The new year is upon us, bringing the start of not just the calendar year but a whole new decade. It’s undeniable that the last 10 years brought about changes in the marketing world that we’ll be adapting to for years to come.
It would’ve been hard to imagine back in the year 2010 just how dominant social media would become. Then, most marketers thought it would be a mere flash in the pan—a shiny object to distract from tried-and-true methods.
10 years later, you’d be hard pressed to find someone—marketer or not—who doesn’t have their own opinions about social media. So what lays ahead in 2020 for the world of social media marketing? We’re keeping our eye on 4 trends and predictions, but one thing is for sure: social media ain’t going anywhere.
#1: Say Goodbye to “Vanity” Metrics
There’s no shame in admitting that we’ve chased our fair share of so-called “vanity” metrics over the last 10 years. Checking in to see how many new Facebook Likes a page has or how many people shared a post is a natural way to gauge whether a strategy is working or not. But now as some of the biggest social media platforms are talking about doing away with “Likes” and “Favorites” altogether, it’s high time marketers shifted their focus to more substantial measurements.
While the removal of the Like button is purported to help sever the ties people have built between social media metrics and their own mental health, it also means a great deal for marketers and brands. If your social media strategy isn’t helping to build towards a larger, less engagement-focused tactic (e.g. sales or leads), 2020 might be time to start using social media more as a funnel towards other stages of the Buyer’s Journey.
#2: Take a Less Filtered, More Approachable Tack
Instagram changed the way we present ourselves online—both as people and brands. The 2010’s saw the rise of the “influencer” and a hyper-curated peek into worlds we rarely had access to. But the days of the perfectly cropped coffee cup-and-planner combo or brightly colored “Instagram wall” are numbered, especially as Generation Z embraces less stylized and filtered platforms like TikTok to talk to the world.
While we certainly wouldn’t advocate for an unprofessional, haphazard approach to presenting your brand image on social media, gone are the days where people expect perfection at every turn. It’s critical for brands to appear human and relatable—not impeccably tailored. Talk to your customers and your audience the way you want to be talked to. Being casual and conversational is not the opposite of being professional, and the best brands are striking the right balance of both.
#3: Private is the New Public
If you’ve managed to avoid the whole “social media is now the center of disinformation and privacy invasion” debate over the last few years, we are jealous. To those of us who live in these spaces every day, it’s been a hard conversation to ignore. From political turmoil to data harvesting and beyond, the general public is understandably more wary of social media than they were 10 years ago. So it’s no surprise that many users are flocking to “private” (in quotes because, you know, they’re still owned by very large corporate interests) channels such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
So is the time of “oversharing” coming to an end? Probably not, but there is immense value in being able to speak to your audience one-on-one in private channels. Many brands are even reinvesting in a decidedly “old school” Facebook tactic of using Groups as a way to create private, personal communities on the platform without the burden of worrying about paid and organic reach. Though maintaining a responsive, personal connection through these channels is time consuming, it’s becoming the way people prefer to connect with brands.
#4: It’s Never Too Late for B2B
Though social media platforms have transformed consumer-facing marketing in a very public way, it’s had a marked effect on B2B brands, too. Though a lot of that activity has gone on in more professionally-oriented spaces like LinkedIn, it’s nevertheless been a game changer for B2B marketers. And while many brands not yet participating in this space might think their time has come and gone, we couldn’t disagree more. It’s easy to think of social media broadly as a time-suck or a space for consumer-friendly brands only, but that is simply no longer the case.
Try this on for size: 80% of B2B leads originate on LinkedIn, and 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content. That means if you’re not taking advantage of the platform, your competitors might be. Creating a B2B social media strategy will take time and investment, but with numbers like that, it’s no wonder why so many players have flocked to this space over the last decade.
While it’s impossible to predict what lies ahead for such a broad category as social media, we’ll be keeping an eye on these trendlines. If the previous decade taught us anything, it’s that anything and everything we know about social media will change. But don’t worry—we’ll stay on top of it so you don’t have to.