Forget mass-marketing, interruptive advertising and excessive branding. Social media is returning to its roots, with personalisation and communication as the driving force.
- Brands need to invest more time to ensure that their presence on social media is adding as much value as possible to consumers’ lives.
- Dark social is on the rise, as consumers favour private messaging instead of public interactions through the likes of Instagram Direct Message, Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger.
- This article will look to summarise three key trends to be aware of in 2020 based on our learnings throughout 2019.
There has been a noticeable shift in the number of people who want to use social media. The rise of authenticity, privacy and a more personal approach to social should encourage brands to focus on creating strategies that will enforce loyalty to their followers. Features like audience generated content, personal voice and relatable influencers will be essential in building and strengthening the brand-follower relationship.
“The use of private groups, communities and ephemeral ‘stories’ has risen sharply in the past two years. The era of social media regulation now begins: Social media was in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons for much of 2019. “Data privacy, online abuse, account security, as well as fake news and disinformation were the biggest topics of discussion.” Matt Navarra, social media industry commentator and consultant.
Real and meaningful communities are the key to success for 2020, this has grown from the many brands and influencers, who on the surface, have large followings but in reality, have very low engagement figures. Through the creation and nurturing of authentic communities, that take into consideration the wellbeing of its following, a stronger foundation to build authentic conversations will form.
This research makes it clear that brands must find new ways to ensure that more private and intimate connections are made with their audience without becoming too intrusive or interruptive. Building a brand community is just one way of working through this challenge.
In 2018, Facebook surveyed 8,000 participants and found that 69% of respondents stated that direct messaging with a brand will make them feel more confident towards the company.
Furthermore, brands who invest more in personalisation will in turn notice that it provides an escape from irrelevant messaging. Communication with audiences will become much easier as they will only share content that is genuinely relevant and valuable, this will lead to a more transparent process. With the focus moving away from vanity metrics (Instagram removing likes and Facebook emphasising meaningful engagement), brands will need to accept that success is reliant on being as human as possible and telling stories. Hyper-personalisation will facilitate this as it provides brands with an opportunity to help their audience through content that was created with their personal needs considered.
“Since 2017, the number of google searches for ‘influencers’ has increased by 1500%.”
As we embark on 2020, this number shows no sign of slowing down. There is a need for brand representation but one that can resonate and directly engage with consumers - enter influencers. As brands look to using a more personal voice as a vehicle to achieve this, the smaller scale influencers must not be overlooked as they will be crucial in reaching the more niche audiences and creating more authentic content.
To make the most of influencer marketing in the coming year, brands must move away from mid-tier influencers (50k-500k followers), macro-influencers (500k-1m) and mega influencers (1m+). Not only are they more costly, but they are also being increasingly viewed as inauthentic due to inactive users and ‘fake’ followers.
Here, we go back to the creation of authentic and real communities. The micro-influencers are the individuals who will be able to create these custom-built communities that receive heavy engagement - here lies the affordable and worthwhile opportunity for brands. These communities will have been carefully built by an influencer with 1k-10k followers and so are a more reliable source for engagement and authentic content.
User-generated content (UGC)
While this concept is not groundbreaking news for 2020, it’s importance is increasing as it will contribute to the promotion of authentic and personal content. Many brands rely on this form of marketing as they can demonstrate they have a trustable voice, providing them with a competitive edge over other brands.
One of the most valuable outcomes of UGC is that it converts consumers into brand ambassadors which creates a more intimate relationship between brand and customer. Additionally, another benefit of UGC is that, in general, consumers will trust the content that is from like-minded people over the faceless brand or its unrealistic representatives.
First and foremost, to thrive on social media, a brand must put their audience first. If you want your audience to engage, engage with them first. If you want to connect with them, be more human. And lastly, if you want to resonate with them, use relatable representatives.
2020 will see consumers expecting a more personalised experience that will add value and meaning to their online journey, as time active on social media might begin to decline, brands must ensure that they only share high-quality and relevant content so that the moments connecting with an audience count.