Liv Griffiths – Content Executive

As a Content Exec, I spend a pretty large chunk of my day on social media. Whether I’m testing and editing ads, dreaming up creative organic content, or responding to customer queries, not a day at Pace goes by that I won’t have logged onto Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

That being said, there are still times social media surprises me, and as we rather quickly hurtle towards the new year, I’m wondering what kind of changes we’ll see from our favourite platforms.

Experts have predicted lots of changes for social media in 2020, with different platforms heading in different directions. Here are a few of the changes I’m expecting for next year, and how I’ll be preparing our clients so they can achieve continuing success on social.

Instagram will continue to grow

According to YouGov, Instagram is the 2nd most popular social networking platform in the UK. Among millennials, it takes the top spot. It’s a great place to appeal to your audience visually, drive engagement that counts, and publish organic and paid content that’ll help brands achieve those sales.

But in 2020, will it overtake Facebook, the UK’s current favourite? I don’t think so. But, I do think it’ll continue to grow pretty rapidly. With new features such as threads, custom AR filters, and Instagram clips, users (and brands!) can publish increasingly creative and diverse content.

I think we’ll see a jump in use of the kind of features that we expect from other apps (instant messaging), and despite Apple’s Screen Time, we’ll spend more of our precious hours on the ‘Gram.

As a result of this, brands will continue to advertise to users on the platform, however, it’ll be in unexpected ways. Instagram has recently announced that it’s scrapping the ‘following tab’ (you know, that creepy bit that shows you which posts your friends are liking and commenting on, responsible for a lot of break-ups), which means users will naturally make more use of the explore tab to discover new content. I expect we’ll be seeing a lot more ads there.

All that being said, I think it’s a pretty good idea to keep an eye on LinkedIn, too.

We’ll value transparency

As social media use continues to grow, we’re becoming increasingly aware of its impact on society, especially concerning the younger generation.

On top of this, in a world post-Cambridge Analytica scandal, people are a lot more protective of their data; gone are the days where most of us would skim over eight pages of Ts&Cs before willingly obliging.

Users are beginning to value transparency and accountability, not only from social media platforms, but from the celebrities, influencers, and brands they follow.

I think we’ll see way more content created with this in mind (goodbye, weight-loss tea), and a bit more of a focus on brands reconnecting with the core values to attract and retain an audience that shares them.

Groups! More groups!

What do complex skincare routines, Jeremy Corbyn memes, and McChicken Sandwiches have in common? They’re all topics of popular Facebook groups. Think of an interest/activity, and I will personally bet you £1 that, no matter how obscure, there’s a Facebook group for it.

This is a fantastic opportunity for brands because it means they’re able to seek out their most engaged audiences and directly communicate with them. Rather than spending that money on ads that might not necessarily land with the target market, brands can find their customers where they already are and provide them with the kind of content they’re legitimately interested in.

Voice search on social

Remember SearchLeeds 2019? If you don’t, here’s a blog on it, but if you do, you might recall a few of the speakers briefly touching on the topic of voice search.

The general gist was that, while voice search isn’t quite where it could be yet, it’s certainly getting there. Bear in mind SearchLeeds was back in June, voice search could well fulfil its potential in 2020.

So, how do we prepare our social media content for this? We optimize for voice search! Use conversational tones that mimic the questions your audience will be asking Siri, Alexa, or Google Home, address your FAQs, and participate in brand-relevant conversations on social media.

Sidenote: This is pretty cool for people who struggle with literacy! Making content that’s accessible, such as including alt text, is always a good idea, in my opinion.

Social messaging and chatbots

Ah, user experience. Small differences can make a huge difference, yet many brands aren’t aware of how simple refining your customer journey can be! Some of the UX trends I’ve seen developing over the past couple of months, and ones I expect to continue into next year, include brands’ use of social messaging and chatbots.

A great example comes from ASOS Here to Help, where an automated service that nails the halfway point between confusingly-robotic and creepily-humanlike aims to solve any problems you have via DM. Here’s an interaction I had with the bot only this week.

asos chat bot predictions blog
asos chat bot social media blog

The message stating ‘Please pick from the options below…’ was originally shown with a list of 6 buttons that covered a range of possible problems, and an option to choose ‘Other’ and explain more about a different, less-common problem.

This is a great example of how brands can automate their services (with minimal set-up involved) to make a systematic solution to a problem, such as customers not receiving fast replies to their queries. Plus, it’s a pretty great user experience!

I expect more brands will be taking advantage of tools like this, and finding increasingly creative ways to smooth any bumps in the customer journey, especially on social media.

How to prepare

To cut a long story short, brands need to think about all stages of the funnel, and start/continue creating content that attracts, retains (particularly important), and converts customers, rather than just focusing on conversions. If your audience isn’t there at the beginning of the funnel, who do you expect to be there at the end?

Brands should consider what kind of audience matters to them, what their interests are, and figure out how to meet them there.

As consumers become more familiar with social media and its possibilities, they’re less likely to put up with bad user experiences, poor-quality content, and a lack of social transparency. Get ready for emotive content, diversification (yay) and more brands supporting important causes.

Brands better buckle up for 2020, because I think some exciting changes are on the horizon.

While the statements in this blog are backed by data, research, and quite a bit of caffeine, there’s no guarantee that they’ll come true, as they are, after all, just predictions. I’m looking forward to revisiting my thoughts in 2020 and analysing the changes that have happened! See ya then!

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