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Social: change and opportunity




2018 was a tumultuous year for social media. The main players faced an intense spotlight of cynicism and challenges from users, brands, and governments, but despite some movement of audience cohorts between platforms, Facebook continued to grow its monthly active users by 9% (year-on-year) to 2.32 billion1. 2018 also saw the social media companies focus on a suite of new functions to keep their users and customers engaged. Despite all the change, there are still opportunities to be explored, and to improve the effectiveness of your social activity in 2019, you should focus on three areas:

Tap into the revenue potential of social commerce

What seemed to be our ‘white whale’ since 2008 – social commerce – finally made its presence felt in 2018, with Instagram in pole position. Its owner, Facebook, added new features like ‘shoppable posts’, ‘collections’ and a designed ‘shop’ section for business profiles. We expect Instagram to continue testing new features in 2019 as it grows its position as the key social shopping force. Through social, commerce has truly become creative, and the brands doing well  integrate it naturally into formats that are highly engaging and make the purchase experience as fluid as possible.

Test and refine your ‘Stories’ format approach

Several studies show Instagram driving higher engagement rates than Facebook, and ‘Stories’ are pivotal to this. Originating on Snapchat, copied by Instagram and adopted by Facebook, this format has also recently emerged on both WhatsApp and LinkedIn. Although Facebook and Instagram have made their Stories viewable on desktop, they are primarily a mobile format in both creation and consumption.

The integration of apps, like Soundcloud and Shazam into Instagram Stories, provides a glimpse of where this format’s potential and its owner’s ambition lie – a platform that enables expression through every medium.

By the end of 2019, the Stories format is expected to surpass feeds as the primary way people share things with their friends2. When considering your social strategy for 2019, ensure that your brand is fully conversant with these developments and how to behave in this next ‘mobile-driven’ evolution of social.

Meet evolving expectations through messaging   

Within Ireland, the different messenger apps (Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber and Skype) have a growing active user base, with 71% of adults aged 15+ now having a WhatsApp account, and 59% having a Facebook Messenger account3.

Driven by adoption, there’s a growing preference for messaging as a customer support channel. Indeed, brands are now judged on this service, with a recent Facebook study4 suggesting that seven out of ten respondents feel more confident about a brand if they can directly message it. With the main platforms constantly focused on improving support functionality, messaging is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but must be considered a trust builder, and a key platform within your customer service function.



  1. Facebook results (2018)
  2. Facebook F8 Conference (2018)
  3. IPSOS MRBI (2018)
  4. Facebook IQ. Why Messaging Businesses is the New Normal (2018)
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