“The Times They Are a-Changin’” as the Bob Dylan song preaches, but what that translates to around social media in 2020 takes a little more than a 3-minute pop tune to drill down into. What worked for brands around social media outreach five or even two years ago isn’t necessarily what’s most effective today, and are maybe even less informative about what social media trends will be relevant in the future.
To quote a different Bob Dylan song, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows…” but to understand the future of social media, you do need ListenFirst. From ListenFirst’s unique position as a social media analysis platform and enterprise social media resource we’ve identified 10 trends that will be dominating social in 2020.
We’ve bucketed these trends broken down into two themes: trends that focus on community and trends that focus on experience. This week, we’ll share the trends focusing on community, while next week we’ll reveal the trends that are more experiential.
Here are the 5 community-focused social media trends that marketers need to have on their radar going forward.
1. Social Media Analytics to Prepare for the Future
One drum loudly beaten in 2019 on the ListenFirst blog was that social media vanity metrics, such as Likes and Follower counts, are seemingly on their way out. If that means publicly viewable Likes disappearing from Facebook or Likes being taken down from Instagram, focusing on social media ROI which always should have been a brand priority is increasingly becoming a necessity. With content creators no longer shackled to worries about whether a post is perceived as popular or not, people are more likely to post about subject matters they’re actually passionate about. On the brand side, getting detailed information about social media demographics and tracking metrics that more directly align with social media ROI like Instagram Saves becomes more important.
2. Social Media Communities Are Becoming More Central
Facebook has been leading the way on this trend, as they switch their platform from being a town square, where communication is public, to more of a living room-like setup where conversations happen in smaller, more curated groups. Facebook is so bullish on Facebook Groups, that they devoted their Super Bowl ad featuring Chris Rock and Sylvester Stallone entirely to promoting Groups. For brands, the potential trade-off is that even though they may possibly lose access to publicly viewable vanity metrics, brand Pages can now participate in Group conversations.
Additionally, ListenFirst Content Benchmarking provides brands with unique aggregated and anonymized Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram authorized data. That means that even if public vanity metrics go away, there’s still a way to increase the amount of relevant social media analytics your brand can access.
3. Micro-Influencers & Nano Influencers Are More Important
On a certain level, what brand wouldn’t want someone with Kardashian or Jenner in their last name sharing brand messaging with their army of social media followers? However, that level isn’t necessarily affordable. With top social media influencers also bringing in top dollars in compensation, their audiences are often too demographically broad for branded content partnerships to make sense.
For instance, a 2017 Adweek study found that Influencers with 1,000-9,000 followers had a 7.4% engagement rate while Influencers with 100,000 followers only had a 2.4% engagement rate. At a certain sweet spot, less followers actually produce higher engagement rates. Now that social media analytics platforms like ListenFirst have the data to properly validate the audience of social media influencers of any size, brands can use smaller, more niche Micro-Influencers (<100K followers)and Nano Influencers (<20K followers) to target a more relevant audience.
4. Personal Messaging on Social Media Expands
Personal messaging has long been a part of social media—for example, some form of Facebook Messenger has existed since 2008—but recently social platforms have been expanding the ways in which users can interact with each other. In October 2019, Instagram launched Threads, a standalone camera focused app that lets you share photos, videos, messages, and Stories, with your Instagram close friends list. Meanwhile, in January 2020, Twitter made sharing Emoji reactions possible in DMs. End users want total control of who sees their content and how, and going forward, social media networks will increasingly provide those choices.
5. Social Awareness Is More Brand Relevant
Brands weighing in on social issues such as the environment, diversity, and human rights is nothing new. Looking at Nike alone, their Just Do It campaign has been running for over 30 years, starting in 1988 with a spot battling ageism. However, the rise of social media, combined with the generation of people who grew up only knowing a world where social media exists, has changed brands taking a stand on social issues from being an option to something closer to being a necessity.
A 2017 study by Cone Communications found that 81% of Generation Z believe they can have an impact on social and environmental issues by using social media, while 87% of Generation Z is likely to share their positive opinion of companies addressing these issues. For brands wanting to connect with Generation Z, and their $44 billion in purchasing power, using social media to support social causes will go a long way in building brand loyalty.
There’s a lot to keep track of in the ever-expanding world of social media, but with the right enterprise social media solution, tracking the latest trends becomes a lot more manageable. Working with ListenFirst will keep your brand ahead of the curve in terms of understanding what’s working on social media in 2020 and beyond. Click here to view our Part 2 post on Experience-based social media trends!