The Ultimate Social Media Guide for 2020

Matt
Matt
@hustle_cool
Updated: 10/02/2020
2020
Social Media in 2020 will be a fun ride

The Ultimate Social Media Marketing Guide for 2020

Social media has already been a major part of our lives for more than a decade. Naturally, many people have found their calling in helping businesses reach their audiences on social media. This guide will walk you through everything a social media manager or marketer needs to know in 2020.

The Continued Rise of Video

As expected, the popularity of video has continued to rise. This has been a trend we've observed for a few years already, and it is reaching peak levels in 2020.

In fact, 82% of all Internet traffic will be video in 2020.

From a natural, human perspective, it makes complete sense. It is the most familiar, natural way to communicate that is closest to a real face-to-face communication. As such, it will always be preferred and superior to text, images, and voice.

Don't get the wrong idea – the other channels are not going anywhere.

On average, every day in the last 5 years, 640.000 peoplegot Internet access for the first time.

Internet users in 2020
Internet users in 2020

While social media networks are one of the first services they use, including YouTube and Facebook, they still reading tons of blogs and text on social media, interact with graphic content, and listen to podcasts.

All of the channels continue to rise, but video is seeing the fastest rise by far.

Until a few years ago, YouTube was the uncontested king of video. Today we have a very different landscape. YouTube is still number 1 when it comes to video, but other platforms are seriously challenging its leadership position.

Naturally, the biggest threat comes from Facebook, which has doubled down on video by rewarding video content from its users and advertisers with more attention and reach. That has created a huge incentive for people to post videos on Facebook as well.

Instagram is also slowly moving towards a video-first platform, which makes total sense since they are owned by Facebook.

Besides the established giants, few other challengers have stepped up and tried to contest the status quo.

Snapchat's user growth has been somewhat slowed down.

Snapchat user growth
Snapchat user growth

A new kid on the block has emerged to take advantage of the vacuum, and taken the leading role in the key Gen Z demographic. That is TikTok, which is also primarily video based, and has found its base in teenagers and young adolescents posting funny and creative short videos.

However, changes are not that fast when it comes to the platforms. Even with the massive resources that Facebook will pour into trying to become the number 1 video platform, we can expect YouTube to keep the lead into 2020 as well.

One thing is clear – if you're doing any serious work involving social media in 2020, you must do video. Bet on video heavily in 2020, since it will likely provide the best return on investment with both attention and brand loyalty.

TikTok – the new kid on the block

Ok, TikTok is not exactly a new platform. It has existed since September 2016, but it truly gained prominence when it acquired the Shanghai based social media platform called Musical.ly. Its user base has since been growing like crazy, especially among younger audiences.

At the end of 2019 and the start of 2020, TikTok breached the 500 million user mark, making it one of the most popular social platforms, despite its short existence.

At the time of writing this, (February 2020), TikTok is already a part of the social media plan for many social media managers and marketers.

The majority of TikTok users are under 20. As one of the first generations that grew up with the Internet, the content they post is in the spirit of the Internet era – quick, sharp bites of funny or silly videos, often lip-syncing.

Old-school social media managers have had a few issues adjusting their approach to fit the younger user base. A good period of observation is helpful.

If you are serious about social media marketing in 2020, TikTok is a must.

AI in social media

Every year, we keep hearing more and more about the coming of AI.

Whether it's bleak scenarios like massive layoffs and destructive singularity, or more optimistic ones like balanced societies where nobody needs work, one thing is for sure – artificial intelligence is still very far away from completely replacing human intelligence.

However, AI has found a few uses in social media, and we can expect those to continue growing in 2020.

Lots of social media tools, most famously filters, are offered by the networks to help content creators create more engaging content.

Whether or not the effect is truly better content or just more fluff, may be a matter of opinion. But people take advantage of the AI based tools, and that's what counts.

Other than the end user of the social network, one big winner with AI in social media will be social media marketers themselves. With the help of AI, they can get suggestions on best performing times for their content, better advertising spend, and even help with creating the content itself. (Note: this is exactly the direction that HustleCool will be taking in 2020).

Notable examples could be AI software tools that help clear out the noise from the video, or even software that helps with writing textual content.

Also, while we saw chatbots have somewhat of a rise and fall, it wouldn't be surprising if they make a huge comeback in 2020. A great number of companies are making huge progress in building products that will help marketers take advantage of chatbots for the needs of businesses. People still may feel ambivalent towards chatbots in 2020, but we can certainly expect for the technology driving them to improve.

Outside of the users, we are already aware that social media networks are heavily relying on AI to provide their users with the optimal user experience. The feeds of basically all of the major platforms use AI to determine which piece of content to serve first, based on engagement levels.

We can expect that trend to continue rising as well.

Further drop in organic traffic

The decline of the reach of Facebook pages and other social media accounts with big followings is not news for most social media platforms.

However, we can expect that to happen in the some of the other social media platforms that still haven't decided to cut off the organic reach. The business model of the social media platform is really simple – exchange user's attention for advertising dollars. If someone gets too much user attention, they are in effect chipping away from what the social media platforms can be earning themselves.

Facebook and Instagram famously cut the reach of groups and influencers a few years ago. Twitter did somewhat the same, and soon noticed their first profitable quarter ever.

The next social network that is likely to do this is Pinterest. They have been providing bloggers with free ways of getting massive amounts of targeted traffic for years now. As they look to increase their profit, we can expect them to reduce organic reach and give that attention to advertising accounts.

Also, as TikTok's user base grows, we can expect a similar move from them too. The company doesn't make money out of very popular accounts, in fact they might even be losing money since user attention is directed that way and not towards the content of advertisers. So a move like that may not be too surprising.

Going back to communities

Expanding on the previous point, the general drop in organic reach left a lot of people scratching their heads. A lot of big names, both individuals and businesses, saw their traffic from social media decline by a lot.

While many accepted this as the new normal, a significant part of people decided not to play ball entirely. Instead of rolling over and paying for ads, they decided to take matter into their own hands a bit more.

Trying to find a way to keep organic reach without paying for ads meant more active involvement in the communities. That created the rise of internal communities within the social networks themselves, most notably Facebook groups.

In a way, this represents going back to the roots of what social media was supposed to be about. A community of people, connected either by a common interest or a common trait, actively engaged in discussion about one or few topics.

Facebook groups are bigger than ever. The creators of the groups, the admins and editors and moderators, have the rare power of having access to a specific group of people with a common interest without paying for the reach.

Given Facebook's nature and the way it has been behaving in the past few years, that access is not guaranteed forever. But it does exist for the time being, and the creators of the groups are taking full advantage of their position.

But it's not just the group owners that are benefiting. The biggest winners could be the group members. Obviously, not the members that mindlessly spam the groups with their promotional offers, but the real enthusiasts who joined to the group to learn and contribute. It does not happen to often that people get a good thing for free, and it may not really be free in the long run, but it seems that Facebook groups are really benefiting their members at the time being.

Also, it's not just Facebook groups that are booming. Other social network communities, especially subreddits on Reddit, are seeing great rise in popularity as well.

Reddit's user base has been steadily growing, and their approach to communities seems to be right on the money. It is a mature platform that has existed pretty much before any of the popular networks today. Until last year, it never really had explosive growth, but in 2019 it saw its users grow by whopping 30%.

Also, they have improved their platform in many ways, from new design to preventing karma manipulation and spam. The profiles are not really that personalized, which serves to prove that many people are often more interested in content rather than networking.

Promoting in the communities is possible, but it is not easy. The trust of the members, and the admins especially, needs to be gained first, and that is not an easy nor speedy process. That's why building authority in a group may not be suitable for everyone.

Having a great reputation in an active social media group is invaluable for branding and authority. However, if the goal is faster results, groups are not the option, and ads might be the only way.

Users will move away from social media platforms towards chats

As users become fatigued from social media, they will go back to one-on-one communication. This will primarily be with chat apps.

WhatsApp already has 1.6 billion users, followed by Facebook Messenger with 1.3 billion and WeChat with 1.1 billion users.

Whatsapp user growth
Whatsapp user growth

There is also a plethora of other chat apps, usually region or country specific, like Viber and Line, which have several hundreds of millions of users and continue to grow.

Both WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are owned by Facebook, so this will give the social media titan even more power over pretty much everything that happens on the Internet.

On the other side of the coin, besides chat apps owned by tech giants, there is another important trend on the rise. That is the growing user numbers of private chat apps.

The most notable example is Telegram, which has seen its user base grow to 200 million.

This is in line with the conclusions that users will keep getting more concerned and educated about their privacy, and will get back to wanting more genuine communication.

The fall of the influencers

Users on social media have limited time and attention, and that's the most valuable resource that the social media networks capture and monetize.

When the time and attention of users is grabbed by very engaging influencers, it comes out at the expense of more boring content that users don't necessarily want to see. Such as advertisement content.

Which is why, in the lifetime of every successful social media network that lives to see profitable times, a switch happens when influencers see their reach massively reduced.

It may be somewhat of a bait-and-switch move from the networks. They build their user bases through the early adopters and influencers, and later they kind of turn their backs on them. A case can be made that the influencers are simply getting a platform for free for a limited amount of time, and it is a fair enough deal.

In any case, in every social media network's life, it comes a time where influencers have their potential to reach their own followers massively reduced.

Whether or not that's fair is not the point. As social media networks, specifically Instagram in this case, seek to increase profits from selling advertisement, we can expect the reach of the influencers there to drop off massively.

The rise of the mini-influencer

mini influencer

At the expense of the influencer's decline, we might see a new type of influential people gain prominence. While the mega influencers might be stealing away attention from advertisers, the social platforms can't have all the attention monopolized by advertiser content neither.

At the same time, users that continually post engaging content but don't have huge following bases will keep getting rewarded with attention by the algorithms.

Those two factors combined will give birth to a newer type of an influencer, one with smaller audience but not a less passionate one. 2020 might be the year of the mini-influencer.

These social media users will not surpass more than 20.000 followers, with audience numbers often in the range of just a couple of thousands. They will dominate smaller niches that the bigger influencers would not have tapped.

If your strategy relies on influencers, consider working more closely with several smaller influencers in 2020. They will tend to have small but highly targeted and devoted audiences, and when they match a niche, they will match it fully.

Possibly increased attention span

In a rare bright moment for humanity, we may be seeing an actual increase in attention spans, despite it falling for several years in a row.

The last few years have been the worst years for social media. We saw it being manipulated, abused, and used to spread negativity and toxicity.

That was all made possible by, and also reinforced by, the decreasing attention span of the common end user. The constant bombardment with information resulted in users trying to stay afloat, and thus devote less time to properly absorbing information, which meant less critical thinking and time spent reflecting upon information consumed.

Many marketers figured that out and further took advantage of it by purposefully targeting users with content designed to instantly inflame and spark a reaction. Since the algorithms of the social networks basically reward content that gets reaction regardless of whether it's a good or a bad one, this type of content just got viral and spread out of control.

In a way, there has been a backlash against that type of content. While many users have decided to completely abandon social media, a significant part decided to turn their attention elsewhere, to channels that provide more deep, thoughtful inspection of ideas.

The best example of this has been the exponential growth of podcasts in 2019. We've seen podcasts pop up for just about any possible topic out there, and their audience numbers have been growing. True, some people prefer edgy content in 280 characters of text, but many prefer to see Joe Rogan go truly in depth on a topic with a devoted guest for as long as three hours.

Meaning, part of the population on the Internet has decided they want their attention spans back.

Increased and improved privacy

At the beginning of 2020, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) came into effect. The new law gives Internet users more control over their data, enabling them to be more aware of which and how much of their personal information is used by companies online, and in what ways.

In many ways, this law is similar to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into force almost a year and a half ago. The law affected citizens of the countries in the European Union, and it also forced websites and online companies to be more transparent about how they use and keep safe the data of their users.

We can expect many other countries and states to follow suit.

The average end user remains almost unconcerned about privacy issues.

However, given the many privacy scandals of the past few years, and how vocal and well-versed privacy advocates are becoming, we can expect this to start changing. The first wave of early adopters to responsible privacy behavior online may appear in 2020.

While this is great news for the world in general, it may not be so great for most marketers. The less data users are willing to provide about themselves, the harder they will be to reach and target effectively.

Still, it's not all that bad. The data which marketers are after is almost always data about the interests of the users, never personally identifying information. The general increase in concerns about privacy will limit all data available for sure, but a lot of the things that people share for fun will remain available. This goes especially true for the biggest data mining companies out there such as Google and Facebook, which will keep providing data about the interests of their users to advertisers.

Analytics for social media will both improve and worsen

In 2020, we will continue to see improvements in social media analytics tools.

Third party tools will continue to evolve, however they will start reaching plateaus. As social media networks become more protective of the user data, mining it will become harder and more expensive for analytics tools.

On top of that, most analytics needs can already be met by using the native analytics solutions that many of the social media platforms provide. That is the main reason why we here at HustleCool have been somewhat reluctant to provide real analytics solutions as well. Why just put a complex wrapper around something that is already there, is free and useful, and will always be faster and more accurate?

There is one area where analytics companies may continue to outshine basic native solutions. Besides processing massive amounts of mined data, many companies can try and take advantage of AI to provide their users with features that are lacking in the native dashboards.

Behind the scenes for brands

Gaining user trust is a difficult task. Providing value in the form of free or engaging content will always be the meat and potatoes of the social media marketing game, but in 2020 that resource will even further become a commodity.

Companies and brands will need to go a step further. To humanize and bring the company closer to the user, they will have to show the real, actual people behind the product or service.

That's good news because many will decide not to go that extra mile. Those that do will gain the bulk of the trust, especially if they can do it in a fun, endearing way.

This is also a good trend because it will tend to naturally get many scammers out of the picture and only leave room for true value-providing businesses.

So, in 2020, we can expect for content, especially video, that shows the real people behind the business, both in their workplace but also outside of it, to perform better and help with gaining user trust.

Those efforts will be further amplified by brand advocacies. Companies will either encourage or incentivize their employees to share and promote that type of content on their own personal social media profiles. The brand will build connections and influence organically.

Businesses and brands still not on social media will lose out

Believe it or not, many businesses are not yet on social media, even in 2020.

A small minority of them might have a valid excuse. Social media is not a good fit for every business. It is, however, for the vast majority of businesses.

Those businesses that really should be on social media but aren't will continue to lose revenue to their competitors that are already there.

90% of consumers research a business online before deciding to spend money, including both online reviews on review platforms, and the social media profiles of the business.

That is a crazy high number to ignore.

Yet many businesses will continue to ignore it, mostly at their own expense. Make sure that your business or the businesses of your clients are not one of those.

More genuine social media experiences

Instagram's move to hide the number of likes on posts may mark an important shift in the way we see and use social media. The number of likes has negatively impacted mental health for many people, especially younger ones.

Whether or not Instagram did that for the general well-being of the end user is up to debate. It is not impossible to conceive. However, it is possible that it is a move designed to weaken the power that influencers have, and we will probably be seeing more moves like that.

Well, when one door closes, another one opens.

People tend to have a herd mentality when in a network, especially on social media. Seeing huge number of likes somehow prompts people to hit the like button themselves, even if they otherwise wouldn't. By not seeing the likes, people will probably behave in a more individualistic, authentic manner, and hitting the like button on content that they genuinely like.

That will equalize and distribute the likes, and possibly the comments too, more evenly. Huge accounts can expect a slight drop in engagement, while new or not very popular accounts may notice getting a bit more attention at the expense of the influencers.

Repurposing content will provide high ROIs

Creating high-quality, original content is difficult and expensive. Since marketers are constantly in an arms race to reach their followers before the competition does, they are always looking to get as much bang for the buck of their efforts. Repurposing content will be the primary way to achieve this.

Being creative is the hardest part. After having a good idea and materializing it once into any medium is done, creating alternative content out of it for different mediums is not nearly as hard.

This works pretty much with every piece of content. I like Gary Vee's approach a lot.

You can start with pretty much anything that you consider is your strong suit. If you're good at writing, write out your content, whether it's a long blog post or a short tweet or anything in between.

If you're a graphic designer, create an engaging graphic first, if you're good on camera start with video, if you love talking start by recording the podcast first.

One final, often overlooked talent that can always make a huge difference is if you're just naturally curious and good at researching stuff. Create a great case study or present information in a persuasive way, and go from there. Original research is one of the most useful pieces of content out there and people love sharing it.

When you have your initial piece of content, the hardest part is done. How complex you make the alternative pieces of content is up to you. Naturally, the more effort you put into it, the more you can expect it to perform well. The good news is, you can still get a big chunk of the results with not as much of an effort.

So if you have a piece of text, you can at least look for stock images that are a good fit for it, or you can make infographics rather easily if you're not good at graphic design. Simply summarizing what you wrote in a branded video or in a podcast is enough to get you started with those mediums as well.

If you've started with the podcast or the video, simply get the transcription of it and do some light editing on it to obtain the textual piece of content.

Starting with the picture may be somewhat hardest, or at least it sounds like that in my mind. Maybe you can describe it in detail in text.

Whichever strategy you choose to follow, keep in mind that content will continue to be the number one weapon used by social media marketers in 2020. The ones that will produce the most of the best content will win.

As you produce more content in all of the formats, you will start becoming better and better at it.

Being on one platform won't cut it anymore. Unless you already have a huge following somewhere, you will need to work more networks at the same time. Plus, it's never smart to put all of your eggs into one basket, even if you're doing very well on one platform, that can soon be gone very fast with just one algorithm change.

So learn to diversify your content and leverage your hard work even further by repurposing wisely.

Conclusion

2020 will be a big year for social media marketing, and a great year for the smartest marketers. The landscape changes almost daily, but big changes don't come overnight. Creating meaningful, engaging relationships with audiences will remain the evergreen for social media marketers, but all of the trends mentioned on this list will become increasingly important as well.

Social media in 2020 will be a lot easier with the perfect tool to help you.