There’s been a lot of change across social media this year. From the rise of TikTok to influencer marketing, experiments with social commerce and using VR to accelerate the marketing funnel, to name a few. What can we expect in 2020? What are the key trends that brands need to be aware of in the coming year? Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO , Socialbakers, shares his top five predictions.
CONTENT THAT CONNECTS: WHY INFLUENCER MARKETING IS THE FUTURE OF GEN Z ENGAGEMENT
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As we look forward to 2020, it’s clear that the groundbreaking developments we saw this year in social media will continue to redefine and reinvent how brands approach online marketing. Emerging players like TikTok are suddenly dominating social media, while existing technologies such as VR and AR are being adapted for e-commerce in innovative new ways. Influencer marketing and social commerce have shown the potential to grow and evolve beyond what many might have expected. And the massive reach of Facebook and Instagram continues to dominate marketing spend. How will all of these elements transform the social media landscape in the coming year?
Here are my top five social media predictions for 2020:
1. TikTok Will Continue Its Meteoric Rise.
According to a recent report, TikTok has surpassed 1.5 billion downloads around the world. When you compare social media apps, only WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have more downloads. That’s an amazing feat for an offering that debuted in the international market in September 2017.
Next year, expect TikTok to continue its meteoric rise thanks to its aggressive marketing campaigns and investment in geographic expansion. This is the platform to watch in 2020 for a number of reasons.
- To support its growth and continued geographic expansion, TikTok is adding to its offices in London and Mountain View (CA) and recruiting talent directly from top technology companies.
- However, for all of its hype, TikTok is not without some controversy. It has been using popular videos submitted to its platform as part of its ongoing, external promotional campaign without informing or compensating the creators.
- More recently, the app has been drawing increased scrutiny from US lawmakers who worry that it could constitute a national security threat. TikTok is now reportedly considering a rebranding effort to de-emphasize its origins as a Chinese company.
- While other platforms attempt to catch up with formats such as Facebook’s Lasso and Instagram’s Reels, TikTok is still likely to be an attention grabber in 2020.
2. Influencer Marketing Will Grow, Not Wither, as Others Have Predicted.
Consumers are increasingly seeking out reviews and trusted voices when making purchasing decisions. This has created a huge opportunity for influencers and brands to team up to create authentic connections with audiences. According to our data, in the last year:
- Influencer sponsored ads grew by more than 150%
- The number of influencers using the #ad (to denote sponsorship) more than doubled
- Micro-influencers became more important and now comprise the majority of influencers (over 75% of all influencers in North America are micro-influencers).
Large consumer brands in beauty, fashion, e-commerce, and auto leaned into influencer marketing in 2019 and found that their efforts drove business and moved the needle. Leading brands like Estee Lauder, Hugo Boss and Burberry have explicitly stated that they believe influencer marketing is playing a key role in driving their success on social media. Expect them to increase their investment in 2020 and help make influencer marketing a $10 billion industry by 2020.
3. The Time for VR/AR Is Coming.
Virtual Reality (VR) has long been associated with the gaming world or with high budget Hollywood movies. While some tech-savvy marketers have experimented with VR, most make the mistake of underestimating its potential by seeing it only as an attention-getting gimmick.
VR presents a huge opportunity for marketers as it can engage and excite audiences, build brand awareness, and drive product discovery and purchase. Imagine giving customers the opportunity to browse products through virtual clothing racks and virtual showrooms, and then giving them a lifelike experience with the product before leading them to a purchase. While it may be 5-10 years before we see it used at scale, VR technologies promise to be a powerful weapon in the retail marketers’ arsenal. Expect to see more experiments in 2020.
4. Social Commerce Prepares for Lift off in 2020.
Our data shows that shopping-related content – including shopping experiences leveraging VR – is rapidly proliferating on social media. Platforms are responding by adding more e-commerce features, including the ability to make purchases.
Instagram launched Instagram Shopping for selected brands, giving businesses an immersive storefront for people to discover and explore products along with a link for purchases. Facebook’s family of applications (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Facebook Groups) offer tools for customer care and community management that enable marketing full funnel activity, from product discovery to post-purchase customer care and evangelism. TikTok is also experimenting with social commerce, giving users the ability to send their viewers directly to e-commerce sites to make purchases.
The year 2020 could be the moment that social commerce takes off as more and more customers make purchases directly from social media platforms, instead of heading to a shopping site’s app or to an online store after discovering a product on social media.
5. The Battle for Ad Spend: Facebook vs Instagram
Who will win the battle for ad spend in 2020, the behemoth Facebook or current darling Instagram? (Answer: Facebook, as the company owns both platforms!)
We recently analyzed data to determine where ad spend is going and what to expect in the new year. The data showed that while marketers have been increasing their spend on Instagram, more than 60% of all total ad spend is still allocated to the Facebook News Feed. The Instagram feed comes in a distant second at 20%, followed by Stories at 10%, and the rest of the top 5 – Facebook suggested video, and Facebook instream video – combine for about 10%.
All in all, brands are spending only about one-third of their total budgets on Instagram, which is the most engaging platform. This raises the question – are brands really getting the most engagement out of their investment? We believe there is a lot of potential value in Facebook suggested video, which has the second-highest click through rate (CTR) at nearly 0.8%, but only a few percentage points of relative ad spend.
Focusing on the Future.
One imperative for social media marketers next year will be to focus on optimizing advertising content and personalizing their ad experiences. Settling for blanket strategies across channels is not going to bring in the desired results. As social media continues to evolve, and new ways to target and engage users emerge, understanding what content your audience loves remains the most reliable prediction to help drive growth in 2020.