A year ago you’d never heard of TikTok, you couldn’t see at-a-glance what ads competitor brands were running on LinkedIn, and a random bot viewing your Instagram Story was an unusual occurrence.
Yet all these things became mainstream in 2019.
So, what do we think will happen in 2020? Here are our main predictions.
1. TikTok will take over
Arguably it already has! Never heard of it? You can read all about what TikTok is in a previous blog here. And if you’re not on it already, you will be soon enough. 2019 was a breakthrough year for TikTok. It was the most downloaded app of 2019, and now has more than 800 million monthly active users worldwide, so any good social media marketer can no longer ignore the channel. TikTok has set a pace of innovation that has left Facebook and Instagram scrambling to keep up. The channel has once again changed the way we consume video, and as it continues to amass users across the globe, marketers everywhere are jumping aboard the TikTok train and looking to get involved on the platform. A new and exciting platform like TikTok presents new advertising and brand collaboration opportunities, and it has already been interesting to watch brands flock and begin taking advantage of its beta ad offering. However, TikTok seems to be focussing on delivering entertaining content first and foremost, rather than converting to an ad platform just yet. As we’re already seeing many global behemoths getting on board such as Nike, Disney and Apple Music, I think it’s safe to assume that in 2020, global brands will establish their own TikTok presences, and will aim to establish a brand voice that attracts and engages with younger consumers. It looks like TikTok isn’t the flash-in-the-pan Vine replacement that many originally thought!
2. Influencer relationships will change
When it comes to influencer marketing, success is often measured in large numbers. But in November last year, Instagram began removing “likes” from their platform, meaning social media influencers and brands are now having to re-think their influencer marketing strategies. However whether likes are here to stay or not, it looks like influencers are, and influencer partnerships will have to change. It doesn’t seem crazy therefore to predict that 2020 will see a real shake-up in terms of how marketers manage their influencer campaigns. With micro and nano influencers already becoming a more popular choice for influencer campaigns, we expect to see an increase in the number of brands building networks with smaller influencers, while driving more authentic engagement for their brand. Not only this, but we think brands will seek out more long-term and integrated partnerships. The right choice of influencer plays a key role in driving the desired impact so rather than one-off sponsored posts and payments, influencers will be chosen for their authenticity and fit with the brand rather than for their celebrity, in an attempt to build trust in an era of distrust in ads and #sponcon.
3. Fake News becomes fake news
As mentioned above, social media has been suffering from some major trust issues in the last few years. One of the issues contributing to this is misinformation online, or “fake news”.
We predict that 2020 will see platforms and brands working hard to redress this distrust around social media. Strides have already been taken by platforms such as Twitter, which banned all political ads last year, and other networks are expected to follow. Instagram has already stepped up and announced that it is extending its fact-checking test in the US, and will begin working with 45 third-party organisations to access content posted on the app. If content is found to be false or misleading, it will not appear in the Explore and hashtag pages and will come covered with a warning blocking the content unless clicked on by users.
However these rules will not apply to politicians, and any original content posted by politicians will not be subjected to fact-checking. Ironic, given that the debate over fake news is often brought into the spotlight during election periods and political campaigns. This means that fake news could still be knowingly weaponised by politicians and political parties. This could in turn affect users’ perceptions of the platform as trustworthy (as we saw on Facebook and Twitter last year) and highlights that platforms still need to do more to rectify this issue.
4. C-commerce continues to grow
Conversation commerce (c-commerce for short) is nothing new, but it's definitely a growing market. With more people using social media to ask product-related questions to companies, and new functionalities in Messenger, WhatsApp for businesses and even Shopify, we predict that 2020 will be the year c-commerce goes mainstream.
Whether it's asking product information, checking delivery time, or even asking to book an appointment, people are now more comfortable getting in touch with brands online and across social media, allowing a real-time conversation without needing to dial the phone. This downside is that customers are increasingly expecting instant responses on social media - even outside the general 9-to-5 working hours.
Research from Facebook found that nearly one in three c-commerce buyers say they chat with businesses in order to determine if they're trustworthy and credible. Marketers can take advantage of this trend by using a chatbot - or simply by being reactive to incoming messages and DMs.