In a world of permanent changing digital landscape, Social Media is under transformation itself. These days the audience’s behaviour is impacting the digital landscape. The digital channels are shaped by the permanent evolving technologies, by the audience’s way to consume the online content and by the big corporations’ investment in AI, AR and their aim to be as much as possible close to their customers.
Social Media become a vital part of every business’ marketing strategy. From the ‘nice to have’ role, now the companies are using this digital channel to personalise their engagement and to address issues related to customer service.
Some trends are here for a few years already, but the speed of their growth and impact on overall behaviour took high speed. Others trends are now taking off due to the particular expectations and consumers behaviour. Here are some of the social media trends to keep an eye on in 2020.
These days everybody has a smartphone, connected permanently to the internet, so it is almost impossible not to be hooked one way or another to at least one social media platforms. We have seen how much harm it could do to different people, under too much peer pressure, trolling or just seeking attention and comparing themselves to a want-to-be image. If you are lucky enough to realise your addiction to Likes and Shares, getting tired of aiming to be or do what is not in your nature to please others, you might take a significant decision: disconnect from social media. This phenomenon becomes more and more popular even among very active influencers, first as an experiment, and then as a norm, to keep the balance between real themselves and the Instagram self. You can compare this with another popular trend like Intermittent Fasting. Practised wisely definitely helps your mental health and improves your life lifestyle and wellbeing. We will see this behaviour more and more often, even in social media.
Trust is one of the most valuable assets a brand can offer to their consumers. In the era of fake news, the brands building confidence in their products or services will win the top of mind of the consumers. Social Media is playing a very significant part in creating this trust and building communities around their products and services. Building the faith takes a very well planned Social Media Strategy, as an integrated part of overall marketing and digital marketing plan.
The social media platforms offer a broad range of insights about their user’s behaviour, great tools for creating very targeted advertising and based on the algorithms, even the content presented is very close to their preferences. The level of personalisation can be scary. The users expect to have an exclusive experience when they are using the social platform, and the marketers are using all the available tools to offer them what they need, want or don’t even know they want yet.
Privacy is king, and with so many cases of privacy breaches, the people are more and more conscious about their online behaviour, and they have very high expectations when it comes to sharing their details with anybody online (and not only). This very impactful trend (expectation) will affect more and more the social behaviour and the brands and companies need to build the trust and keep the promise of keeping their users confidential. Again, this a long term work to be made by the companies, and of course, they need to invest more and more in cybersecurity to keep user’s data safe all the time.
Using Social Media to get in contact with brands and business is not a new thing. This behaviour has been around for years already. We’ve seen already that most of the brands are using Twitter for complains and approaching the brands directly in case of issues, while Instagram is used more for showcasing the branded products and Facebook is more about communities and groups.
What we are going to see more often even in 2020 is the fact that the Customer Service using Social Media channel is an integrated part of the digital marketing strategy. Using chatbots and Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, the user’s interaction with the brands and businesses is more personalised (here comes the customisation in the discussion again) and with smart planning, the cost with the personnel is drastically reduced by introducing the chatbots for the most frequent questions and could save time as well in benefit of the user.
Even if Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are still the core social media platforms for B2C and LinkedIn is the go-to platform for businesses, there are other platforms where the users are spending their time.
The social media platform that draws the attention lately is Tik Tok, with 500 million active users worldwide, with 41% of TikTok of users aged between 16 and 24, with more than 60% female. Even if this audience in underaged and it doesn’t have purchasing power, the brands are starting introducing Tik Tok tactics in their overall social media strategy to create brand awareness and brand affinity from early stages and encourage engagements as well as create an alternative for this audience to the more conventional social platforms like Youtube, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
Stories will be the new Updates. Storytelling is the best way to connect with the audience and to encourage interactions as well to create brand awareness. With Instagram dominating the level of stories used daily by over 500 million daily users, it makes sense the brands to include this communication channel in their overall marketing strategies. Facebook and Wassap (a Facebook company) have their story-like features, and they are used by the majority of the users daily. Tapping on these trends, a diverse range of applications are developed for creating stories, for the mobile or desktop version.
With Snapchat the champion at Augmented Reality, the door has been open for other platforms and brands are taking advantage of this interactive way to engage with their customers. The AR filters are now regulars on Instagram but as well on independent platforms that are creating user’s experiences that can be then shared on social media channels. You can even create your filter on Instagram! Facebook itself had developed an AR tool for developers to create and distribute AR content, and we will use this technology as a norm in the future.
The video content is still the type of content with the highest engagement, and this is the reason the social media’s algorithm are prioritising it in their content distribution. With a variety of tools and with more and more performant smartphones, anyone can create easily hi-quality video content. The brands need the correct content strategy in place, and with knowing their audience and their preferred social media channel, video content will be a pillar in their overall digital marketing strategy.
Facebook and Instagram are encouraging Live Videos, and YouTube is the second search engine in popularity (after Google of course), and Instagram is creating ways to distribute the video content in long format via IGTV. According to a Cisco study, by 2022, 82% of all online content will be video content.
When you hear Mark Zukerberg saying that Facebook will focus on groups and communities in the next years, then you know that this decision will affect the way the algorithm will work. There are studies behind this decision certifying that the community’s engagement is more valuable than others on social media. It makes sense that when you have your community or group build around to your product or service, their opinion and connection is more truthful. We can see brands posting daily on social media, but when we look closely, the actual interaction with their followers is close to zero. This behaviour only creates frustration on the user’s side, and for sure, it doesn’t help in building that trust and confidence in the brand, that the followers are expecting. On the other hand, if a brand or business manages to create a closed group, sometimes some of the questions will be answered by the community itself, and then they become your brand ambassadors and micro-influencers, even using the same tone of voice of the brand. The future is in Tribal Marketing.
Influencer Marketing is no news for the past five years. What brands have learned lately is that, if they are not Kylie Jenner or Selena Gomez with millions of followers, influencers are not about the number of followers and beautiful pictures. Paying an influencer just because he/she has a significant amount of followers is not what the brands are after. Businesses have learned that more important than the number of followers is the level of engagement and conversion rate that influencer is generating. Therefore companies are more interested in the nano-influencers.
So what is a nano- influencer? Remember talking earlier about communities and trust? A nano influencer has a group (number of followers) of 1000 up to 10000 people that are inspired by the content and believes the influencer is communication via social media and not only. They are very niched, and the conversion rate (in %) is very high compared to other influencers. They have an in-person relationship with their community. Because of this type of connection, the trust is high, and they are seen as ‘expert’ in their field.
To create more genuine social engagements, Instagram already has removed the visibility of the number of Likes, and Facebook is following next to implementing this strategy. The race after gaining likes is less relevant in measuring the real engagement, therefore if the content generates likes and comments without knowing how many other did it already, it will prove the quality of the material and then it will decrease the pressure created by social Media on users in general and as the Instagram CEO said, to make it a space more focused on connections, conversations and community, especially for young people.
Social Media is a mighty digital channel and used wisely and integrated into an overall digital marketing strategy, is a valuable tool for brands and businesses. The social media landscape is in permanent change, and the technology and user’s behaviour are influencing the way we are consuming Social Media, as well as the business, are getting in touch with their customers. Staying on top of the trends, the marketers can adapt the strategies and budget to be visible where their customers are spending most of their online time: on social media.