Social media keeps advancing, and we can expect more changes than usual in 2020 because this is an election year. In 2016, many of the social media outlets were bombarded with news and stories coming from a variety of sources—some reputable, many others not. So, one of the most significant changes to anticipate in 2020 is a crackdown by all social media platforms as they struggle to eliminate disinformation. To see how far this will go, and how successful this will be, check back with us shortly.
Some of the other social media changes we can anticipate in 2020 include the following:
The End of Content Feeds
News-gathering for many online news sites has been little more than pulling the headline and a teaser of an article published by a major news source. Expect that to change in 2020. Facebook, Apple, Twitter, and others are hiring their own editorial teams. How far and wide this news coverage will be, we will see. This reminds me of Netflix and some of the other early streaming video platforms. Initially, Netflix just streamed movies that had already been distributed by Hollywood studios. Now, most of them are producing their own movies, turning the traditional Hollywood business model upside down.
How valuable newsletters are in marketing has been a question marketers have asked for many years now. Many consumers think newsletters are spam and wonder why they keep getting more and more of them. The answer to that is simple: they work. And in 2020, we can expect to get more newsletters from all types of sources. One thing we must realize about newsletters, and this will become clearer over the course of the decade, is that one of the key benefits of newsletters is they build customer loyalty. They create a sense of belonging. In a very impersonal online world, a sense of belonging is something many of us value now and into the future.
When the Internet first launched, everyone viewed it as one system that would be available anywhere in the world. That is what happened initially, but in the past few years, something else has advanced, which will accelerate in 2020. There will be an American Internet, a European Internet, a Chinese Internet, a Russian Internet, and very likely a few more. Why is this happening?
In the past, people thought the same set of rules would apply to the Internet around the world. No more. Many countries have now blocked entire websites and social media platforms; others have such strict regulations on what can and cannot be viewed online that some platforms have walked away from those countries. We should add that fragmentation has also caused financial causation. Russia and China are developing their own Facebook (it's called VK), Uber is creating Yandex, and Amazon has an online shopping platform called AliExpress, which is found in Asia and the Orient. These are all examples of de-globalization, which we can expect to continue in 2020.
More TikTok Knockoffs
The app TikTok, a "destination for short-form mobile videos," as it bills itself, started in 2016 and has grown to more than 500 million users. Further, there appears to be little slowing it down, despite the black eye it got for its handling of child privacy. Apparently, that has been corrected. The videos on TikTok are typically concise, about 15 to 60 seconds long, and Gen Zers love it. Because these people are the next generation of movers, shakers, and buyers, expect TikTok to grow in 2020 along with an array of TikTok knockoffs.
There's nothing new about influencer marketing. It goes back more than a century. It refers to the use of celebrities – whether in Hollywood, Washington, or business – who endorse products or services. Yet, we can expect influencer marketing to become even more important in 2020. The reason? It blocks out a lot of the online noise. While marketers are clamoring for your attention, when you see or hear an influencer talk – someone you respect – the others are pushed aside so you can listen to what the influencer has to say.
Readers of the Wall Street Journal may have recently noticed more links to more podcasts than in years past. The Journal started using podcasts in 2016 and reports that this is a way for the paper to develop "deeper relationships" with their subscribers. They are also finding it a new way to build advertising revenue. Expect more large and small media platforms jumping on the podcast bandwagon in 2020.
The Human Side
Social media affords many companies, often very big corporations, the opportunity to show their human side and better interact with their online communities. This builds trust, loyalty, and of course, sales. What we expect is that more organizations, large and small, will humanize their social media venues in the coming year. This human touch will help keep them ahead of the social media curve in 2020.
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Prepared for DS&P by AlturaSolutions Communications