As we enter the new decade, there’s no doubt that social media will play a growing role in our lives for the foreseeable future. So, how should businesses, brands and even the average user anticipate the future for social platforms?
1. The death of the “like” button on Instagram.
It’s no secret that brands (and even regular users) often fixate on “likes,” comments and followers on social media as a measure of popularity and brand recognition. But this obsession is having a negative impact on our mental health and can actually stymie the free flow of engagement. We go along with the crowd, click a button and stop engaging in a meaningful way.
Instagram is the latest in a long list of social media sites seeking to make likes less prominent. You will no longer be able to see the number of likes other Instagram posts get, although you can still see likes on your own posts.
The idea has been hailed as a way to “depressurize” Instagram and could also help combat fake likes and followers — these padded numbers can make brands and influencers appear to have a wider reach then they actually do. However, if likes do go away, marketers, brands and influencers will need to find ways to adapt to these changes.
2. Less emphasis on “vanity metrics.”
Losing the “like” button on Instagram is part of a broader trend to de-emphasize the use of “vanity metrics” on social media. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has said that follower counts are now meaningless, and in a TED conference talk, he said if he could go back, he wouldn’t emphasize the “like” button so much.
For social media marketers and influencers, this should signal that it’s time to start digging deeper into actionable metrics — such as the rate and quality of user engagement on social media. Savvy marketers will take note, and begin exploring user demographics and relevant user data to better understand how to target potential customers.
3. Video story content is king.
Video continues to be one of the most important trends in the social media world. In fact, video will make up to 82% of all internet traffic in 2020, according to Social Media Today. As social media platforms look for ways to further prioritize video content, marketers will increasingly zero in on videos as part of their overall strategies to target specific markets.
Keep a close eye on how this format reshapes marketing strategies. There will be an emphasis on creative, engaging storytelling that captures user attention in seconds. Brands will need to have a keen eye for how video stories engage users (especially on platforms where the like button goes away).
4. TikTok is disrupting social video.
The emphasis on video means that video-driven platforms such as TikTok, Lasso and byte will continue to grow in popularity. Of these platforms, TikTok is the social media disruptor currently leading the way, especially with Gen Z users.
The Chinese-owned social video app is well-positioned to shape this trend as it offers fertile ground for influencers, including micro-influencers (another trend we’ll discuss).
TikTok is upping user engagement with its engaging, fresh and entertaining content that isn’t overly focused on a hard sell. In short, TikTok is the antithesis of your mother’s Instagram account because it shuns the overly curated and filtered view of life Instagram has become known for.
5. Audiences want meaningful connections.
Brands must find ways to create more private, intimate connections with their audiences without becoming overly intrusive. This will likely come down to building brand communities, or groups where your brand message is relevant, but where you are also receptive to direct messaging.
For instance, consider a 2018 Facebook survey of 8,000 people in which 69 percent of respondents said that directly messaging with a company helps them feel more confident about the brand. Other platforms, such as Instagram, offer a “List” feature that enables users to share posts and stories with a select group of friends. The goal is to give audiences more meaningful connections and a feeling of being in an exclusive and intimate environment.
How are you preparing your social media strategy for the next decade?