Social Media in 2019 & 2020: Platforms to Watch
Social media is an ever changing, creative but sometimes confusing world. You’ve heard buzz about Tik Tok, Facebook keeps adding features to compete, you woke up this morning and Instagram changed their layout! You feel like you can’t keep up or find it challenging to pivot your marketing team and budget to make the biggest impact. We get it!
That’s why we’ve taken a beat to create this guide to what to keep an eye on as we round out the last few months of 2019 and look ahead into 2020. We’re breaking down what is happening right now and what to pay attention to on some major social platforms. Keep an eye out for our future guides
The new kid on the block – Tik Tok
Tik Tok has evolved from a music and media sharing platform to a full on content sharing application. Open up Tik Tok and you’ll see a constant feed of (seemingly) random looping videos created by it’s 500 million global users.
Another thing you’ll notice is the age of the content creators – it’s Gen Z all the way, so incredibly young, not a ton of spending power (yet!). In our circles, we’ve noticed that most marketers in their late 20’s+ are hesitant to work with Tik Tok because of the obvious age gap. But it’s an app that fosters creativity, is super dynamic and has a LOT of eyeballs on it.
What marketers use Tik tok for
- # challenges/campaigns – Big brands and celebs like Jimmy Fallon have created buzz on Tik Tok by creating challenges. Think of this like the Ice Bucket Challenge of a few years ago; if Tik Tok was around for this, it would have been huge on the platform. Celebrities like Jimmy Fallon are getting into the platform by creating their own challenges and encouraging fans/users to participate. Fallon is an early-adopter, getting fans to do the Tumbleweed Challenge. Challenges only ask their users to get creative and have fun with the platform in a totally engaging way to get them to think about you and your brand.
- Influencers – Influencers are a great way to help kick off campaigns on Tik Tok because a) they’ve already got an audience for their content and b) if they’re Tik Tok users themselves are going to be dialed in to what their followers are doing and want to see.
- Because Tik Tok is seen by a young audience (with historicallly one of the shortest attention spans to date) it’s tough to keep up. Gen Z has a major radar for what’s cool and what’s not and that can change um…daily. Also, deciding if Tik Tok is worth your marketing energy requires considering your audience and if the effort to keep up with trends is worth it!
The Goliath – Facebook
Facebook is on every marketers radar, and it isn’t going anywhere. Facebook still surpasses all platforms with over 2.3 billion monthly active users worldwide. Facebook casts the widest net as far as demographics go, and it continues to tweak its focus – for example it’s shift to groups and community in 2019 – without overwhelming marketers with a lot of rapid or extreme change.
On the flip side of that coin, Facebook can be slow to update things. Last month we talked about advertising CBD on social media. Facebook’s advertising guidelines have yet to make a stand on it and what gets flagged is sometimes random. Facebook should continue to be a part of your ad spend and marketing efforts.
What marketers use Facebook
- Groups & Communities With that in mind, we highly recommend making a branded Facebook group for your brand. Doing this will help you regain some of your lost reach, and give you a larger platform for sharing your content with your audience.when you create a Facebook group, make sure to make it about an industry topic or common interest. We recommend focusing your Facebook group’s content strategy around the industry you’re a part of, not your brand.
- Advertising – There are so many beautiful things about Facebook ads! Anyone can run one. Facebook’s targeting features continue to become more robust and easier to use. And with Facebook’s free Pixel plugin, brands can retarget ads based on website visits. Facebook’s give marketing teams a complete toolkit to advertise effectively, even when on a budget.
- Reduced brand reach – According to Social Report, in 2018 Facebook started prioritizing content from friends, family members and other ‘content that matters’ in the timeline. While this benefits users it has been a bummer for brands, with some reporting that their reach has been cut in half. The message? Brands need to use ads to get ahead!
- Constantly changing algorithms – Because Facebook is so big, trying to maintain visibility around their practices and changes is tough. Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm is in a constant state of flux. On any given week they may start rewarding certain content, like they started doing with original video content this Spring. While they conversely downrank others, like their recent update to downrank or ban posts that claim to make medical ‘cures.’ Constantly updating algorithms, decreased/minimal organic reach and an aging demographic. It’s worth paying attention to others in your marketing industry as together you’ll be the first to notice any shifts in what Facebook is favoring or not
- And then there’s that aging demographic – According to a 2017 Forrester poll, 34% of teens think that ‘Facebook is for old people.’ Considering that statistic is from 2 years ago + pre Tik Tok – it’s no secret that the perception of the Facebook audience has shifted. But, the numbers say otherwise. Hootsuite states that the highest # of US facebook users are millennials, a crucial target for most marketers. But teens are a force to be reckoned with, so if you’re brand that targets a Gen Z audience, for example, think about tailoring your facebook content for the parents aka those with the purchasing power.
Social Media’s darling – Instagram
From influencers, to brands and advertisers, to everyone in between, Instagram is everyone’s favorite channel. Whether it’s for fashion, lifestyle, inspo, travel, there’s something for everyone on the platform, which explains it’s more than 1 billion monthly users. Unlike Facebook, Instagram continues to be a top platform for both organic AND pay per click content, making it great for your brand regardless of your budget.
What Marketers are using Instagram for in 2019:
- Organic and Paid Success – Instagram is one of the few channels that hasn’t moved solely into the pay-to-play space. While there certainly are numerous advertising opportunities through the platform – including feed posts, stories, sponcon – there is still a strong organic game at play on Instagram that hasn’t existed for some time on Facebook. Users can maximize their organic content through thoughtful hashtag strategies, tagging influencers and groups.
- Influencers – Still the number one platform for influencer content, Instagram is home to millions of influencers covering tons of different areas of interest. When done correctly, influencers are an amazing tool for reaching a niche, like-minded audience, to promote products and services. A select group of influencers was hand-picked to trial Shoppable posts from influencers (FIND ARTICLE)
- IG Story Content – currently, IG stories are the strongest product on the platform, offering wider reach than even the original post format. This change has led to a shift in many brand and influencer strategies, as they direct their efforts more towards creating compelling content for their stories (including shoppable stories, quizzes, AMAs, etc…)
- Shoppable posts – Hardly a new update (in its third year to be exact), Shoppable posts are huge for retail brands looking to sell their products through social. Instagram has only continued and improved the functionality of Shoppable posts, integrating them into stories, enabling (white-labeled) influencers to sell through their social, and even launching the @Shop (LINK) page for bringing awareness to smaller, lesser known brands (and some big ones too).
- Scheduling Content through FB Creator – for so long, Instagram has blocked it’s API from allowing third party scheduling (even those platforms – like Hootsuite – that said they could schedule and post your content still relied on some level of manual posting for second comment #s, tagging etc.). Now however, users and brands can post IG posts and IGTV content through the FB Creator Studio and respond to DMs as well.
- Decreased Engagement on Posts – Recently, Instagram users (brands, influencers and people alike) have likely noticed a huge decrease in engagement on their content. This isn’t a fluke (nor will it likely bounce back), Instagram has made it clear that they are going to favor smaller accounts (in the 1,000-5,000 follower range), and sponsored organic content will outperform non-sponsored. For brands, this means that micro influencers may just be the way to go, as they see higher engagement rates and likely have a more niche, targeted audience.
- Removing Likes from IG Content – this update has been slow to roll out, however, it still seems like instagram will ultimately do away with like counts on images, in hopes that it gets users to engage more with the content vs. observe how many likes something got. You can read more about this on our blog here (LINK).
- Purging meme accounts – Back in July, Instagram underwent a massive purge of meme accounts, those they say “violate Instagram’s terms of service,” deleting hundreds of meme accounts. This doesn’t have huge impact for marketers, but any smaller brands who would have turned to meme accounts for promotion of their own page will have to look elsewhere.
- Fake viewers from growth hack bots – Anyone who regularly posts stories has probably noticed an increase in their viewers on those stories. While it *may* be due to their awesome content, more likely it’s the work of growth hacker bots at work, viewing tons of stories in hopes of a “follow back.” No action needs to be taken, users and brands should just understand that Instagram will probably crack down on this at some point.
It keeps us Coming Back – YouTube
YouTube started by captivating the world with it’s amateur videos in 2005. All of a sudden we had immediate access to a new world of content. Videos to laugh at, cooking tutorials, business advice, meditation, homemade music videos, and of course all those kitten vids. But since it’s creation in, it’s become a platform for entertainment, fashion, gaming and what can sometimes seem like an endless stream of new, interesting, fascinating and bizarre videos. The term ‘YouTube black hole’ exists because the platform has done an excellent job of keeping us engaged, suggesting new content and drawing us in with tailored visual content.
YouTube is watched by 8 out of 10 web users and is the second largest search engine on the web. YouTube is also a great place for brands to bring their services and products to life, it’s just a matter of navigating the most effective way to do so, and how to stand out and reach the right audience amongst the 300 hours of video that are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Wow.
What Marketers are using YouTube for
- Cross promotion and video guests YouTubers can garner a truly impressive following! We searched for Birchbox videos and found plenty of unboxing/review videos with 1+million views. For a brand to utilize
- Sharing across platforms Any and all video content should be shared as often and as many places as possible. Taking YouTube videos and resharing/splicing into social ready posts is a
- Creating targeted ads
- Influencer marketing Different from cross promoting or guests, brands reach out to YouTube influencers to feature their products. It can be in the form of an unboxing, review or even using your product in their videos. Think a YouTuber giving a cooking tutorial using Blue Apron or a meal service. The cost will range from just product to $ spend, depending on their reach and what the brand asks of the Influencer. Calling on influencers has its pros
- Views are hard to come by Half of all YouTube videos receive less than 500 views. Mobile Marketer gives the example of Ritz Carlton which has uploaded 14 branded videos in the last four months with an average viewership on YouTube of 536 impressions. Building an audience on YouTube requires time, content and for brands and advertisers: Money.
- Marketing time spent/reliance on influencers Some brands just aren’t able to create compelling video with a small team and budget. If you’re a team is small and a little scrappy, you might not have access to the right ‘actors,’ equipment and a variety of locations. This is where we’ve seen a lot of smaller companies make a smart move. They rely on their customers and influencers to create the content for them.
- To record or not? The big one: To be on YouTube requires having video content. For brands, this consideration goes beyond just creating content for the platform; video is expensive, video takes time to shoot, edit, etc… the barrier here is very high to create engaging content users want to watch and engage with.
- Keeping up As with any other platform, your team needs to post on a regular basis so your audience and consumer base knows what to expect from you. Constantly updating videos and keeping content current is a lot of work! A YouTube strategy requires multiple players, a budget and a plan that you stick to. But if you do end up marketing and/or advertising on YouTube it can show how creative and relevant your brand is. Have fun!
Not just for business anymore – LinkedIn
Arguably much smaller than the other platforms mentioned with 290+ million monthly users, LinkedIn is no less important when it comes to brands and users. Primarily a tool for networking (not socializing), LinkedIn is great for connecting with colleagues, job hunting, thought-leadership – but what about marketing? LinkedIn is (actually!) great for lots of different things when it comes to Advertising and Marketing yourself and your business.
What Marketers are Using LinkedIn For:
- Establishing a Store Front for your Business – Your business’s LinkedIn page can often double as a blog, a hiring board, and more, offering companies the chance to post and share their company updates, industry thought leadership, press and more. The best Company pages are ones that are actively kept up, with companies posting as frequently as daily but at least a few times per month.
- Publishing Thought Leadership on your Industry – LinkedIn is the perfect place to share trends, opinions and forecasts for your industry. People go to brands and experts to provide leadership and inspiration and LinkedIn is a great place to do that if your website doesn’t have a blog or you want to position your leadership as ‘thought-leaders’ in the industry.
- Generating Leads – for anyone in sales, LinkedIn can be a place to generate leads for your business. Setting up ads in the LinkedIn platforms provides users advanced targeting capabilities, analytics and more, and you can find them based on retargeting, interest/industry/title targeting, and more. They can fill out a lead gen form right in LinkedIn, send Sponsored messages to potential targets, or create a standard ad right on the homepage.
- Recruiting Efforts to Engage with Great Candidates – Finding candidates has never been easier than it currently is thanks to LinkedIn Talent Solutions, which gives recruiters amazing access to incredible talent, the ability to message them directly and move them through a pipeline to hiring.
- Evolving Platform Algorithm – As with all platforms, LinkedIn is continually updating and changing the platform algorithm and advertising options. Staying on top of these changes can be a lot for marketers in an all-too-busy world.
- Rewarding Content Creators vs. Engaging Content – the LinkedIn algorithm is designed to reward and favor content creators not necessarily engaging content. This is interesting for brands to note as they may want to shift their strategy to having *people* post their content and updates and then sharing it to the brand page.