The growing importance of social media in any marketing outreach is becoming undeniable. However, social media trends are a constantly moving target with a lot of variables to keep in mind. This is why predicting such trends can be like predicting the weather: possible but it takes a bit of skill at reading the signs. 2020 is proving to be a big year for many old players and new entrants, with a different approach to communication taking form online. Here are just of the most important trends that marketers must keep in mind if they want to stay ahead of the pack:
Growth of Influencers & Stories
Brands have been increasingly collaborating with social media influencers across channels for quite a few years now. We imagine this social media trend is about to hit its zenith in 2020, with influencer marketing growing from a complementary marketing tactic to a full-fledged $5-10 billion dollar industry. And why not? Influencers give off a more guerrilla marketing vibe with a fair share of authenticity and come with an in-built audience.
These tactics are taking on a stronger life seeing as how social media has become more about ephemeral content. Ephemeral content and social media influencers both harness FOMO (fear of missing out) to a staggering degree. They show off products in things like Instagram stories and have little to no waste viewership, as already only the most hardcore followers tune in. This allows for a much stronger grip on the demographic while insuring a catchy, attention-grabbing format for the marketing itself.
89% of companies say that their ROI from influencer marketing is comparable to or better than other marketing channels at this point. Companies are also spending a lot more money overall on influencers to tell stories online directly to their followers. The main powerhouse for this sort of marketing is Instagram. The social media giant has become known for its stories after snapchat introduced the trend, with many other companies following suit soon after.
Shopping Trends to Grow With Integrated Social Media Stores
Social media, sales and commerce are increasingly getting intertwined with a decreasing number of clicks between any product advertisement and an associated storefront. This has been the major change in how we engage with social media, and the increasing prevalence of advertising on it. It is simply the next logical step: access to storefronts will increase and might even be further integrated into social media platforms themselves.
While it may benefit large companies the most, this could also be an exciting prospect for small business owners that can provide online distribution. An unencumbered sales process can boost ROI for both social media stores and their advertising by linking them together with fewer clicks in between. Brands will definitely be shifting in this direction and social media companies will probably be happy to oblige on the software front.
Even if the stores won’t be integrated into the platforms that are, there will be more links and perhaps even widgets that enable increased access to outbound stores. This presents a way forward for social media companies, especially considering the dive in the enthusiasm they’ve taken over scandals like Facebook’s fake news problem, which have taken a hit to their profits and goodwill. Catering to professional users and brands may be a good way to curb their decreasing user-base as well.
New Technologies, New Possibilities: Chatbots, Customer Service & AR
Increasingly effective chatbots may be ready to take centre stage in marketing now. Many sophisticated software is fully capable of walking buyers through a sales process or engaging with customers. This trend may feature prominently this year and spill over to social media as well. Running caller services with actual people has its benefits but its unfeasible for 24 hours of a day, so chatbots might be the next best thing. This isn’t the only possibility that new software is bringing in either.
Companies are already experimenting with AR technology to great effect. Clothing retailer Zara, for example, emptied out its store windows and launched a new AR experience for visitors at seven of its U.S. locations. By downloading Zara’s mobile app, users can point their phones at empty store windows to see models come to life on their smartphones. These holograms appear as short clips featuring them posing, moving, and talking. This helps customers better visualise the clothing that they may want to purchase, as the products those models are wearing are open to order from within Zara’s mobile app or inside any Zara store. Similarly, IKEA has a mode on their app for testing how furniture looks in your apartment, providing similar visualisation technologies.
The increasing integrations of these sorts of software is inevitably going to make its way to social media. Facebook has already been experimenting with AR and VR. Both of these technological advancements add up to a far better approach to customer service and outreach. Chatbots and visual assistance through AR can give customers constant support and are available 24 hours a day, accessible from the comfort of their own homes.