Twelve predictions for digital marketing in 2020

Twelve predictions for digital marketing in 2020

From the rise of Tik Tok to the arrival of virtual and augmented reality, three digital marketers offer their take on the trends we can expect to grow in significance in the new year. Socialbakers CEO Yuval Ben-Itzhak, LEWIS Digital Marketing Manager Amy Newton and LEWIS Senior Marketing Manager Amy Flippant offer their predictions.

1. TikTok will continue its meteoric rise

Yuval says: “After hitting one billion downloads in 2019, we can expect TikTok to continue its meteoric rise in 2020 thanks to aggressive marketing campaigns and investment in geographic expansion. The platform is adding to its offices in London and Silicon Valley, and recruiting talent directly from top technology companies.

“TikTok is the platform to watch in 2020. But for all of its hype, TikTok is not without controversy. TikTok has been using popular videos submitted to its platform as part of its ongoing promotional campaign without informing or compensating creators. More recently, the app has been drawing increased scrutiny from US lawmakers who worry that it could constitute a national security threat. However, while other platforms attempt to catch up, such as Facebook’s struggling Lasso and Instagram’s new format, Reels, TikTok is still likely to reign supreme in 2020.”

2. The rise again of Facebook Groups

Amy Newton says: “We’ve heard it a thousand times: due to platform algorithms, organic social reach is dwindling, especially on Facebook. While this can be daunting for companies to face, it does not mean that their organic social strategy should be abandoned in 2020 – it just needs to be adapted.

“When Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook team decided to prioritise ‘community’ on the newsfeed, the running joke was that we’d see more babies and engagement rings… and the jokes weren’t wrong. However, we also saw an uptick in posts from Facebook Groups. These groups are the virtual communities of Facebook, allowing users to connect based on interests, likes, geographic location, and so on. The algorithm favours these posts, so if brands want more organic reach to connect with their audience, they should invest in a Facebook Groups strategy.

“Since people are actively choosing to be members of these communities, they’re already more engaged with specific content by default. This is a huge opportunity not only for brands to reach the people who actually want to hear from them but to interact with them as well. Companies might even discover a few brand ambassadors or advocates. Several brands, including Peloton, are already taking advantage of Facebook Groups and reaping the benefits of higher engagement.”

3. Facebook and LinkedIn introduce ‘OR’ targeting

Amy Flippant says: “Taking a cue from Facebook, LinkedIn has recently released the ‘OR’ targeting capability for building out and narrowing audiences. Currently, you can use ‘AND’ for your targeting requirements, e.g. lives in the US AND has a certain job title.

Now, with the introduction of the ‘OR’ targeting capability, you can be more selective with your targeting, e.g. lives in the US AND has a certain job title OR has a certain member skill.

This means you can target not only people with a certain job title but also those who don’t necessarily have the right job title but do have an interest or skill in the area you are interested in. As you plan next year’s ad campaigns and brainstorm ways to expand your audience, keep in mind that the “OR” feature is handy for reaching very niche audiences.”

4. Influencer marketing will grow, not wither, as others have predicted

Yuval says: “Consumers are increasingly seeking out reviews and trusted voices when making purchasing decisions. This has created a huge opportunity for influencers and brands to team up to create authentic connections with audiences. This year, leading brands like Estee Lauder, Boss and Burberry have explicitly stated that they believe influencer marketing is playing a key role in driving their success on social media.

“Our data found that influencer sponsored ads grew by more than 150% in the last year, while the use of #ad more than doubled. We can expect brands to continue increasing their investment in influencers in 2020, and help make influencer marketing a $10 Billion industry in the next year.”

5. Instagram Stories will become even more important for businesses

Amy Newton says: “Remember when the general consensus about Instagram Stories was that Instagram was just trying to copy Snapchat? I’ll be the first to admit that I never thought I’d jump on the Stories bandwagon, but here I am, telling fellow marketers and prospective clients how important Stories are to businesses. The point of social media is for businesses to be able to tell their story, and how better to do that than by utilising a feature that literally has “stories” in its name?

“Stories already serve as another way for users to come into contact with a business on Instagram and ultimately end up on that business’ landing page or profile. Yet, it seems like every day another Stories feature pops up, enabling users to interact with a brand in new ways.

These days, businesses can even add their own GIFs to the platform. There are all kinds of story overlays to take advantage of, including shoppable stickers. Brands like Aldi use the poll feature to ask their followers what kinds of content they’d like to see, proving that social content, like paid social ads, needs to be relevant and personalised. In 2020, we foresee more features becoming available and companies who don’t use these to their full potential will lag behind those who do.”

6. Lead nurturing will be built into social media ad campaigns

Amy Flippant says: “LinkedIn has announced the option to implement “nurture targeting.” This means you will be able to include multiple ad formats within one campaign. If someone from your target audience has seen one ad, they will be retargeted with another ad or piece of content, allowing you to nurture users through the lead form completion journey.

“As we look into next year, nurture targeting will be useful as a means of mixing types of media within one campaign. Previously, if you wanted to have a sponsored ad (static content) and a video ad, you would have to build separate campaigns. It will also be a great way to A/B test ad formats properly to see which resonates best with your target audience.”

7. The time for VR/AR is coming

Yuval says: “Virtual Reality has long been associated with the gaming world or with high budget Hollywood movies. While some tech-savvy marketers have experimented with VR, most make the mistake of underestimating its potential by seeing it only as an attention-seeking gimmick.

Yuval Ben-Itzhak

“We know VR presents a huge opportunity for marketers as it can engage audiences in a new and exciting way, build brand awareness, and drive product discovery and purchase. Imagine giving customers the opportunity to browse products through virtual clothing racks and virtual showrooms, and then giving them a lifelike experience with the product before leading them to a purchase. While it may be 5-10 years before we see this used at scale, VR technologies promise to be a powerful weapon in the retail marketers’ arsenal. Expect to see more experimentation in 2020.”

8. Social Commerce prepares for lift off

Yuval says: “Our data has shown that shopping-related content is rapidly growing on social media – and platforms are responding by adding more e-commerce features. Instagram already launched Instagram Shopping for selected brands, giving businesses an immersive storefront for people to discover and explore products – as well as a link for purchases.

“Facebook's family of applications already offers tools for customer care and community management so that all marketing funnel activity – from product discovery to post-purchase customer care and evangelism – can happen on social media.

“2020 will be the year that social commerce takes off, as more and more customers make purchases directly from social media platforms instead of heading to a shopping site’s app or to an online store after discovering a product on social media.”

9. Location-based social media ads will grow

Amy Newton

Amy Newton says: “Since most people have at least one GPS-enabled device on them at all times, social media targeting by location is scarily accurate and, usually, relevant. Location targeting in social ads is nothing new, but as more people are on their phones for more time throughout the day, and as those phones’ location tracking features improve, we’ll see more of these ads.

“When people are standing in line or waiting to catch a flight, they often turn to their phones to help pass the time. Even when they’re in the middle of an active task, like grocery shopping, they’re still on their phones! Chances are they’re checking their social profiles while they’re at it. Why not serve them with an ad for something on sale in that grocery store they’re already walking through? Or, how about targeting them with a hotel discount for the city they just flew to or returned from? A lot of brands are already doing this, and more will do so in 2020.”

10. Battle for Ad Spend: Facebook vs Instagram

Yuval says: “Our data showed that while marketers have been increasing their spend on Instagram, more than 60% of all total ad spend is still allocated to the Facebook News Feed. The Instagram feed comes in a distant second at 20%, followed by Stories at 10%, and the rest of the top 5 – Facebook suggested video, and Facebook instream video – combine to 10%.

“All in all, brands are only spending 1/3 of their total budget on Instagram, the most engaging platform, which raises questions for marketers. Are brands really getting the most engagement out of their investment? In 2020, it will be interesting to see if this investment grows as brands see results from their Instagram spend. We can also see a lot of potential value in Facebook suggested video – it has the second-highest click through rate (CTR) at nearly 0.8%, but commands hardly any relative ad spend.

“In 2020, the imperative for marketers is to focus on optimising advertising content and personalising their ad experiences. Settling for blanket strategies across channels is not going to bring in the desired results.”

11. More e-commerce will begin or take place on social media

Amy Newton says: “Users have more options than ever before to complete purchases from their mobile devices. As we head into 2020, it would come as no surprise to see more functionality for shopping within social media feeds. It’s as if the big social media networks saw the success of B2B-focused Instagram campaigns that allowed for lead form completions and email sign-ups without having to leave the platforms, and decided to replicate those tactics for B2C shopping.

“We predict that over the next 3-5 years, social media shopping will help bridge the gap between browsing on mobile and purchasing on desktop. Social media will likely be the missing link that will help propel mobile shopping to new heights. It will be crucial for businesses to monitor their mobile sales paths and identify any areas for improvement on their social platforms and mobile sites.”

12. Marketers will chase the youth to new social platforms

Amy Newton says: “Remember when Facebook was only open to college students, but eventually opened up to the wider population? Younger and older users alike flocked to the platform. And then, something interesting happened. As more parents, aunts and uncles, and even grandparents joined, the younger generations began dropping off. Now that social media has been around for a while, some of the platforms are starting to age with their users. If marketers are trying to reach a younger target audience, they’ll have to explore new platforms and craft new content to match.

“One of the platforms marketers will need to pay attention to in 2020 is TikTok. Gen Z has taken this short-form mobile video app by storm. With most of its active users being under the age of 24, it’s a prime location to engage with younger customers. As is the case with any social network, it will be crucial for marketers to fully understand the type of content that is shared and align their strategy accordingly. In the case of TikTok, unique and original video content is king.”