As we kick off the new year, businesses must get their 2020 digital strategies in order. But to do so, it’s important that brands are aware of the trends shaping the future of commerce.
And since social media now plays such a significant role in consumer shopping and spending habits, we’ve highlighted five of the top social trends of the upcoming year and shared ways to leverage each of them moving forward.
Trend 1: Making Stories
Story user-rate is up 800 percent since 2016. After the rise in popularity of Snapchat by Generation Z and Millennials, Instagram took over the short-form content builder with their stories feature, which generates around half a billion daily views — one-third of which being created by businesses. Facebook, which owns Instagram, is incorporating this trend by releasing its first site redesign in 10 years and making Stories the forefront of its news feeds.
Recommendation: Reevaluate your social strategy and consider integrating more stories into your communication mix. Make sure that your copywriters are skilled in creating short-form content that can engage users even at a smaller character count.
Trend 2: Niche is Nice
Smaller platforms, and those catering to specific audiences, are gaining momentum in the social space. In recent years, several niche social media platforms have emerged and risen to fame. TikTok, for example, started in 2016 and immediately gained popularity among younger generations. B2B companies, on the other hand, prefer LinkedIn for their social media initiatives. The gaming community flocks to Twitch, which amassed 880,299,312 hours watched in December 2019. Telegram, an encrypted messaging service most popular outside the U.S., has over 200 million active monthly users. Whatsapp, another Facebook brand, touts 1.5 billion global users. Even quasi-social network / photo app VSCO has broken through to spawn the (short-lived?) cultural meme / trend / fad VSCO girls.
Recommendation: Keep an eye on these smaller platforms, because if your customers are communicating on them, you want to be part of the conversation. Market research can be a great way to identify any new platforms your customers are using.
Trend 3: Losing Likes
Instagram’s CEO expressed it was time to expand its testing of hidden likes to the U.S. in a bid to make Instagram a safer place on the internet that’s more focused on connections, conversations, and community. So now, the number of likes will only be visible to the user themself, but hidden to their followers.
Recommendation: Rethink the way your business and followers use Instagram. Instead of relying on the number of likes to prove customer approval, focus on other KPIs that measure content engagement, including comments, reshares, etc.
Trend 4: Social Commerce
Social commerce is well on its way to becoming a mainstream retail channel on par with the likes of websites and brick-and-mortar stores. This trend will continue to strengthen with more and more social networks introducing pro-selling features from shoppable posts and stories to in-app checkout.
Recommendation: Make your social shoppable. In particular, social channels are a great way to showcase new releases and limited edition products. Now’s the time to invest your digital dollars in growing your business through these emerging commerce channels and pushing online sales beyond that of your website and retail partners.
Trend 5: Video Content
According to a Cisco study, 82 percent of all online content will be video content by 2022. This clearly shows how important it is to start utilizing video content to stay relevant in the social domain. More brands are beginning to experiment with video content, even on platforms that were traditionally dominated by image or text content.
Recommendation: The key to creating videos is to publish content that aligns with your brand and engages your followers. Start experimenting with video content on your digital platforms, including demos, event videos, expert interviews, educational/how-to videos, Q&A videos, animation, customer testimonials, and live videos.
What’s in-store beyond 2020?
Besides those mentioned above, there are a handful of other social trends gaining momentum that your business can start planning for:
Artificial Reality: AR is still being dominated by photo filters seen on Instagram and Snapchat, but according to a report by Business Insider the number of global mobile AR users is expected to reach 2.5 billion by 2023. At the same time, AR ads are expected to generate over $13 billion in revenue by 2022.
Influencers: Sixty-three percent of users trust Influencer messages more than brand messages. Retailers should be aware of the many ways influencers can help achieve goals beyond merely generating leads.
Regulations: Since 2016, social media has slowly cracked down on regulation and legal transparency, especially concerning data privacy and security. Social networks and regulatory bodies are planning to continue tightening standards and putting more policies in place.
Social Listening: Social listening tools are currently on the rise giving brands and agencies the ability to tap into social conversations and draw meaningful insights such as customer pain points, gaps in information, and customer needs.
User-Generated Content: UGC is another trend that is not slowing down; with over 50 percent of consumers trusting UGC over other forms of marketing. Beyond creating trust between your brand and potential customers, UGC can also save your organization time, financial resources, and boost your credibility by outsourcing content creation to users.
User Expectations: Users are continuing to expect more from their interaction with brands. Their top three demands are: an increase in customer support through social apps, personalized social ads, and stronger communities within social platforms.
Embracing these trends can help your business better connect with the modern consumer and be prepared to serve tomorrow’s customer. Contact our digital team to learn more on how to optimize your social efforts and integrate these trends into your marketing mix.