The digital landscape changes almost daily, with new tools and utilities that add more ways to connect, track and maximize social media marketing performance. In order to be successful, companies and social media agencies must strike a balance between analyzing social data while also finding new ways to engage with customers through the use of these new tools and platforms.
The overarching theme for brands heading into 2020: Rethinking what “success” looks like for social media marketing at large. Below is a breakdown of the top social media trends based on recent research and happenings in the space.
1. Continued growth of influencer marketing
As influencers become more plentiful and proven, companies continue to allocate budget for influencer marketing programs. Survey data from Mediakix shows that in 2019, 80% of marketers found influencer marketing effective and nearly two-thirds increased their overall budgets. Estimates show that in 2020, brands will spend up to $5-10 billion on influencer marketing.
Brands are continuing to expand marketing strategies to utilize influencers for a wide range of tactics including advertising, content creation, events and more. As consumers grow increasingly wary, they’re seeking reviews from people they trust when making purchasing decisions. These people can be friends and family, but this circle has now expanded to include influencers they follow on social media.
While influencers aren’t going anywhere in 2020, brands are rightfully looking at influencer relationships with a sense of scrutiny. The rise of fake influencers and the disappearance of “Likes” as an engagement metric signals the need for influencers to be able to back up their price tags with data. Brands are increasingly turning to nano-influencers, accounts with less than ten thousand followers, to reach albeit smaller but more meaningful and engaged audiences.
Understanding which influencers will resonate with your existing audience and reach new members of your target audience is key.
2. Reevaluate the metrics that matter most
When measuring social success, marketers define and evaluate engagement by analyzing a variety of metrics including likes, comments, shares, saves, retweets, customer interaction, sentiment and more. However, Facebook’s recent removal of likes signals the need for brands to delve beyond surface-level data and dig deeper into inspiring an emotional response and encouraging consumers to take action.
How can marketers achieve this objective? Social listening, or diving into conversations and sentiment analysis, will enable marketers to identify the conversations surrounding that brand rather than engagement on a singular post.
Essentially, long-term engagement is more valuable than a few upticks in likes. Instead of chasing after a viral moment, brands need to understand what’s driving the conversation amongst their consumers so that they can join and deliver value to this chatter.
3. Advanced, dynamic and direct ads targeted to communities and tribes
The wealth of consumer data now available allows brands to layer attitudinal and behavioral insights on top of demographic data to paint a far richer, more nuanced picture of their customers. As consumers become increasingly more selective about their engagements on social, brands should focus on talking to individuals rather than speaking to wide-ranging demographics.
Facebook’s recent roll-out of personalized ad experiences delivers products dynamically to customers, changing formats (carousel, collection) and calls-to-action based on who it’s being served to. Meanwhile, the recent introduction of Instagram shopping highlights the growth of direct social selling. The platform essentially represents another arm for e-commerce and retail brands looking to start selling on Instagram.
The expansion of Facebook advertising capabilities makes it easier than ever for brands to encourage direct business on social media and for marketers to measure ROI.
4. Shopping on social media
According to Hootsuite statistics, about 130 million users tap on Instagram shopping tags to learn more about products. After an initial test phase, Instagram is continuing to extend these e-commerce capabilities to more brands and even select influencers.
The Instagram shopping setup allows brands to tag up to five products on a single image and up to twenty images within a carousel. This feature essentially cuts the sales funnel in half as consumers can easily share credit card information and purchase an item directly from the Instagram profile with just a few clicks.
The continued growth of this shop feature will provide marketers with additional insights into what is stimulating action on behalf of the consumer and ultimately contributing to the company’s bottom line.
5. Instagram stories growth as a marketing tool
Of the 1 billion people who use Instagram every month, 500 million of those people use Instagram every day. Facebook Stories engagement is similar with about 500 million daily users. Stories will become increasingly important to marketers as Facebook and Instagram continue to support this feature with additional rollouts such as the addition of multi-photo layout collages, growth insights and “stories about you.”
Interactive Stories and polls are brilliant ways to go back and forth with your audience, providing your audience with “must see” and behind-the-scenes glimpses of your brand. While feed content becomes less necessary – consider sharing content to your feed 2-3 times per week – stories should be updated daily to stimulate profile growth and engagement.
6. Make your audience integral to your content strategy
Ultimately, brands must create content that will inspire action from their audiences. Moving into 2020 it will be critical for content plans to include interactive content (video, GIFs, etc.) and user-generated content.
Both long-form and short-form videos are among the most-shared content on social media. YouTube is second only to Facebook in terms of active users. Instagram has announced that in 2020 that IGTV will introduce landscape videos, allowing brands the opportunity to repurpose or cross-promote wider varieties of video content. TikTok’s seemingly overnight growth and current active user base of 1.5 billion users further indicates that interactive content is no longer a value add but that it’s a necessity.
The goal of a content strategy is to develop a mix of content that allows brands to establish connections with their audiences. In addition to working with influencers and producing owned video content, brands should also integrate user-generated content into their strategies. Doing so not only builds brand relationships but also results in a constant stream of content.