The 5 Most Important Social Media Trends in 2020

If you want to be successful on social media in 2020, you need to base your strategy on the latest real-word data and proven trends, not a list of flash-in-the-pan tactics.

Hootsuite’s Social Media Trends 2020 report is based on dozens of interviews with industry specialists, a survey of over 3,100 marketers, and stats from research organizations like Deloitte, Edelman, eMarketer, GlobalWebIndex, The CMO Survey, and more.

Here’s what you need to know for the year ahead.

Top 5 social media trends for 2020

1. Brands strike a balance between public and private engagement

The pivot to private on social media picked up steam in 2019.

Half of the senior marketers in our social trends survey say the rise of private channels like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp is making them rethink their content strategies. But public feeds remain a critical space for brand discovery and customer acquisition. In fact, we found that more than half of brand discovery online still happens in public social feeds.

The key is creating a seamless experience across both worlds, while balancing automation and human connection to build deeper customer relationships at scale.

The trend: Successful brands are striking a purposeful balance between driving awareness on public feeds and delivering meaningful 1:1 engagement on private channels.

2. Employers take center stage in a divided world

Despite faith falling in societal institutions, the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer uncovered that 75% of people are very much willing to trust the organizations that they work for.

But this trust is not unconditional—employees expect their organizations to speak up and take action towards making the world a better place.

Brands that earn this employee trust will have a significant competitive advantage in 2020. Purpose-driven companies grow three times faster on average than their competitors. They also have higher workforce and customer satisfaction.

The trend: Progressive organizations will take advantage of this new role, building strong internal cultures and amplifying their company purpose with employee and customer advocacy on social media.

3. TikTok shakes up the status quo

TikTok continued its meteoric rise in 2019, but only time will tell if the hype will last.

The Verge reported that TikTok just experienced its first ever decline in first-time downloads on a quarterly basis, indicating that its explosive growth may be slowing down. And with the launch of Reels, Instagram is setting out to replicate TikTok’s key features—aiming for the same success it achieved with Stories, a feature once unique to Snapchat.

Staying power aside, marketers shouldn’t completely ignore the TikTok phenomenon, as it brings valuable insight into the future of social culture, content, and collaboration.

The trend: TikTok’s most valuable role in 2020 will be as a source of audience and competitor intelligence. Social marketers should monitor trends that bubble up, and find ways of bringing the fun and innovative energy of TikTok into content on more established platforms.

4. Social marketing and performance marketing collide

With the decline of organic reach and increasing demand for ROI, we’ve seen a rise in performance marketing on social media—that is, using social ads to achieve a specific conversion such as a sale, lead, or click.

Paid media teams or outside agencies have typically handled this type of work for many organizations, but as it becomes easier to create and optimize social ads, the need for specialization is decreasing.

Social marketers have long been champions of brand awareness, but now must expand the scope of their skills and become fluent in performance marketing as well.

The trend: Advanced organizations will be training for a hybrid skill set within social marketing teams in 2020, aiming to balance short-term conversions with creative long-term strategies that build the brand over time.

5. The social proof gap closes

Even though there isn’t a universally perfect method, many social marketers have yet to take even basic steps towards measuring the business value that social is bringing to their organization. According to our survey, 70% of social marketers aren’t using an attribution model, which makes it hard to prove the value of social compared to other channels.

But our analysis also uncovered that leading marketers are creating a clear path for others to follow when it comes to measuring the impact of their work and elevating social media’s influence in the organization.

The trend: There are three key traits among organizations leading the pack when it comes to ROI: they unite social data with other data for a holistic view, they focus on omnichannel integration, and they borrow attribution models from established channels and apply them to social.

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