If there’s one constant truth about social media, it’s that it’s always changing. New user features, algorithmic updates and increased advertising have expanded the marketing potential for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Depending on your industry, there are many options for social media marketing today. The key is to find your niche platform, identify your target audience, and commit to a consistent campaign of content.

But if everything’s constantly changing, how do you keep up?

The best way to stay up to date is to observe industry trends. No matter the business, product or service, here are five social media trends that will help you grow your business, increase exposure and find new customers.

Disappearing Stories
Vertical content that disappears after 24 hours is called a Story, and it’s the on-trend way to advertise to potential clients. In the last two years, the number of daily active Instagram Stories users has increased from 150 million to 500 million (Statista, 2019). By investing some time into creating content for this feature on Facebook and Instagram, a small business can increase its reach exponentially compared to regular posts in the social media feed.

TIP: One great way to quickly increase exposure on social media is to tag the handle (name with @ before it) of a famous person or local influencer who uses your service or product. If they agree with your message and aesthetic, they might repost or “re-story” your shoutout to their following.

Influencer Ads
A professional influencer is a person or team who uses social media to sell products for other brands. In the mid-20th century, this was dubbed “Keeping up with the Joneses,” by consumers who coveted having the lifestyle and possessions of influencers. Today consumers are “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” with sibling Kylie becoming the youngest self-made billionaire in history via her Instagram account.

Studies show that 49% of consumers claim they depend on influencer recommendations on social media to inform their purchasing decision (Digital Marketing Institute, 2018). For small businesses, that means it’s worth exploring your local influencer market. One or two people with formidable followings can boost and diversify the reach of your message.

TIP: Many influencers are looking for products and venues to represent at events like fitness festivals, foodie expos and luxury brand launches. Consider hosting an event and asking them to attend, speak or collaborate to get more traction and traffic.

Direct Messages
While email remains the most professional and reliable way to reach potential clients, social media direct messaging (or private message) accounts are rising in popularity. Whether in personal or professional capacities, Americans spend an average of three hours per day on social media and messaging (GlobalWebIndex, 2019). That means brands can benefit from both public posts and private conversations that convert friends into future clients.

TIP: Facebook Business Page inboxes are timed for average responsiveness when people message you. If you become less responsive, the platform will penalize you by preventing you from having a prominent “Message Now” button on your page. Either set up mobile push notifications to your phone,
hire someone to virtually manage your page 24/7, or fill out Facebook auto-responders to explain why you won’t reply until later. Or all three!

Selfies Filter
As much as the vanity of selfies is glaring, 91% of all social media users access social channels via mobile devices (LYFE Marketing, 2018). Which means their photo taking and posting capabilities are always at arm’s length. By putting an informal selfie face to their business, brands become more personable and approachable. Brands can grab even more attention with viral filter modes that transform selfie photos and videos. Filters that make you old, change your perceivable sex, or turn you into a cat are fun and timely ways to ride the wave of mobile app developer creativity.

TIP: Sometimes, the most popular filters are separate apps you have to download in addition to your social media platform. This is the wild west of app development and some app companies are taking liberties with their permissions to sell your personal information. Download with caution.

Vertical Videos
Last year, Americans spent an average of six hours and forty-eight minutes a week watching online videos (Limelight, 2019). Part of this 59% increase since 2016 was due to the rising virility of mobile videos on Instagram TV and TikTok, which can only be navigated vertically. While Facebook supports horizontal widescreen video, it promotes vertical video ad campaigns and defaults to vertical orientation when enabling Live video broadcasting on mobile. Businesses benefit from periodically publishing short, 15-second vertical videos via Stories and posts on their feed to stay on their social media savvy customers’ radar.

TIP: Selfie sticks were once taboo, but today they are commonly used to help film smartphone videos. You can find multi-purpose gear online that are both selfie stick and tripod, allowing stabilization for longer recordings or broadcasts.

By Caron Shahrestani