The 6 biggest social media shifts of 2018

Digital Marketing

December 19, 2018

As the end of 2018 approaches, we thought it would be prudent to take a look back and pick out some of the biggest social media shifts we’ve seen in the last 12 months.

The big Facebook algorithm update

Right off the bat, it was clear 2018 wasn’t pulling any punches – in early January (the 11thto be exact) Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced major changes to the site’s algorithm. These changes would ‘prioritise content from friends and family over public content’, effectively making it much harder for publishers and organisations to reach and engage users organically.

The changes were specifically aimed at:

  • Combating click-bait and ‘fake news’ content
  • Public content, ie videos and posts from publishers and businesses

As a result, Facebook has become more of a ‘pay-to-play’ platform for businesses – with boosted posts and ad campaigns becoming more important than ever. The way reach is measured across Facebook has also changed: every time a person logs in, their newsfeed loads around 250 posts. Previously these were all counted as reach – even if the user didn’t scroll down to see the posts, whereas now reach is only measured on the posts a user sees on-screen.

So, whilst you have likely seen your organic reach drop dramatically this year, it’s important to remember that the previous stats were inflated. Some key points we have for Facebook marketers looking to emulate their reach and engagement stats of 2017 are: ensure you are posting video content, especially live videos (which receive six times as many interactions as regular videos) and utilise Facebook groups where possible.

Stories are growing faster than feeds

With the popularity of messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger continuing to grow rapidly, we’re seeing a drastic increase in the amount of story-based sharing that these apps allow. According to Facebook’s data – stories are growing 15 times faster than feeds and may soon overtake them.

This makes us wonder – will 2019 see LinkedIn and Twitter follow Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp’s lead in launching Story functionality? If so, how could this impact B2B social media marketing?

Instagram introduces shoppable media

Back in September, Instagram announced the integration of shoppable media on their platform – this is a significant leap forward for ecommerce. It began with shoppable posts and was quickly followed by shoppable stories and rumours are now circulating that a separate Instagram shopping app is currently in development. What this means, is that businesses can now effectively use Instagram to sell directly to their followers – considering the platform now has over 1 billion monthly active users, this is sure to have a considerable impact. 

Data Scandals

With the Cambridge Analytica scandal hitting the headlines in early 2018, Facebook’s ability to protect its users’ data was called into question. CEO Mark Zuckerberg was summoned to US Congress where he was grilled for over two days concerning the platform’s practices and its responsibility to protect users’ privacy. As a result of this political pressure, Facebook began restricting access to their APIs, reducing ad targeting options and marketers’ ability to target paid audiences with such granular detail.


Of course, how could we miss out one of the biggest talking points of 2018? The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been designed to protect consumers’ information online. Whilst info such as email addresses and national insurance numbers have been treated as ‘personal’ for some time, GDPR expanded the scope to include IP addresses, behavioural data and much more. As such, the introduction of GDPR has had a significant impact upon businesses, in terms of both email and social media marketing. Under the new rules, collecting emails using lead ads, exporting or importing data using Facebook’s Custom Audiences and using web analytics to track user behaviour are now unacceptable. Should you still be unsure about GDPR regulations, be sure to check out an extensive guide here.

Visual search

Visual search is not a new phenomenon, in fact it’s been around for years – but in 2018, the popularity of visual searches experienced a significant leap. Across Pinterest, monthly visual searches increased 140%, from 250 million in Feb 2017 to 600 million in Feb 2018. Despite this dramatic increase, only 27% of internet users are aware of visual search options in their online shopping experiences, with 62% saying they would be happy to use the technology. Amazon, who is arguably a leader when it comes to visual search technology, partnered with Snapchat in September 2018 to offer a new visual search tool on the platform.

We’d love to hear about how you have been using social media for your business in 2018 and your plans for 2019. Contact us here.