The good news: Today’s small businesses have more digital marketing options than ever before. The bad news: Today’s small businesses have more digital marketing options than ever before.

If you’re a small business owner, you can probably relate. On the one had, you are fortunate to have so many accessible, affordable and simplified digital marketing tools that allow you to really take control and not spend tons of money on outsourcing your marketing. One the other hand, choice can be a burden. And the speed at which new digital marketing tools are being developed can be overwhelming. You might feel paralyzed by the fear of not knowing which strategies or tools to use.

But, take a deep breath and relax. 2019 is a new year, and the one where you will build your digital marketing confidence. All you have to do for starters is stay current. That means you simply need to stay on top of the latest practices in digital marketing; you don’t have to learn how to master them.

So, without further adieu, here are the top five digital marketing trends to watch this year.

  • Only 7 percent of Facebook users are age 13 to 17 (meanwhile, 83 percent use Snapchat monthly and 83 percent use Instagram).
  • 30 percent is aged 25 to 34
  • The number of American Facebook users aged 65+ has doubled to a whopping 41 percent since 2012.

Facebook is slowing down

While scrolling through your Facebook feed, chances are you’ve seen the viral “10-Year Challenge” pop up where people compare a photo of themselves from 2009 versus 2019. What does this say about Facebook’s user base? They are ageing. Here are the stats when it comes to the age demographics of Facebook users:

What do those numbers mean for your business? Well, if your target market is more mature, then Facebook is probably the best platform for you to focus on. However, if you want to capture a younger audience, be aware that Facebook is becoming irrelevant and plan accordingly.

Instagram is gaining speed

It’s a good thing for Facebook that they bought Instagram back in 2012 for an enormous $1 billion because Instagram is only rising in popularity and especially among a younger audience. What started as a social photo publishing site that was mainly used by photographers and creatives has since meteorically grown to a social platform of one billion users worldwide.

One of the most popular features Instagram launched is called “Story,” where users post ephemeral content that only lives for 24 hours. The “Story” content format was pioneered by Snapchat, but Instagram basically mimicked it and grew it to new levels attracting 400 million daily users in 2018. Expect Instagram to grow even more this coming year.

Chatbots are on the rise

In addition to acquiring Instagram, Facebook has also been wise to embrace and really launch chatbots within its Messenger app. What are chatbots exactly? Chatbots are a form of AI technology designed to simulate natural conversation with humans. It’s basically the next generation of an auto-responder that you’re used to hearing when you call a customer service number (“Press 1 for…”). The big only it’s smart, dynamic, powered by AI and operates over an online chat or messaging tool, like Facebook Messenger.

Chatbots are meant to act like virtual personal assistants and customer service representatives. For example, let’s say you want to book a flight while you’re on the go. Instead of visiting the airline’s website on your mobile device, all you have to do is open Messenger and start chatting to the chatbot as if it’s your personal travel assistant: “Please find me a flight from New York to Reykjavik departing tomorrow after 3PM.”

robot looking at you

Chatbots have become increasingly popular in the airline industry and many other service-based industries like restaurants, hospitality and more.

What does this mean for your business? As chatbots popularity grows, more and more chatbot providers are hitting the market, which means prices for a chatbot service will get competitive. In 2019, you will no longer have to be a large business, like an airline or chain restaurant, to have a chatbot for your clients or customers. So start considering if having a chatbot will help your customer experience.

Live video is streaming along

Video content has been dominating online media for quite some time. But this year, live video will be the thing to watch. The top three social media platforms, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube, have all rolled out a “live video” feature that allows individual users and brands alike to stream video content in real-time.

How is it different than uploading recorded video? For starters, it’s perfect for broadcasting live events so your audience can feel engaged even if they can’t be there. And there are no hard rules about what kind of event merits a live video: It could be a lecture, workshop, celebration, yoga class, or even something as simple as sharing your daily wisdom with your followers. The other great feature is that it allows for real-time engagement. Viewers of your live video can comment and “like” your video as it progresses and see the reactions of other viewers as well. It’s like sitting in a virtual audience and interacting with comments instead of face-to-face chat.

Ephemeral content is queen

If content is king, then ephemeral content is queen in 2019. Unlike content that lives on your profile indefinitely (like a Facebook post or Instagram photo), ephemeral content is usually posted in real-time and lives for only 24 hours on your profile. Snapchat popularized this format, and, as we mentioned earlier, Instagram took it to the next level with its Story feature.

Now businesses are finding immense growth and engagement by sharing short-lived, daily content, which, fortunately, is also much easier and more cost-efficient to produce. It’s a smart, low-barrier strategy for small businesses who need to bootstrap. Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook now all prominently feature “Stories” and are continuing to role out features that allow story viewers to take actions within the content such as comment, visit a website or even make a purchase.

When it comes to Snaps, or Instagram or Facebook Stories, there is no expectation to produce highly polished content. Instead, think of it as ‘raw,’ relatable content that engages your followers in the day-to-day of your business—an inside view of what goes on behind the scenes.”

To sum up

Now that you are aware of the latest trends, what action should you take? None yet. It’s important not to be too reactive as soon as a new marketing tool becomes trendy (just like it’s not smart to immediately invest in a hot stock!). Instead of rushing to implement anything new for your business, instead make a commitment to read about these trends on a weekly basis. The more knowledgeable you become on these trends, the more confident you’ll be implementing them (or deciding that they aren’t right for you). Sign up for newsletters that keep you up-to-date on the latest digital marketing news (like our GetWiser Magazine) and make this a year of learning!

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