By Rex Hammock

Yesterday, the social media dashboard Hootsuite issued a report predicting 2019’s most important social media trends for brands and businesses. It bases its predictions on a survey of large and small social media departments and agencies.

It’s worth a read, but here are its five trends boiled down to one sentence each.

Trend 1: Brands will humanize content as the circle of trust on social media tightens.
Trend 2: Content teams will adapt as Stories (whether through WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat) offer new formats for sharing.
Trend 3: More competition on paid social will force marketers to up their game.
Trend 4: Improved social shopping technologies will fuel sales.
Trend 5: Customers will demand better 1:1 social experiences.

In the words of that great sage and social media guru Yogi Berra, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.” Most of these predictions sound like excerpts from the 1999 Cluetrain Manifesto, a prediction—and warning—for the future that is now. While there were 95 theses in the Cluetrain Manifesto, its overall observation and prediction was this:

“A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies.”

As I’ve written before, marketers are brilliant when we think like customers, but for some reason, when we try to predict the future, we start thinking like marketers. By that I mean we start thinking of customers as “targets” and “data” and “networks.” We think that everything is new if we haven’t heard of it before.

Takeaway: Great marketing is anything you can do to help your existing customers become greater at what they come to you seeking. Take care—obsessively—of those existing customers, and they will be your social media front line. They will become far more powerful than any celebrity influencer you’ll ever find. “Help more, hype less.” It’s the most critical social media trend you need to follow in 2019—and every year after it.

Image: Getty Images

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