Social 5 Min Read

How the Push for Transparency Has Changed What’s Next for Social Marketing

Written by Tim Edmundson

This year has seen a huge increase in interest when it comes to social marketing, especially among mobile-first consumers. And as brands attempt to entice those consumers with conscientious campaigns, social has become one of the easiest ways to achieve their goals. One study even found that 78% of consumers say they’ll recommend that brand to a family or friend, and 77% will buy from that brand over another when they follow on social. 

We’ll admit, this blog post started as a review of the ways social marketing has changed in 2019 thus far. While we all assumed strategies like live video and influencer marketing would be at the center of our conversation, there have been a few surprises as well. It turns out expectations around transparency have been the reason for most of the recent changes in social marketing. 

While transparency may not seem like a social strategy in a literal sense, this year has seen even more pressure from consumers on brands to be more open. And considering that 67% of consumers say they are more likely to increase their spending with the brands they follow on social, it is extremely important for marketers to pay attention to consumer demands. So let’s take a look at some of the new (or improved) tools and strategies that marketers have taken advantage of this year on social as transparency has become a priority for how they interact with consumers.

The Fall of Influencer Marketing (and The Rise of Employee Engagement)

The push for transparency has caused an increase in scrutiny for one of the strategies that was predicted to grow this year: influencer marketing. With their crowded field and suspect intentions, influencers have begun to lose the trust of consumers when it comes to authenticity. So while influencers are still expected to be a part of marketing budgets through the end of the year, many companies are becoming more conscientious about researching influencers and their accounts to ensure they are trustworthy brand advocates.

Some companies are even pushing a new face for their brands – that of their employees. Sprout Social found that 45% of consumers are more likely to research a product or service when that brand’s employees post about them. And considering that Instagram posts with faces have been found to get 38% more likes than those without, you may want to consider using your employees as the “face” of your brand in any social posts. We’ve followed this advice here at SteelHouse, featuring many of our team members in social video posts – and we’ve seen great performance for each entry in the series. We recommend you find a way to do the same.

Conversational Commerce Gets Fancy

Unlike influencer marketing, one social marketing strategy that has proved fruitful has been the rise of conversational commerce. While only around 0.5% of B2B companies had a chatbot at the beginning of 2019, that number has been rising as more tools have become available to marketers. In fact, it’s quite simple for brands to plug them into Facebook Messenger, which gives them a way to engage their audience in a way that appeals to them. Brands have been using these chatbots in a more personalized way as well, including storing and using their customer’s preferences to better serve their needs. Think of it as robo-customer service.

Customers expect chatbots to have a natural way of communicating, as well as a personalized approach to interactions. These tools have allowed interested customers to not only ask questions, but discover products, make payments on purchases, and see shipping information. By 2020, conversational commerce will likely become expected of every brand that wants to engage their customers with a personal experience – whether it’s on social or on their website.

Live Video is Still Going Strong

Another social tool that has kept its momentum going this year is live video. This feature is seemingly everywhere, and that’s because it works. Video ads have long been known to be more effective than their static counterparts, and social platforms have been taking notice. LinkedIn made news this year with an update to their video metrics platform, likely due to their users being 20x more likely to share a video than any other kind of post.

Live video is no exception to these statistics – users love video practically in any shape it takes. With consumers expecting a more transparent approach to marketing, this social feature has the unique ability to make it seem your brand is talking directly to them. Most of the popular social platforms allow viewers to make comments and ask questions during live streams – creating yet another way that brands can interact directly with their followers.

Your Followers are In Charge

As transparency concerns continue to change the way brands interact with the world, it’s important to keep on top of the new expectations of consumers. Social has become even more prevalent to a successful marketing campaign, as according to GlobalWebIndex, 28% of users turn to social while conducting product research. That percentage has risen steadily over the years, and with the new changes to social tools and features, it is likely to make another jump by the end of 2019. So don’t miss out on those prospective customers – spend some serious time considering how your brand can be more transparent on social platforms. And if you are looking to see how you can get started on your own social marketing strategy, check out our tips for getting the most out of your social campaigns.