January 10, 2020

Five Social Media Trends to Watch in 2020

Even as we enter a new decade, social media continues to be a major part of the digital landscape. We saw big changes to our favorite social media platforms in 2019 and the rise of one (we’re looking at you, TikTok). At the beginning of each year, we make sure to understand new digital marketing trends, especially when it comes to social media, due to its ever-changing nature. 

We’ve outlined five key social media trends to keep on your radar as we enter another exciting year. 

1. Keep It Short and Sweet

Snapchat released “Stories” near the end of 2013, which added a great deal of value to the disappearing photo-sharing app. Instagram saw the appeal of temporary photo and video updates and launched its own “Story” feature in 2016. Stories have been around for quite some time, but they continue to grow in popularity. According to Sprout Social, an estimated 500 million Instagram users add and watch stories daily.

The “short and sweet” updates that stories provide are the most popular and easily consumable content generated on social media. Instagram and Facebook stories are split into 15-second sections and users can move forward (or backward) if they want to go through stories quicker, making it easier than ever for you to choose how much you want to see without ever having to scroll through your feed.

Another clue as to why users are demanding short, easily digestible content is the dramatic rise of TikTok, a video sharing app. TikTok only lets users record up to a minute of video for individual posts, but the most viral videos are typically under 15 seconds. According to Oberlo, over 500 million people are on TikTok every day. Users, especially younger audiences, demand short and simple posts.

2. Emphasis on Engagement Rather Than Likes

In 2019, Instagram dropped a bombshell on the social media community – the removal of like counts on posts. While this hasn’t rolled out on every Instagram account, we’ve already witnessed this new feature on some of our personal accounts. This is in response to the highly-pressurized community that the popular photo-sharing app cultivated between heavily filtered photos, competition among popular figures, and an algorithm that rewards “high performing” content.

Instagram hopes that by hiding likes, only showing the number to the account that shared the post, will discourage “fake likes” that users pay for through fake, automated accounts. Instead, engagement metrics will determine the value of posts. This occurs when people actually choose to interact with the post like sharing or commenting, rather than absentmindedly double-tapping as they scroll. “Vanity metrics,” like the number of likes a post receives, will lose their power in 2020 and be replaced by more telling metrics such as comments, saves, and shares.

3. The Role of Customer Service

Social media isn’t just for photos and videos anymore. Increasingly, this is another avenue a customer can use to ask questions, air grievances, and seek customer service. Twitter has been the prominent channel to voice complaints, as seen by the flood of mentions most airline companies receive every day on their Twitter accounts.

But Twitter isn’t the only one fielding complaints or happy customer stories anymore. Almost every single social media channel is used for communication between the brand and the customer. Facebook direct messages, comments on Instagram posts, and customer reviews on YouTube are just a few ways that users take their complaints to social media. 

The days of calling a 1-800 number to sit on hold for what feels like eternity are long over. In an instant, a tweet, direct message, or heated comment can be shared with any company’s social media account. More than ever, social media marketing encompasses more than simply creating and posting content. Customer service is expected on all of these channels.

4. The Rise of User-Generated Content

There is value in a beautifully curated feed on a brand’s social media account. More often, brands are exploring the untapped potential of user-generated content (UGC.) People resonate with posts from other customers because it’s authentic and tells a more personal story of the product or service.

Product shots are great on your website and sharing professional photography on social channels is always encouraged, but there is a great deal of value in reposting your customer’s photos featuring your product or service. Free People, a popular fashion brand, is known to share positive tweets from customers in Instagram posts, showing that people enjoy their products.

Unsure where to find great UGC? You can start by creating a specific hashtag that is unique to your brand so that customers can easily tag you in their posts. Make sure this hashtag lives in your social media profile’s bio. Before posting, always get approval from the owner to repost the image.

5. Captions Are Increasing

We began this article with a trend of keeping it “short & sweet” with your content. Still, our last trend is actually increasing the length of your captions (tweets not included, sorry!) The length of captions continues to rise. According to Later, the average length of an Instagram caption will be 405 characters (65-70 words) in 2020, which is double what the average was in 2016!

So why is this happening? Longer captions allow for storytelling. People stop in their mindless scroll to take in a detailed, organized caption that provides value, is relatable, and supports the accompanying visual. These longer captions allow for more engagement in the comments, which, as discussed earlier, is a more important metric to analyze than likes. 

While the first and last trends may seem to contradict, keep your videos and updates short and sweet, but put more energy into crafting your captions. 

Adapt Your Social Media Marketing Strategy in 2020

Ten years ago, many of the social media channels we mentioned didn’t exist or look like the channels we use today. While every year brings new changes, trends, and updates, we like to stay ahead of the curve to ensure that our strategy can keep up with the ever-changing landscape of social media marketing.

Need help navigating your social media strategy in 2020? We can help

Bailey Revis

Bailey is dedicated to infusing joy into every single touchpoint she has at PHOS with team members, clients, and our community. As Director of Marketing, she oversees our incredible team of marketers, supporting them as they foster great relationships and exceed our clients’ goals.

Outside of PHOS, you’ll likely find Bailey talking non-stop about Taylor Swift, enjoying an abundant amount of cold brew, curating incredibly niche Spotify playlists, or chasing sunsets.