2020 is here! As a new year rolls around, it’s often a good time to reflect on your strategies and approaches to digital marketing, doubling down on what’s working and minimising what isn’t driving results.
To help you in your 2020 planning, We make a point to stay immersed in trends & techniques and while the fundamental approach to communicate a story to your audience hasn’t changed, there are new activities, channels and techniques to better communicate that message that you should keep in mind for the coming year.
1. IGTV has been a slow burner, but in 2020 we see growth.
We predict IGTV, Instagram’s move into long form video will see significant growth in 2020.
Following the launch of the platform in 2018, views didn’t skyrocket right away. One factor, according to Founder Kevin Systrom was the vertical video form factor. Brands & users can’t simple re-use traditional video content on IGTV, so it required a new approach to content creation, leading to a steeper learning curve. Instagram’s decision in 2019 to display IGTV videos within the news feed dramatically improved views, something we’ve seen first hand with our own clients utilising the channel.
Users have a choice to consume IGTV content in one of three ways:
- “For You” – Recommended video content based on previous content you’ve watched
- “Following” – IGTV videos from those you follow
- “Popular” – Trending videos on the platform overall, primarily by popularity, but it’s safe to say the algorithm is somewhat more complex.
Content can be consumed via the Instagram app or the standalone IGTV app. One success factor will be if content creators continue to adopt the platform. If they do, it’ll mean more adoption by users and more of an opportunity for brands. This will be dependent on whether Instagram can provide opportunities for content creators to earn revenue as they do on Youtube, something we’ll discuss more below!
2. More Authenticity through long form content
As brands work to implement a social strategy, planning posts and scheduling content, it can help drive engagement and attention about their brand, but with that can sometimes come a feeling of inauthenticity.
Brands who focus on authenticity in 2020 will see the benefits to their marketing effectiveness and the bottom line, and one way to do this is better use of long-form or what we refer to as “Pillar” content. These are the handful of pieces of content a brand can create on a monthly basis that takes longer to create, but in return provide much deeper value for users. Pillar content also provides an opportunity to tell your story in a much more meaningful way than what can be done in a 10 second Instagram story.
Longer form types of content such as Live Video, Webinars, Podcasts or Video Series can be a great way to build authenticity on social media.
Podcasts in particular are an area we see continuing to grow, especially in Ireland, with more content being created across each Industry niche. According to a survey by Adobe in the US, podcast listenership has seen a 60% rise since January 2018. Music streaming platforms, especially Spotify are jumping on the bandwagon, broadening their scope and market potential to cover “audio streaming” more generally. Spotify also put their money where their mouth is in 2019 with their acquisition of podcast creation studio Gimlet Media for a reported $230 Million.
One interesting statistic from 2019 for me was the current count of podcasts, topping 800,000. When you compare this to the 50 Million Youtube content creators that currently exist, albeit with different volumes of content being produced, it’s still safe to say that this medium still has a lot of room for growth.
3. TikTok will come into its own – but consider your approach carefully
In tandem with long form content, the short form content landscape is still evolving. If you have teenage kids or have your ear to the ground you’ll have seen the growth in video sharing platform TikTok throughout 2019. Already bolstering over 500 Million monthly active users, It joins Snapchat in a small suite of social networking winners who have successfully appealed to the 13-19 Year Old market.
2020 will see a lot more brands getting involved, but do remember that a poor strategy on TikTok can do more harm than good. US Brands such as Chiptole and NBA offer some interesting ideas on how to approach the social network, if this is an audience you want to reach.
4. Influencer Partnerships will change
2019 was a transformative year for Influencers and content creators, especially in Ireland.
From Ireland being a test bed for the removal of the like count on Instagram now rolling out globally, Anonymous Instagram accounts calling out unsavoury behaviour from Influencers and accountability for media publishers to demonstrate effectiveness, Ireland is certainly a unique landscape when it comes to influencer marketing.
We see these shifts ultimately positive for the industry overall. In the case of like counts, this will go a long way in minimising some of the more toxic effects of social media on young people, but also from the network’s perspective, will potentially reduce the burden of posting, with the knowledge that the engagement level on a post isn’t as visible.
While traditionally Influencer marketing hadn’t always been held to the same standards when it came to business metrics, the removal of like counts may lead to engagement being less of a factor, and a greater need for content creators to demonstrate ROI in 2020.
In late 2019, Facebook also expanded their Brand Collabs Manager platform for Instagram, that can help (as you may guess) identify creators to engage with as part of your campaigns. This may be especially valuable for Micro Influencers who have a smaller but specific audience focused on a particular topic or industry. For small-medium businesses looking to engage for a specific objective rather than a blanket awareness campaign, 2020 could be the year you start experimenting with influencer marketing.
5. Linkedin will Evolve
Following the acquisition by Microsoft in 2016 for $2.6 billion, we’ve seen a host of new features on the industry insights, talent search and sales navigator tools.
While Linkedin is an invaluable tool for professionals and organisations, it’ll be important for Linkedin to overcome some of the negative stereotypes that have formed: overly sale-focused messages, click-bait content and an overall lack of quality are often complaints levelled against the professional network. This drop in quality is natural and happens with every social platform as it reaches a critical mass of users, currently at 575+ Million.
Personal brands have really succeeded on Linkedin, with the feed often more tailored to people rather than company pages. Overall this makes sense and is something to take advantage of. It can also make it harder for company pages to break through and drive significant reach.
We see 2020 as a year of evolution for Linkedin, and Linkedin Groups is key to this. Groups offers brands an opportunity to create a more authentic relationship with a current or potential customer, and with the topic of conversation focused around a collective area of interest, engagement will be higher than it would be otherwise.
Video content is also an area of focus for the platform, both posted and live, building on the same concepts.
6. Messenger Marketing will see practical benefits for small-medium businesses
As friends lists or the volume of accounts users follow has grown over time, so has the volume of content users see in their feeds. This, along with a desire for more personal service somewhat lost over digital channels, has pushed more interactions towards messaging channels such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
Consider a 2018 survey by Facebook in which 69% of respondents said that direct messaging with a company helped them feel more confident about their brand.
In addition to personal communication, messenger channels also present other opportunities for marketers. These tactics have been a common feature in trends-lists for the last number of years, but it’s something we’ve stayed away from in the past. Not because they weren’t on our radar as we’ve seen some strong results on a number of projects using these techniques.
This is primarily done via messenger lists. This involves asking users to opt-in to ongoing messages from you in their messenger inbox – similar to an email newsletter subscription. Platforms such as ManyChat can help you configure message sequences and assign responses based on the messages a user responds with.
If you’re running Facebook ads, consider using the “Click to Message” call to action button, in which you can send a lead directly into a welcome message from you in Messenger. We’ve seen this work particularly well as it doesn’t require a user to leave and go to your website to communicate with you, something Facebook and Instagram will prefer, and reward advertisers with lower costs in return.
You could also consider using a Chat widget on your website. Whether it’s Facebook or Whatsapp powered or a more advanced provider such as Drift or Intercom, well-timed messages at different steps in the user journey can be pivotal for getting users over the line to a conversion.
7. User Generated Content
In line with the push for authenticity, it’s never been more important for your social media strategy to be collaborative with your audience.
The data backs this up too – 90% of purchasing decisions are led by user-generated content. This the natural evolution of word of mouth, where polished photoshoots and celebrity endorsements are replaced by real stories from similar customers already engaging with your business.
This can be done in a number of ways:
- Better incentivise sharing through rewards to sweeten the deal
- Make it easy to share their experiences, making it a core part of your customer experience.
- Utilise Facebook or Linkedin groups to build an engaged audience
This community is not only committed to your product or service, but also your overall brand and the experience it provides. Those brand ambassadors aren’t swayed by short term incentives and can help bring exponential growth to your marketing activities over time.