So what does the next generation of social media look like for your business? Here’s are 8 key trends to look out for in 2020 and some tips for the marketing team on how to adapt to these changes.

Need help managing your social media channels effectively? Get in touch with Nathan directly via email and request a Social Media Management proposal for your business.


  1. TikTok Will Be Part Of Your Marketing Strategy


  • In 2019, we saw Instagram hit 1 billion monthly active users, cementing it as the 5th largest social media channel.
  • TikTok is catching up, with 500 million monthly active users in June 2018, now believed to be closer to 750 million


Social media platforms now manipulate the media landscape, with marketers having to adapt to the fluctuations of popularity. Do new channels offer greater ROI or a more suitable audience? That’s what marketers will be investigating next year.


The increase of social mentions for TikTok tells a story. In January 2019, Talkwalker found 1.6M mentions of the app, growing 62.5% to 2.6M mentions by June. This is especially important for the younger generations, as 66% of TikTok’s users are under 30.


What does this mean for marketers?


The rise of unique and niche networks shouldn’t come as a surprise. People are no longer looking for large communities, but the relevant ones. Less noise, more genuine engagement. 


Yes, it’s still untested ground with limited opportunities for marketers. TikTok only started testing ads in January 2019 . And of course, marketers love tried and tested methods. But fortune favors the bold. With trends, you can’t wait for others to mark the road first - you have to be a pioneer. Big brands like Pepsi, Nike and Sony Music are building communities on TikTok, aligning with new influencers to create content and a dedicated brand following. Pepsi India is driving great user-generated content through their #SwagStepChallenge, with zero marketing spend on the platform. The diffusion of innovations means that early adopters will benefit more from new technology. This has been proven when it comes to brands engaging with social channels first. It’s a risk, but one that can pay off in the long run.


  1. Social Media Wellness Will Be An Essential Part Of Your Consumer Engagement


  • There have been 78,000 conversations surrounding social media wellness so far in 2019.
  • National Day of Unplugging gained 3,300 mentions this year.


The awareness of the impact of social media on our mental health is increasing, with platforms changing their approach, to make their communities friendlier and less toxic. Social media addiction is now a recognized affliction, changing the perception of the social media landscape. People are becoming more aware of how social media can impact their mental health, and taking individual actions to decrease their online hours. It isn’t a crisis but more a social movement driven by consumers, with the vast majority of social media addiction mentions happening on Twitter (63.9%) rather than in news headlines.


Look at how #DigitalDetox is invigorating users to balance their social media usage with their mental well being. The joy associated with the hashtag shows that people aren’t moving away from social media, just learning to manage their time on it more effectively.


What does this mean for marketers?


Any change in consumer habits can be a cause for alarm for marketers, but in this case, there’s nothing to be concerned about. If hiding likes become commonplace, there may be a subtle drop in engagement rates at first, but consumers will adapt quickly. People will find a way to express their appreciation in some way, and we may find an increase in active engagement, such as comments, instead. Make sure you’re monitoring your competitors to see if any change in engagement is a brand issue, industry issue, or part of a consumer trend. You should also be aware of your consumers’ social media wellbeing. Avoid toxicity, and engage them with ways to escape, sparking their interest in real world opportunities. Lush UK has moved away from posting on social channels, instead focusing on joining the conversations that matter within their community. Allowing ‘all the voices to be heard’ . If you can’t engage the trend, consider how your consumer consumption habits are changing. Focus more on quality messaging over quantity— if people are cutting down on their social media usage, you’ll have fewer opportunities for them to bite. Give them something worthwhile everytime.


  1. You Will Harness The Power Of Data Privacy And Rein In Fake News


  • 3.1% of news stories related to brand trust were related to fake news and disinformation.
  • Fake news mentions dropped by 10.2% in H1 2019, compared to H2 2018


Social media has suffered a trust issue in the last few years, due to two major issues: data privacy and disinformation. In 2020, social media channels will adapt to tackle these issues, and rebuild their brand trust. Data privacy is not a new trend— it’s the right to privacy, framed in a different way. Data privacy is now a story that drives stories. Privacy has always been an issue. Identify theft and the right to privacy, existed long before the internet. Since the world became more digital, privacy became digital too. News stories are very interested in data privacy, forcing the topic to trend. In the first 6 months of 2019, 39% of the mentions of data privacy came from news, broadcast, and blogs— a significant increase from the previous 6 months. Fake news also remains an issue. Comparing H2 2018, to H1 2019, fake news mentions have dropped by 10.2%. Improvements from brands and the social media platforms have helped, but there’s still work to do.


What does this mean for marketers?


Your brand trust could be destroyed if you’re linked to anything that puts customer data at risk. In 2020, the big trend will be brands and platforms working hard to counteract the distrust perceived in social media. This will probably incorporate some form of regulation. Mentions of social media and regulation increased by 39% from January 2019 to June 2019— even Facebook believes there should be government regulation to help manage social media. This regulation is helping already. In Europe, 31% of 15 to 24 year olds trust social media, compared to the average of 19% across all age brackets . Trust is growing from the generation that matters most - the next generation of buyers.


How does this impact brands?


Expect a savvier level of consumer in the coming year. You’ll have to balance a fine line between data privacy and personalization (more on the rise of that later). The privacy paradox shows that consumers have less trust in brands when it comes to data privacy, but are still more likely to give companies data in exchange for more personalized services. In the coming months, learn to walk that line carefully. Shape the privacy laws to work for you, while keeping well within the guidelines. Monitor fake news effectively to keep your brand out of those conversations.


  1. AR & VR Will Be Used Effectively In Your Marketing


  • Augmented reality and virtual reality conversations had 13.2M engagements in the first half of 2019, up 0.5% from H2 2018
  • 5% of those mentions were in conversations relating to marketing


Augmented reality and virtual reality are the next big developments in technology, having integrated into our apps and social media channels. In 2020, we’re expecting this growing trend in tech to be picked up by marketers, to boost user experience, and engage through gamification. VR has 8.6 times the share of mentions relating to trends for 2020, compared to trends conversations in 2019. While AR has 7.03 times the share. That’s due to the rise of 5G in 2020. 62K mentions of VR or AR were linked to 5G. In 2018, experts still considered the technology behind AR to be too discorded for practical use. But now, with 5G at hand, and the latest handsets with tech like 3D-depth lenses, 2020 looks to be the perfect time for the tech to finally take off. Big time.


What does this mean for marketers?


Start thinking what VR and AR can do to maximize your user experience, and the environment they will be most effective in. AR will be integral to boosting fleeting numbers of bricks and mortar stores, offering interactive shopping experiences. From dinosaur hunts to playing against soccer pros, you’re giving customers interactions that can’t be experienced at home. Brands like Coca-Cola are integrating augmented reality into all aspects of their digital transformation, particularly targeted towards the generation that “doesn’t see a line between “the online world and the offline, the reality and the augmented reality.” If AR helps improve the user experience in-store, VR will be essential for boosting it online. Japan Airlines is allowing customers to pre-experience trips as easily as trying on clothes, with their JAL xR Traveler. While Lowe’s Holoroom allows customers to learn new practical skills in a virtual environment. If you have a blockage in your buying cycle, due to selling high ticket items that aren’t readily available (because they’re tailor made), VR will help customers pre-experience them. 2020 will be the year that AR and VR takes off. If you haven’t invested in the technology yet, now’s the time.


  1. You Will Use Artificial Intelligence, And Love It!


  • Artificial intelligence was our most discussed trend in H1 2019 with more than 4.7 million mentions— more than double the others in total.
  • Through social listening, 50% of emotion around the topic of artificial intelligence was negative. 


In the last few years, marketers have struggled to think positively about AI. When we look at the emotional responses linked to the conversational data surrounding it, just over half is negative. That is about to change. The net sentiment flipped into the positive from June 2019 onwards, and steadily remains there. While more people are associating joy with the conversations. People are accepting AI and understanding its potential. The biggest issue previously was technophobia, and rightly so. A report in 2017 predicted 800 million jobs were threatened by automation. But in 2018, early 2019, that story evolved.


“I expect AI to change 100 percent of jobs within the next five to 10 years” IBM CEO Ginni Rometty.


Note the difference— we’re talking about change. People are now seeing the potential AI can bring to the table, handling tasks that humans can’t, freeing up people to focus on the jobs machines can’t do. We’re starting to see the integration between artificial intelligence and human intelligence as digital transformation kicks in. Hands-on AI experience, from automation to chatbots, is changing people’s perception, meaning the tech is now accepted in the workplace.


What does this mean for marketers?


It’s time to adapt. Invest in the available AI technologies to maximize your results, either to speed up your marketing efforts, manage more data effectively or to improve your consumer experience. Chatbots are a significant investment, providing 24/7 customer support, while managing incoming customer data. As brands become more global, consumers fed by the need for transparency, demand always-on customer service. Chatbots help provide that service constantly— no wonder chatbots have a higher sentiment value than other AI techs, at 57.3%. Visual search, like Google Lens, will be a major disruptor in the coming year. People will change their searching habits, so marketers will have to learn how to adapt their SEO strategies. You will have to think visually instead of textually. Visual analytics will make it easier to monitor your brand. With video analytics, you can detect 300% more brand mentions than text monitoring alone. In a video and image driven world, led by Instagram and TikTok, visual analytics within social listening, will reveal not just how your customers talk about your brand, but how they exploit it. Then, there’s the creative potential from using AI in your marketing concepts. Ogilvy used AI to help detect similar global images for German Rail, to create customized social media ads for travellers. An impossible task without the use of machine learning, the campaign had a 6.61% conversion rate, driving a 24% increase in revenue. 2020 is the year to stop fearing AI, and instead, engage it in your marketing strategy to maximize your brand’s potential.


  1. Generation Z Will Only Engage If You Pivot Your Strategy


  • By 2021, mobile search advertising spend will exceed desktop advertising spend in the US for the 1st time.
  • Social media advertising CTR is down from 2.6% in Q2 2018 to 1.9% in Q2 2019.


Advertising is getting tougher. In the last 13 months, the conversational data around the topic has dropped significantly in net sentiment— people no longer want to be sold to. 84% of millennials say they don’t trust traditional advertising. With that generation owning significant spending power, new disruptive technologies will be needed to shake up marketing strategies. New methods, like voice search and social media e-commerce are driving more conversations, with 172K and 226K mentions respectively. Millennials and Gen Z are tech savvy generations demand innovation, creativity, personalization, brand purpose, and transparency. In 2020, if you want to drive engagement and find new ways to reach your customers, you need to consider just what these generations want.


What does this mean for marketers?


Understanding your audience and taking measured risks are the two main tactics you’ll need in your marketing strategy. As your market changes, change with them. Learn which channels they’re using, when, how and why. Be part of that conversation. Whether that means switching away from SEA to more social led marketing, voice search to meet the IoT generation, and everything in between. Maximize usage of these channels, with all their features. Instagram introduced shoppable posts with in app checkout feature in early 2019— we’re expecting this trend to be huge for the coming year. There are many new opportunities coming that will eventually overshadow the staples of SMA and SEA— invest in them early. This new technology allows your brand to be innovative.

  1. Your Influencer Marketing Will Go Small To Go Big


  • Conversations around influencer marketing have dropped by 42% year on year.
  • Inversely, mentions of fake influencers are on the rise, driving over 9,000 engagements in the first half of the year.


Influencer marketing is a double-edged sword. 9% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations before making a purchase, which is why 61% of marketers increased influencer marketing spend in 2019. However 38.5% of marketers say they still don’t have a framework for measuring influencer campaign success. It’s easy to burn money without a tangible ROI. In 2020, we predict there will be a revolution of how marketers manage their influencer campaigns. Micro & nano influencers (500 to 10,000 followers) will help mitigate the potential risks. These are influencers who have built smaller, more enthusiastic audiences. Not only do they help brands avoid the potential of fake influencers, but they often drive more authentic engagement. 2020 will see brands building networks of these smaller influencers, with more groups arising to manage them effectively.

Instagram is one of the most popular platforms for adopting an Influencer Marketing campaign. The guys at MobileMonkey have written a great article called "How to Leverage Instagram for Business in 2020". This article gives a much more detailed look at each aspect of winning on Instagram and worth checking out.


What does this mean for marketers?


When it comes to influencer marketing, success can be found in large numbers. Instead of one influencer with large reach, you can invest in 100 micro influencers for similar cost. You can: 


  • Focus on specific audiences.
  • Improve your engagement.
  • Minimize risk.
  • Ultimately, spend less for potentially better returns.


Samsung’s new #greendontcare campaign aimed to build a community of people to counteract the negativity of not owning an Iphone. Using a variety of types of influencers, it drove 1.2K mentions with 16.2K engagement within 1 month. Micro influencers were gaining more engagement than some of the macros. This tweet from Ben Soffer gained 5,000 engagements from his 7.4K followers. A micro influencer, Samsung was able to target a very specific audience— young people with an interest in meme-based content. They even supported the campaign with custom memes for their influencers and communities to share. It was a great success, with 63% positive sentiment, with particular engagement from the younger generations. 82% of people that engaged with the hashtag were 18 to 34. Wendy’s also knows the power of micro influencers. Their summer campaign from July 2019 used around 50 influencers to celebrate lemonade in the park, the vast majority of which had under 30K followers. Micro influencer marketing is a numbers game, so while each influencer didn’t have a large audience, by working with a group of creators, the campaign was able to potentially reach 723K people within the month, engaging 20.1K of them. 2020 is the time to turn your influencer marketing strategy on its head. Think small to get big!


  1. You Will Invest In User-Generated Content


  • 90% of purchasing decisions are led by user-generated content.
  • The most liked image on Instagram is of an egg.


In February 2019, a new Instagram star was born. The world record egg. In a matter of days, that one picture gained over 53.7M likes, cracking the record of 18 million previously held by Kylie Jenner. But it also marked a turning point. When the cult of celebrity influencers faded, to be replaced by content that was created by regular people. User-generated content now generates 6.9 times the engagement than brand created content. It’s authentic, cultivated, easily shared, cost effective, and created outside of the brand sphere. Brands to build a sense of community within their consumer base. Millennials don’t just buy into a product, but the experience it provides. Starbucks doesn’t just sell coffee, but a lifestyle. Create a community that your audience loves, and it will bring results.


What does this mean for marketers?


Now is the time to start building that community. Though it can’t be built in a day, the sooner you get started, the better.


  • Build a community. LinkedIn or Facebook groups are an ideal place to start, with the infrastructure in place to easily nurture an audience, with effective admin tools at hand. 


  • Incentivize. Though the opportunity to create may be incentive enough for some people, anything extra you can add to sweeten the deal could make all the difference. Product discounts, prizes and special events are minimal cost for what is discounted content.


  • Make it shareable. Make it easy for your customers to share. In this visual world, consumers want items that will make great visuals. If your brand products look good, people will be more willing to use them in UGC.


  • Plan a content strategy. There’s no point in getting extra content from your users if you don’t use it effectively. Share it on your channels, to bring the best content to the forefront of your audience. User-generated content is going to be big in 2020. Make it one of the most valuable investments (and also one of the most affordable) for your marketing strategy next year.


Need help managing your social media channels effectively? Get in touch with Nathan directly via email and request a Social Media Management proposal for your business.


Check out the full report by Talkwalker & Hubspot here.


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Nathan Hoare

Digital expert with global marketing and small business experience.