Organic influencers are on the rise
Influencer marketing will continue to grow through 2020, but there will be a shift in influencer culture, driven largely by lack of trust. This year will see a move away from big paid influencer partnerships thanks to recent high-profile scandals throughout 2019, such as issues with fake likes and the recent change in the visibility of Instagram likes. There will be more of a focus on people who are already talking about or using the products, leading to more authentic User Generated Content created by 'real' people.
According to the Edelman Trust Barometer (2019), “influencer relatability is twice as important as popularity when it comes to product endorsements,” (ThinkForward_2020 report). To address the issue of likes being removed as well as a need to share engagement stats Steven Bartlett, Founder and CEO of Social Chain, announced in a LinkedIn post that Instagram will be launching a new dashboard to help influencers find and manage brand relationships. We’ll keep you posted on how this will shape communications with brand ambassadors and the selection process of key influencers that will reach the relevant audiences.
The new decade is the time to shift your thinking from simply targeting by demographics (age, location, gender) and think more community based, identifying groups to associate your brand with. Look at your audiences with a more holistic view of the individuals within, identifying their passion points, what they don't like and where your brand or service can fit into their daily moments and milestones - this will create stronger customer relationships and build brand advocacy.
Privacy - keep out!
We touched on this in last year's predictions blog post, but dark social continues to rise and conversations are increasingly moving to private social spaces, people preferring private chats through Whatsapp, Messenger and Direct Messages to connect with others. Expect to see platforms continue to shape themselves around the user's desire for more personalised and private interactions (goodbye feeds?), with Instagram and Facebook focusing on their stories feature. Speaking of stories, one of the biggest privacy-related social media scandals in 2019 saw Coleen Rooney infamously call out 'it’s …….... Rebekah Vardy’s account' for allegedly sharing her private photos, caught out using Instagram's story feature!
Increased investment - ads are adding up
We anticipate that brands will spend more of their budget on paid social throughout 2020. Businesses will be utilising more channels for paid advertising outside of Facebook. LinkedIn has developed its range of self-service ad formats throughout 2019, adding features such as objective-based advertising and lookalike audiences. This opens up more options and possibilities for marketers. LinkedIn advertising should be a key tool for B2B marketing, but also has B2C value as this channel continues to grow (LinkedIn sessions grew by 22% in Q1). Not only are other channels expanding their ads offer, but Facebook Ads may also become more expensive in 2020. This will encourage us to look at ways to reduce ad fatigue by refreshing copy and creative, resulting in a need for more innovative ways to grasp attention and to test new audience targeting options.
The end of Awareness Day marketing?
2020 is the time to identify more relevant and niche Awareness Days to connect your brand to. Brands are seeing less engagement on generic Awareness Day content; social channels can become flooded with posts for more popular days. It’s important to make your social content stand out in a room full of noise, so whilst it’s good to tap into popular trends, try to remain true to your brand values and retain originality. A great example of this comes from the Twitter account of National Geographic, who ‘live-tweeted’ the Apollo 11 mission 50 years later, providing insight into the events leading up to of one of the greatest accomplishments in human history. Talk about taking things to new heights!
Create content like a consumer - a message from Rachael Samuels, Manager, Social Media, Sprout Social
"If the last few years has taught us anything it’s that the social landscape is becoming more saturated, especially as brands strive to differentiate themselves from the rest. As algorithms continue to favor posts by friends and family and vanity metrics start to disappear, brands will need to put a concerted effort towards creating content like a consumer so that audiences can easily see themselves represented in their products and services.
“Influencers, who play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between brands and consumers, are great sources of inspiration for this. As consumers themselves, they have mastered the art of creating content that is engaging and feels like a natural fit in their audiences feeds. In 2020, brand marketers should be taking a similar approach, drawing on their own social experiences to inform their strategy.
“Towards the end of 2019, we’ve seen an uptake in people using features such as polls, Q&As and live video to interact with their friends and family, which is why it isn't surprising that 39% of consumers in the UK and Ireland highlight wanting brands to leverage more AMAs, Q&A tools and UGC. These are familiar to people’s own personal experiences, and when brands create content that is human, transparent, and empathetic they will be able to move their social strategies forward.”
The rise of TikTok
Mentioned a lot at Social Media Week 2019 and dubbed as the 'less polished Insta', this new short-form video platform is all about interests and discovery rather than who you follow. Viral videos work well here, such as the shoe challenge by Holly H, with some creators prioritising TikTok because they can be more creative than on other platforms. Brands looking to collaborate should work directly with creators for high-impact and high-energy content. However, with rival social channel Instagram recently launching Reels in Brazil, which appears very similar to TikTok, we can expect to see the battle between the two continue throughout 2020!
Reality check - the growth of AR/VR
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are set to continue to grow in popularity over the next year. Brands can use them to create social experiences and even pre-experiences for users, meaning customers can ‘try before they buy’. Whether a new outfit, home interiors or even a holiday, they will have an idea of what they’re going to get when making a purchase.
An example of simple but effective use of AR in 2019 comes from Starbucks, who launched four winter-themed cups that came to life with AR, which customers could then share on their Instagram. Creating an AR/VR experience for your customers to share on social is a great way to add value to your product or service in their eyes while at the same time increasing brand visibility, without the higher cost of more traditional advertising methods.
Increased support for mental health and social wellness
Controversially, the end of 2019 saw Instagram hide their 'likes' feature in selected countries. Many praised the decision, seeing it as a step towards improved mental health for users, removing a potential dependency on validation that publicly displayed likes provided. However, as mentioned earlier, it may have more to do with their new ‘Influencer Dashboard’ launching. Either way, ultimately it will hopefully help those who may define their success or happiness by the number of likes they get and encourage them to seek self-acceptance.
There is also an increasing focus on digital detoxes which is set to continue in 2020, and so brands will need to be mindful of this and ensure their content resonates with their consumers, adopting a 'quality over quantity' approach.