Image for Social Media Will Continue to Bob and Weave in 2020

Social media remains as much mystery as seminal influence. Its mystery and influence stem from its fast-changing shape and style. Here are some of the trends that social media moguls foresee for 2020:

TikTok has stormed onto the scene as a visual platform for sharing short-form video that has become popular with teenagers and more than 88 million users in India. TikTok was the most downloaded app on the Apple Store for five consecutive quarters. The Chinese app saw its user numbers jump when it merged with The numbers are attracting advertisers seeking to reach the youth market, especially at a time when Facebook is viewed as faltering and more expensive. The National Football League has already started running plays on TikTok. Others will likely follow with creative advertising. 

In case anyone had doubts, it is now clear social media, especially Facebook, is a sharp-edged political tool that can reach a wide audience relatively cheaply – and with fewer restraints as to claims. Censoring political ads, even when containing undeniably false statements, seems like it would beg for federal regulation or at least greater scrutiny. That may depend on whether lawmakers overrule their judgments as politicians that anything goes to win an election or trash an opponent.

Online User privacy has become a more prominent concern as news stories describe how user information is compiled and sold and how electronic devices can unsuspectedly collect data in your kitchen and bedroom. Sweeping legislation going into effect in California, which will have a broader impact, provides new protections for online users, but technology industry lobbyists are reportedly trying to water down some provisions, so much so that another, even stronger set of user privacy protections has been cast as an initiative that will appear on the 2020 ballot in California. Other states are taking up the issue as well, making user privacy a major topic to watch in the coming year.

Content marketing will increasingly turn to live content, according to social media pros. Data indicates a 41 percent boost in traffic on average for live content. This will perplex many companies and organizations still gasping to produce a regular stream of video content. It will be worthwhile to monitor live content on Facebook Live, Instagram Live and YouTube Live to see what others are doing and how you might plunge in successfully with your content.

While social media has been largely used to share content, a trend is developing where brands are “listening” to social media users to pick up clues about product improvements, service innovations or quality customer service.  This listening won’t substitute for more formal types of market research, but it may offer tips on what to research more aggressively and sooner than later. 

Social shopping is coming into vogue, making it possible to shop and purchase products without leaving a social media site. Social shopping appeals to retailers because it shrinks the sales funnel. However, it also ups the pressure to implement shopping features on social media platforms.

Chatbots have evolved beyond canned content to provide more targeted responses or route users to the appropriate bot. Another algorithmic innovation for chatbots is the ability to talk to multiple users at the same time, which isn’t something human service representatives can do. Chatbot ‘intelligence’ is expected to continue to mature in 2020, creating even new wats to upgrade customer service online. 

One trend that is unlikely to change is the use of storytelling in online content. Social stories, which may consist of photo or video collections that are easily uploaded on several social media platforms, can act as a news feed serving up what viewers see as authentic content. Because social stories disappear, they can be a good fit for flash sales or discounts.