by age, gender, ZIP code, multicultural affinity, or any detailed options describing or appearing to relate to protected characteristics.

These rules were created to help keep advertisers from violating laws, such as the Fair Housing Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Facebook developed these measures in conjunction with the ACLU, the National Fair Housing Alliance, and the Communication Workers of America.

Prioritization of Relevant Content and Video

In theory, Facebook and social media in general is supposed to bring users relevant content. Facebook has been refining its algorithm to make this happen.

Now, content from a user’s close friends is prioritized, and a “close friend” is determined through how users interact with one another. When the algorithm notes that people are frequently tagged in the same photos, reacting to the same posts, and checking into the same or nearby places, those users will see content from one another more frequently.

Facebook has also made similar changes to the algorithm to prioritize content from relevant pages and groups. By surveying people on how interested they were on page content and how important group membership is, Facebook is trying to better predict how users will react to specific brands.

Video is yet another variable in Facebook’s algorithm research. Original content that is longer than three minutes and captures a user’s attention for at least one minute is far more likely to gain traction.

Instagram

Since Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram in 2012, they have been continuously making changes. Some of the recent biggies are outlined below:

eCommerce and Ads

Businesses have been offering their products for sale on Instagram for years now, but it has become much easier to do so in 2019.

For one thing, brands that collaborate with Instagram influencers now have the flexibility of promoting those sponsored posts that originate on the influencer’s account.

Brands can also tag their business partners in an Instagram story, which allows both parties to see the post’s metrics. The tagged party may also turn the story into an ad.

Additionally, posts with shoppable content can run as ads. This feature is still in beta, but with its widespread implementation, the potential gain in reach is significant.

Perhaps most important is that now, users can buy from brands without leaving the Instagram interface. From first impression to placing the order, users can do it all on Instagram. This feature is also in beta, and only a select number of businesses and users in certain countries (including the United States) can try it out.

Content Over Likes

Instagram has been working on bringing the social part of social media back. To cut back on likes as a vanity metric, Instagram has been testing the removal of likes altogether. Test pool users in seven countries no longer see the number of likes or views that a post receives at all. They can, however, still see how many likes and views that their own content gets.

Conclusion

With social media platforms continually evolving and reinventing themselves, it is necessary for companies that focus on social to keep up with and even get ahead of the adjustments. For more information on how social media can work as part of your marketing strategy, contact The Design Group today.

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