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The Social Media Landscape in 2020

Let’s take a look at the state of social media in 2020, so you can get a grip on the big social media trends to watch out for this year.

According to Sprout Social, advertising spend on social media will surge north of $102 billion in the next twelve months. There’s no denying that social media is as much about business and profits as it is about connecting people.

Data Security Gets Tighter

While Facebook is still a force, the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018 continues to ripple through the digital marketing world. When news broke that the social media juggernaut had shared the personal data of 87 million Facebook users without their consent, NBC reported that Facebook experienced a 66% drop in consumer trust. 

Soon after that, the changes brought about by the GDPR in 2018 made it necessary for paid social media marketing efforts to become increasingly transparent, and data security has become a top priority for most companies ever since. 

In 2020, the U.S. is starting to follow suit, with California - the world's fifth-largest economy - rolling out its own privacy act at the beginning of 2020. The California Consumer Privacy Act is the most stringent privacy law in the United States, and could trigger a domino effect across the country, with many new state privacy laws expected to follow,

The prevalent public distrust of media (especially in this election year), and expectations of authenticity among celebrity influencers has made many brands shift their thinking from striving to obtain the greatest possible reach to focusing on quality engagement that is transparent. They are favoring community building through meaningful conversations with smaller groups. That is achieved by sharing insightful and valuable content and letting passionate followers take care of propagating it.

Despite the rising sentiment of distrust, offering a personalized customer experience remains an important factor for social media marketing strategies in 2020. So, online data collection through behavioral tracking is vital, and one-on-one communications on a large scale may become the best opportunity for marketers to achieve it.

Live Video and Stories Will Take Over

One of the biggest social media trends in 2020 will be the rise of the Stories format. First championed by Snapchat, ephemeral content is now available on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, and of course TikTok.

According to TechCrunch, the growth of video stories in 2018 was fifteen times as fast as conventional social media feeds. With millennials and Gen Z in love with the format, ephemeral video content provides excellent opportunities for marketers to engage followers. You can take it up a notch by making your video stories interactive, using polls to gather insights from your audience.

Brands can demonstrate a certain authenticity by going live. The audience knows that it’s an unpredictable endeavor with some inherent risks. Choosing to present a video live tells followers that the brand is open, honest, and willing to present itself as it is – warts and all.

Live video is not a novelty by any means, but it has seen consistent year over year growth. According to Wyzowl:

  • 89% of video marketers say video generates good ROI.
  • 83% of video marketers say video improves lead generation.
  • 87% of video marketers say video boosts traffic to their website.

Live videos offer a unique and powerful way to connect with your audience and deepen the relationship between your brand and its followers.

Authenticity notwithstanding, effective and engaging live videos are becoming increasingly more sophisticated. Gone are the days when talking in front of a webcam was sufficient. Higher production values, using multiple cameras and professional audio equipment, have now become the norm.

Social Commerce will Go Mainstream

Gen Z spends three times as much time shopping on social media platforms compared to the average online consumer. The vast majority of this online shopping is done on visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.

In truth, it was only a matter of time before social media and ecommerce came together, and 2020 may be a breakthrough year for social commerce. Research indicates that 42% of people aged 18-34 claimed to use social commerce regularly.

The Social Media Landscape in 2020

When online shoppers can buy products directly within their social media feeds, it offers a much better user experience, especially on mobile devices. We’re sure to see more social commerce pop up over the next year, as ecommerce businesses aim to leverage the strategy to create a smoother customer journey that drives sales and customer satisfaction.

Artificial Intelligence Will Dominate Customer Service

Just a few years ago, the concept of customer service chatbots seemed far-fetched. Even harder to believe was the notion that customers would actually want to communicate with a chatbot instead of a person. 

In 2020, chatbots are much smarter and faster, as advances in AI technology have transformed the software into a real asset that can enhance any business. Consider the following stats from 2019:

  • 90% of companies reported faster complaint resolution times with AI chatbots
  • 56% of consumers preferred to contact businesses by text message as opposed to calling customer service.
  • Chatbots can reduce customer support costs by 30%.

AI chatbots don't need breaks and don't get overwhelmed dealing with multiple customers at the same time. As technology improves, more businesses will adopt it into their social media strategies.

CEOs and Executives on Social Media

With transparency, openness, and trust poised to remain business watchwords for the foreseeable future, we expect to see an ever-increasing number of CEOs and top executives becoming publicly active on social media. According to a report by Domo and CEO.com, only 39% of Fortune 500 CEOs had some social media presence in 2014. Today, those who are ignoring social media or aren’t leveraging it well are missing out on a competitive edge.

CEOs who are accessible, demonstrate leadership, and are interested in engaging with their customers' feedback (both good and bad) go a long way towards building goodwill and improving the company's overall reputation.

Dataconomy published a ranking of the top CEOs based on social media sentiment. The top executives, derived from Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and Fortune lists, had to have at least 40,000 tweets about them over the span of 12 months. Data from Twitter was used to find out how the general public feels about them.

“The top three ranking executives, Brian Chesky (Airbnb), John Legere (T-Mobile), and Marc Benioff (Salesforce) were viewed positively for being leaders of successful companies but more interestingly, as being accessible communicators that displayed leadership on social and political issues,” notes Jean-Pierre Kloppers, CEO of BrandsEye, the opinion-mining company that analyzed the data for the report.

The success of top-ranked Brian Chesky is attributable in part to his frequent public interactions on Twitter. He also gained favor when he tweeted that Airbnb would provide free housing for anyone stranded by President Trump’s 2018 travel ban. 

Marc Benioff of Salesforce, who is in third place, also achieved distinction by asserting himself on political and social issues, namely his opposition to a proposed discriminatory LGBT law in Texas. Half of John Legere’s tweets are direct responses to customers’ questions and complaints, making him the most accessible CEO on the list. Another highly-connected CEO in 2020 is Elon Musk, who is never too shy about letting the world know what he is doing with Tesla.

Influencer Marketing Will Keep On Growing

It’s clear now that influencers aren’t going anywhere. Millennials birthed the YouTube star, and Gen Z is making influencer marketing a fully-fledged - and very lucrative - career path for the future.

In 2020, 59% of marketers plan to increase their influencer budget, leveraging the reach and persuasive powers of relatable people with dedicated niche audiences. Interestingly, it’s the micro-influencers with 10,000 - 100,000 fans that should benefit most, as many small businesses opt to partner with these individuals rather than bust the budget for celebrity endorsements.

One potential challenge is the news that Instagram started hiding likes, which could pose a problem for micro-influencers trying to get noticed in 2020. Nevertheless, influencer marketing remains an integral aspect of modern social media, and as social commerce and video stories rise, so too will the influencer marketing industry.

Change is Afoot

In 2019, we saw TikTok explode to 1.5B downloads, shaking up any beliefs that the leading platforms were invincible. The younger generations prefer videos, interactive content, and augmented reality (AR) apps like Snapchat and TikTok rather than the traditional social media of Facebook and text posts.

If businesses are going to maintain their edge in 2020, marketing teams need to keep up to date with social media trends and embrace new ideas and technologies like social commerce and AR.

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