As one of today’s significant spokes in the wheel of digital marketing, social media is perhaps the least static of all disciplines. Every year trends evolve, new platforms emerge and consumer habits change. Organizations face an ongoing search for the latest and greatest social media best practices to get the best results.
What do marketers need to know about in 2020 to stay ahead of the ever-in-flux social media landscape? Here are 20 of the biggest trends in social media this year — from tight-knit marketing tribes to nano-influencers to TikTok. See which ones could boost your digital marketing strategy.
In 2020, the biggest trend will be a return to the basics. In other words, self-serving social messages won’t cut it. Instead, think connections, community and experiences. The new mindset is that the relationships we build with customers are more important than the products and services we sell. This means realizing that less really is more. People are looking for connections on a personal level with businesses and brands. Give it to them. Consider this the one trend to rule all others.
Personalization is a global consumer trend that will grow even stronger in 2020 thanks to support from social platforms with advanced targeting and customization tools. While organizations can’t exactly personalize their social media content for different consumer segments, they can customize their social ads to target consumer segments.
Facebook recently rolled out personalized ad experiences that deliver products dynamically to customers with calls-to-actions based on who exactly is being targeted, along with new formats, such as carousels and collections. The introduction of Instagram shopping highlights the growth of social marketing and selling. Even LinkedIn’s ad platform has evolved to help B2B brands get their products in front of relevant customers in more personalized ways.
You’ve heard it before: talking to individuals versus large groups is the most powerful way to reach people in meaningful ways — from connecting to converting. The emergence of marketing tribes speaks directly to this objective. Because of their narrow scope, tribes give organizations another way to talk to individuals, rather than speaking to wide-ranging demographics. Examples of tight-knit tribes include Facebook Groups, which offer a wide range of private communities, and Instagram Threads, which allow people to only share their stories with select groups of friends.
The emerging stories trend is accelerating this year. Instagram Stories dominate this social media phenomenon. Now, Facebook Stories are on par in terms of engagement with approximately 500 million daily users. Also, Instagram’s new business features, including Growth Insights and “Stories About You,” are expanding social media story opportunities.
The trend to engage with influencers to help promote products is still alive and well. However, the influencer marketing trend will likely grow even more this year. Marketers are still reaping the rewards of working with influencers, including promoting their brands to large followings. The continued growth can be seen from two primary perspectives: the rise in the number of influencers on social media and the increase in marketing spend by businesses.
The general theme that “smaller is better” has even influenced the world of influencer marketing. Many marketers are searching for influencers that are highly niched versus massive followings — even just a couple of thousand. There are two big advantages in going smaller: the influencers get much higher engagement and cost much less to work with. Going forward, more marketers are likely to collaborate with a whole network of small, relevant, niche influencers instead of one or two expansive celebrities.
Too many marketers have tried to turn social media into a faux blog or a pipeline to their website versus embracing the actual social aspect. The most successful feeds in the future will be ones that emphasize microtopics. This gives social followers the opportunity to share their opinions. The idea here is to move away from the 30,000-foot point-of-view and get down into the nitty-gritty on topics that are meaningful to an organization’s consumer base.
A big challenge of social media marketing is standing out from the competition. In a time when social media is a big part of everyone’s daily lives, merely having a presence on social media is not enough anymore. It’s crucial for brands to be different in both creative and strategic ways that emphasize their unique personalities. This needs to be the year that more brands work on improving their authentic presence online.
Video is not new. What’s new is its still-expanding dominance. According to a Cisco study, by 2022, 82% of all online content will be video content. This means that all marketers will likely need to adopt video marketing to stay relevant this year. Whether it’s short-form videos on TikTok or long-form content on YouTube, videos are the present and future of social media content. If you haven’t started yet, consider testing the waters of short videos on social posts and in features like Facebook Stories.
Both long-form and short-form videos are among the most-shared content on social media. Last year, Instagram users began using IGTV videos, an app that can be used with Instagram or alone. It also introduced landscape videos with IGTV. As a result, 2020 will be the year that long-form IGTV videos explode — look for branded talk shows, interviews and narrative-style ads running on the platform soon.
When it comes to social media promotion, many brands have fallen into a rut. They likely post on the big three and fail to give other platforms a chance. This year that could change. There is a trend toward bringing more diversity to social media posting and promotions on platforms such as TikTok, Reddit, Snapchat and Quora, for example. As a bonus, early-movers who embrace smaller networks will enjoy an environment of relatively low-cost advertising due to lower levels of competition. But that won’t last forever — so go quickly on this one.
Simply stated, TikTok is disrupting social video. While Vine died a few years ago, TikTok is thriving today. TikTok was the No. 1 most downloaded social media app in 2019. With well over 1.5 billion users, the platform is not easy to dismiss. The Gen Z demographic, for example, is not only on the platform, but also highly engaged with the short video format. And when they like a video, they help promote it. As a result, early adopters are not only gaining a first-mover advantage, they’re reaping a good ROI.
Demographics that are highly engaged and trusting of the opinions of their peers seek out platforms that give them access to this aura of trust. That’s one reason they love Reddit. Reddit is not new. In fact, it dates back to the early days of social media — helping shape today’s internet culture. What’s new is that a growing number of brands are taking the often-difficult steps required to leverage the platform. If they jump the hurdles, they could find themselves in an enviable position of having the platform’s top users endorsing their brands. With over 430 million monthly active users and about 32% of all Americans on Reddit each month, brands need to take a serious look at making Reddit a part of their 2020 plans.
Many organizations have experienced the value of user-generated content (UGC) and leveraged it to boost their marketing results. Other companies have missed out on this opportunity. But 2020 should be the year more organizations adopt UGC. What UGC content has over any other content is true engagement and a lot more brand loyalty. Consumers find content posted by their peers far more influential, trustworthy and compelling than the content brands themselves create. As people move away from more invasive advertising, authentic, raw and honest content created by average people is more popular than ever before.
When it comes to futuristic technology in marketing, augmented reality (AR) is the most exciting trend underway. AR enhances reality with the help of digitally generated images and features. This transforms customer experiences in ways never seen before — literally. When it comes to AR and social media, adoption has been slow. But as the technology evolves beyond mere games, applications for e-commerce, personalized marketing and product discovery will pick up steam. By 2022, the augmented and virtual reality market is expected to reach a market size of $209.2 billion, up from a mere $14.1 billion in 2017.
The bigger the audience an organization has on social media, the more they need to stay in the conversational loop. Chatbots and marketing automation are already integrated into many marketing strategies to handle this demand. But the trend this year will be toward even faster response times via conversational artificial intelligence (AI) apps, which can help organizations scale up their efforts. According to Business Insider, Gartner projects that 85% of all customer interactions with brands will be automated by the end of 2020.
Following in the footsteps of SEO to help local brands boost organic traffic, social media platforms are offering brands local targeting as well. One common way in which brands attract a local audience is by geo-tagging their posts and stories. Social platforms like Instagram provide the option to search for posts from nearby places and specific locations. For example, Facebook’s “boost post” option allows marketers to select the locations they want to target.
The merging of e-commerce and social media was always considered just a matter of time — 2020 looks like the year the duo goes mainstream. It’s a move that is welcomed by consumers, as studies show that 87% of online shoppers believe social media helps them make purchasing decisions. The growth of social commerce will help marketers create shorter sales funnels and give consumers access to a faster and smoother buyer’s journey.
Up until now, social analytics has relied on one type of analytics more than any other: vanity metrics. But now the scrutiny of social media investments is on the rise as more organizations are investing a larger share of their marketing budgets in social, including ads, influencer programs and organic campaigns. This requires meaningful metrics that align with larger business goals than just likes and shares do. Marketing teams will need to measure deeper metrics, such as how much social media has influenced consumer behavior and impacted the bottom line. To meet this demand, social media platforms are upgrading their analytic dashboards to provide more options and greater transparency.
Social media has always been a rapidly developing phenomenon, so staying updated on current trends is a must for any marketer making a significant investment of time, resources and funds. Also, there’s a first-mover advantage for the organizations that jump on the right trends first. Choose a few of these latest and greatest social media trends to stay ahead of the pack in your industry — and reap the rewards.