Moving into 2020, AccuList’s clients using social media marketing have a busy, changing landscape to navigate, with expanding opportunities. Social media experts highlight some new trends, some ongoing trends, and some ideas just over the horizon.
Say Goodbye to Vanity Metrics, Marketers
Among the top trends highlighted in a recent Entrepreneur magazine article by Deep Patel is a de-emphasis of social media “vanity metrics,” such as follower counts and “likes.” In fact, Instagram is following Facebook in removal of public likes of other members’ Instagram posts, although you can still see the number of likes on your own posts, which will help combat the sometimes fake likes and followers that can misrepresent brand and influencer power. Hopefully, marketers will take it as a signal to seek more actionable metrics, such as the rate and quality of user engagement, or user demographics and data for audience targeting. While social media management provider Sprout Social’s “Sprout Social Index” monitoring still shows likes/comments as the leading measure of social success (72% of marketers), followed by shares/retweets (62%), nearly two-thirds of marketers surveyed felt that social listening will be more crucial in 2020, meaning a greater concern with what’s being said rather than how many people are talking or looking at a single post. One reason vanity metrics are fading is that social marketers are being held more accountable for bottom-line results as the Sprout Social Index now finds that 63% of marketers regularly report social data to their bosses.
Video’s Social Power Keeps Growing
Brent Barnhart at Sprout Social joins Patel at Entrepreneur in listing video as a continuing growth trend for 2020. Video will make up 82% of all internet traffic in 2020, according to Social Media Today, and, as Barnhart notes, YouTube is second only to Facebook in terms of active users now, with Chinese-owned social video app TikTok bounding up as the latest video market disrupter, catering especially to Gen Z and influencers. Patel urges brand marketers to prepare for video formats to reshape marketing strategies, with more stress on creative storytelling that engages viewers in seconds (especially on platforms where the like button goes away). Meanwhile, increased use of audience segmentation is expected to drive a new “personalized video” marketing trend toward content that is customizable and hyper-relevant to specific market segments, notes Patel. Now that social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, are pushing brands to produce video content through Story Ads that get higher click-through rates than traditional ads, personalization will take response, and video use by marketers, even higher.
Social Shopping Is More Direct and Targeted
Social shopping is now an integral part of the social media experience, per Barnhart and Patel. Patel advises marketers that, to meet user expectations for access to brands and products through social platforms, they need to combine creative and engaging storytelling (which often relies on videos and influencer marketing) and a frictionless shopping experience where customers don’t need to leave the social media site to buy products. Watch for an increasing number of shoppable posts, stories and links on all social media sites. Barnhart likewise sees increased direct business from customers on social media and points to examples such as Facebook’s roll-out of personalized ad experiences that deliver products dynamically to customers, changing formats (such as carousel and collection) and call-to-action varied by audience targeting. Other proofs of direct social-selling growth include Instagram’s introduction of shopping and even LinkedIn changes to its ad platform to help B2B brands push products to relevant customers.
Influencer Marketing Turns to Smaller, Tighter Connections
Patel predicts that big-is-better, celebrity influencer marketing, while not going away, will be increasingly supplemented by use of micro- and even “nano-influencers” with only a couple thousand followers. These nano-influencers have smaller, better-defined audiences that allow for greater personalization and stronger audience engagement, delivering more measurable results. Barnhart agrees and says brand-marketer interest in smaller-audience influencers is a reaction to both the rise in “fake influencers” and the trend away from “likes” as a key engagement metric. Brands are increasingly interested in influencers who can back up their cost with metrics and audience data. Nano-influencers also address another trend identified by both Patel and Barnhart: an audience shift from public to private, tight-knit communities on social media. Nano-influencers are one way to connect with those tight-knit communities and build trust and engagement there.
For many more social media trends, see the Entrepreneur article.