Social Media

2018 Social Media Year in Review

January 3, 2019

Continued privacy concerns and increased scrutiny around social media platforms were the main headlines for 2018’s year of social. But 2018 also introduced new areas of interest like the evolution of voice technology, built on ongoing trends like longer-form video consumption with IGTV, and gave us the brief craze over platforms like VERO. Campaigns like HBO’s Westworld: The Maze” Voice Gaming Skill and MINI’s Created in a Countryman captured consumer’s imaginations and attention while making the most of contemporary social marketing tools.

Overall, three major consumer trends are shaping the social landscape as we head into 2019:

  • Less scroll, more “whole”: consumers are reexamining their digital usage habits
  • Listen and learn: the use of the audio format is seeing a spike in both user consumption and usage via Voice technology
  • Social shopping: the purchase power of social is on the rise, thanks to the proliferation of shopping and visual search capabilities across platforms

To thrive in 2019, here are the three resolutions marketers should make:

Less scroll, more “whole”

While social media platforms spent much of 2018 combatting privacy concerns and a laundry list of related scandals, their users have been reexamining their reliance on social media and adopting off-Feed habits. In 2019, brands must find new ways to prove their value and relevance.

What’s driving the trend:

  • Combatting “Nomophobia” among Teens: Nomophobia (No Mobile-Phone Phobia), the pop culture term assigned to the irrational fear of being without one’s mobile phone, is on the rise. Adults are checking their phones upwards of 47 times a day, while 18 – 24 year-olds check as often as 86 times a day. With 54% of teens admitting to spending too much time on their phone, 57% say they’re trying to limit social media usage.
  • Embracing “JOMO: FOMO, or the Fear of Missing Out, was so 2018. 2019 popularized the term “JOMO” or the Joy of Missing Out. Coupled with the ever-increasing trend towards self-care, living a JOMO lifestyle encourages consumers to find a balance between indiscriminate online consumption and mindfulness practices away from the screen.
  • Moving beyond the Feed: Users continue to gravitate toward non-feed experiences on social. Facebook Stories reached 300 Million Daily Active Users (DAU) last year, not far behind Instagram’s 400 DAU. Longer form video viewing environments like Facebook Watch are attracting 50M MAU, a 14x increase since the start of 2018.

How platforms are reacting: In addition to addressing privacy concerns, platforms are also actively looking at how they can help users be more conscious of their digital consumption habits. From Apple to Facebook and Instagram, a host of new tools are popping up to aid consumers in keeping track of how much time they’re spending on their phones and online while also providing reminders and notifications to help cut down usage.

Brand Resolutions for 2019: Facebook was a hot topic in 2018. According to Connexity Hitwise, the platform’s unique users are down almost 4% since March. Should advertisers be concerned if consumers are vowing to spend less time on their phones? Far from it. In 2019, brands will need to be more focused than ever on what customers want to ensure they are making an impact quickly. This means developing a deeper understanding of where their audience is and what they like through a combination of the following tactics:

  • Test units with a singular point of focus: Vertical creative still remains key for filling up screens and stopping thumbs. Testing additional units aimed at singular points of focus such as Pinterest max width video can help messaging continue to stand out.
  • Optimize for personalization at scale: Brands creating for optimization at scale – segmenting audiences that are big enough to provide scale but selective enough to respond to targeted content creative – are able to achieve personalization and efficiency.
  • Diversify social spend beyond the Feed and “traditional” social platforms: While platforms like Facebook still have their place for reach and investment in community building tools like Groups has proven successful, brands need to look for new ways to reach their consumers. With Stories creation set to outpace Feed in 2019 and platforms like TikTok growing rapidly in catching Gen Z’s attention, thinking beyond the feed is essential to staying current.

Listen and learn

As stated in our mid-year trend report, video serving and customizing options like Twitter’s premium partnerships and YouTube’s dynamic creative were big areas of focus last year. While video has continued to be a strong medium for consumer consumption, a new focus is changing the scene: audio. As consumers gravitate more towards Voice technology and audio formats, social platforms are taking note.

What’s driving the trend:

  • Consumers are embracing hands-free experiences: 47.3 Million Americans have access to a smart speaker and the numbers are growing. 27% of Americans who have owned a smart speaker for at least a year now own ~3. As voice technology grows, consumers are more apt to multi-task while they consume content (i.e. daily news, music, etc.).
  • Rise in Podcast popularity: With a quarter of the US population listening to podcasts monthly, this format continues to broaden and diversify, attracting more listeners. The intent-based nature of finding the perfect podcast for each individual helps make the listening experience both personal and more impactful.

How platforms are reacting: While platforms like Facebook seek to capitalize on the trend towards audio search by introducing Facebook Portal, we’re seeing audio optimized features appearing across platforms. These include…

  • Instagram Music Stickers: with users gravitating towards sound-on experiences, Instagram and rolled out music stickers to enhance and share via Stories.
  • Snapchat Voice Lenses: Snapchat has evolved the face-activated lens to be responsive to specific sounds made by the user.
  • Instagram Voice Messaging: Within Instagram Direct, the platform has enabled a voice messages feature similar to those available within Messenger and WhatsApp.

Brand Resolutions for 2019: Engaging video and visuals will continue to be the main focus for social creative. But as consumers’ tastes evolve to encompass more sound-on environments, brands should look to incorporate audio into all aspects of their marketing:

  • Think audio-first content creation: Audio has previously been a part of content rather than THE content. As audio emerges as a primary format, think about stories that can be told best using sound.
  • Explore partnering with podcasters, the next generation of Influencers: Podcasts are to 2018 as Blogs were to 2010. Podcasts are building robust and passionate fan bases that brands can tap into via sponsored content.
  • Evolve brand tone of voice: A differentiated tone of voice and brand personality needs to evolve beyond copy and into all aspects of branded content including audio. As brands build out Voice skills for smart speakers and create audio-focused formats, they should ensure that they fit with the brand’s personality to create an optimized experience across channels.

Social Shopping

In our June trend report, Pinterest was the leader in aiding consumers with shopping the world around them. Since then, Pinterest has continued to lead in connecting consumers with products, but Instagram and Snapchat have stepped up their game to take a slice of the shopping pie.

How platforms are driving the trend:

  • Increased shopping through visual search: Taking a page out of Pinterest’s playbook, Snapchat introduced their own visual search feature that allows users to snap photos of products in real life and buy directly on Amazon. Additionally, their rollout of Collection ads and product catalogs mirrors popular Facebook shopping features.
  • Shopping capabilities added to popular platform features:
    • Snapchat has partnered with a number of brands to create unique AR experiences, like the Jordan brand Lens which allowed users both to experience MJ’s iconic dunk and purchase a pair of Jordans.
    • With over 90M users tapping product tags to shop directly from the platform, Instagram rolled out shopping stickers for Stories and a shopping feed in the ‘Explore’ tab. Shopping tags in Videos as well as a separate shopping app will be rolling out to brands soon.


  • Expansion of Pinterest’s Shop the Look capabilities: Pinterest continues to be a heavy hitter in driving purchases, with 90% of weekly active Pinners using the platform to make purchase decisions. With 250 MAU (+50M YoY), businesses of all sizes can now tag pins with multiple products to enable in-platform shopping.

Brand Resolutions for 2019: 20% of brands are expected to abandon their mobile apps by 2019, possibly turning their efforts to social platforms where consumers are already present. With more brands turning towards social e-commerce, expect competition to rise. Brands can succeed by:

  • Cultivating a community: As shopping features like Instagram’s Stories and video shopping tags are available on organic units, cultivating a strong following on the platform can be beneficial in driving continued sales.
  • Using social insights to inform product offerings: In addition to launching limited-edition releases via social, brands showcasing how they optimize products based on consumer conversation like Oreos for left-handers and IHOP’s pumpkin beer will continue to stand out.

To further aid in your 2019 marketing decisions, we offer our platform cheat sheet below to highlight audience and features of each platform.

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360i’s Associate Director of Social Marketing Amy Donnelly, Social Strategist Ari Berkowitz, Senior Social Strategist Marie Goldstein, Senior Social Strategist Alex Sopchak, and Associate Director of Social Marketing Valentina Bettiol contributed to this post.