In today’s tech-savvy world, social media has become an integral part of most people’s lives and has a larger role in businesses’ and brands’ advertising and branding strategies. From promoting a campaign to increasing awareness of a cause they support, to encouraging positivity and inclusiveness, social media not only entertains, but informs, inspires and sparks conversation.

In 2018, 77 percent of U.S. Americans had a social media profile and about 211 million people used social media in the U.S. Some of the most talked about (and entertaining) topics on the Internet originate from social media. 2018 saw some incredible acts of kindness that went viral including two strangers who saved a baby at Walmart, the #tipthebillchallenge rewarded servers with tips that were equal to the bill and grocery store employee Jordan Taylor who recruited Jack Ryan Edwards, who is on the autism spectrum, to help him stock shelves.

We spoke with Stephanie Cartin, co-CEO of Socialfly, and co-host of Entreprenista Podcast, about what trends will be showing up in our feeds in 2019 and how they’ll impact how users interact with some platforms.

“For Facebook, I think video, in general, is continuing to dominate the platform,” Cartin said. “When you post a video on Facebook you are able to get more views or traction than just posting static content — also, Facebook stories have started to get more popular. They started testing stories out this past year, and people are starting to adopt that and brands are starting to use Facebook stories as well, and are able to get traction because they’re in one way cutting through the clutter when a lot of brands aren’t using that yet. The other thing is brands are using chatbots on Facebook, so that’s another trend that’s definitely going to take off in 2019, a lot of brands already started using that to help and personalize customer service.”

Cartin also sees personalization as a trend across all platforms, such as stories on Instagram, which Cartin said has taken off this past year due to the innovative features on stories including being able to use GIFs. “Another trend on Instagram is all the shopping capabilities that brands can now use, and consumers can purchase and check out through Instagram.”

Over the past few years, Instagram has been a discovery platform for people in terms of their shopping behaviors, whether it’s finding out about new fashion or beauty products Cartin said.

In the past people weren’t able to purchase through Instagram right away, and would see influencers post about ads or a brand, take screenshots then either go to the website on a separate tab to find the item or go into a store and purchase it, Cartin said. “Because Instagram was seeing this type of behavior, they developed all these new advertising and shopping capabilities that are going to make brands invest even more in advertising on Instagram and work with influencers more because they are seeing those type of direct results.”

It’s very likely that trend is going to continue in 2019, as there are 2 million monthly advertisers on Instagram and 71 percent of U.S. businesses use Instagram. Businesses and brands are taking notice of users’ shopping behaviors, as 60 percent of users discover products on Instagram, 75 percent of users take action and 70 percent are more likely to buy via mobile – over a third of users have used their phone to purchase a product online.

In addition, influencers on Instagram have largely contributed to that success due to their large online community and ability to drive traffic to a brand’s website that converts into purchases through the increasingly popular app. “Influencer marketing I think is going to continue to become more and more important and brands are going to continue to embrace this trend because it’s delivering results,” Cartin said.

In the past LinkedIn has traditionally been seen as a strict networking and professional use platform, but now, people are not only using it to build a professional network, but their personal brand as well. Part of building a personal brand stems from people posting original content such as videos discussing topics like networking, resumes and job seeking, their experiences in their industry or writing and publishing an article or their thoughts on an issue to encourage engagement and feedback. LinkedIn remains especially popular among college graduates and those in high-income households. Some 50 percent of Americans with a college degree use LinkedIn.

“On LinkedIn, business professionals focusing on building their personal brand is going to be a trend in 2019. I think people who have already embraced it over the past few years are really ahead of the curve in terms of positioning themselves as thought leaders,” Cartin said, who stressed how positioning yourself as a thought leader and building your personal brand can help with future career aspirations. “At the end of the day, no matter what industry or job you’re in, if you’re looking to get another job in the future, if you already have this brand build for yourself and a portfolio, you’re going to put yourself in a better position and be able to set yourself apart from other candidates.”

Facebook remains the primary platform for most Americans. Roughly two-thirds of U.S. adults or 68 percent now report that they are Facebook users, and roughly three-quarters of those users access Facebook on a daily basis. Facebook recently introduced Facebook stories, which are similar to Instagram stories that are displayed at the top of the scroll page after logging in. Cartin said she thinks the stories are going to be important tools for brands to create videos specifically made for Facebook stories.

“I think that’s because videos tend to perform really well on Facebook, and brands are going to invest more in creating fun video content as opposed to posting a lot of static images — so I think brands are going to up their video strategies in 2019,” Cartin said.

In addition to advertising and adding new features, social media platforms have recently introduced positive ways for users to engage and contribute to a cause or charity, or what Cartin calls, “social good.”

“I think Facebook has done a great job over this past year of making it easy for users to donate to their favorite charity,” Cartin said. “People were able to start fundraisers for their birthday toward their favorite charity, and people posted information about the charity, why that cause was important to them and why they wanted people to donate.”

Entertaining and relatable content on social media will show up many times throughout 2019, in addition to the expansion of live videos on several platforms that allow others to share moments and experiences simultaneously. Perhaps we’ll see a shift in those platforms being used in a more positive way to encourage, recognize, celebrate and inspire. Although we can’t predict what content will trend in 2019, we’re confident there are unforgettable moments ahead.