2018 has been an incredibly wild ride for Social Media. First, Facebook announced that they would start deranking the visibility of Pages in order to bring back more ‘meaningful interactions’ among users.
Then, Facebook itself got caught in possibly the greatest scandal to ever hit a social media company. And to try and drown all the negative news, it went on to release a long list of features and services throughout the entire year which further complicated the mechanics of the game.
What this taught us as brands relying on Social Media as source of business and branding, is just how unreliable they can be. But however scary they may seem, we cannot deny that all of the world’s attention revolves in their sites.
Instead of cowering back to traditional media that clearly aren’t going to work anymore, here are some Social Media predictions that will help get brands ready for 2019.
Employ Social Influencers
It has been a rough learning curve for both brands and influencers over the past couple of years. But through the trials and errors, the industry thinks it found the ideal way to effectively employ social influencers.
As of early 2018, Facebook has demoted the reach of Pages in favor of ‘Bringing People Closer Together’. As a result, it now makes more sense to use Social Influencers as your brand’s gospels. After all, the alternative is to pay more for advertisement.
Just because Social Influencers do not generate as much sales as brands previously hoped, does not mean they are ineffective. When employed primarily as Brand Awareness advocates, these influencers can become incredible useful for your campaigns.
You can still attach promo codes and call-to-actions along with each of them. But measuring Reach, Impression and Engagement instead of Sales can greatly help align your goals with their capabilities.
Previously, brands only seek out high-profile influencers with large amount of Followers and engagement. But they turned out to be expensive, and working with them isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Instead, it is a better bet to look for Long-Tail Influencers.
Long-Tail Influencers are individuals with micro Followings, between 5000 – 15,000. They usually engage with their Followers on a more personal level, and are more passionate with their work. These people also cost less, typically just requiring a free product in exchange for good exposure.
Invest in Branding instead of Advertising
Large companies is beginning to adopt digital advertising on Facebook and Google, and they bring along with them a very deep pocket which smaller brands cannot compete with. The only other option to remain relevant in the eyes of your target audience is by building a strong branding instead.
Brand building is tedious and requires a longer time than running advertisements. It also demands business owners to rethink their traditional approach to ROIs and KPIs. But the returns are far greater and lasts longer than any advertisement campaign can ever give.
In order to create branding, you would need to first find the purpose of your business and why you are different from everyone else in the market. Building a narrative and storytelling around this specialty will be the foundation to a successful brand.
Adopt More Social Media Platforms
Facebook’s failings throughout the entire 2018 was a wake up call for all brands that rely on social media for their livelihood. We cannot deny that most of the world’s attention still revolves around social media, but we would prefer to have a backup in case Facebook fails to recover from this calamity.
Well, the best bet now is to adopt a few more platforms. Keeping your Facebook Page active is a must, but also start exploring secondary avenues like Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, or even Snapchat if your audience is young (yes, even young Malaysians are on Snapchat).
The rule here when starting a secondary social media platform is not to just copy and paste content. Different platforms play by different rules, and the only way to do well is to speak like you’re a native. Begin by watching how the top accounts use these media and how they interact with people, which will give you a better idea on how to plan your own.
Get a Website, If You Haven’t Already
This topic shouldn’t even be in discussion because everyone should already have a mobile-responsive website today. But in case you are reading this and you still haven’t gotten one because you think it’s cheaper to use Facebook, then you need to understand the risk you are taking with your business.
In January 2018, Facebook decided to downplay the reach of brands on their platform, which hurt all businesses. Then few months later they lost 23% of their market value within a 90-minute second-quarter earnings call. Then there was the privacy scandal which led to a mass exodus of users to alternative platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.
If the day does come when all social networks stop becoming relevant, having an active website will keep your business operational. Even if social networks continue to thrive, a website guarantees data protection, prevent your content from being governed by a fickle guy in a hoodie, and give your audience uninterrupted experience of your products and services.
Get Your Website SSL-Certified
As of July 2018, Google made it clear that all websites will require an SSL Certification in order to be treated as a good website. It doesn’t matter if your website has eCommerce functions or not.
SSL Certification is the standard security technology for establishing a secure connection between the browser and the website. It ensures all connections are private using encryption that only the website and browser can read. It also authenticates websites, assuring that users are protected from hacks and phishing sites.
The downside of not having an SSL-Certified website is Google will serve a warning message to everyone who visits your site. This message will carry big red warning signs that give the impression your website isn’t safe.
Google believes this is the best way to better secure all websites and experience for all users worldwide. Good news is, there is a high chance your hosting service provider is giving out SSL Certification upgrades for free. Be sure to check with them about this, else your website will start getting deranked into oblivion very soon.
Stop Blogging, and Start Vlogging and Podcasting
This is not to say that blogs are completely useless. SEO still cannot draw keywords from videos and audios yet, so having regular blogs will still help boost the search-ability of a website on the web.
Meanwhile, less real humans are reading articles. Videos and audios allow us to consume content much faster, are more interactive, and we can do it while also doing something else.
Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Snapchat are paying more attention to videos with newly added features and higher visibility. If you are looking to start a podcast, try setting one up with Anchor.FM. They will help you post your podcast onto apps and platforms like Spotify, iTunes, Google Podcast, and more.
If you do not know what kinds of videos and audios to post, try referring back to your company’s brand and unique positioning. Then come from the angle of providing value to your audience for free.
2019 will be an interesting year for social media as an industry. The entire world is blazing new trails and setting the rules as they go along. At the same time, businesses are stuck between loving how social media has been helping them but afraid of what dangers may lurk ahead.
But it is highly likely that the list of predictions mentioned above will happen very soon. Businesses will need to rethink their approach to marketing and branding, and start seeing themselves more as media and community advocates rather than just plain sales people.
 “Bringing People Closer Together | Facebook Newsroom.” 11 Jan. 2018, https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2018/01/news-feed-fyi-bringing-people-closer-together/. Accessed 19 Dec. 2018.
 “Effective July 2018, Google’s Chrome browser will mark non-HTTPS ….” 8 Feb. 2018, https://searchengineland.com/effective-july-2018-googles-chrome-browser-will-mark-non-https-sites-as-not-secure-291623. Accessed 19 Dec. 2018.