2020 Vision: Social Media Trends for marketers

Happy 2020, everyone!

The one constant of social media is its tendency to change. A topic that’s trending one day may lose its impact the next day. The hot platform one month may be ice cold the following month. So, as marketers, how do you leverage a moving target? By looking at the overall picture, that’s how.

As we embark on this new year, we wanted to take some time to share a few social media trends that industry experts claim are important to keep in mind while evaluating your strategy. These trends align with what we’ve been seeing when it comes to our own review.

Public and Private Engagement

As users change their posting habits, most social media platforms are making updates to offer a more private experience. (Think the “close friends” option on Instagram Stories.) Keeping those updates in mind, it will be important for brands to strike a balance between driving awareness on public feeds and delivering meaningful individual engagement through private channels, according to Hootsuite’s 2020 social media trend report. This one-on-one attention will allow marketers to not only increase audience loyalty, but actually build a community around their brand. We’ve seen evidence of this trend already, from the steady flow of direct messages through our channels to increased engagement on posts highlighting an individuals’ experience.

Influencers - Quality Over Quantity

Influencer marketing is here to stay. Actually, nearly 60% of marketers plan on increasing their influencer budgets this year. However, not all brands can afford a high-level influencer to promote their message and reach millions of people. Quite frankly, that may not be the best course of action even if they can afford it. Social media influencers aren’t going anywhere. However, it’s important that marketers are using the right influencers to reach the right audience. The right audience being a more meaningful, engaged one. And as some platforms are putting less emphasis on “likes,” an effective influencer may not have a huge following. According to Sprout Social, more brands are trending toward the nano-influencer, representing accounts with significantly less followers. As a higher education institution, we’ve seen this trend take form. When it comes to our stakeholders -- current and prospective students and their families, alumni, faculty and staff -- an influencer with a connection to the university may not have the largest audience, but it’s their experiences that carry much more weight.

Find Your Niche

Social media offers something for everyone. However, brands can’t be everything to everyone. It’s imperative that marketers have a solid understanding of the platforms and their respective audiences in order to decide which space would be most beneficial for their brand. Just because a platform is popular does not mean you need a presence there. If the platform does not align with your goals, resources or strategy, then it’s not the best fit for you. On the flipside, if a niche platform does align with those things, then it may be time to dive in. With its 500 million users and a desirable 16-24 year old demographic, TikTok is the niche platform of the moment. So does your brand have to jump on the TikTok train? Not necessarily, but a suggestion from the Hootsuite presentation really stood out. If your brand isn’t ready to dive into TikTok – or any particular platform – just yet, review what elements make that platform successful. Experiment with those elements on the accounts where you have already established your brand.

A Rise in Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR), or overlaying virtual objects in a real-world environment, will continue to see an increase in applications this year. AR provides a unique experience for users and allows brands to build a 1:1 connection with their audiences, which goes back to an earlier point of private engagement. As technology becomes more sophisticated, marketers are able to use AR as an effective tool to promote their brand. This Forbes article also points out AR’s ability to not only improve promotion, but to also give users a chance to try your product from afar. In a crowded social media landscape, augmented reality gives your brand a chance to stand out. Whether a Snapchat filter or a virtual tour, we’ve seen the positive impact of building those connections with your audience.

Stories. Stories. Stories.

The stories feature has been a key element of Instagram and Snapchat for a while. But you may have noticed an increased emphasis of stories on platforms like Facebook and even YouTube. The stories function provides a fast, simple storytelling avenue for marketers. From behind-the-scenes coverage of an event, to engagement catching features like polls, the story functionality will continue to be a go-to for brands. This trend is not surprising from our experience. Stories have been a huge part of our social media strategy and will continue to be. (Shameless plug: Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Snapchat [@kentstateu]!)

We hope you find this information as interesting as we did. Let us know what trends you’ve noticed in the social media realm!


POSTED: Friday, January 31, 2020 - 10:46am
UPDATED: Tuesday, February 4, 2020 - 2:29pm
Deanna Stevens Ulrich