Weekly Roundup – 12/09: Hootsuite's 2019 Social Trends, Creating a Brand Story, and the Power of MRs

Each week, we’ll share a roundup of interesting news, stories, campaigns, articles and insights from the world of copywriting, content marketing, social media, influencer marketing, brand development and narrative.

This week we’ll look at:


  • Hootsuite’s Top 5 Social Media Trends for 2019

  • Creating a brand story that connects with audiences and drives sales

  • The power of media relations should not be lost on PR


5 Social Media Trends Hootsuite Sees Taking Hold in 2019

Social media is fairly new in the big scheme of things, especially in its capacity as a business tool. And its evolving at a lightning-fast pace.


To help brands stay ahead in this ever-evolving world, social media management platform and industry thought leader Hootsuite has shared 5 key trends that it sees taking hold in 2019. And according to Hootsuite, the social media challenges faced in 2018 will ultimately spawn opportunities in 2019.


“In many ways, 2018 was a tumultuous year for brands, marketers and customer experience leaders,” said Penny Wilson, Chief Marketing Officer at Hootsuite. “Concerns around fake news and data privacy led individuals to question their trust in politicians, media outlets, social networks and businesses alike. Those same concerns extended to how brands forge relationships with customers and the data they use to do so.”


She continued, “The slowdown in organic reach on social required that marketers dive deeper into paid strategies to get their messages across. And the constant need to prove the return on investment of marketing spend remained, demanding that chief marketing officers and their teams balance brand and performance marketing to optimize the impact of their efforts against broader business objectives like brand health, revenue growth, customer retention and profitability.”


As for next year, Wilson said, “While 2018 had its challenges, they translate into tremendous new opportunities for brands to establish deeper, more authentic and longer-lasting relationships with customers in 2019 and beyond—connections that will help achieve those broader business objectives.”


By Hootsuite’s estimation, the big trends in social media for 2019 will be:


  1. Rebuilding Trust: According to Edelman, 60% of users no longer trust social media companies. Traditional influencer content has also taken a hit this year. Look for transparency and quality engagement to be a bigger focus next year.

  2. The ‘Storification’ of Social: Stories have become more and more popular this year, in large part due to the fact that they are overwhelmingly visual, meant to be created and consumed on the fly and the sense that they are real, immediate and intensely personal. For more on the power of using Stories for marketing, check out our Weekly Roundup from December 2 here.

  3. The Social Ads Paradox: The era of “pay-for-play” is clearly here, but with its prevalence comes a new challenge: Millennials and Gen Z have developed a keen eye for spotting irrelevant ads and have learned to avoid them. In 2019, look for a continued need for and rise in creativity, time and targeting savvy being paired with ad money on social media.

  4. Cracking the Commerce Code: From shoppable posts on Instagram to Facebook Marketplace and Buyable Pins on Pinterest, online purchasing from social media is on the rise. Increasingly, consumers are turning to social media for inspiration, product advice and to make purchases. Savvy brands will go the extra mile in 2019 to not only showcase products on social media but to show customers how products and services can fit into the context of their lives.

  5. Messaging Eats the World: Here’s an interesting one – brands turning to messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram DMs for one-to-one consumer communication. While this might seem far-fetched, I personally had a hotel on WhatsApp in Colombia during a recent vacation and it was unbelievably helpful and convenient. Hootsuite believes this will become the norm, with the savviest of brands migrating to messaging apps to meet their consumers when and where they want to be served.


Read more via AdWeek here.


How to Create a Brand Story That Connects with Audiences and Drives Sales

According to Forbes columnist Celinne Da Costa, storytelling us an essential marketing tool for brands looking to ground their business strategy with messaging that is memorable, emotionally engaging, and profitable. I couldn’t agree more.


I absolutely loved this article. It truly does justice to the power of storytelling. In a business landscape so largely driven by analytics, numbers and quantifiable results, the value of a great brand story often gets lost. Don’t get me wrong – these measuring tools are valid and important, and many of the things we do as storytellers come right back to them, but it’s important to remember there’s more to the picture, and other techniques that can be used in our mission to achieve them.


Strategic storytelling helps business create high-quality marketing content, strengthen brand loyalty and improve sales conversions. The most successful brands do this by balancing emotion with just the right amount of information. A great story is easy to understand and simplifies big ideas in a way that sticks in people’s minds. Even more, it surprises, delights, makes audiences think and feel, and motivates them to act in ways that data can’t.


According to Harrison Monarth, New York Times bestselling author of The Confident Speaker: “A story can go where quantitative analysis is denied admission: our hearts. Data can persuade people, but it doesn’t inspire them to act; to do that, you need to wrap your vision in a story that fires the imagination and stirs the soul.”


While every business need is different, there’s a great framework that can be applied for crafting a story that connects with audiences and drives sales.


  • Gain Extreme Clarity in Your Vision: Don’t just churn out purposeless content. Think of your brand as a legacy. What do you want to leave behind? Map out what you want to accomplish with your brand and distill it into a singular sentence comprised of three parts: action (what is your brand doing to serve consumers?), target audience (who exactly do you want to influence?) and value (what is the transformation being created for the target audience through the action?).


  • Humanize and Relate to Your Target Audience: Paint a vivid picture of the people your brand is speaking to. Create personas if necessary. What do they like? Their quirks? What keeps them up at night? What fires them up? Then think a step further. What are their beliefs, philosophies, lifestyles? The goal here is to identify a psychological itch that the audience needs to scratch and then resolve that tension through storytelling.


  • Identify Core Values for Your Audience to Connect With: Your brand’s core values are the non-negotiable beliefs a brand can’t live without and that the target audience will share. Identify 3 – 5 core values that your business was built around and test their storytelling strength by digging into the key reasons why each value is important and how it serves the vision. Core values humanize the brand and should be communicated inconspicuously – your audience should be able to feel what your brand stands for without having it spelled out.


  • Create Content That Authentically Tells Your Story: Here’s the trick, and it’s easier said than done. From social media posts to blog articles to website copy should funnel back up to the vision and core values. Each piece of content should be treated as a puzzle piece that, when all clicked together, make the big picture apparent.

Earning brand loyalty and moving people to action goes far beyond telling a beautiful story. It’s also about authenticity. To create a story that is emotionally powerful, relatable and gets results, don’t be afraid to reveal the heart and soul of your brand.


Read more via Forbes here.


The Power of Media Relations Should Not Be Lost on PR

Here’s one that speaks to be on a profound level. When I started out in PR way back when, my absolute favorite part was media relations. Reading the paper, listening to the radio, watching TV shows. Identifying story opportunities for clients. Crafting narratives and pitches and selling them through to journalists and watching them come to life.

It was a thrill.


These days, due to shifts in the media landscape, newsrooms are shrinking. Editorial content is becoming less prevalent. The rise of pay-for-play, social media and influencer marketing has begun to take over. And I’m huge proponent of these technological advances and their impacts on our industry.


The trouble is that, these days, the phrase “traditional PR” can sometimes be viewed synonymously with being old fashioned or behind the times. But the truth is that there’s still great power in the traditional media relations. “Traditional” media is still ranked the most trusted source of news.


The key to great media relations is building an authentic relationship with journalists. Don’t take a fire and forget approach. It’s important to understand journalists’ beats, who they are, what they like and don’t like.


There’s a true art to crafting a story, picking up the phone, speaking to a journalist or producer, pitching your idea and being convincing. And these skills shouldn’t be lost just because the industry is changing. Because no matter how sophisticated advances in technology become, one basic concept will remain paramount: communication is a human activity.


Read more from Benjamin Thiele-Long via PR Week here.


Thanks for reading! Check back next week for more insights, ideas and news.

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