2019 Report

State Of Social

How marketers across the globe think about social media, what's working, how the industry is changing, and more.

The State of Social is Buffer's annual report focused on the world of social media marketing, providing you with the insights you need to fuel your strategy for the year ahead.

The 2019 results have landed! This year we heard from more than 1,800 marketers from businesses of all sizes, across a range of industries.

Check out what we learned this year below.

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A report by Buffer in partnership with Social Chain

Brands are riding the organic stories wave. Stories ads are the next frontier.

The Stories format has taken the social media industry by storm, and data suggests that more than one billion accounts now use stories globally on Facebook-owned properties.

As the number of people using stories has grown so has the number of businesses using the format to connect with their audiences on social media. And it appears that those who are using stories are having success: 57 percent of brands believe that stories have been “Somewhat effective” or “Very effective” as a part of their social media strategy.

How effective have stories been as part of your social media strategy?

And with ads being introduced to stories on Facebook and Instagram, it appears there will be even more opportunities for businesses to generate value from the format in 2019. Though 62 percent of respondents told us they have yet to invest in stories ads, 61 percent said they plan to in 2019.

Has your business invested in stories ads? Do you plan to invest more in stories ads in 2019?

Messaging apps are still overlooked by almost three-quarters of brands.

Social media has become a lot more private in recent years, with many people choosing to share, and communicate via one-to-one messages or small group chats on platforms like WhatsApp and Messenger.

Despite the rising popularity of these platforms, almost three-quarters of brands (71 percent) do not use messaging apps for their marketing:

Has your business used any messaging apps for marketing?

We also found that 50 percent of marketers are not planning on using messaging apps in 2019:

Which messaging apps are you planning to incoporate into your marketing in  2019?

Social Chain has already seen huge success with messaging apps, its WhatsApp group, for example, has seen an open rate of over 98% and a click-through rate of 25%. Peter Daly, Head of Marketing at Social Chain expects 2019 to be the year in which more brands adopt messaging as part of their social media strategies:

"We fully expect messaging apps to realise their potential in 2019; the requirement to actively opt-in means users are much more engaged in these private spaces than they are when scrolling through a news feed, making it easier for brands to build direct and meaningful relationships with their customers quickly, on a mobile-first basis."

Influencer marketing is an effective strategy for brands, but guidelines need to be clearer.

Thirty-seven percent of respondents in our survey shared that their business has invested in influencer marketing.

Has your business worked with influencers to help market your products and services?

Of those brands 68 percent say it’s been “Somewhat effective” or “Very effective.” Still, nearly one-fourth (23 percent) of brands are unconvinced about the impact of influencer marketing on their brand.

How effective would you say influencer marketing has been for your business?

Additionally, 88 percent of those brands that use influencer marketing are also planning to continue with the strategy in 2019.

Are you planning on continuing to invest in influencer marketing in 2019?

The data also revealed that the vast majority of marketers are confused by the guidelines surrounding influencer marketing with just six percent saying influencer marketing guidelines are “Very clear,” 44.8 percent say the current guidelines are “Unclear,” with 15.8 percent believing guidelines are “Very unclear.”

How clear do you feel current regulations / guidelines on influencer marketing are?

More and more brands turn to video content. Facebook still leads the way.

Just 14.5 percent of businesses don’t publish any video content — down from 25 percent in our 2018 survey. More than one-third (36 percent) publish video content monthly, with around one quarter (24 percent) publishing video content weekly.

How often does your business publish video content?

Just as we found last year, Facebook is the most popular channel for businesses to share video content (81 percent), with YouTube in second (62 percent), and Instagram third (57 percent). LinkedIn is fifth (32 percent), and could be a channel to watch in 2019, with early data showing that videos on LinkedIn are getting shared 20+ times more than any other content.

Which platform does your business post video content on?

The majority of brands don’t, and have no plans to, use IGTV.

IGTV was launched back in June 2018, and despite some incredible content from a host of launch partners and creators like National Geographic and LaurDIY, it has yet to catch on as a platform for the majority of brands to share content.

Just 12.2 percent of respondents said their business had used IGTV in 2018 and 72 percent said they have no intentions to create content for IGTV in 2019.

Are you currently using IGTV for your brand? Do you plan on creating content specifically for IGTV in 2019?

Social media is a key part of marketing strategies, yet nearly 20 percent are unsure how to measure effectiveness.

Social media marketing has been around for many years now, and the majority of marketers see it as an important part of their overall strategy. Fifty-eight percent of marketers say social media is “Very important”, with 30 percent saying it’s “Somewhat important”.

How important is social media to your overall marketing strategy?

Social media’s effectiveness as a marketing channel has long been debated, and our survey found that, though social media is key to marketing strategy, 19 percent of marketers are still uncertain how to measure its effectiveness.

How effective has social media marketing been for your business?

The rest of the data

The insights we've shared above just begin to scratch the surface of what we uncovered from the State of Social 2019 survey. For those of you who want to dive head-first into all of the data — you can do so right here.

Which of the following channels does your business use currently? Does your company have a documented social media strategy? What factors are holding you back from creating more video content currently? When creating and publishing a piece of content, what do you see as the most important aspect? Are you planning on increasing your use of dedicated social features (shopping on Instagram, product stickers in stories) to drive purchases in 2019? What does meaningful engagement mean to you when measuring the performance of content on social? Did your business broadcast any live video in 2018? If you use messaging apps for marketing, which have you used? What platforms have been most effective for influencer campaigns? What do you consider the most important measurement when running an influencer campaign? Do you currently have a budget specifically for influencer marketing? Do you plan to increase your social media advertising budget in 2019? How do you tend to measure the ROI of social media advertising? How effective has paid social media advertising been for your business?

Eighty-five percent of businesses use third-party tools to support their social media marketing

Does your business use third-party tools to manage your social media marketing?

The vast majority of marketers (85 percent) use third-party tools to support their social media marketing. Tools can help to streamline your workflows, help you save some time and even ensure your content reaches the right audience at the right time.

If you’re looking for new tools to support your marketing in 2019, Buffer makes it easy for businesses and marketing teams to schedule posts, analyze performance, and manage engagement. We’d be thrilled to assist.

About the data: Who took part in the survey?

Company size

In total, 1,842 marketing professionals took part in the State of Social 2019 survey. Just under half (49.5 percent) of the people who took our survey work at companies with fewer than 10 full-time staff. A further 20.5 percent work at companies with between 11-50 full-time team members. Here’s the full breakdown:

  • 49.5 percent: Fewer than 10 people
  • 11.6 percent: 11-25 people
  • 8.9 percent: 26-50 people
  • 7.9 percent: 1,001+ people
  • 6.7 percent: 51-100 people
  • 6.1 percent: 101-200 people
  • 5.1 percent: 201-500 people
  • 4.1 percent: 501-1,000 people

Marketing team size

The majority of respondents in our survey work closely with a small number of colleagues in their marketing teams or act as the sole marketer at their company:

  • 41 percent of respondents were the only marketer at their company
  • 37 percent of people worked in marketing teams of between 2-5 colleagues
  • 11.9 percent of people work in marketing teams larger than 11 people
  • 10.1 percent of people work in marketing teams of between 6-10

Industry breakdown

Twenty-five-and-a-half percent of those who took the survey work at organizations in the marketing, PR, and advertising space. Other industries include: Media and Publishing (11.4 percent); Non-Profit (9.3 percent); Education (7.4 percent); Consumer Products (7.2 percent); IT & Services (5.4 percent); E-commerce (4.3 percent); Software (4.1 percent); Travel & Tourism (3.5 percent); Medical & Healthcare (2.7 percent); Government (2.5 percent); Financial (2 percent); Financial Services (2 percent); Law & Legal Services (0.5 percent); Other (14.1 percent).