The Top 7 Social Media Trends for Business in 2020
Trends and predictions to guide your online strategy
Social media trends are continually shifting. We are still uncertain how artificial intelligence will dominate, while new apps and utilities continue to roll out. What is certain is that there are increasingly advanced ways to track, optimize and make the most of your online marketing performance.
Here are seven key social media areas businesses should focus on in 2020, blended with some near future predictions as we roll into an exciting new decade of digital marketing.
1. Augmented Reality Will Become Mainstream
Augmented Reality technology is no longer confined to realistically putting yourself in a video game or strapping on a 3D headset. The technology is rapidly influencing e-commerce, helping consumers discover and virtually try products, take virtual tours of brick and mortar stores, imagine products in their own homes and more.
According to Mashable, Instagram is testing an AR functionality for ads that will let users “try on” products from selected manufacturers such as sunglasses or lipstick. Realtors are already using AR to take customers on a virtual tour of homes for sale, but soon prospective buyers will be able to change wall colors or even remove walls as they tour homes.
As tech companies rush to bring new AR apps to market, expect costs to come down, allowing midsize companies to use the technology.
2. Social Media Shopping Opportunities will Expand
Shopping on social platforms seemed to slip in without a lot of fanfare in 2019. Once you see a product you like on your Facebook feed, Instagram or a similar site, you can purchase it from that platform with just a few clicks. Whip out that credit card or preferred online payment system and make an immediate purchase.
If you provide products online, giving consumers this type of ease and speed may reduce the steps in your sales funnel by half.
While we are seeing big brands take advantage of these tools, smaller brands may see access in 2020. This could be huge for sales, especially impulse buys. A CreditCards.com poll revealed that 80 percent of young people made an unplanned, spur-of-the-moment buy online in 2019.
3. Influencer Marketing Will Continue to Grow
Influencer marketing has risen from obscurity in the past few years. Influencers are defined as a user who has established credibility in a specific industry, has access to a huge audience or can persuade others. Research shows a majority of companies of all sizes will increase their emphasis with influencers this year.
We’ll continue to see industries such as fashion, beauty and cooking use celebrity influencers. But diverse brands have also been turning to “micro influences,” that target specific, smaller segments of business with a smaller budget. Within these micro divisions, influencers themselves have become famous, such as home organizer Marie Kondo.
Small- to medium-size businesses can tap into influencer power, too. Consumers get bombarded with ads, and increasingly look for reviews from people they trust (for example, another consumer) before making a purchase. Don’t overlook amazing and genuine referral power when others say nice things about your business on social media. You can encourage this by asking happy customers to tag you in posts about your business. Share these posts to your social media and post a nice thank you. This influential referral content is like gold, and it’s free.
4. Stories will Eclipse Regular Newsfeed Content
For a while, Stories were exclusive to Snapchat—user content that disappears after a short period of time that can be customized with stickers and graphics. Now Instagram, Facebook and YouTube have jumped in with their own versions of Stories.
After getting off to a slow start, Stories are picking up steam. Perhaps this is because in our thumb-scanning, headline reading world, people like info in smaller chunks.
Brands are also capitalizing on an interactor’s fear of missing out (FOMO) by offering special deals that will disappear quickly, urging quick action.
Stories can provide spontaneous on the spot content and other strategies that work well in short snippets such as polls. With creative special effects, Stories are another way to drive engagement between users and their favorite brands, such as turning yourself into a taco on Taco Bell’s Snapchat page.
5. Knowing Your Audience is Still Critical
People using social media don’t want to be sold to. You’ve probably heard me or other marketers mention the 70/30 rule—70 percent relevant content not about your specific product or service to balance out the 30 percent information directly tied to your product or service. That still holds true. But let’s take this one step further. Personalize all of your content to make it more relevant to your audience. Here are a couple of examples.
A blog and related social media posts for a financial company might include some general business topics such as changes to federal payroll taxes and rules. This business would also want to include state or city changes affecting their client base. In posts directly related to your business, incorporate customers using your products or show good experiences with services. This could be a short video clip of happy clients slapping a sold sticker on a realty sign with a nice quote, or a well-done product demo.
Data analytics is a good place to focus on defining your audience.
Then, develop digital marketing strategies that address specific segments. Segmentation means to strategically divide your audience into meaningful groups based on individual preferences. Campaigns are then designed around each segment for a more personalized experience.
6. Video is Jumping to the Next Level
Video is already king on social platforms, which is estimated to make up 82 percent of all internet traffic in 2020. Going forward, marketers should be focused on customized video content that is hyper-relevant to specific market segments.
The challenge is how to quickly capture attention and interaction with video, especially since likes are fading away. Platforms are already pushing Story ads containing video as short as 6-seconds. These super quick videos garner a higher click-through rate than other types of ads, and can easily be customized to a specific segment of your audience.
However, long-format video should still be part of the mix. For example, Facebook says it will prioritize videos that keep people engaged for at least one minute, especially when those videos are more than three minutes long. Their prioritization metrics will add weight to videos that people seek out and return to repeatedly, and those with unique content. You can read more about Facebook’s video best practices here.
7. Focus More on Metrics than Likes
Platforms, starting with Instagram, are de-emphasizing likes. This is part of a trend away from “vanity metrics,” and it makes sense. A person scrolling through their feed may look at an image or video clip and give it a heart or thumbs up, but not take any further action, such as reading the article or clicking a button. Those quick actions are soon forgotten by the user and have little value to the business. Brands have also been known to garner fake likes and followers to appear they have a wider reach.
We want the interactor to click on your post, and take the desired action, and that is what marketers should be focused on.
Going forward with Social Media for Business in 2020
In the past few years, social media has grown into active and diverse communities where over 3.2 billion people worldwide are connecting daily. As the challenge to keep up with social media trends increase, businesses should remain highly involved in their own marketing, especially if tasks are contracted out for social media and blog content.
A client that shares info on company milestones and events, such as community volunteer efforts, with their marketing team will have more authentic and fresh content.
As the industry continues to expand, you may be bombarded with solicitations for social media and other digital marketing services. Evaluate these offers carefully and do independent research separate from what the company tells you. I receive calls from clients because they have listened to a pitch that sounded like it would transform their business, when in fact they already have the same tools in place in their marketing plan.
It is a good idea to review the plans you have in place, make sure you are including the key areas mentioned in this article, and adjust your strategic approach as needed.
Finally, keep in mind the power of social media, and don’t make it your last priority when you are focusing on increasing sales. More than 72 percent of all adults in the U.S. use some form of social media regularly. Eight out of 10 adult Americans are online shoppers, and will increasingly apply this purchasing power to social media. Younger demographics look to social media almost exclusively to learn about new products.
Social media is a marketing force that cannot be ignored.