2020 social media trends

Social media clearly remains King when it comes to reaching audiences and getting your message across. Every article and blog you read on communications or marketing makes that clear – without social media, you might as well not exist. And that seems fair enough, with over 2.45 billion active users monthly on Facebook at the time of writing, growth of over 1 billion people since 2015. That means Facebook alone is accessed on a monthly basis by one third of  Earth’s population… And that doesn’t even account for other increasingly popular social media, like YouTube or Instagram, or platforms that are popular among particular groups, like Weibo or TikTok. If, like me, the data behind this gets you intrigued, Our World In Data has a particularly interesting analysis of social media usage trends. Social media has been through rapid and fascinating changes since its emergence, some harder to predict than others. But what might be coming for 2020?

1. Videos, not static

There is no secret that video and photo posts far outperform their texty cousins. They are now essential for any social media post. A great piece by Social Media Week outlines the trends for videos on social media, and what it means for communications, highlighting that 82% of all online traffic is videos! Nowhere is this seen more obviously than in the emergence of stories. By October 2019, over 500 million people were using Instagram stories on a daily basis. The transition to ‘story’ format over standard posts has been a prediction for a few years now, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down! Stories haven’t yet taken over from the News Feed style, as  some predictions said, but they have definitely grown in popularity! Don’t really understand stories? These collections of photos and videos give viewers a quick, 24 hour window into whatever you are up to or the message you want to share. Bt.com does a good job of explaining them in simple terms here. But what they are really is a natural transition from seeing people’s photos and automatic videos in your feed, to a quick digest of everything you might like to see, in a format that is perfect for increasingly short attention spans and gives maximum viewing for minimal effort.

2. Be careful with influencers

There has been a massive backlash against influencers in recent years, with ample gleeful news stories on how this influencer or that influencer was publicly shamed for greedy attempts at free stuff. Blatant influencer marketing techniques are increasingly shamed, with many criticised for ‘selling out’ for advertising dollars. That is not to say The Influencer is dead. Far from it! But it is about being more careful and targeted in how Influencers are used, and which ones. Niche influencers, or nano influencers who may have only a few thousand followers, will become increasingly important by offering authentic and genuine high quality content that is exactly targeted at specific audiences.

3. Authenticity!

All of the above is part of an increased desire in many fields towards authenticity. Saturated by clever marketing and advertising, and feeling more and more separated from their neighbours and friends, audiences are increasingly craving the same personal connection that they might have had in the past with their local shops. This manifesting in an important way for communicators, with a growing need for content to feel authentic to be effective. Although it may feel cynical to try to be authentic with social media content, especially sitting in a bland office with a deadline looming, it can generate extremely strong results. And it isn’t about being a mercenary, but about tapping into genuine emotions and thoughts, reflecting on what you want to say, without trying to lure people in with clickbait or overly-produced content. It can also, from a practical standpoint, mean re-engaging with content that was particularly popular organically, and boosting or sharing that to tap into the natural interest.

4. Engage, engage, engage!

All of this talk about authenticity has an important other aspect to note – no longer can businesses and organisations sit on the sideline and just passively release content, without engaging with their audiences. Twitter and Facebook have long been used as a tool for users to reach out to make complaints (and sometimes compliments), but increasingly, there is an expectation of near-immediate and ‘real’ engagement back. You need to go where your audiences are, talk to them to share your message, but let them feel heard in return.

5. Keep abreast of new trends

The digital world is ever changing. New apps, new trends, new audiences. To use a rather trite saying, the only thing certain, is uncertainty. So it is imperative that communicators keep up to date with the newest trends and emerging platforms, to ensure your message is as effective as possible. A great example is the social media powerhouse TikTok, which emerged only in the last few years but has taken off in the under 24 year old bracket.  If that is your desired audience, you may need to get yourself on there!

That’s it!

All of these might seem quite simple and even obvious if you are keeping up to date with news on social media in any form. But I have tried to simplify down some of the buzz words and fashionable advice, to a practical overview on what it actually means. Let’s see what 2020 brings!
Want to take a new approach to communications this year? Get in touch!

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