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Where is social media headed in 2020?

2019 has been another innovative year for marketing – and there’s no denying that we’re going to be leaving the decade on a high. 

Social media is a complicated creature to manage. Changing consumer habits, evolving platforms and new players on the global stage can easily throw an unexpected spanner in the works. 

So, where do we go from here? For now, I’m going to try my hand at predicting the things that are going to shape social media over the course of the next year – and who knows, maybe I’ll be onto something. 

Here we go! 

1. Unsurprisingly, influencer marketing will continue to grow (but not in the way you’d expect)

As I covered in my last blog, influencer marketing is one of the fastest-growing online customer-acquisition methods. Its popularity has grown exponentially over the course of the past decade – but in particular over the course of the past five years. It’s gone from being a hobby that many people did alongside their full-time jobs, to something that can actually be done as a full-time job – and it isn’t going to lose momentum anytime soon.  

According to Influencer Marketing Hub, 59% of marketers are planning on increasing their influencer budget in 2020… It’s no wonder it’s expected to be a $20bn industry by the end of the year.

Despite this, many marketers are going to see the attitude towards influencer marketing shift in 2020, and continue to push the focus on user-generated content (or UGC). This isn’t a new trend for 2020 however – we’ve seen a huge push from brands for UGC in 2019 (from Channel 4’s cheeky ‘Complaints Welcome’ to Made.com’s push for ‘authentic advocates’). Simply, it’s a trend that is here to stay.

Choosing to treat customers as influencers can be vital for brands wanting to stay popular with their younger audience – especially when you consider the fact that 90% of purchasing decisions are lead by user-generated content.

Remarkably, Hubspot believes that Facebook groups are going to experience a revival in 2020, as many brands realise how important building a community of customers and users is. If you create a community that your audience loves, the desired results will soon follow. 

If you think about it, choosing to use Facebook groups is a great start, because the community-building infrastructure is already there. It’s easy for marketers to admin these groups and collect relevant content from customers while offering incentives, like discounts, or a monthly prize draw.  

Plus, there’s one significant benefit to utilising user-generated content over other, traditional marketing methods – the cost. Simply put, UGC is one of the most affordable investments you’ll ever make into your brand. Your customers will effectively be doing the work for you – which is the dream, right?

2. The importance of vanity metrics is waning

Instagram rocked the boat this year when it announced that it would be hiding likes from posts, in order to encourage users to ‘focus on the photos and videos [they] share, not how many likes they get‘. Sure, a user can still see their own likes, but nobody else can.

How will people find validation on the internet now?

via GIPHY

In fact, many marketers believe that engagement as a whole will suffer in 2020. Even though social media usage is predicted to rise, the amount of time spent on public social media will plateau, as users switch their focus back to personal communication – like Messenger, WhatsApp and other direct messaging services. Ultimately, this could result in social media losing some of its potency as a mass-marketing vehicle – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. 

Sure, vanity metrics may be satisfying – we all know there’s nothing better than gloating about how many ‘likes’ one of your clients’ posts got on the ‘gram – but they’re mostly worthless. They don’t dictate the goals for your brand or influence the decisions you make. Ultimately, it’s always worth remembering that it doesn’t matter how many likes or followers you have on social media if they’re of poor quality, and you’re still not meeting your actual objectives. 

3. Non-mainstream social networks will become more popular

Away from the monopoly of Facebook-owned social media networks, smaller platforms have been quietly rising in prominence – and it’s these platforms that are going to shape the future of social media – in 2020 at least.

As Josh covered in his last blog, visually-led social media platforms – like TikTok in particular – have quickly become prevalent amongst Gen Z, with TikTok being briefly more popular than both Instagram and Facebook. In fact, many brands and businesses are planning on dedicating all of their marketing efforts to TikTok and other, smaller platforms.

Platforms like TikTok offer brands and users a unique experience that allows them to be as creative as possible within the app. Videos shot within the app can be up to sixty seconds long, but users can also upload longer videos that have been created outside of the app. In particular, this gives businesses the opportunity to appeal to their Gen Z audience – whether that be through creating memes or teasing product releases. 

Being active on platforms such as TikTok is going to become crucial for brands over the course of the next twelve months. After all, by the end of next year, Gen Z will account for up to 40% of all customers – and who’s commanding such a large share of that audience? TikTok.

via GIPHY

Ah yes, the wholesome content we seek from the internet

Also, a special mention to digital detoxes

Yes, the social media trend that is detrimental to social media but beneficial to users. 

Digital detoxes have risen in popularity over the past couple of years. This isn’t surprising when you consider that most consumers spend fifty days a year on their phones – and the same study revealed that 26% of smartphone users aren’t happy with the amount of time they spend online. Apple and Google have recently introduced digital wellbeing measures that allow users to track just how much time they’re wasting on the internet, with Facebook’s family of apps introducing similar tools that can be accessed within each platform.

In fact, 1 in 3 adults are actively striving to reduce their use of social media, and 6% of users have deleted their online presence entirely. Will 2020 be the year we go back to having face-to-face conversations?

via GIPHY

No, we can’t believe it either.   

Wrapping things up…

With the new year just around the corner, it’s safe to say that 2019 has been an exciting time for marketing in general. In a year populated by the evolution of influencer marketing, the rising prominence of TikTok and a whole host of other things, there’s no denying that 2020 will be the year that changes everything. If you’re wanting to stay ahead of the curve next year, looking into implementing some of the trends I’ve mentioned is an excellent place to start.

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