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  • Writer's pictureRogier Visser, Founder Roundabout social

Social media predictions for 2019: a return to personal authenticity

To say 2018 was a tumultuous year for social media is an understatement. Simmering issues with privacy and data integrity came to a boil at Facebook, with effects felt at the highest levels of government. Networks in the crosshairs of congressional investigations have had to reckon with their own power and potential for abuse, while users have been left to question the larger impact of social media on politics, culture, and civic discourse.

What does this mean for 2019? How will users and networks respond to these seismic shifts? How will the way companies use social media evolve in light of changing attitudes on privacy and meaningful connection? In its annual Social Trends Report, Hootsuite surveyed more than 3,000 businesses, from small agencies to huge enterprises, to see how they plan to adapt in 2019. Here’s some of the most salient findings and a look into the crystal ball on what the year ahead holds.


Waves of scandal have had a tangible impact on faith in social networks. According to Edelman’s 2018 Trust Barometer Report, 60% of people no longer trust social media companies. Against a backdrop of “fake news” and data manipulation, users have grown distrustful of influencers–both celebrities and media personalities. In a major reversal, trust has reverted back to immediate friends, family, and close acquaintances on social media, individuals whose personal credibility speaks far more than the size of their followings.

For businesses on social media, this presents a delicate challenge in 2019. Using social media as just another ad channel–filled with flashy clickbait and promo codes–feels increasingly out of step with social norms and user preferences. Instead, progressive companies will focus less on maximizing reach in 2019 and more on generating transparent and meaningful engagement, and 50% of respondents to our survey agreed that personalizing social content will be a key challenge. Brands like Adidas and the New York Times exemplify this emerging ethos. They’re creating focused communities and sharing insightful, relevant content, then allowing passionate users to connect with one another.


This shift to more personal ways of engaging on social media is echoed in the type of content being shared. Instead of posting on their news feeds, users are increasingly sharing “Stories” with their network. In contrast to standard updates, these ephemeral slideshows generally disappear after a day, and they’re growing 15 times faster than feed-based sharing, with more than a billion users of Stories across Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Snapchat. Facebook’s own chief product officer Chris Cox has noted that Stories stand to surpass feedsas the primary way people share things with their friends within the next year.

In 2019, companies seeking to stay relevant on social media will need to up their Stories game. Two-thirds of respondents to our survey have either implemented Instagram Stories or plan to in the next year. This means rethinking social updates as less of a static block of text and more of an intimate, often raw, multimedia glimpse behind the scenes. Integrating video, simple graphics, and a narrative arc is key, but it’s important not to lose sight of authenticity. Pioneers like the Guardianhave figured out that less polished and more realistic Stories generate the highest engagement. What’s clear is that, especially for millennial and gen Z users, Stories are second nature, and the news feed may be ceding its throne.


While scandal and controversy have rocked other networks, one channel has quietly trucked along in the background: LinkedIn. The buttoned-down business network passed the 500 million member threshold in 2018. A content powerhouse, LinkedIn now publishes more than 100,000 articles a week on its blogging platform. Beefed-up groups functionality, native video, and a new API for integrations with third-party apps all show that these days the network is far from just a place to warehouse your resume. At a time when other feeds are increasingly filled with toxic rants and viral memes, LinkedIn’s no-nonsense professionalism has a stronger appeal than ever–as witnessed by the accelerating pace of user growth.

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