Must Read - 2019 Social Media Trends report from Hootsuite and We Are Social


Every year, Hootsuite and We Are Social, team up to create a comprehensive global report that sheds light on the digital and social landscape during the past 12 months. This data helps us see changes in online populations, internet use, social media behaviours and platform fluctuations.

At Embarketing, we watched the Livestream to get all the answers to the big questions people have all been asking in 2019:

  • Is Facebook dead? - rumours are that people are leaving the platform in droves

  • If they’re leaving Facebook, are they all headed to Instagram?

  • What’s happening with Twitter and SnapChat?

  • Where are the kids going?

  • What sort of posts get the best reach?

  • How can we measure the effectiveness and return on investment (ROI) of our social media posts?

  • Given the latest trends, where should I spend my time, energy and advertising budget?

Below is a wrap up of the full presentation, with some added commentary from Cristy based on our experience.

Australians on Social Media - An Overview

Although the number of internet users hasn't changed in the past year, social usage is growing, with 18 million Australians (72%) being active social media users, including 1 million more Australians using social media in 2018 compared to a year ago (+5.9%).

64% of Australians use social media on their phone (+6.7%).

Australians and Kiwis spend less average time on social media than the majority of the rest of the world. This is because on average, we’re slightly older.

1 in 4 internet users are now using voice search or commands, and all of the evidence suggests this is only going to increase.

Over one-third of the Australian internet population are using ad blocking tools. This aversion to advertising is also reflected in the increasing number of subscriptions to online streaming services such as Netflix, that offer ad free entertainment.

Top social media platforms and their growth or decline

  1. Facebook - 79% of Australians (0% change)

  2. Youtube - 79% of Australians

  3. FB Messenger - 62% of Australians

  4. Instagram - 42% of Australians (+2.1%)

  5. What’s App - 22% of Australians

  6. SnapChat - 27% of Australians (-14%)

  7. Twitter - 26% of Australians (-2.3%)

  8. Pinterest - 24% of Australians

  9. LinkedIn - 24% of Australians (+10%)

  10. Skype - 21% of Australians

  11. Reddit - 13% of Australians

  12. Tumbler - 11% of Australians

Facebook still tops the social media platforms with 16 million users (+0%). Note: Answer to the first question, no people are NOT leaving Facebook in droves. Their audience is steady in Australia. Worldwide, their audience was +10% year on year.

Instagram has continued a steady growth of +2.1% and LinkedIn has seen a recent growth spurt, up +10% in quarter-on-quarter growth of advertising reach. Note: Answer to question 2, the same amount of people are using Facebook, whilst more people are also using Instagram and LinkedIn. However, there are still 9 million more active Australian Facebook users than Instagram users.

The two losers during the past quarter have been Twitter and Snapchat; down respectively -2.3% and a whopping -14% in quarter-on-quarter growth in advertising reach respectively.

Facebook Audience changes

Of all key age groups on Facebook, only one age group saw decline in 2019, and that was 13-17 year olds. All other age groups were steady or up:

  • 13-17 year olds (-7%)

  • 18-24 year olds (0%)

  • 25-34 year olds (+4%)

  • 35-44 year olds (0%)

  • 45-54 year olds (+5%)

  • 55-64 year olds (+4%)

  • 65+ (+7%)

Notice Facebook’s increase in grocery buyers and cashed up empty nesters. If you’re wondering where your audience is and if they’re coming or going from Facebook, that should give you a clue!

So where are the kids going, Instagram?


In 2018, Instagram’s 13-17 year old audience also dropped by -4%.

Instagram growth and decline in 2018:

  • 13-17 year olds (-4%)

  • 18-24 year olds (+4%)

  • 25-34 year olds (+8%)

  • 35-44 year olds (+8%)

  • 45-54 year olds (+6%)

  • 55-64 year olds (+7%)

  • 65+ (+7%)

So if not to Instagram, where are the kids going? Some are going to TikTok, which has seen spikes in passive use over weekends and school holidays only. Whilst the data doesn’t give any definitive answer, insights show that the kids are spending more time in dedicated communities such as Discord, and chat/forum spaces similar to the old ICQ where they can meet likeminded people.

How are people using Instagram and Facebook and what does that mean for businesses?

Instagram has seen +4.4% growth globally, driven by the popularity of their ‘stories’ format.

The stories format is on a path to surpass feeds as the primary way people will share things with their friends sometime in 2019.
— Chris Cox, Chief Product Officer, Facebook

This is affecting how we spend our advertising dollar:

As the popularity of the stories format continues, the average cost to advertise in this space has also skyrocketed. Cost per 1,000 (CPM) has increased 112%, and cost per click (CPC) has increased 39% due to high demand.

It’s also changing how we think about our organic posts and ability to impact reach and engagement.

Whilst the traditional news feed centred on engaging around others content, stories are a first person narrative and an opportunity to really tell your story. Stories are less social than social, with fewer opportunities for interaction, conversation and additional sharing.

So if people are sharing less content, this results in a massive reduction in reach. Traditionally a reduction in reach means a lower ROI which means that if we continue to measure the effectiveness of social media the way we always have, we are all in trouble.

Content generation and delivering value

The average human attention span is 8-9 seconds. Less than a goldfish.

If we are spending 5 hours every day online, that’s 1/3 of our waking life spent online. So social media and content providers have one big competitor, and that is sleep. People are sleeping less and creating more time for consuming content. But they can access the best content in the world at the tap of a button, ad free. Advertisers can’t compete with that level of quality.

As marketers, we need to figure out how we can deliver better quality content, and that doesn’t mean a big budget epic production. It comes down to the value we add to the lives of our target audience.

We need to stop propaganda style advertising and actually start adding value to our consumers. Stop talking about how good you are and start providing more:

  • Information - facts and news that help people make new or better decisions that matter to them

  • Entertainment - experiences that capture attention and engage people’s emotions

  • Inspiration - content that helps people to believe in themselves and to try new things

  • Education - resources that help people acquire new skills or enhance their capabilities

  • Activation - participative activities that actively involve people in creating shared value

Helping people achieve the things that they care about is a much better use of your budget than trying to tell people you’re amazing when they didn’t care in the first place.
— Simon Kemp

People are no longer trying to spread their time between all the social channels, they are focusing on the one or two channels that give them the best return on their time. As a business, you should be doing the same.

Online Shopping Trends

Online shopping has seen a big growth in 2018. All metrics are up across the board: people searching for products & services (+11%), people visiting online stores (+11%), people purchasing online (+10%) via both desktop (+22%) and mobile (+11%).

A number of categories have seen big increases in spend online as a result. 69% of Australians have purchased travel (including accommodation) online. Fashion and beauty purchases are up +26% and food and personal care is up +25%.

Overall the total value of the consumer goods e-commerce market has increased +22% year-on-year to now be worth US$18.63 billion.

These stats clearly show any stigma or concerns around shopping online are in rapid decline. Australians are prepared to spend online across desktop, mobile and increasingly, social media.

How to approach social in 2019

  • Experimentation is required. Test, measure and tweak. Test, measure and tweak.

  • Beware of hype. Just because the media says that everyone is leaving Facebook, that doesn’t mean it’s true.

  • The way we measure effectiveness is changing. It’s not longer about HOW MANY IMPRESSIONS you get, but whether you MADE AN IMPRESSION on your audience.

  • Choosing your platform is less about where your audience is, and more about which platform helps you achieve your specific objectives. Choose the channel that enables you to deliver the content (and value) that matters most to your audience. Technology is just the vessel.

  • We need to focus on how we drive word of mouth. It has always been and still is the best form of marketing available. It’s even more important now. As people move to the stories format and spend more timesharing private content in messenger style apps, we need to give them a reason to talk about us in the conversations they are having and the stories they are living day to day.

  • Stop creating propaganda content and start delivering value in the form of information, entertainment, inspiration, education and activation. You will get more attention and word of mouth when you create genuine value and help people achieve the things they care about.

  • Voice search and commands - it’s coming, but don’t freak out. Voice is the future of internet, but it is coming at a very gradual pace.

  • The biggest challenge for marketers in 2019 is resources: time and money. You can’t be on all channels all the time. Focus on where you get the best bang for your buck.

  • Looking for inspiration, Netflix and ANZ Australia are two companies doing social well in 2019.

  • Stop measuring your impact by traditional metrics such as reach and engagement. Communication in 2019 is less about what you say and more about what people understand. If you created an ad in Spanish and spent $100,000 on a campaign delivering it to Australians, you would reach a lot of people, but very few would actually understand your message. We need to start measuring whether or not our message is getting through. A better way to look at it is to figure out what your marketing is designed to change. Whether it is an attitude or a perception, find a way to measure this via a survey measuring intent to change or actual behaviour. Where are we and where are we trying to get? The journey should determine your most valuable metrics.

  • How can small businesses with limited budget create and distribute value and engaging content with maximum reach? Understand your overall promise to the customer. What does your business exist for? What are the questions you always get asked? What are the challenges people encounter that are relevant to you? By answering these questions and helping them overcome challenges, you are adding value.

  • When creating and delivering content, you need to find the sweet spot. The spot where ‘what is the brands purpose’ meets ‘what is the audience interested in’. At the brands extreme, this would be pure advertising. At the audience’s extreme (especially mine) would be cat videos. If you can find the intersection of these for each specific audience, you’re in the right place.

  • Drop your one size fits all approach and start to segment your audience with personalised messages. This has been a trend for a few years now, but we are still not doing it well enough.

  • Don’t be afraid to adjust your tone of voice. A great example came up in this Livestream about the strictness of the Institute of Company Directors use of emojis. After campaigning by the marketing team ongoing, they were finally allowed to pull from a set of 6 approved emojis. What they found was that engagement on the posts with emojis was +20% over other posts. If your brand personality is super professional, understand that not everyone is in the boardroom, all of the time. Sometimes you’re having a beer with the guys after work on a Friday. Your audience wants to see all sides of you.

  • Social media is SOCIAL and many of us forget this when we are trying to deliver serious marketing communications day in day out. From my experience, a post of a birthday cake in the office, or a flat tyre on the side of the road helps people connect with the real you. Embrace stories as an opportunity to show your authentic self. It doesn’t matter how shiny and photoshopped the post is, in fact less is better.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.
— Charles Darwin

I hope you got some great value out of this! I know our team sure did. It is great to see what our guts are telling us is backed by real facts and figures.

If you would like to chat more about your social strategy and how we can help you refine your approach, brainstorm ideas for delivering value and develop a plan of attack, don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Cristy Houghton1 Comment