How to Make the Best Investment in Social Media in 2019

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Veteran social media strategists know from experience that what’s true one week may not be the next in this sometimes turbulent digital marketplace. Luckily, we’re tuned in to all the twists and turns of the biggest social platforms, serving up the most important updates your food brand needs to know.

While some “innovations” inevitably flop, like Instagram’s failed test of a horizontal feed, we’re hopeful about the potential of these five updates:

picture of iphone displaying examples of shoppable instagram social media accountsShoppable Instagram Accounts

Instagram continues to be a winning platform for food marketers, despite common struggles with the limitations of the app’s design and functionality. For CPG brands with an ecommerce arm, Instagram is changing the game by making your profile shoppable at long last. If your business profile is set up as an ecommerce account, you have access to tagging products in posts and using Shopping Stickers in Stories. Both of these features are clickable and drive traffic to a product page on your site. Upcoming changes to business profiles will soon allow tabs to be added to the feed in order to more easily find shoppable items, as well.

Businesses who want to take advantage of this capability have to create a linked Facebook catalog and have it reviewed for approval. However, these initial setup hoops may be worth jumping through if the end result is a more measurable ROI on your social media investment. Plus, with rumors of additional AR and interactive features becoming accessible to brands via Story ads, the opportunity for creativity in this space is massive.

Reviews Are Now Recommendations

For brands with a history of glowing reviews on Facebook, it might be disappointing to hear the platform has retired this method of ranking products and services. In its place is now Recommendations. But change isn’t always a bad thing. It will take consumers some time to adjust to leaving recommendations as habitually as they would reviews, but moving away from a star rating system can actually be a benefit to your brand.

No longer will brands be victim to the seemingly arbitrary decision factor that plays in a consumer’s mind. Are these pita chips really a 5, or more like a 4? Visitors to the new Reviews tab are simply asked, “Do you recommend ______?” with a thumbs up or thumbs down option. This method of polling still allows for feedback from customers who may be dissatisfied, but in general, will lend toward more positive sentiment. As a bonus for restaurants and coffee shops, users also have the ability to leave Rich Endorsements, by selecting tags describing the things they like about the establishment or what they think needs improvement.

Another silver lining: Facebook has not done away with the star rating you earned in past reviews, so that number is still prominently displayed on your Page—for now.

Facebook Ads: Video is the Future

By now, you’ve heard that video is the future of social. But in case you need more convincing, consider a recent Animoto study which found that 93% of marketers say they’ve landed a new customer thanks to a video on social media. And with people dedicating a third of their time watching videos when they’re online, might as well make sure your food brand is making its way into that mix.

Launching a video content strategy doesn’t have to be daunting, though, especially with Facebook’s new video creation tools found within your Ad Manager platform. This program offers food marketers a workshop for turning existing photo and text assets into videos without needing advanced design skills or software. This is a great way for brands to test video and make a case for broader investment in this format.

You can read more on the power of social video, in my previous article, The Food Brand’s Guide to Facebook Watch & IGTV.

Creator Accounts: Instagram is Investing in Influencers

Today’s consumers aren’t as reliant on legacy brands as they once were. They’re making savvy purchase decisions based on a variety of factors, including endorsements from close friends and trusted public figures. Influencer marketing via social media has been on the rise in the last several years, with no sign of slowing. In fact, Forbes reported that nearly 40% of marketers are increasing their influencer budgets for 2019.

Instagram has taken note of this valuable segment of their user base and plans to roll out Creator Profiles as an alternative to Business Profiles. Creator Profiles will have insights and capabilities better tailored to the metrics that matter most to influencers. The most exciting addition to the suite of insights is a more robust follow/unfollow metric, providing more clarity into how different types of content perform on their feeds. What does this mean for food marketers? It means we can more accurately attribute ROI and report on the success of our influencer partnerships.

screen grab of Instagram's new social media creator profiles.

Emerging Social Media Platforms to Watch

With organic reach on Facebook’s platforms plummeting to a dismal 6.1% on average, there’s a clear benefit to being among the first to move to an emerging community that makes sense for your food brand. Early adopters on new social sites will always be the youngest generations, but it’s only a matter of time until the rest of your target demographic catches on. Here are three hot platforms we’re watching:

Tik Tok

If there’s one new social network that’s poised to take off, it’s Tik Tok. As of December 2018, this app (which was previously know as Musical.ly) boasts over 500 Million users and sits at an impressive #6 spot in most downloaded of all apps in Apple’s App Store. The premise is simple: 15-second videos, geared toward singing, dancing, stunts, and comedy. This format gives way to quick, viral moments, much in the same way its predecessor Vine did.

Vero

Social media users frustrated by Instagram’s algorithm are flocking to Vero as an alternative visual platform. Vero allows users to share a wider variety of content outside of the traditional photos and videos, with options to recommend movies, TV, music, books, or locations to followers. Brands in the space may be initially turned off by the platform’s no ads or algorithm philosophy, but Vero is actually receptive to brands in the space. What does that mean for your food ad strategy? It means there’s a real chance for organic, “free” reach and growth that we enjoyed in the early days of Facebook.

Kik

While not technically a new social app, Kik’s longevity and steady growth since launching in 2009 is noteworthy. Similar to Facebook Messenger, it’s a direct messaging platform for individuals and groups, and has evolved to support brands in the space with bots. Brands like Sephora have used the site to drive seasonal campaigns via chatbots that push traffic out to other digital assets. Kik has been embraced primarily by the 18-24 set, but this Gen Z demographic is aging into a key consumer group, so it may be worth your brand’s time to keep tabs on all social sites they’re populating.

The Takeaway

The capabilities of social media marketing are in constant flux, so keep these updates in mind as you allocate budgets, set goals, and map out strategies for your food brand in 2019. What may have been out of scope last year (or even last quarter), just might become possible thanks to innovations underway in the months ahead.

Bre Rodriguez Social Media Content Manager EvansHardy+Young
Bre Rodriguez, Social Media Content Manager

As a published writer, personal stylist with Stitch Fix, and budding graphic designer, Bre manages the social media launch of Lamb Weston’s Grown In Idaho brand and continues to grow its social footprint via strategic content marketing, advertising, and influencer programs.