A comprehensive new report from AI-powered social marketing platform Socialbakers takes a deep exploratory dive into 2019’s hottest social media trends for comms industry pros and brands who want to work smarter in social media to engage with audiences at scale.

The study offers detailed information about the state of social media engagement and advertising, as well as emerging themes for the year ahead. It also examines demographics and brand trends, advertising effectiveness, engagement best practices, and emerging trends involving influencer marketing and privacy and security.

An overview of key findings:

  • When comparing ad spend distribution by social media platform from 2017 to 2018 between the two main Facebook-owned services, Instagram ads increased in 2018, while the percentage of overall ad spend on Facebook decreased. Overall brands are shifting their investments between the services.
  • Photos are the most heavily promoted type of content compared to any other format. However, video promotion soared in 2018 and converged with photos in September, indicating that the popularity of this type of medium is on the rise.
  • In 2018, Instagram ad campaigns rose, reaching their highest adoption rate in June. Though it has tapered off, as Instagram audiences continue to grow, so will marketers’ advertising investments.
  • Facebook usage on mobile is overwhelmingly dominant, as mobile users consume more ads than desktop users.

Social media trends overview—what’s hot and what’s not in 2019

Engagement trend: Facebook vs. Instagram

While the report examines multiple social media platforms, it found that marketers looking to drive value for their businesses via digital marketing can find more value in terms of scale and audience engagement from Facebook and its family of applications than they can from competing platforms. With 2.6 billion monthly active users, Facebook’s family of applications is still where most consumer-to-brand engagement happens online.

However, in terms of engagement per user, Instagram reigns supreme. The data found that while Instagram has a smaller total audience compared to Facebook, Instagram users are far more engaged than Facebook users. Instagram is becoming increasingly powerful as a platform for capturing quality engagement within small, targeted communities.

“Instagram is becoming the number one social media platform when it comes to engagement for brands,” said Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO of Socialbakers, in a news release. “When we look at engagement on an absolute level, Instagram has a lot more engagement for brands than Facebook does, despite having a significantly smaller audience size. As a result, we see businesses leveraging Instagram for advertising more than ever before.”

Social media trends overview—what’s hot and what’s not in 2019

Mobile continues to be an important trend

According to Kleiner Perkins, an average user spends over three hours per day consuming digital media on mobile—a growth of nearly four times over just the past five years. Mobile ads present a huge opportunity for marketers, but they need to utilize mobile-friendly content formats.

“The key with mobile content is to focus on understanding each of the personas in your audience and tailor mobile-first content at scale. Brands should leverage digital platforms to identify the personas and learn what content sparks a conversation with each of them. That content will then drive engagement and achieve their marketing performance goals,” said Ben-Itzhak.

Social media trends overview—what’s hot and what’s not in 2019

The influencer industry and minimizing fraud

Influencer marketing is projected to become a $10 billion market by 2020. It has become an important marketing tool for many brands across industries around the world. With so much money on the table, it’s not a surprise to find fraud in the influencer marketing space. The first challenge involves identifying real versus fake accounts. Right now, a bulletproof strategy does not exist. However, Socialbakers has been able to identify three types of fraudulent activity within influencer marketing: fake followers, fake engagement and fake interests.

The research showed that brands can minimize the risk of working with fraudulent influencers by looking at two key data points: the influencer’s performance over an extended time period, and their engagement level per 1,000 fans. In addition, benchmarking the performance of a few influencers over time can help to identify anomalies resulting from fraud.

Social media trends overview—what’s hot and what’s not in 2019

In the Digital world, Data is still King

For the foreseeable future, data will form the foundation for any successful campaign, empowering companies to communicate effectively with customers, make strategic changes quickly, and ultimately build strong brands.

“If you want to successfully leverage digital platforms like Facebook and Instagram for your marketing efforts, you need solid data to drive your decision making. In 2019, good data will still be imperative to help you know precisely where to invest your advertising budget in order to maximize reach, engagement and business impact,” said Ben-Itzhak.

Download the full report here.

Social media trends overview—what’s hot and what’s not in 2019

Data for the report was culled from more than 10 billion pieces of social media content from Socialbakers’ social media data set, which is generated by more than 17 million profiles. The research has visibility into $3 billion of ad spend on social, which allows it to set industry benchmarks.

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Bulldog Reporter is a leader in media intelligence supplying news, analysis and high-level training content to public relations and corporate communications professionals with the mission of helping these practitioners achieve superior competitive performance.

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