As we approach the end of 2019, it’s time to reflect on the year gone and start thinking about our marketing strategies for 2020.
In order to make the most effective social media strategies, we need to consider future trends, innovations and predictions that might influence our online behaviour and marketing output, but, most importantly, we need to think how it will change the behaviour of our audiences and their relationships with our content.
So, what’s in store for us in 2020 and what could it mean for our social content and social media success?
1. More vertical storytelling and advertising
If you really want to make progress with your online marketing in 2020, focus on vertical storytelling and adverts. More people are consuming content via their mobile devices and this means they’re looking at your brand vertically.
Platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook have long been adopters of the format but brands are somewhat slower on the uptake. It isn’t going anywhere, so you could be left behind if you don’t adopt a vertical strategy in 2020.
2. Social Listening will be more important than ever with stricter data crack downs
With increasing amounts of information and data being shared on a wider scale, we can expect to see more rigorous data crack-downs from social media platforms. This is both a blessing and a curse.
From an individual perspective it means more privacy, less intrusive advertising – a blessing! From a brand perspective, it means less intelligence and more spending to broad, uninterested audiences – a curse. However, social listening could hold the answer to better marketing and improved information sharing.
Social listening allows brands to tap into the zeitgeist or dig deeper into what others are saying about their products and services. It provides meaningful insight into real conversations, with real people, in real time. With less information readily available, social listening could be the answer to our brand development prayers. You can read more about what social listening is, here.
3. But we need to be listening to wider conversations
More social listening tools are expanding their reach and insight by listening to a wider array of platforms and places. However, many are struggling to mine (or listen to) some of the more niche platforms. Meaning what we’re listening to could be seen as a bit of a conversational vacuum.
BBC’s Richard Irvine-Brown comes at this dilemma from a news perspective: “A big trend could be people denying the political aspect of news events. We have already seen vested parties trying to minimise public ire against them, or problems they may face, in the wake of a tragic event – defending themselves with deflection by suggesting it is too soon or exploitative to attribute political blame – and I would expect more of this during the 2020 US presidential election, from all sides and in response to all attempts at point-scoring.
A way we could all listen more to audiences on social media, or listen in a better way, would be to diversify our sources. The primary sites and platforms – Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Instagram and YouTube – can often regurgitate each other’s content and are full of accounts which exist only for attention. Fresh stories and unheard voices will be better sourced from more guarded communities (such as SomethingAwful), or the next-alternative host (such as Vimeo), or the next heavily-funded platform (such as TikTok).”
4. The rise of AI on popular platforms
Social media platforms utilising artificial intelligence is certainly nothing new, but how AI may affect social campaigns will definitely be changing in 2020. Although Facebook is already talking about its platform of auto-identifying and tagging your photos, it won’t be removing AI totally.
In fact, development teams at Facebook are already working on creating ‘super AI assistants’ by working with Minecraft to extend the learning capabilities of their AIs to perform more tasks, rather than be masters on singular tasks. For marketers, this offers both an exciting opportunity but also a terrifying reality. For example, where we once may have been able to manipulate algorithms, new AI technologies may be manipulating our content reach instead.
This could be useful, like auto publishing is already improving brands abilities to reach their audiences more effectively. But it could also mean we have to engage the AI or hit the highway! But let’s leave on a high note, AI is, in theory, here to help and is being adapted daily to improve platforms and that can surely only be a good thing?
5. Death to fake profiles
Yay – finally platforms are taking out the trash. During 2019, we’ve seen many platforms begin to cull their spaces of fake or bot accounts. Great news for those playing ball and looking to measure against genuine performance. Unfortunately, some innocent accounts are suffering too.
Because you don’t need access to the account you may be buying followers for, it means that competitors, or online vandals, can start buying your account fake followers and bot interactions. If successful, these vandals then leave you open to a big, fat slap on the wrists from the platforms and you may start to be penalised in the algorithms.
Fortunately, most people won’t experience this and, if you do, the penalties don’t last long so your content will ultimately win the algorithm fight. The bottom-line, don’t buy followers, likes or use bots on any platform in 2020 (not that you would, right?) and you’ll be just fine.
6. Love is in the air
Could Facebook be the new Tinder? Facebook recently announced the launch of its new dating app in the US (previously launched in Colombia) and, if it’s successful, I’m pretty sure we’ll see it hitting the UK in 2020. The app matches users to those with similar interests, rather than just nearby. It’s not a ground-breaking way of playing cupid but it’s certainly a new way of using your Facebook profile.
But why does this matter to brands and programmes? Well, it doesn’t hugely. It’s just good to be aware of. With the launch of any new product or service by the big players, it means a whole new generation of memes and pop culture references. If you want your content to feel current, keep across the trends. In 2020, I see less swipes and more likes.
7. Time To GIF!
From TikTok to Instagram, from Facebook to Twitter, and even your email or Whatsapp, all the main online players are integrating gif features into their platforms and messaging services. Why? Because they’re hugely popular with audiences; they’re the new emoji of the web.
Gifs offer so many opportunities for brands and programmes to extend their reach quickly and, relatively, easily. Brand them, crop them, subtitle them or don’t, gifs come in a variety of styles but all work brilliantly at engaging new and existing audiences. In 2020, you can be sure to see an increase in gif usage and popularity. Not got a GIPHY account? Now is the time.
8. To pay or not to pay?
Although nearly all social platforms are free to use, most also offer a paid option to brands. Across 2020 I believe we’ll see a huge increase in pressure from platforms for brands to spend more with them and spend more regularly; they too are businesses after all!
However, many brands resist the idea of paying to advertise, when the platform can offer great results for free. Fair point. But, in traditional, off-line marketing, brands seem more than happy to spend with magazines, etc. to place adverts in order to guarantee exposure instead of using press releases; and many use both options. Online should be no different. A good mixture of organic and paid will generate the best impact and results.
The big question is ‘how much and where should we be spending?’. The answer completely depends on your goals and budget. We have seen great results (thousands of engagements) from as little as £5 on a Facebook ad. Your paid strategy should be simple, which content is naturally doing well? Let’s enhance it and reach more people with low-risk, small budget ad spend.
Jo Booth is the Director & Head Trainer at Social Media Makes Sense – the UKs leading TV & Broadcast Social Media Specialist.