People’s behaviors are changing according to the changes in technologies and the capabilities of social media platforms. Different forms of social media communications are always coming up with innovative features and new dimensions. These changes not only help users engage in a number of ways but also give marketers a chance to captivate their audience. As the world of social media is constantly changing, marketers need to keep themselves updated with the new trends and techniques. This way they can devise better plans for their social media marketing campaigns and content marketing strategies. So let’s have a look at the 5 key social media trends of the year to help you review your existing strategies and outline the necessary changes. Messaging apps and chatbots The popularity of instant messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, WeChat, etc. has made things easier to connect with the customers more conveniently. People are now moving beyond public posts on social media to private messaging apps to simply reach out to their friends or to stay in touch with their favorite brands. The user base of both Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp crossed 1.5 billion users worldwide and the number is still growing. Facebook announced bots for its messenger platform in 2016 and since then chatbots have started becoming popular. Brands all over the world realized that it’s an easy way to add additional customer support. Businesses of all sizes can set up chatbots for 24/7 customer service by providing answers to the most common and frequently asked questions and keep their customers satisfied. This trend is helping brands and businesses to find the desired engagement they are seeking by understanding how people are actually using these platforms. 2019 and the upcoming years will bring a profound adoption of Artificial Intelligence as a part of social customer service. So, it’s time for brands to give it a try to ensure that their customers are getting the desired services as quickly as possible. More live streaming and video content Video content is expected to dominate the market once again in 2019 as it’s becoming more appealing to both brands and users. In fact, some experts predicted that 80% of the content that we consume online will soon be video content. Live video is something that has been around for a while now. Since the inception of YouTube live streaming, social media channels are promoting live videos more than other forms of content. Facebook and Instagram have ensured that video posts show up more frequently on their feeds. And this made it a key opportunity for marketers to look out for. The interactive nature of live videos makes it a powerful tool for social media marketers to engage with their audience and tighten the relationship. Similarly, spontaneous live streaming looks more genuine and meaningful to social media users and sway them to engage with a brand. Influencer marketing will continue to rise In the past few years, influencer marketing has become a major trend across the industries. These days YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram have hundreds of thousands of influencers who have millions of followers. Every post, comment, or tweet comes from them is perceived by countless people all around the world. The immense growth of the social media network has given its audience the opportunity to build and grow their personal brands. Studies show that 49 percent of Twitter users rely on recommendations from influencers. These socially influential individuals add huge values to brands. They know exactly how to develop a loyal follower base, generate compelling content, create and amplify the visibility. By teaming up with the right influencer, you can reach millions of people in a more efficient manner. So, businesses that are leveraging influencers to spread their message are experiencing nearly a 10X upswing in their conversion rate. User-generated content will be in focus The user-generated content (UGC) is one of the most effective ways to involve customers with your brand and provide them improved customer experience. Today consumers go through a complete research process before buying anything. And it is no longer as simple as going to a retail store and picking up a product. Now people compare prices, check reviews, and search the deals before hitting the buy button. Word-of-mouth publicity, referrals, and stories behind the product play a significant role in customers’ buying decisions. So, many businesses have started embracing user-generated content created by their loyal customers in the form of videos, photos or memes to promote their products. You can incorporate UGC by creating contests like ‘share your click’, ‘my best buy’, ‘your favorite memory with our product’ using hashtags. You can additionally reward the best entries or mention your customer-names for sharing their stories with you. This creates brand awareness, engages your audience, and leads to better customer experience. Trust and transparency Personal security and data privacy across social media have been a key issue for the past few years. In 2018, Cambridge Analytica collected personal data of around 87 million Facebook profiles without the users’ consent to target US voters with personalized political advertisements and influence the election results. After this incident, Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg received a lot of criticism by its users as well as legal authorities. This compelled other social media networks and brands to focus on establishing transparent and honest communication with their audience. It is imperative for brands to be transparent with the audience, whether it’s about admitting their mistakes or even updating their audience about a recent change. The enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union helped in establishing transparent data policies, encouraging honest communication between consumers and brands. Therefore, building trust and transparency has become essential for brands to strike a balance between personalization and privacy and give their customers more control over their shopping experiences. Wrapping Up Social media marketing is going to focus more on improved ROI, new technologies and a transparent relationship between the brand and its customers. All the above trends will help businesses to address social media users and connect people with their business model by providing a personalized experience.