It’s 2020. Not only a new year, but an entirely new decade. This means lots of future musings, predictions and a whole lot of change in the social media landscape. It’s estimated that the number of social media users has grown by almost 2 billion in the past 10 years - but what will the next decade bring? We’ve highlighted a few of the biggest changes we think 2020 will bring to the social media game.
The ‘New’ Influencer
In the last decade, we witnessed the birth of ‘the influencer’. But why did they become so powerful? According to Dr. Natascha Radclyffe-Thomas, a reader in Marketing and Sustainable Business at the British School of Fashion, this is the direct result of the ‘outsider-but-expert’ voice of these social personalities.
Fast forward a few years and the influencer environment quickly fell victim to marketisation, causing our trust in these social media stars to dwindle. Whilst not gone, the desire for your ‘typical’ influencer is declining. Instead, people today want to see a more inclusive, diverse and less traditional social personalities on their feeds.
As a result, brands will have to be more considerate on the type of influencers they collaborate with. In 2018, even Revolve - a brand built on influencer endorsement - was left at the forefront of a worldwide debate, as the hashtag #Revolvesowhite spread round social media like wildfire. Users criticised Revolve for its lack of diversity, with one user commenting ‘where are the women that look like me?’.
Following this, 2020 will see brands and influencers lose their ‘one-size-fits-all’ stereotype. Take Fashion Nova, which in 2018 was the most searched for fashion brand on Google. Its use of plus-size and non-stereotypical influencers attracted global attention, leaving them with a massive following of 17.3 million.
Then, there’s the desire for influencers such as Baddie Winkle, the colourful ‘granfluencer’ who at 91 boasts 3.8 million Instagram followers. She’s a prime example that social media users are ready to see something more fun, more outlandish yet equally as endearing.
The entire spectrum from what we identify with to the wild and whacky are now all appreciated, thus giving a voice to both minorities and ‘normal’ majority. For brands, this means understanding what’s their niche in order to engage the right people and ultimately, influence their behaviour.
The past few years have seen an increasing number of studies looking at the effect of social media on mental health. A recent study from The Independent suggested that the average Brit checks their phone as much as 28 times a day, but could 2020 be (finally) the year of a digital detox?
According to Smart Insights, one in three adults in the UK are reducing their social media use. While in the past users often simply switched from one platform to another, recent trends suggest that people now are now deleting entirely. A recent study that asked respondents why they left social media found that the main reason cited was due to feeling ‘overloaded’ by it. Other motives included mental wellbeing and addiction.
This is an important factor for brands to consider when utilising their social media marketing. Users’ absence from social media, be it temporarily or permanently, may have considerable effects on engagement as well as affecting brand awareness campaigns across platforms. But perhaps more importantly is that in the black hole of social media comparison where everyone is living their best life, brands have to make sure that any content created is meaningful and that the interaction a consumer has with your brand is both positive and valuable.
2020 will see more brands aiming to show that they are using social media for good and addressing the current climate where the conversation around mental health is at the forefront of the agenda.
New kids on the block
Social media platforms not only appear and disappear but they are also constantly evolving. While Facebook, Twitter and Instagram tend to be the main three, recent years have seen brands having to fight hard for engagement on these networks while people grow tired of using them.
Despite being created in 2016, in 2019 we saw the rise of TikTok, which now boasts around 500million active monthly users. In 2020, companies that move fast and are willing to experiment, will need to factor in TikTok in their social strategy, especially when trying to target the younger generation (41% of TikTok users are aged between 16 and 24).
Private and personal
Another social development to consider is “dark social” - the channels where people share content privately (63% of recent study users claimed that they prefer sharing and discussing content privately). According to Mark Zuckerberg, ‘the future is private’, as this decade will see closed and one-to-one platforms growing in popularity. This allows users to discuss and share videos, images, articles or memes directly with one another without the need to share this to everyone that they are “friends” with on certain networks. An example of this is LinkedIn’s launch of its recent ‘Teammates’ feature, which aims to help users tighten their networking circle and see more select updates (think of it as Instagram’s Close Friends, but for business).
Commerce and entertainment coming together
As young people grow tired of established platforms, lean towards private sharing and attention spans become shorter, there’s an increased desire for social networks to merge entertainment and commerce.
Unique platform NTWRK creates by appointment shopping and entertainment shows led by well-known personalities and curators. The digital urgency of this hybrid experience (people can only tune in at selected times) recreates the hype of ‘drop culture’ online. The entertainment value it provides also makes sure that people stay engaged during the entire time instead scrolling through yet another shoppable post.
While the core platforms will likely remain powerful, it is vital that in 2020 marketers and brands keep their finger on the pulse of platform evolution if they wish to stay ahead.
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