Social Media Marketing Trends 2020

Social media continues to evolve and with it our strategic recommendations for how to use it — both personally and professionally. Kicking off 2020, we asked the team for their input on what trends they are seeing and strategic insights for personal or professional social media marketing in the new decade.  Here are the answers to the most commonly asked questions we field: 

What’s new and different about social media?

  • Two words: Tik Tok and Community. Both of these platforms are ripe for evolution and changing the way we and brands interact in this medium. 
  • The Instagram infiltration of memes. Both private and paid meme accounts have increased as has the mass resharing from these accounts.  As a result, brands are collaborating with popular meme accounts to create re-sharable content that immediately reaches a follower base that’s eager to share the quippy, relatable life observations, tagging their friends, sharing in stories or even as a post. We’ve got our eye on how to best strategically leverage these ourselves too. 
  • LinkedIn has made several changes to help brands and businesses interact and engage their audiences in more personal ways, a move I think many companies are making through social media.
  • A trend I’ve seen building over the past few years is the “casual” Instagram persona. It started with Gen-Z meg-influencers, like @emmachamberlain, who post pictures that classic “Influencers” wouldn’t dare to share– think no make-up, burry, unedited pictures and posting five times in a row. Recently, I’ve noticed a change in celebrities’ Instagram posts from highly edited, professional shots to those that resemble more of the laid-back, casual and unedited pictures that uber-popular Gen-Z influencers are sharing. Check out these carousels that Kourtney Kardashian and Kylie Jenner posted recently. 

What do you anticipate changing the way consumers and brands interact with social media?

  • As we’ve seen, user experience and consistency have been make-or-break factors for brands and consumers alike. For example, consumers on Instagram revolted when the platform attempted to change its browsing model from scrolling to swiping – and within a day, Instagram returned to its normal format. Likewise, when Facebook changed its algorithm so posts began reaching a much more narrow swathe of users, many businesses factored the platform out of their marketing strategy, choosing instead to focus on where they can still easily reach their target audiences.
  • We’re going to see more regulation in ads and privacy policies that will change the way we interact with social media. Whether it’s from a new administration, the platforms themselves or elsewhere, I predict there will be stricter rules about how to use consumer data derived from social that will (hopefully) protect the consumer.
  • I see consumers becoming more wary of influencer marketing. Because of this, brands will need to reevaluate how they interact with influencers and move connecting with real fans. 
  • Those people and brands that lead with authenticity will be the most successful in driving engagement and growth.  People are seeking these kinds of real relationships. 

What’s your strategic advice for friends / businesses related to social media?

  • More and more, social media users are seeking accounts that aren’t afraid to stand for something. For instance, when AXE Body Spray came forward as an unexpected LGBTQA ally with THIS tweet, consumers and media alike loved it. Sure, when people are scrolling social media they enjoy seeing the people, brands and products they love, but what they love more is when those things align, unabashedly, with personal values.
  • You don’t need to be everywhere, on all channels. If your core audience is not teenagers and twentysomethings, do you need to be on TikTok? Maybe not. Focus your efforts where it counts instead of spreading your social media energy too thin. 
  • Engage in social media as it authentically serves an intentioned purpose. Don’t engage because everyone else is or because don’t want to miss out, engage when you have something to say, something to stand for, a reason for people to want to engage with you -- because you have an intentioned reason to be there. 

How do you use social media / how do you anticipate this changing

  • I use social media as an opportunity to stay engaged from afar with my personal social circle, as well as to stay up-to-date on news and attuned to the social conversations and movements that often start or grow on social. While I’ve never seen social media as an opportunity to build a personal brand (I’m not THAT cool) or engage with businesses or organizations on a personal level, I increasingly see the value of cultivating a more thoughtful online presence, particularly in social spaces where the conversations that are important to you are happening. Maybe this year will be the year I finally commit to LinkedIn, or establish a career and passion-forward Twitter!
  • I used to use social media apps like Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, and Tumblr to talk to my friends. Now that every app has a messenger service built in, I feel like I’ve gone back to the basics – texting and calling. Social media will continue to be more about content, images and videos, but will never replace the original methods of 1:1 communication.
  • I engage to keep abreast in what’s current and how people are engaging with people and companies.  It’s much more of a social experiment. I’ve also recently begun to leverage social media for thought leadership so I can firsthand understand the strategy, value and outcomes.

Do you shop from social media? If so what compels you?

  • I occasionally shop from social, under two general instances. The first is when exciting new products from brands I know and love show up in my feed. The brand already has my buy-in and trust, and clicking through to shop the product that I didn’t know I needed until right now is the definition of instant gratification. The second, less common, instance is when ads for new brands catch my attention. It’s rare, but occasionally the data that social platforms pull from your internet activity really nail what I’m looking for. “Oh, you need an emerald green floor length bridesmaid dress for under $150? Here you go!” Is it creepy? Definitely. But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t sometimes convenient.
  • Only from trusted brands with reviews / testimonials. 
  • Occasionally from a brand I follow when they post new product that catches my eye or if an influencer who I’ve followed for a long time and trust posts about a brand they love. 
  • Never - it seems crazy I know.

What brands do you think are doing a great job in social media?

  • Despite the recent negative press, Away still stands out for how they use social as a way to relate to consumers. Rather than focusing on their product and using social as an opportunity to build a secondary online store, they focus on the experiences their product can provide, often integrating user-generated content to ensure diversity in aesthetic and reaching consumers with a variety of travel-related interests. 
  • I think @asos and, of course, @glossier do a great job mixing product pics and posts from high-profile influencers and authentic fans. This combination helps the brands seem aspirational and attainable at the same time. This strategy also encourages micro-influencers or people with smaller online communities to tag brands in their posts for a chance to be featured on their page, leading to greater, earned exposure for the brand.
  • Recently, Oatly, the oat milk brand, announced their product would be back in stock and used geo-targeted posts to reach the neighborhoods where it was re-stocked. The copy was great and the asset -- a map to find the cafes carrying Oatly oat milk -- was also helpful and worked well. Bon Appetit’s Twitter has hilarious recipe captions, but their YouTube videos from the test kitchen have taken off and even been parodied (the ultimate compliment). They’re finding new ways for people to interact with their magazine and their brand that I haven’t seen a lot of other traditional publications accomplish.
  • Those brands that are tapping into what their followers want from them - those that listen and assess content feedback to produce content that increases engagement.  Brands that use social media to tell their story, through a combination of pictures, people, words and tone. People connect with people and stories, not product and things. 

 What are you seeing in social media that’s exciting and new? What advice do you have for brands? Share your feedback with us on Instagram or Facebook, or email us at connect(at) 

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