Social media predictions for the year ahead
Well, 2019 was a big year for all of us, wasn’t it? We all worked hard, had some fun, had some tough times and had some good times.
In 2020, we all want to push forward our businesses. And what do us marketers tell you to do? That’s right – do some more marketing.
Of course, it’s not as simple as that. There are so many options – old and new – and here I take you through a few that I think will help you and your business in 2020 and, hopefully, beyond.
Let’s jump right in, shall we?
1. The Dark-Social Guest-List
With the Facebook corporation owning some of the world’s major messaging services (such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp), boss Mark Zuckerberg has already alluded to placing an emphasis on private communities and personal conversations – ‘The Dark Social’.
Mr. Z has also announced a new app called Threads, which will be an amalgamation of the aforementioned messaging platforms to have private conversations away from the general Facebook feeds (and possibly a new way of making money for him).
The caveat is that this will all be subject to more regulatory control (which is a good thing for us, as businesses).
So, with these platforms, plus private Facebook groups, Instagram DMs and ‘swipe-up messaging’, alongside platforms such as Telegram and WeChat, you should start thinking about ways to collate your clients data – much in the same way you would collect it for sending email marketing or growing your Facebook group – because the Dark Social is where you will create your team of brand ambassadors and a collective of hot leads, all with common interests.
Think of the data as a guest-list of people awaiting entry to an exclusive club – one that is owned by you. Getting them in is one thing – being enticing enough to keep them there is quite another.
2. Social on-demand
We have many ways to consume entertainment in the way we choose (budgets allowing) – Amazon Prime, Netflix, Sky, BT, Virgin, on-demand channels, YouTube, etc
Social media will emulate this at some point. We will be able to further personalise and curate the information we want to consume (and there may or may not be a charge involved). However, the social media channels will have to find a way to make sure that the on-demand content is worth our money and, more importantly, our time (and this applies to our own content too).
3. The Overwhelm Antidote: the 80/20 rule
2020 will be the year of finding the overwhelm antidote. One of the things many businesses find overwhelming is marketing.
We have so many online outlets for our creativity – social media, online networking, articles, groups, messaging platforms, and so on – that most of us don’t know the optimum place for content, and we try to ‘be everywhere’ in the fear that we may miss a sale.
Marketers tell you to find the place where your clients hang out. In reality, they hang out in more than one place – you all know the old cliché about even the CEOs of the world’s biggest companies having a Facebook profile.
Feel free to use all the platforms you are comfortable with, and you will quickly find one or two favourites (and, in theory, your customers’ favourites). Once found, you should aim to spend 80% of your total ‘social media time’ on them.
The basic premise is that you are not spreading yourself too thin, with the goal to become more visible to a particular audience, as well as focusing your marketing efforts without diluting your outbound messages.
4. Digital Detoxing
We consume information in so many ways, online and offline. There is an information overload coupled with a reduction in our attention spans. (In fact, I hope you are still reading this!)
We have hundreds of TV channels, search engines, apps and streaming services, as well as all the social media platforms.
2020 will be the year of digital detoxing – not moving away from online activity, but more of a streamlining of what we consume and how we consume it.
If you follow the 80/20 rule mentioned above, note that your customers may do that too, so you will need to find a way to make your marketing both efficient and effective.
There are so many advantages to streamlining, such as time saving, mental health management, removing toxicity or simply incremental improvements to life in general.
5. The Gen-Z Exodus
Generation Z (those born after 1995 or 1997, depending on your source) will continue to turn away from Facebook. If this is your target audience, you will need to be on alternative platforms.
Gen-Z are synonymous with social documenting – i.e. photos, images, short videos, etc. Therefore, you will find them on platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat.
And in 2020, we will see the continued rise of Tik Tok. Now, this isn’t for everyone, and don’t think you HAVE to be on it, but it’s the fastest growing platform, predominately for the ‘younger generation’ – which is great if they are your target market.
The platform has approximately 750m users (compared to Instagram which recently hit a billion users, making it the fifth largest platform) with its biggest advocate being Gary Vaynerchuk who tells us that, with the right content, we can reach a large audience in a short space of time.
Remember – don’t use social media for the sake of it – think about your business goals and how they fit together.
6. Telling your story
We love a good story. We love hearing about people. It’s our voyeuristic nature that keeps on social media for so long. Give the reader some long-form content – a cornerstone of content marketing.
A good story will keep the reader hooked – they will stay on your page longer; they will listen to your story; they will learn about you; then they will want to learn even more about you.
The social media algorithms learn that your content is liked and read. And if your content is well-written, it can be good for search-engine optimisation (SEO), and therefore good for search engines. And this content could be anywhere: web pages, blogs, LinkedIn articles or Facebook posts – and then this also has a higher chance of being shared or repurposed.
According to the algorithm lords, the best long-form content has a purpose without having a purpose – no links, no shares, no calls-to-action (CTA) – but works in showing off your personality and your authority. Personally, I suggest always having a CTA, but write as if you are writing for writing’s sake.
Long-term content-marketing strategies will always beat short-term, temporary highs.
7. Lights Camera Action
Videos are awesome for visibility, thanks to the social media algorithms.
In 2020, video consumption will continue to rise. Currently, video creators are in the minority, so if you create videos, you will be ahead of most of your competitors. So, what are you waiting for?
Your videos do not need to be professionally-filmed, studio-quality films. You can take a perfectly-acceptable video on your phone. Keep them as long as necessary (i.e. don’t waffle) and make them relevant: quick tips, industry news, advice, etc.
The reason video works is because we love to learn about others. When we can see someone’s facial expressions or hear their voice, we subconsciously create an affinity to that person – we learn just as much about the person as we do from what they are saying.
Quick tip: 80% of videos on social media are viewed with the sound off, so add subtitles if you can so you won’t exclude the majority of your target market.
8. The robots will take over
If you run a business, marketing is simply one aspect of it, which can often feel like a full-time job in itself. (And this is one of the reasons I started my social media management service to help fellow business owners).
In 2020, we will see the rise of the robots…
We already have marketing automation such as chatbots answering questions or automatically receiving something in return for our email address.
This year, the chatbots will become smarter, asking the right questions, using artificial intelligence and ‘machine learning’ to hasten our decision-making.
We will also see a rise in advanced analytics, using our own first-party data to create a world of personalised, curated information around us. The associated algorithms will continue to become more intelligent (and still not understood by anyone!).
We can couple this to two technological advances: the widespread availability of 5G and the increase in voice-activated assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google’s Home Hub, and so on. Such advances will, in theory, make our marketing much easier (as well as our lives in general, if we let them).
9. Free for all
With the cost of advertising on Facebook being prohibitive for most small businesses (if you aren’t prepared to play the long game), there will be a focus on making the biggest impact for the lowest budget.
In 2020, marketing won’t always be about the biggest budgets (for example, search online for the £100 Christmas advert) but more about the best use of resources, particularly to show off your expertise and authority in your business sector.
LinkedIn today is where Facebook was five years ago – all the good stuff is free. It won’t always be this way, so start using it to its fullest extent today! You can post content, write articles, see what your peers are doing, connect with potential clients and reach many people. Oh, you can also follow hashtags as well as add them to your posts (and, if you’re really engaging, you may even start trending).
Vanity metrics (such as ‘likes’ or number of followers) will be abandoned in favour of genuine engagement – conversations, discussions, debate – ultimately resulting in business friendships.
And while we are talking about great, free resources, I think Twitter will make a comeback… but was it ever really gone?
10. Trust before influence
Influencer marketing will continue to soar but with many caveats. Z-list celebs and micro influencers will quickly fade away, with customers looking to build trust rather than fall for the paid partnerships or inflated business growth.
You know who the best influencer is? That’s right – you. You are the expert in your business, and your job on social media in 2020 will be to show the world what makes you the expert.
In building trust, being transparent and creating a following of brand ambassadors (through posting engaging content), it is user-generated content that will become a key source of genuine testimonials.
11. Virtually living
There will be a rise in augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) to maximise the user experience. This will come to the forefront later in 2020 but really become ‘the norm’ in 2021 and beyond.
AR/VR will be a great way to create immersive brand interactions – almost a link between online shopping and the high street (in terms of the ‘try before you buy’ possibilities).
If you have an experience-based business (for example, a travel agency or corporate events), you should make this part of your long-term marketing strategy.
12. The past determines the future
There are a whole range of current trends that will not (and should not) change.
having an all-star LinkedIn profile;
good SEO, especially on blogs;
connecting your website to Google Analytics;
having a responsive, quick website;
the use of Facebook Ads (which work best if you know what you’re doing);
Twitter hours to engage in online conversations; and
hashtags on Instagram.
On social media, the most important thing, however, is to be social. The clue is in the title, right?
Would you like to discuss any of these predictions in detail?
If you want help or support with your digital marketing in 2020, whether you would like to attend one of my social media workshops, undertake some bespoke training or simply hand it all over for me to manage, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
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