2018 has been a big year. We’ve seen a lot of changes in the way leaders, influencers and personal brands operate. It’s not just about being a leader anymore; it’s about leaders and organisations tapping into the influence and tribes of their people.
We’ve seen so many changes in 2018 – changes in the way organisations market themselves, changes to social media algorithms and changes to the way our audiences perceive us. The business and work landscape continues to shift and it’s leading us into an interesting 2019.
Each year, I put together a list of what I think will be the trends for the next 12 months. For those building their tribe, these are the trends I believe will have the greatest impact in 2019.
1. From transactions to tribes
In 2019, leaders’ focus will not only be on how many sales they get, but on how they engage with their communities. Business isn’t simply about selling stuff anymore – it’s about how well you bring out the best in your people so they continue to want to work with you, continue to buy from you and continue to refer you.
The evolution of social media has driven the focus from transactions to tribe building. Tribes are led by a leader, and a leader is a human being as opposed to a brand. The organisations that successfully create their tribe understand this. They also follow anthropologist and TED speaker Robin Dunbar’s “number” – the theory that 150 is the ideal number of people any one person can maintain stable relationships with. Organisations need to harness Dunbar’s number when it comes to managing their bandwidth and their people. It’s an important element to keep in mind when building your tribe, whether through online or face-to-face programs. You need to understand what size bandwidth you can manage and how to manage it.
A lot of organisations I work with – for example, those in the mining industry – struggle to attract great talent, particularly when they are in a high-growth phase. The problem is that the old ways of attracting talent don’t exist in some markets anymore. Organisations need to shift from advertising positions on typical online job sites to leveraging the networks of their leaders and existing staff.
The average person on LinkedIn has 750 connections. If you multiply that by 10 people or 10 leaders, that’s 7,500 connections! While not all those connections belong in a candidate pool, by strategically placing ambassadors in the relevant LinkedIn groups and writing profiles that are search-engine optimised, an organisation is far more able to not only attract talent but effectively find it. It’s about putting leaders into the driver’s seat and partnering with recruitment, as opposed to recruitment being solely responsible for finding talent.
Ambassadorship works well if the organisation links this strategy with a LinkedIn recruitment program. By combining SEO, positioning, branding and leveraging staff profiles, an organisation’s employee value proposition will stand out to potential candidates and the organisation will have greater access to a broader range of talent.
3. Rainmaker branding
In 2017, KPMG’s Global CEO Outlook identified that reputation and branding, which had previously not featured in the top 16 challenges for CEOs globally, had skyrocketed to the top three. This was partly a result of #MeToo – the international movement against sexual harassment and assault, particularly in the workplace. Businesses started to question who their leaders truly were and how they could tap into the positioning and branding of their founder or leader if they had a great reputation.
Organisations with rainmaker branding have a competitive advantage by creating transparency. This is because people buy from people who they trust. For example, a Sprout Social survey identified when it comes to a CEO’s social media activity, consumers find the most value in the company’s reasoning behind business decisions, followed closely by industry thought leadership and inside looks at the company. I think that’s still true today and will continue in 2019.
4. Changes in social media
One of the biggest challenges we have seen in 2018 is the change to LinkedIn’s algorithm. I have had a lot of clients who have experienced great success in getting traffic from their LinkedIn profiles to their websites. But when LinkedIn changed its algorithm, it drastically reduced the visibility of their LinkedIn content and, consequently, their website traffic. This has led to some adopting more aggressive marketing tactics.
We’ve also seen changes to Facebook. It has become a less-trusted social media platform as a result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2017, when it was revealed the data analysis company had used Facebook data to help Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
However, Facebook groups have increased in value when it comes to maintaining connections, especially since Twitter isn’t growing. In fact, it seems to be doing a thorough clean out of followers, fake profiles and fake accounts. Elon Musk recently complained he had lost 20,000 Twitter followers. He’s not the only one to claim to have experienced this.
So, what do all these changes to social media mean in 2019? It means people and organisations must learn to make better use of their networks and tribes. They also need to become better at creating cut-through messages to have maximum impact on their audiences.
5. The rise of video – again
Video featured heavily in marketing campaigns in 2018. In 2019, we expect to see the impact of video move over into sales.
To get cut through, people and organisations are increasingly using video tools, such as Jing and Vidyard, to nurture more human conversations to connect marketing to sales processes. Some of my clients create up to 30 videos per day with great success.
In 2019, we expect people to incorporate video into their smarketing – where sales and marketing processes are combined to create a more human experience for the client experience.
6. Creating face-to-face personal experiences
Webinars have been an extremely popular digital trend. They have made a real impact on organisations’ and thought leaders’ ability to connect with their audiences. In 2019, those who can take webinars one step further and create truly unique face-to-face experiences will be in a far better position to build true, authentic human connections that will grow their business and their brand.
I attended the Influence 2018 National Speakers conference in Dallas, US, in July. The importance of face-to-face personal experiences came through strongly in the conversations I had with some of the big-name personal brands that have big online followings. These organisations are now asking questions such as, “How do I run a workshop?” and “How do I run a face-to-face experience?” Quite often, they have never done these things before and they’re turning to those who have – often, the micro influencers.
So, if you’re already providing face-to-face experiences, continue to do that and get better at it.
As a result of changes to Facebook’s algorithms, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ensure your content is visible. However, it is possible to find success with Facebook. Those who do understand Facebook Ads and know how to build Facebook communities. They are adept at engaging people and moving their Facebook traffic to their website to purchase their products, services and courses.
Facebook knows it is now competing with online courses on other platforms. So, it has added an area called curriculum and the group type is called “Social Learning.” The benefit of running a course on Facebook as opposed to a different site is that Facebook is where most people and audiences already hang out. This means there’s less friction trying to move people from Facebook to another platform and having to regularly check in on that platform, where people are unlikely to be congregating or having conversations every day.
8. The trust factor
In 2018, we’ve seen the banking Royal Commission. We’ve also seen the continued momentum of the #MeToo movement and, as I mentioned earlier, the shift this has created around branding and the reputation of leaders in organisations. This means creating trust in 2019 will be more important than ever.
To build trust, you must nurture your connections and audiences. You need to stay connected with them by regularly keeping in touch and understanding how to sell without being salesy. In other words, you really need to understand and educate your individual customer.
What does this mean on a practical level? You will need to maintain more comprehensive customer relationship management (CRM) systems. You need to record clients’ birthdays, their favourite sports teams, favourite brands, where they like to shop, where they go on holidays, etc. This level of questioning will be critical to tribe building in 2019.
9. The shift from non-accredited training to thought leadership
Those with a strong personal brand have often been able to grow their business by successfully delivering a service or product, then identifying opportunities to build certifications for practitioners to deliver their intellectual property (IP). In 2019, this strategy will be more accessible than ever. This is where that trust factor comes into play again – people appreciate being taught by someone they trust instead of someone with certifications they can’t emotionally connect with.
Obviously, this wouldn’t happen if you are a doctor or a brain surgeon – you need accredited training for that! But for specific skills such as presentation or social-media skills, or even hairdressing, non-accredited training poses a real threat to accredited training. For example, people can now learn a variety of skills simply by watching YouTube videos. There’s no need to attend a certified course. So, if you can build a big enough tribe and harness the power of video, you have the ability to compete with certified training. This is a powerful trend that I believe we’ll see more of in 2019.
10. Bringing your voice into your personal brand
In the past, personal branding has been highly visual. It’s been about sharing photos and images. And it will be in 2019 as well. However, next year, it will be more about video and audio.
In the US, 47.3 million adults have access to a smart speaker, such as Alexa. This means for people who create podcasts, you’re directly reaching into people’s homes. It also allows for flash briefings. So, not only can your IP now be leveraged through a smart speaker, you can also receive daily updates from your favourite thought leaders and motivational speakers.
In 2019, audio will be key to experts’ distribution of their IP and their ability to move people into their sales funnels. It will also be essential to building your positioning and branding as a leader in your field.
I would love to hear how you go with your tribe this year. What worked well for you? Which trends do you think will be most relevant to you in 2019?
Jane Anderson is a communication expert, speaker and the author of 6 books including the upcoming “TRUSTED: The Level Above Influence.” With over 20 years experience helping people step into their personal power, she is obsessed about creating human connection to drive business growth in a world of disruption and automation. To inquire about her working with you or your organisation please contact us here.