A question is constantly asked is, "What is the impact of social media for commercial use and business professionals?" For digital marketers, the annual “State of Social Media” report from Buffer has become an important way to understand the big, macro-level trends happening within the social media world. The new 2019 report interviews more than 1,800 digital marketers from a wide range of organizations. Here’s a brief look at some of the major highlights from the report to keep in mind over the next 12 months.
Despite signs that organic reach is declining and that usage has dropped, Facebook continues to be the No. 1 social media platform of choice for marketers. It’s now used by 93.7 percent of digital marketers. Rounding out the Top 5 are Twitter (84.4%), Instagram (80.9%), LinkedIn (70%) and YouTube (60.8%). Up-and-coming social media platforms like Twitch (1.7%) and TikTok (0.8%) are interesting, but not yet relevant for brands looking to make a huge splash. Recent controversies around data privacy with Cambridge Analytica and rumors circulating that 1 billion of its users are fake, Facebook is facing headwinds in the online community and needs to address these real concerns before usership continues to drop.
Nearly 85 percent of digital marketers now use video as part of their marketing campaigns. The primary social media platforms for video include Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. But one fact that really stood out is how fast LinkedIn appears to be growing in the video space. LinkedIn is now the No. 5 video platform, far outpacing video-friendly rivals such as Snapchat. And new video platforms like IGTV (long-form video content from Instagram) have gained almost zero traction. The success of LinkedIn is good news for B2B marketers looking to grow their digital presence. It’s much easier to pitch the idea of video content for LinkedIn to a CEO than a branded video channel for IGTV!
In Buffer’s 2018 report, one big theme was the huge, untapped opportunity around messaging. Only 20 percent of marketers were using messaging platforms like WhatsApp or Messenger, and the suggestion was that digital marketers would eventually jump aboard the messaging bandwagon. But if you look carefully at the 2019 report, it looks like that trend still has not materialized. 12 months later, only 28.6 percent of marketers have experimented with messaging apps, and 50 percent of marketers surveyed said they had no plans to use messaging apps in 2019. In many countries like China and South Korea, messaging apps like WeChat and Kakao are the dominant social networks and facilitate more user features than just chat or messaging.
One huge hit of 2018, says Buffer, was the enthusiastic embrace of the Stories format by digital marketers. Stories through platforms like Instagram, can allow businesses and brands to draw in their audience and establish deeper connections with their prospective customers. In fact, more than half (57%) of digital marketers said that Stories were “somewhat effective” or “very effective” as part of their overall marketing efforts. Stories, they said, were a very organic way to share brand stories, and it’s likely that trend will continue in 2019.
When it comes to influencer marketing, the picture is a little cloudy. On one hand, digital marketers say that their influencer marketing campaigns have largely been effective; on the other hand, they warn that better guidelines are needed about how to use them properly.
Continuing the theme from the 2018 report, the new 2019 report suggests that “engagement” is still the most popular way to measure ROI from social media marketing. In 2018, for example, 42 percent of businesses (both large and small) used engagement as their primary way to measure ROI, with only 17 percent citing “leads” and only 15 percent citing “sales.” That’s perhaps not surprising – it’s a lot easier to show a lot of likes, comments and followers than it is a lot of new revenue from product sales.
Looking ahead to 2019, then, get ready for video content, the stories format, and influencer marketing to set the major directions for social media marketing. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will likely continue to see the most traction from marketers, so keep your eyes on new video innovations from these companies, as well as new ways they are enhancing their attractiveness for influencers. New, emerging platforms like Knowpia are trying to create fair models to reward users to self-govern content to ensure quality and constructive behavior online.