This is the first of a 3-part blog series. Today, we explore 2020 social media trends and best practices, including expected growth, new regulations, and VR/AR/AI adoption.
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This year is slated to be big. With the rise of a new decade comes the endless musings and hopeful promises of what the world might offer. Technology is obviously at the forefront of this discussion as people lean more toward phones and devices to support their day-to-day routines. As new technological advancements bring increased opportunities to market and communicate, our information pushers, content marketers and small businesses, need to know not only what to expect but how to intelligently leverage best practices for social media and engage with audiences.
Our next three blogs will focus on some of the predictions for where digital marketing is moving and how to prepare and apply best social media practices. While these discussions will largely remain high-level, the applications you’ll find will ring true in the details.
Today, we are excited to dive into 2020 social media best practices and trends — SEO and email marketing to follow — in the hope that you enter this brand new decade well-informed and prepared for whatever might come your way.
In 2017, nearly 1 million new people joined social networks every single day. This growth will only continue as more and more individuals acquire smart devices. By 2020, Facebook predicts that more people are predicted to have mobile phones than running water or electricity at home. An estimated 3 billion people will gain access to mobile phones by 2020.
The rise of social media is also attributed to niche social platforms performing well amongst the giants like Facebook and Instagram. TikTok, for example, is one such platform that started in 2016 and immediately gained popularity among youth (no matter how controversial it might be now). B2B companies prefer LinkedIn for their social media initiatives, while the gaming community flocks to Twitch. There are additional alternative social media platforms like WhatsApp, We Chat, Reddit and many more gaining popularity.
Let’s also not forget the impact age plays into this growth. Gen Z’ers and Alphas are being baptized directly into digitalization and understand quickly how technology is used. As smart phones become the norm (and are clearly not going away), more of the older adults who fought it are finally adopting it as a way to communicate with their peers and family.
Brands know that mobile is the default experience. But according to research from analyst firm L2, few brands have moved beyond basic optimization. To adapt to mobile-first consumers, begin with the basics. Is your website responsive to mobile devices? Do you even have a presence online to interact with these mobile users? Are you on social media channels? If not, start there. From there, audit your mobile experience to see what’s working and begin using social commerce, like Instagram’s shopping features, to gain greater attention.
A big part of meaningful experiences on social media is the way that brands engage with their audience. There are many brands out there who seemingly have large social media followings and yet, when you look closely at individual posts, their engagement levels are almost non-existent. Those brands that are seeing more engagement from their followers are doing so by building communities.
Social media communities are social groups created by brands to provide a networking platform for their customers. These are usually private groups that like-minded people can join to talk about their shared interests.
Facebook Groups are an excellent example of these social communities. Many brands use groups to bring all of their existing and prospective customers together and engage with them in a meaningful way. Group members can discuss various topics, share their experiences, and seek solutions to challenges. Brands can also utilize their social media communities to launch new products, seek customer feedback, and gain valuable customer insights.
Building social media communities away from your profiles is just the start. You also need to create content that gets people talking, encourages conversations and cultivate the feeling of community. Doing so can keep people engaged with your brand and also bring in new leads and customers, while also adding personalization.
It’s easy to see the growth potential of video. According to GlobalWebIndex’s latest data on social video adoption, audience demand continues to grow:
For countries with low literacy rates, video is a much easier medium than text to learn about products and communicate online. Video is also becoming a passive way to network. People like to kill time watching videos and sharing them with friends and family. It’s a quick and entertaining way to learn and it isn’t going away.
By 2020, marketers will likely face video saturation. As Hootsuite found in their 2018 Social Trends survey, 46 percent of respondents said they’re implementing social videos, with another 26 percent planning to implement. This means that social video is quickly moving from being an advantage to a necessary tactic.
Marketers will need to adapt to these highly personal uses of video. Social video will need to become more social—an experience that builds a customer community rather than broadcast-style content and product teasers. Businesses would be wise to consider adding video to their content library and tweaking it to best fit with their target audience.
Almost half of internet users follow brands they like or brands they are thinking of buying something from on social media. Search engines, online reviews, and public relations are the traditional discovery channels. According to Hootsuite, we’ll see dramatic growth in five areas:
Once again, businesses need to be mindful of the power that social has in the upcoming decade. Those that choose to forfeit social engagement will miss out on a massive opportunity to reach potential buyers. It’s not necessarily knowing exactly how voice control or visual searches work, it’s about becoming accessible to these new engines.
Influencer marketing is not one of our new 2020 social media trends, but it is one that is going to stay for a while. Social media is dominated by influencers who are getting paid to promote brands. The adoption is proven by the sheer rise in the number of influencers on social media and the increase in marketing spend on influencer marketing by businesses.
Investing in influencers is much cheaper than running paid ad campaigns and delivers favorable results. Marketers are not just collaborating with 1-2 influencers, but are working with a whole network of small, relevant, niche, and even local influencers. This surge in influencer engagement comes with a warning though. Online consumers are getting better at sniffing out fake influencers or promotions and will avoid engagement if they believe the information to be disingenuous. Marketers and businesses would be wise to seek out “brand ambassadors” or people who love the brand and believe in the power it holds.
Consider re-allocating some advertising funds to focus on finding influencers with reach and authority. Ensure they are trusted voices in the community/market, as well as through social media channels, and seek their partnership to gain reach. The results might be surprising.
By 2020, we’ll see more practical uses of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in marketing. Amazon is exploring how to use AR to help consumers try on virtual clothes and explore products. Snapchat’s Geofilters and Lens functions have been adopted in marketing campaigns, including creating location-specific videos to influence nearby customers like event attendees or pedestrians near a store location. Facebook is also taking huge steps in this direction with the introduction of Horizon, their social virtual reality world where people can connect, play games, and explore.
While the adoption of VR in social media might still be at an extremely early stage, the same isn’t true for AR. Augmented reality filters are now being used on several major platforms (mentioned above) and were introduced as a means to enhance the visual content shared on social media and are widely popular.
Let’s also not leave out Artificial Intelligence (AI) from this discussion. Gartner estimates that by 2020, 30 percent of all B2B companies will employ artificial intelligence (AI) to augment at least one of their primary sales processes.
So what does AI mean for the future of marketing? In basic terms, algorithms already influence almost every aspect of our digital lives, including what content we read and products we discover. The good news is that, from chatbots to predictive analytics, many AI innovations will help marketers increase their impact while eliminating tedious tasks.
Start exploring tools that use AI | AR | VR like:
By 2020, we’ll see the greatest impact on two areas: employer branding and the rise of executives who understand and know how to use social media to listen to customers, communicate their vision, and rally employees.
Employees are more vocal than ever and have immediate social reach — with the potential to build or pull down an employer’s brand. By 2020, large organizations will realize that employee perceptions on social will need to be managed similar to how companies monitor customer feedback. Whether tracking employee perceptions of new leaders or prioritizing critical problems, social data will become a new advantage.
The key to this transformation will be the ability of leaders to use social media to communicate directly with employees. As social channels continue to grow both within and outside of company walls, leaders who ignore these channels will be at a disadvantage. Companies must ensure leadership is watching and responding in a genuine and direct way. Just like with social media influencers, find employees who support and advocate for the company and equip them to speak on social channels for enhanced engagement.
We conclude our 2020 social media trends and best practices with a more sobering outlook. While there are numerous benefits of social media, there are certain negatives that have come to light as many platforms are now being regulated. This is necessary with the load of fake news, data privacy, and Russian hackers. As eMarketer notes, digital marketers will face stricter regulation and the market will be filled with tech vendors to protect and store first-party data. We’re already seeing the impact of regulation. Facebook will soon require marketers to confirm they have user consent for Custom Audiences. Government and consumers will look to better guard personal data and rather than being impressed by journalism or clever personalization.
As frustrating as it is to move away from the Wild West mentality associated with social media, companies need to do their homework to understand what they can and can’t do with user information being gleaned. A great first step is creating a company guideline resource that outlines approved behaviors. Marketers really should be focused on ethical behavior from the start by ensuring subscribers opt-in to receiving promotional or marketing messaging in an unambiguous way. They also need to explicitly state what information they’re collecting and the intended use for this information. Companies would also be wise to create a plan for data security and communication surrounding data breaches.
Social Media has so much to offer already and we anticipate that many of these new changes will be a defining factor in the new decade. Stick with us in our blog series as we address SEO and the trends and best practices for this year.
If you have questions about how to prepare your small business for these social media trends 2020, please contact us today!