As we near the final leg of this memorable year, it is a good time to learn about the trends that are affecting the social media landscape.

2020 changed everything: the way we communicate, how we shop, how we greet each other. It has also changed the way we use social media. This blog post summarizes:

  • Our predictions on the social trends for 2020 have come true
  • What social networks do
  • Trends our researchers will follow for the rest of the year

Bonus: Watch the full webinar on Getting Strong on Social Media in 2020: An update from the Hootsuite Social Trends team to have a lively discussion on the topics in this blog post, including a question and answer with the participants of the live webinar.

Social trend predictions for 2020 that turned out to be true

Our research team has carefully compiled our predictions for social trends for 2020. The trends were identified through a global survey of 3,100+ marketers, 30+ expert interviews, and research stacks from the leading industry analysts.

Despite the incredible minds working on the project, we didn't predict the global pandemic (our bad one!). However, we managed to come up with some of our key social trend predictions for 2020:

  1. Brand Purpose and Employee Activism: Why Taking A Stand Worked For Some Brands – But Not For Others.
  2. The changing face of TikTok: new audiences, new use cases, new advertising tools – is it time to jump on board?
  3. New digital disparities in key demographics, a shift towards performance marketing tactics.

1. Brand Purpose and Employee Activism: Why did it work for some brands to take a stand but not for others.

Were we right in our prediction? Very right.

By the time we entered 2020, the world was incredibly divided and confidence was at an all-time low. Employers were a beacon of hope, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2019. 75% of people said they trust their employers to do the right thing – more than they trust the government, the media, or the economy in general.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, that trend came to the fore as employees expected more from their companies. The companies that took decisive action – like donations to frontline workers or pivoting production lines to make hand sanitizer or protective equipment (PPE) – have been lauded for serving their communities, not just their shareholders. The companies that put their brand purpose into practice were also rewarded with positive customer sentiment.

Is brand purpose a catchphrase?

Brands that make a positive impact on people's lives grow 2.5 times faster than low-impact brands, have happier employees (9 in 10 employees would take a wage cut to do more meaningful work), and outperform the stock market by 134 %.

However, Ryan Ginsberg, global director, paid social at Hootsuite and Trends webinar panelist, said, “Branding purpose cannot be treated like a marketing campaign. Consumers will see through a brand trying to get on the bandwagon of a popular cause. Authenticity is the key. And companies that do the best have a brand purpose that is embedded throughout their organization. "

Ben & Jerrys is a great example of a brand that was born purposeful. The company has long been politically active. They published social content on reforming the criminal justice system back in January.

Ben and Jerry's campaign
Source: Ben and Jerry's Instagram

Finish strong in 2020

Be careful how you approach your branding purpose. Don't take a stand just to take a stand. First, listen to your audience on social media and identify the causes that interest them. From there, you can align your brand with what matters most to your customers and employees.

Morgan Zerr, Principal Business Value Analyst at Hootsuite, advised brands to encourage employee advocacy to enhance brand purpose. "Employees want to share information through their professional channels anyway," said Morgan. "By providing a variety of content to choose from, brands can offer an authentic perspective on branding purpose and engage their employees in meaningful ways."

2. The changing face of TikTok: new audiences, new use cases, new advertising tools – is it time to jump on board?

Were we right in our prediction? So right.

When we made this prediction, we weren't sure if TikTok's meteoric rise would continue (it did). The Guardian dubbed TikTok "the social media feeling of bogus," as TikTok's content was the perfect antidote to boredom for people stuck inside and desperately in need of carefree fun.

We predicted that TikTok would be an incredibly useful source of insights for marketers to prepare for the next generation of social media users.

Brands like Hollister and American Eagle are already experimenting with advertising on TikTok, which can only be described as a nice demonstration of Marketing 101. Sarah Dawley, content manager at Hootsuite and lead analyst on our trend report, said, “These ads are a prime example of the right brand to reach the right audience with the right message on the right platform. They are very contextual and feature the most popular TikTok creator, Charli D & # 39; Amelio, doing custom choreography for a custom song. This is TikTok's bread and butter – these are not just ads, but TikToks. "

Both brands are aimed at younger generations. Their campaigns are interactive and already have tremendous appeal with Hollister's #MoreHappyDenimDance at 4.1 BILLION views and American Eagles #InMyAEJeans at 3 BILLION views on TikTok alone.

What makes these two examples interesting is that they aren't just about ads on TikTok. These are comprehensive digital marketing campaigns that are distributed across ALL channels.

Hollister American Eagle Tik Tok
Sources: Hollister TikTok and #InMyAEJeans TikTok

Finish strong in 2020

TikTok brings back the fun elements that made social media so addicting in the first place. However, if Generation Z isn't your target audience, TikTok may not be relevant to your brand right now. 69% of TikTok users are 16 to 24 years old and 60% live in China.

Our 2020 Q3 digital update found that most social media users are using multiple platforms. Brands don't have to be everywhere. Choose the platforms your audiences are most likely to be on.

User overlap between social platforms
Source: Digital in the 2020 Q3 update

3. New digital disparities in key demographics, a shift towards performance marketing tactics.

Were we right in our prediction? Yes.

Last year, we predicted that social marketers would face increasing pressure to expand the scope of their skills. We found that 44% more marketers are using performance tactics to demonstrate social worth in concrete terms. Increasingly, these advocates of brand awareness and community building had to be fluent in performance marketing.

The challenge will be finding a balance and building skills that can drive short-term conversions and long-term strategies for building brand equity, customer satisfaction, and differentiation.

There is increasing use of social media to provide a comprehensive shopping experience.

KitchenAid is a good example of this. When the pandemic began, KitchenAid relied on social listening to identify consumer trends as more people cooked and baked at home.

Some were doing it for the first time, others were professionals, and many were looking for new tools and techniques to make home cooking easy and fun.

The brand used these social listening insights to create ads on the topics with the greatest demand. Using search data from Google and social data from Pinterest, KitchenAid integrated its marketing tactics, including Pinterest ads, Instagram ads, organic and paid media, influencer influencing and public relations. We had discussions about KitchenAid with Hootsuite Insights (our social listening solution). With a little social listening, it's easy to see how the team built their ad campaign and come up with content ideas to attract customers.

Kitchen Aid Hootsuite Insights
Source: Hootsuite webinar

This example shows how important the role of social media is, other than just serving direct response ads, to get conversions. It offers incredible insights into an audience's collective psyche, allowing brands to craft messages that lead to meaningful connections.

KitchenAid Social Media
Source: KitchenAid social qtd. in the Hootsuite webinar

Finish strong in 2020

James Mulvey, Head of Content at Hootsuite, said that social marketing and performance marketing expertise is critical to helping CMOs understand the strategic value of social marketing.

James cautioned, however, “Social marketers should avoid becoming an arm of performance marketing. Optimizing content for lower funnel goals will not result in long term growth. Instead, create content for the entire customer lifecycle and work with other teams to embed social networks into all activities, especially search. "

Bonus: Watch our webinar on how to measure the ROI of social marketing and learn what metrics to track for organic and what paid campaigns, and how an integrated view of organic and paid campaigns can help you Prove and improve ROI.

What social networks do

Our researchers discussed some of the hottest trends we're seeing on social networks themselves this year. This is not an exhaustive list, but it does offer a taste of the future.

Tick ​​tock

Despite the amazing user growth, TikTok had challenges in 2020. Competition intensifies when Instagram Reels launches. Even more worrying, the US President has signed an executive order that TikTok will sell or outsource its TikTok business in the US.

Despite the challenges, the platform can still be seen. TikTok can teach marketers a lot about audience behavior. If last year we predicted that TikTok would shake up the status quo, our advice for next year is that you can't stop the music.

Instagram roles

Reels allows users to record and edit 15 second multi-clip video with audio, effects and new creative tools. This way Instagram can ensure that TikTok does not lose market share.

"We've seen Instagram before – and we've succeeded," said Sarah. "They took the Stories format from Snapchat and made it one of Instagram's most popular features."

Like Stories, Reels is a format marketers need to familiarize themselves with – and be good at using. Advertising isn't currently available in Reels, but brands that are on the ball as Reels ads launch are getting great ad rates for their experiments.

Facebook shops

Stores make it easy for companies to set up a single online store that customers can access on both Facebook and Instagram. Since they are embedded in the platforms, users don't have to go to make a purchase. In e-commerce, this seamless user experience is a huge coup as it reduces friction for buyers. With stores embedded directly into Facebook, retailers are likely to see higher conversion rates compared to their native ecommerce websites.

Hidden value of Pinterest

Pinterest is a great opportunity for certain brands to try a new channel. "Pinterest is an established social network, but it is often underestimated," said Morgan. "During the COVID-19 lockdown, Pinterest saw a surge in various demographics using the platform for health and wellness, financial planning, home improvement, future vacation planning, and so on."

With fewer privacy restrictions and lower advertising costs than some other platforms, Pinterest is worth considering for brands in industries like healthcare, lifestyle, home improvement, and even financial asset management.

Trends our researchers will follow for the rest of the year

What's on the radar for the rest of 2020 and through 2021? Our hardworking researchers have identified three areas of interest that they will continue to monitor over the next few months:

  1. Accelerating the growth of social media usage
  2. Using Social Media for Brand Research
  3. Growing interest of executives in social media

1. Accelerating the growth of social media usage

In July, we passed the milestone where more than half the world's population uses social media. In fact, the growth in social media usage is accelerating faster than it was in early January.

Baby boomers are an interesting part of that growth. Previously, baby boomers were reluctant to engage in social issues and are now using messaging, spending more time on social media and generally consuming more digital content. Most importantly, they maintained new digital habits during the pandemic, which has had a huge impact on marketers trying to reach these valuable audiences.

Baby boomers social habits
Source: GlobalWebIndex

2. The use of social media for brand research

In the past, search engines dominated the research phase of the buyer journey. In many of today's population groups, search engines are actually behind social media when it comes to branding research.

Use of social media for brand research
Source: Digital in the 2020 Q3 update

Brands with heavily involved, useful products should pay special attention. Your consumers are more cautious and use social media to research the brand, see how existing customers are treated, and look for video content explaining the products before purchasing.

3. Increased executive interest in social media

With a stronger focus on digital communication as a substitute for face-to-face interactions, social media budgets hit historic highs in 2020. Traditionally, social media earned around 10-12% of the marketing budget. That year it rose to 23%. CMO visibility is therefore higher than ever.

Social media spending chart
Source: CMO survey, June 2020

The CMO's confidence that social networks have a quantitative impact on company performance also increased from 25% to 30%. Overall, these are good signs for marketers building their budgets for 2021.

In 1785 Robert Burns wrote a poem that stated: "The best plans of mice and men often go wrong." 235 years later, COVID-19 showed us how true that is.

If 2020 has taught us something, no matter how carefully we plan our predictions, there will always be surprises. However, our proven research methods and expert data mean your company will never be completely blind. Despite the turmoil of 2020, many of our predictions were true.

Stay tuned for our Social Media Trends 2021 report, where we break down the key changes your brand should prepare for in the next year (despite pandemics, civil rights movements and other global tectonic changes). In the meantime, check out our mid-year check-in webinar, “Getting Social Strong in 2020: An Update from the Hootsuite Social Trends Team,” for the latest trends and predictions for the close of 2020 at a high level. Social media) Note!

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