No communication channel is quite as fluid as social media. It is always evolving, continually influenced by its billions of users, and still learning the errors of its ways. It does, however, present businesses with the potential to reach out and engage with vast audiences. To take full advantage, it is always important to keep a close eye on the trends and developments that reshape the social media landscape. With this in mind, this post will look at the main trends predicted for 2020.
1. Video becomes users’ first choice format
If you are not already posting videos on your social media accounts, now might be the time to reconsider. Video is by far the most popular form of social media content and its highly engaging format makes it ideal for reaching out to large numbers of users. It is also on a rising trend that businesses shouldn’t ignore.
Indeed, video has become so popular that YouTube now ranks second amongst the search engines, only outperformed by its owner, Google. Add this to the fact that, by next year, the format will account for three quarters of all mobile traffic and it’s obvious just how crucial it is for brands which use social media to start making their own – even if it is only short, in-house productions filmed and edited on a smartphone.
2. The rise of video-sharing platforms
It’s not just video as a format that’s trending, but also video-sharing apps. While YouTube has been the dominant video-sharing platform for many years and looks likely to remain there, other video apps and networks are becoming increasingly popular and offer plenty of rewards for companies which find value in using them.
Instagram, which started out primarily as a photo-sharing app has now become increasingly video orientated, even ranking videos higher than other forms of content. This shift in emphasis has led to a huge rise in the platform’s popularity. According to influencermarketinghub.com, it is now the 2nd biggest global social media channel and has over a billion monthly active users.
There is also a growing number of highly popular niche video channels that offer marketing potential. TikTok, for example, is an app used for creating and sharing short videos, with three quarters of a billion monthly active users, most of them millennials and younger. Vimeo is another very popular video network with a similar demographic.
3. A more caring social media
Social media can have its downsides and these come in the form of internet addiction, trolling and online bullying. The mental health issues and even suicides that result has led to increasing concern about the subject. In response, many users are spending less time on social networks; some, including a few well known public figures, have even abandoned it completely.
In 2020, any brand that posts on social media needs to be more accountable for its impact. Some companies are already making significant changes, posting less frequently and with content that is less likely to spark unhealthy disagreements between commenters. Instead of encouraging audiences to do more things online, they are, instead, trying to get them to participate more in real life – as was done by ITV’s Get Britain Talking campaign.
4. Liking is likely to go
The liking of posts is another area that has come under scrutiny for its impact on mental health. This is because when posts stop being liked, it can lead to low self-esteem and all the problems that go with it.
In order to tackle this issue, Instagram is testing the removal of its liking features and its owner, Facebook is trialling the removal too. If likes disappear, they can no longer be used as a ranking criterion, and other forms of social engagement will take precedence, such as how many commenters and comments a post gets and how many times it gets shared. In 2020, the trend will be to produce more sharable and comment-worthy content (another reason to use video) and to find ways to encourage users to comment and share – something YouTube vloggers have been doing explicitly for years.
5. Social media for customer service
Chatbots have been a common feature of business websites for a few years now but in 2020, we’ll see their increasing use on social media. These clever AI programs are designed to engage automatically when messages are received, giving users the confidence that your company is dealing immediately with their query.
Using machine learning, they respond to the keywords within questions to give the most appropriate responses and, as a result, help companies communicate with more customers, more efficiently, than they can with a human-only team. Next year, as chatbots are set to become the primary solution for customer service communication, expect to see even more companies using social media as the place to carry this out.
2020 promises to be a busy and exciting year in social media. We will see more video content, with businesses seeking out the growing number of niche video sharing networks. Demands for a more responsible internet will change how companies interact with their audiences, while the need for comments and sharing will push them to find better ways to engage. Finally, expect to see more brands using social media as the place to carry out customer service, relying heavily on chatbots to undertake many of the interactions.