2020 is just around the corner, which means it’s practically going to start tomorrow 😭. Reflecting on and learning from the past applies to all areas I’m passionate about, so allow me to get everyone ready for hot new trends and opportunities that will soon be available (and in some cases already are) in the ever-growing space of social media. You know what that means…It’s time for my data-informed 2020 social predictions.
Before getting to that, let’s jump right in for a quick review of how the platforms shaped up for most of this year.
- Facebook: while doubling down on paths to re-build trust promoting community standard reports and building teams to understand cultural nuances as it relates to content, the platform was able to demonstrate their commitment to community through their support of groups, with 1.4B people using groups to connect with each other, brands and super fans — aka they are getting closer to their roots.
- Instagram: although owned by Facebook, the team at IG has been able to rise overhead perception concerns and proactively address inclusivity and wellness, with the removal of the like button and taking a stance against haters. The platform seriously double-downed on creating seamless shopping experiences for D2C, big brand retailers, and influencers. Right now, 81% of its user’s research products to buy and 11% buy directly from the platform (Facebook is at 15% and Pinterest is at 42%). Expecting to see that increase in 2020.
- LinkedIn: enhanced their level of advertising sophistication via campaign manager, while also using their breadth of content to not only keep people engaged but to deliver customized feeds (hashtag algorithms…yes!). It’s been a good year for this highly qualified platform.
- Pinterest: rose to the top as a supporter of first-to-market custom ideas, while even stepping up their direct response advertising offerings with new-ish CPV (cost per video view) buying options to support video consumption shifts. Impressive stuff and a reminder that slow and steady keeps you in the race.
Reddit: The numbers don’t lie: according to ComScore, 81% of Redditors don’t use Instagram, and 51% don’t have a Twitter account. Reddit has become its own unique world and a lit space to reach engaged communities.
- Snapchat: embraced culture moments, developing lens experiences that are creator-driven and fun. they launched the highly anticipated Snap games and grew their reach of Gen-Z at 75M. I’m not mad at this progress.
- TikTok: rode a huge wave in 2019, for better and worse. With the question of user data reliability and their unfortunate recent unveiling of discriminatory practices, the platform still self-reports a 200% increase in YoY growth from 2018, is the #1 downloaded app with 33M downloads, and reaches 60% of Gen-Z. The new Vine is a force, and they’ve found a way to monetize.
- Twitter: took a stance against the haters and blessed us with the ‘hide comments’ CTA. We also saw the platform enter into a longer-form (6 seconds to be exact) buying model, which gives the platform an edge when looking to compete with YouTube and Snapchat. According to Twitter, this new bid has increased views by 35%.
- YouTube: YouTube premium was big this year, with a 60% increase in usage from last year. Also, compared to last year, video engagement on YouTube has increased by 35% and YouTube saw one of the biggest increases in Gen-Z usage compared to Instagram and Facebook (59% vs 46% LY).
Get it ☑️, got it ☑️, good.
Now let’s talk about how these popular platforms will show up in 2020 and where I’m placing my bets from an audience, product, and experience perspective.
The Algorithm is the Audience. Algorithm. Algorithm. Algorithm. The word bears repeating because of its relevance, making it imperative that we re-frame how we see and use algorithms. Years ago, they were the tool that delivered the message based on the targeting levers we pulled and the data we fed it. Now for the big biddable media players, it is the audience.
From executing a series of tests, we know algorithms needs at least 50 signals before it can begin to predict performance. We also know that using broader interest targets can provide the scale (and also doesn’t toe any discriminatory targeting lines) and delivers a more efficient cost per incremental person. The evolution of this trend will have us reconsidering the way we buy media when the goal is scale and will be a focus for 2020, especially across platforms where scale is the name of the game, YouTube, Reddit and of course Facebook.
Social Video consumption will continue to increase. Social Video is defined as snackable, typically vertical assets between 6-30 seconds in length, developed specifically for social platforms. According to a Tubular video insights study, over the past two years, Facebook video views have increased by 258% and 98% on YouTube. We can only expect this to increase as social continues to be a key destination for driving video views. What’s driving the views? branded content and “how-to” YouTube videos, exclusive, premium Facebook and Snapchat content, and of course, the increase in stories inventory.
After conducting various tests to determine the value of video, we know that it can drive platform (views, CPV) and business KPIs (awareness, perception, purchases). However, with social video, there are nuances to pay attention to that impact content development and distribution. Consider video length per placement. As a general rule of thumb, 6-10 second video work on Snapchat, Twitter, and TikTok (YouTube also plays here), 15-20 second video tend to work on platforms like Facebook/Instagram and Pinterest and running 30-second works on platforms like LinkedIn and YouTube, where the expectation is to watch longer (note: pending outcome of video, this general rule of thumb may change, especially as more partners are allowing non-skippable views that push to longer form). Use text-overlays to drive inclusivity and align with how people are consuming content, 85% of videos across social are still viewed with sound-off (this doesn’t include TikTok’s sound on environment). Strategically place branding in the first 3 seconds of the video to help with resonance during quick scrolls. Depending on the action required, spending time to think through the response is just as critical as developing the video.
Visual Search starts to Dominate. According to eMarketer, 62% of Millennials desire the ability to visually search over any other new technology. Let’s add a dab of science to it…
A stat by MIT (via SocialMediaToday) says that the human brain can identify images within 13 milliseconds, and 90% of all information received by the brain is visual. As machine learning tries to replicate human behavior, any experience that can identify, discover, and influence my shopping experience (insert Pinterest) based on one image is a winner. With that, I’m going to make a big data-informed hunch here and say that outside of Google, Pinterest will deliver a best in class, industry solution for visual search. Products like the Pinterest Lens aids in over 600M visual searches each month. For example, if you see something you love IRL, you can snap a photo of it with the tool and buy it. Home and décor + fashion are the two categories driving this experience but other verticals aren’t too far behind. Pairing the visual experience with targeted shoppable ads (also a 2020 newbie) starts to deliver a cohesive social-buying experience.
Fragmented Social Commerce to Integrated Social Commerce. Social commerce continues to grow the commerce path to purchase experience. 30% of US Millennials shop and buy via social, which is a 2x increase in usage from 2017 to 2018 (eMarketer: Social Commerce 2019). With each platform delivering a custom shopping experience, 2020 will focus on uncovering the multi-channel and product experience that will deliver the right shopping message at the right time.
The first suite of ad-products to crack the code should be Facebook’s. I recommend a test and learn strategy across the in-ad check-out DPAs (dynamic product ads), Instagram shopping ads, and Messenger placements to understand the proper consumer journey by the audience. For example, should Instagram be the first discovery touch-point, followed by Feed and Messenger retargeting? Then how do first adopter AR shopping platforms like Snapchat, YouTube, and most recently Instagram come into the fold? It could be as simple as re-engaging AR users after they have been to a retailers site via dynamic product ads. I mean, TikTok is even stepping up their shopping capabilities through beta testing in-video commerce ads; across all social platforms, there’s the understanding that seamless shopping opportunities need to be available and what better way to do that than adding connection points for brands. The brand proof will depend on channel test outcomes to ensure the experience pays off for the consumer.
Influencers Front and Center. This isn’t a new trend, BUT the ways of engaging influencers are shifting and Gen Z has something to do with it. Currently, 65% of Gen Z implement ad-blocking technology and next year, they will make up 40% of US consumers, influencing $600B in spending. What does that mean? If we want to make a purchasing impact with Gen Z, we need to reach them in ways that matter most and partnering with the creators, influencers, and trendsetters to co-create, is the way.
The platforms understand this too and are developing tools to make influencer identification easier. Facebook’s new-ish collaborator tool allows brands and influencers to talk to each other and in some ways, find that authentic connection. The branded handshake tool across Facebook/Instagram extends reach and is constantly evolving. TikTok, YouTube and Snapchat have built-in networks of talent and creators, on the other hand, Twitter and Reddit are the hubs for topical groups like Black Twitter and other community-based influencers. It’s not just the tools, the ad products are evolving to support the surge of influencer content, this year sponsored ads have increased 150%.
With ad-blocking at a high, it’s essential to engage influencers in a way that celebrates experiences in ways that are authentic to them and their audiences. Historically, the advertising space has been product first. Now people are demanding experiences and calling BS on the fake. A good problem to have in 2020.
In a nutshell, 2020 social media will trend towards algorithm changes, video consumption increases, commerce taking up a bigger space in social, including tools like visual search, and enriched influencer partnerships.
Oh, last thing, shout-out to Nextdoor. With 10M monthly users and growing, this word-of-mouth partner is definitely on my watch list.