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2018 – A Year in Marketing: Insights from 7 Industry Experts

As we near the end of the year, we thought it’d be interesting to explore how social media has changed over the last year. What new trends have emerged, which platforms have garnered the most attention, and how social media marketers have had to evolve their strategies to adjust. To gain insights across the industry, I asked several social media experts the below question.

What has been your top takeaway from social media marketing in 2018? How will this year affect your brands strategy going forward?

Their best answers are below.

Have a Data-Driven and Always-On Approach

headshot dio favatas from truth initiative

“Ten years ago, you could sit down on your couch on a Friday night and you knew exactly what you’d be watching on TV. But today, that isn’t the case. Consumers no longer channel-surf. Instead, they content-surf, and the media landscape of that content is extremely fragmented. This year, we saw daily video views on YouTube eclipse 5 billion, well over 2 billion people consume content on Facebook’s multi-app family (Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Messenger), and 188 million users consume more than 40 minutes (average per day) on Snapchat. With our always-on, data-driven, and content-first approach to saving lives, at truth, we will continue to capture people’s attention on these in-app dominated platforms in 2019.”- Dio Favatas, Truth Initiative

Leverage Analytics and Influencers

headshot jeanine rainier from tilt

“Social audiences are becoming more and more discerning, responding to only very authentic or very WOW content. We have battled with Facebook’s and Instagram’s 2018 algorithm changes, and we are now more reliant than ever before on good tracking services to show clients real impact and results. We ran a very successful influencer sales campaign for a beauty client over the Black Friday weekend, which achieved a very high ROI (close to 15% of their total four-day period sales). We see more of that kind of work, as well as epic, large-scale (WOW) content creation coming in 2019!” – Jeanine Rainer, TILT

Focus on Community and Engagement

headshot  sean callanan from sports geek

“Facebook’s pivot to a community focus (we all know why) has almost crippled most brand marketers as organic reach has plummeted. But the snap back to community has seen engagement on Facebook Groups rise tremendously, so we are working on ways to engage fans or customers through Groups, which let us hand over the reins to our tribe. This scares some CMOs or VPs of Digital.

Additionally, we’ve seen a big uplift in engagement on Facebook Events, a previously under-utilized option that is getting more traction from RSVPs and people directly engaging with content posted in the event.

Other than specific tactics around Facebook, we’ve been changing our focus on key metrics to be more engagement-focused than clickthrough-focused. Traffic is falling across all networks, so understanding and reporting on the importance on engagement is vital. That is where Instagram Stories have been a rock star over the past 12 months and will most likely be the key platform for engagement going forward.” – Sean Callanan, Sports Geek

Be Open to Change

headshot frank gregory from northstar solutions group

“My top takeaway of 2018 has been to expect change. Change has always been a constant in the social media marketing world, but 2018 in particular has seen big shifts in strategic data-driven thinking from brands at the same time that the social channels themselves have (rightly) tightened up the access brands have to that data. Gone are the days of simply creating content based on ‘gut feeling’ that it will resonate, with brands and agencies instead pushing strategists and creative teams to leverage data to learn what customers will engage with. However, social channels (Facebook and Instagram in particular) have made it harder for brands to learn about those customers by limiting the available data. It’s in this juxtaposition where top strategists and creatives will thrive in 2019, understanding what data is available to them, asking the right strategic questions of themselves prior to starting an analysis (instead of just opening up a tool and seeing what insights they stumble upon), and sticking with a KPI-driven, customer-driven focus as they build out content strategies for their brands.“ – Frank Gregory, NorthStar Solutions Group

Create a Movement and Tell a Story

headshot laura miller civic advisors

“ My top takeaway from social media marketing this year is that people want to see themselves and their friends in your brand. At When We All Vote, we leveraged the power of social media as a unifying tool to build a community of empowered citizens. We showcased volunteers doing great work to get their neighbors registered to vote. We elevated stories about what voting means to Americans and partnered with trusted athletes, artists, and influencers. Finally, we challenged voters to do it with their friends by creating their own #VotingSquad for Election Day. By empowering Americans to share their stories and providing them with the tools to register voters, we helped get more people to the polls. As we look into next year, we’ll keep finding ways to engage new audiences. After all, it’s going to take all of us to change the culture around voting.“ – Laura Miller, Civic Advisors

Ask Better Questions to Create Better Content

headshot vincenzo landino from Aftermarq

“Ask better questions when creating content, like does this piece of content need to be delivered in the vehicle du jour? We see this year in and year out: a new platform pops up or a different delivery vehicle gets “hot” and the time and effort that goes into creating dwindles. When that happens, we get more “ship it” and less “does that really need to go out” or “is there a better way of telling this?”

Going forward in 2019, for both us and our clients, we are going to get more clear, say “no” to more concepts that aren’t fleshed out properly, and be real with ourselves and the brands we serve. While I subscribe to the mentality that done is better than perfect, being done doesn’t mean half-baked. Let’s get smarter in 2019 and ask ourselves better questions to create better content.“ – Vincenzo Landino, Aftermarq

Create Compelling Visuals

headshot pete kirschner events dc

“Our biggest social media marketing takeaway of 2018 is that graphics drive engagement. Visually appealing posts are the only thing that grab consumers’ attention and get them to react or read more. We are enhancing our in-house team with marketing professionals who know how to take compelling photos or videos and create imagery that will capture the moment without the need of a lengthy caption.” – Pete Kirschner, Events DC

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