From Social to Private Media – and Six Other Trends that Influence Social Media in 2020

Portrait Nicole Ashley

Nicole Ashley

Senior Specialist Social Media Marketing

More pullback into private channels, digital worlds, and shopping via social media; this year the social media universe could diversify considerably. In this article, you can discover which developments could be groundbreaking and what potential they hold.

Almost three billion people are active on social media today. The top dog is still Facebook, but the rapid rise of TikTok, which has already gained 800 million users within a short time, shows how quickly new players can establish themselves. Additional features are constantly being added to existing platforms, so there is no reason to believe that the industry will lose momentum in 2020. It is therefore critical to keep an overview in order to utilize the greatest possible potential with your own social media strategy.

In the following we will share our many years of social media expertise with you and show you which trends we consider to be particularly relevant this year and which measures we recommend so that you don't miss any match-critical developments.


Mark Zuckerberg: “The Future Is Private.”

More users are shifting their behavior to the private channels of established social media or even switching completely to less public platforms out of concern for privacy. Mark Zuckerberg also recently confirmed this development and predicted a retreat into the private sphere (“the future is private”) for online social channels and is increasingly basing his platforms on this, for example with narrow friends lists, encryption of messages, and business profiles for WhatsApp.

Precisely because users only discover 52 percent of all brands via the public streams of social media, it is important for marketing experts in 2020 to invest in private communication channels besides public streams. Managing Facebook messages, Instagram Direct, or private Facebook groups is very resource-intensive. However, the effort is worth it because private channels give companies more direct and deep access to potential and existing customers. Chat bots or automated replies can support this.


TikTok Shakes Up Social Media; Others Follow

TikTok attracted over 800 million active users to its platform within a short time. Users spend a lot of time on TikTok, on average 46 minutes per day. The platform offers companies an enormous potential for attention.

Instagram lost many of its younger users to TikTok. Tired of the common Instagram aesthetic, they appreciate the authenticity of the Chinese video portal. In response, Instagram is launching its own TikTok clone, Instagram Reel.

For advertisers: diversify and experiment! It's worthwhile to invest in niche platforms early on. The biggest challenge for companies is to understand how new platforms and their communities work. For TikTok, this means packing your message into 15 seconds and creating a balance between fun and relevance. But experiments on new platforms will not (initially) replace existing measures on tried-and-tested channels.


Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) Are Definitely No Mayflies

The business restrictions surrounding the coronavirus have caused many companies to largely shift their sales channels online. Digital fittings of glasses and clothing, virtual home visits, and 3-D views of products are becoming increasingly important to know what you can expect from a product online, especially in the e-commerce sector.

Some companies are already using these technologies successfully: IKEA operates virtual stores, Michael Kors advertises sunglasses with face filters on Facebook, and Sephora makes it possible to try out makeup virtually. In the medium term, companies will also benefit from this by convincing their customers of their products online, reducing the return rate.

With the launch of Horizon, Facebook is focusing on virtual worlds. Users can network in a virtual world, play games, and discover content. With Spark AR, users can create their own AR effects and share them on Instagram. Snapchat offers similar possibilities with its own filters. It is likely that VR and AR will increasingly shape the future of social media.


Video Remains King

Even in 2020, there is nothing to suggest that video formats could become less important. 500 million Instagram users watch stories particularly suitable for video formats every day. TikTok, the most rapidly growing social network, relies exclusively on the video format.


Social Commerce—Shopping on Social Media

After Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, Pinterest also launched Shoppable Ads in Switzerland in March. These ads link directly to the product displayed in the advertiser's webshop. The purchase process is only one click away. Studies from Germany show that in 49 percent of the companies surveyed, more people buy from their online shop since they have been using Instagram Shoppable Ads. According to another study, over 90 percent of weekly Pinterest users explicitly use the platform to plan a purchase. Half have even made a purchase after clicking on a sponsored pin (Promoted Pins).

Facebook is going one step further and preparing its tools for the ultimate online shopping experience to make it easier for businesses and consumers. With the introduction of Marketplace for Business, Facebook Shops and Shopping on Instagram, the sales funnel is almost complete from branding (including advertising) to point of sale. The checkout function already launched in the US to buy products directly on the social media platform and will be introduced in Switzerland later this year.


Social Listening: Know What Users Write about Your Brand

Social media is a gold mine for collecting data on how users think about a brand or, more precisely, write about it. Thanks to powerful tools, it is now possible to systematically collect this data from social media and prepare it in a comprehensible way. Only if companies know how a campaign or a brand is actually received can they adapt their social media strategy and positively influence the perception of their own brand. For an internationally active client, Webrepublic used social listening to monitor two of the products across different markets. The results showed very different results depending on the country. This data enabled us to adjust the social media strategy and content creation to use the potential for each market individually and reach the target groups with relevant content.


What’s Your Alexa Strategy?

Most people know what the commands “Ok Google” and “Hey Siri” are good for, but many advertisers still have no real strategy with voice search. Products with speech recognition have been selling better and better for several years. What influence does voice search have on social media campaigns? Should companies align the style of their texts with voice search? These and other questions may be asked by advertisers as early as 2020. How voice search will influence our marketing strategies in the near future is still difficult to estimate as the technology is still in its infancy.


In Short: Do Not Rest

Some developments, such as voice search and social commerce, are only just emerging and should be monitored. Video formats and new, rapidly growing networks may already require special attention. Those who recognize new developments in the online world early on and cleverly invest in them can profit from social media.

We advise you on your measures on social media.