Constantly growing, evolving and maturing, social media offers enormous potential to brands but also demands their close attention. With a continual stream of new developments and trends to look out for and changes in user attitudes and behaviour to be aware of, John Chapple, Marketing & Communications Manager at Paragon Customer Communications, outlines the key expectations for 2020.
1. Time to take notice of TikTok’s potential
While Instagram has dominated attention during 2019, reaching 1 billion monthly active users and becoming the 5th largest social media channel, less well publicised is the phenomenal rise of TikTok. This Chinese video app for iOS and Android, on which users create and share short-form mobile videos, has increased its monthly active user base from 500 million in June 2018 to around 750 million in 2019. With 66% of its users under 30, it is an ideal platform for creating engaging videos that market to this young demographic. 2020 could well be TikTok’s time.
2. User wellbeing and responsible engagement
2019 has seen a great deal of media coverage about the impact of social media on users’ wellbeing. Social media addiction, the compulsive use of social networks, is a recognised condition that can significantly affect a person’s mental health. Increased awareness has led many users to reduce the amount of time they spend on platforms and to avoid discussions that turn toxic.
Brands, too, are taking a more responsible approach and, in 2020, expect to see more content encouraging users to do things in the real rather than the online world. Some organisations have even reduced the number of posts they publish, preferring instead to take part in relevant community discussions.
3. Social engagement to improve ranking
Concerns about wellbeing have also played a part in Facebook and Instagram’s decision to implement the withdrawal of ‘likes’. As the number of likes will stop being a ranking criterion, engagement algorithms will focus more on social engagement, particularly the numbers of comments and shares that a post receives. This also applies to Twitter and LinkedIn. The trend, next year, will be to encourage users to share and comment rather than simply clicking on a ‘like’ emoji.
4. Dominant video to take centre stage
The moving image is the most engaging format on social media and, for many users, the content of choice. To put this into perspective, video consumption has risen to such an extent that YouTube is now the second-largest search engine after Google. Indeed, a recent study by Cisco indicated that video will account for 75% of mobile traffic by 2020. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that Instagram’s most recent ranking algorithm gives more preference to videos; a change that will encourage even more brands to make video content in the year ahead.
5. Chatbots and social automation
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning have transformed live chat and customer service, enabling brands to deal with more customers, far quicker and with smaller teams. Its take up has been so rapid that a recent Gartner study expects 85% of all customer service interactions to be powered by chatbots by 2020 - a trend that will continue to rise as more companies take advantage of its benefits.
In 2020, social media will continue to grow and change. New, highly popular, niche platforms, like TiKTok, will emerge; brands will be encouraged to use social channels with a greater awareness of its impact on mental health; social engagement will become increasingly important as a ranking factor, and video and chatbots will become the dominant ways for brands to interact with their audience.