A lot happened in social media in 2019 – from the continued influence of President Trump’s Twitter feed to Miller Lite’s “Unfollow” campaign to the increased power of social media to drive action and public perception in political, economic and world theaters. However, now that the holidays are firmly behind us, I wanted to highlight five big themes in the social media world that we’re already starting to see emerge, which are certainly worth a look.
Stealing from the old real estate adage, yes privacy is not only not going away, it will roar back in 2020 with vigor, but in a slightly different way. We’ve all seen platforms under fire for consumer privacy and Congressional hearings but look to platforms like Instagram as harbingers of things to come. The platform is rolling out a feature that prevents you from seeing what your followers like. Other indicators include TikTok, which has already killed the cult of the follower count, and newer platforms like VSCO (while not technically a social platform – it’s more of a creative community), which is devoid of all likes and comments, a move intended to promote creativity without societal pressure. Thankfully, these shifts mean social media will become more about quality content for engaged folks.
Perhaps the only silver lining to all of the horrific things that are happening throughout the country with respect to our nation’s children is the renewed attention on how we must keep them safe at school, in shopping malls and of course where they spend a humungous amount of time – online, on apps, on their phones and in online games. Sure, YouTube was again thrust into the spotlight and made some changes, but with more Millennials (who are firmly digital natives themselves) marching toward parenthood and their hyper-awareness of all things marketing, expect child safety to be a big part of the continuing conversation. YouTube’s issues are still not entirely resolved nor forgotten, and kids spend way more time there than any other streaming platform. Expect young parents to expect more from the brands they allow into their lives.
A lot of factors at play here. Marketers continue to struggle with targeting. At the same time, some studies show that social media platforms may only be accurate about 30% of the time in pinpointing consumer decision-making. However, a more intense level of regulation, related to the 2020 US Elections, a renewed, intensified focus on fake news on social, as well as hyper targeting with bias, may draw targeting and regulation into the same sphere for useful collaboration, and actually emerge as a positive. Platforms with micro demographic targeting options have lulled marketers into ignoring offline behavior. Successful brands in 2020 will look beyond simply refining audience targeting and rather view social media targeting as one small part of the whole, regard new regulations as not a limitation, but a benefit.
For several years now, D2C brands have wholeheartedly embraced the concept of “brand experience” – more so than staid consumer brands have. Now look for social media to recognize the importance of well-integrated channels, starting with social customer experience at the core. Look for the focus to shift to ensuring brands are using social in meaningful ways to finally talk with consumers, versus simply talking to them. In the new year, we’ll see brands who are wildly successful at digital overall, start to address the bigger consumer experience and how they can extend digital success to the offline world.
We’ve already seen a bit of this in 2019 but look for it to explode in 2020. Influencer marketing has made its mark on the industry – a recent study found a full 22% of internet users aged 18-34 purchase products after seeing influencers endorse it. Now, nano influencers, the smallest following of all tiers of influencers, roughly defined as social media influencers with between 1,000 and 10,000 followers, begin to fill in the long-tail portion of the much-discussed long-tail. It was bound to happen and for good reason. As markets become more and more splintered every day, nano influencers fill that need for marketers – their audiences are very small, niche, but very highly engaged, and brands start to capture the value of true engagement and genuine human connections.
Here’s wishing you health, wealth and prosperity in 2020, as well as meaningful connections on social!
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