For many, one of the most daunting things about implementing social media marketing is keeping up to date with the latest developments in the industry. Channels, tools, apps, trends and tactics all evolve at lightning speed, so we’re here every month with a round-up of 5 things you need to know right now.

Ok, so more than 5 things happened in 2018, after all we’re talking about social media marketing – 5 things seem to happen each minute! But, these are some of the stand-out changes that occurred this year and caught our attention.

  1. Facebook Data Scandal

We started 2018 with the news that Facebook had been dishing out user date for some dollar, without consent! The controversy started with the Cambridge Analytica scandal during which user data was used for political purposed and then, as the year went on, larger household brands were too brought into the headlines.

Reportedly, power-houses including Amazon, Spotify and Netflix have all been given access to user date via Facebook, apparently even being given access to user’s private messages. Facebook claim that no data was shared without consent, suggesting perhaps users are unintentionally opting in to policies that just aren’t clear enough.

It therefore came as no surprise that Facebook later announced a ‘clear history’ feature which is rumoured to be launching in spring 2019. This feature will allow users to see their history of app and website usage clear that data if they so wish.

Of course, this scandal didn’t just impact Facebook, but sent a ripple of panic across the leading social channels, with the likes of Twitter rushing to protect their reputation and finding themselves in hot water too with data accusations and fake profiles.

  1. Twitter Survived

Speaking of Twitter, many are surprised to see it’s lived to see another year! The once labelled micro-blogging site seems to have been struggling to find its place over recent years, as new channels have emerged and caught the attention of users of all ages.

There have been live streaming contracts that have come and gone, the channel received mixed responses to doubling its character limit, it fell behind the competition in acquiring new users and its advertising offering has never built the momentum of Facebook.

But, it’s still here and we’re confident we’ll be saying the same thing this time next year, here’s why…

  • When it comes to driving web traffic Twitter is one of the best, so if you can invest the time needed to make this channel work then you could generate great results.
  • It’s one of the few channels where your organic content still stands a chance. It’s easier to grow an audience on the open network and tap into relevant conversations.
  • When it comes to live content it’s the go-to place. When news breaks it’s the first place many people head to, whilst other algorithms can take hours if not days to catch up with the news.

Timely content is the Twitter niche so hopefully it can develop the platform further in 2019 to compete, otherwise Stories will be hot on its heels!

  1. Stories Stepped Up

2018 was a big year for Stories; the once Snapchat owned format is a big hit with Instagram users and Facebook is too now trying to piggyback the success. Even LinkedIn is talking about launching its own version!

Instagram took Stories even further this year with in-app features like music, questions and now ‘close friends’ showing that they mean business when it comes to owning the ephemeral trend.

Stories has changed the behaviours of social media in a big way. Over 70% of users check Stories daily, that’s a huge number of eyes on your brand if you use the opportunity in the right way. This compared with around 70% of your feed content being missed by your followers, shows you what a huge opportunity Stories holds for your business.

  1. Instagram Verified

FINALLY! Instagram allowed users to apply for that all important blue tick, rather than just hoping to get noticed by the Instagram Fairy Godmother. It’s not guaranteed, and Instagram certainly isn’t going to be verifying profiles in any great volume, but for businesses that have worked hard to generate a large audience you could be in luck!

What’s the difference?The biggest benefit is that verified users can link out from Stories to their website without paying. Instagram boasts the highest engagement rates for business pages but currently the web traffic you will see as a result is minimal – with a verified account that could all change!

  1. Brands Listened

Social media has opened up the opportunity for any business to get in front of consumers and as a result competition has got even greater. Smaller business now have the ability to compete and attract attention (and sales), plus the choices for shoppers are endless and so they’re becoming increasingly fickle.

This year it was reported that 77% of people are more likely to switch brands than they were just 3 years ago. Why? Too many businesses are pitching good offers, products and experiences to consumers and as a result brand loyalty is at an all-time low. There are also varied levels of customer service being offered to users and those who are harnessing the opportunities of digital marketing are thriving, whilst those who aren’t are losing customer by the masses.

A huge opportunity for business, whatever the sector, is to invest in social listening. Gone are the days of assuming what your target audience wants, you have the ability to listen to what challenges people are facing, what they’re searching for and what their interests are. Then, you can use that insight to your advantage and address those specific needs.

Also, listen for opportunities to join conversations to encourage more two-way chat with your audience; in doing so you will show that your business is active and here to help, and that the business has its own personality to match!

Hopefully this will give you plenty of ideas to kick-off the new year, Wishing you all an exciting and successful 2019!