Social Cube

5 Social Trends For 2020

The other day I decided to go down the rabbit hole that is TikTok. 

Don’t judge me, but teens posting bite-sized videos about history are my favorite to watch. I'm not alone in that rabbit hole. In less than two years the Chinese-owned social site has garnered 1.2 billion global installs and more than 800 million active users, quickly barreling past Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat in popularity. A whopping 69% of users on the platform are between the ages of 16 and 24. 

So it's little wonder why TikTok is among the top five trends we at Hootsuite predict will take hold in 2020. Here we examine each one and how brands are already embracing them.

TikTok Shakes Up The Status Quo

To say TikTok is shaking up social marketing would be a massive understatement. In recent months, countless brands, including Guess, American Eagle, and Chipotle, have embraced TikTok with hashtag challenges generating astonishing results. In October, for example, cosmetics company e.l.f. ran a sponsored hashtag challenge called #eyeslipsface, which became the fastest-growing TikTok campaign to date, amassing 1.6 billion views in just over a week.

But that doesn’t mean every marketer and every brand should immediately start posting on the platform. You can’t force it, and Gen Z can sense when you do. 

What it does mean is that in 2020 brands should be thinking about diversifying how they connect with audiences by targeting beyond just the more established social platforms. And because video by far remains the top-performing content format on social, they should also be inspired by the short, raw video content that is the fabric of TikTok’s DNA. It’s a great place to show the rougher edges of who you are as a brand.

Social Marketing And Performance Marketing Collide

TikTok—and the kind of unpolished content it inspires—is one effective way brands can create more awareness. But creating awareness is no longer enough.

In Hootsuite’s "2020 Social Media Trends" report, based in part on a survey of 3,110 senior marketers, 44% cited “driving conversions” as a top outcome for social media, right behind brand awareness. More often than not, in addition to helping prospective customers learn about a brand, social also has to achieve a very specific conversion, like a sale, lead, or click.

Performance marketing delivers the type of concrete ROI that executives want from social. But in 2020, successful marketing teams will have to deliver a blend of long-term brand-building and short-term conversions. People want to support you with a purchase, but first they want to love you with a follow or a like.

Take Adidas. Adidas found that its brand activities—not performance marketing—were actually driving the majority of its e-commerce sales. But the overwhelming majority of its budget (and energy) was being spent on performance. So Adidas introduced a new campaign framework with emotional, brand-driving activity at the center. It didn’t abandon performance marketing. Instead, it became all about the blend.

This year's campaign for its Ultraboost running shoes reflects that framework: Not only did it tell the story of its new product, but it also gave unfiltered glimpses into the lives of real runners within the Adidas community.

The Social Proof Gap Closes

Next, marketers have to prove their strategies are working.

Our "2020 Social Media Trends" survey revealed 70% of marketers aren’t using an attribution model to measure the value of social media. This is a huge missed opportunity.

Take e.l.f. again. After #eyeslipsface, net sales rose 6%, in great part due to the campaign. But success doesn’t just mean sales. The company should also have been looking at how the campaign increased brand awareness, influenced recruiting, and affected customer satisfaction. Gen Z, and consumers in general, do not want to feel that companies see their only worth in what they buy. 

Marketers now have access to more data than ever before. Attribution models are built into social ad platforms, and new social commerce features have bridged the top and bottom of the sales funnel, creating a wealth of measurable insights around the conversion side of the customer journey.

In 2020, the most successful brands will be taking steps toward a holistic view of how people move through the entire buying journey. In turn, they will be able to measure the business value that social is bringing across their organizations. Buying is a one-off, but brand love is for the long haul.

Brands Strike A Balance Between Public And Private Engagement 

Another area marketers will have to conquer in 2020: bouncing—and balancing—between public and private channels.

If they need to contact a company, the vast majority of people want to use private messaging to communicate. According to a survey by Vibes, 78% of US consumers said text messaging is the fastest way to reach them. But discovery—researching and asking questions about products—that’s still very much in the public domain.

As I see it, customer connection in 2020 is not all private; rather, it is a combination of private and public. But here’s the deal: It has to be seamless.

Dove is a great example of a company that excels at seamlessly bridging the public and private. Dove has incredible reach on social—28 million Facebook fans alone—and bold, impactful campaigns like #ShowUs that achieve incredible organic engagement.

But Dove knows there are people in the world who cannot interact with its campaigns in the public domain. So in Indonesia, Dove created a chatbot to answer the more personal, sensitive questions people just can't say in public. A total of 350,000 women across the country interacted with the chatbot, resulting in thousands of sales.

Employers Take Center Stage In A Divided World

Recognition of the importance of both public and private channels indicates to me companies are acutely aware of some of the challenges facing our world. But in 2020, they’ll have to take it a step further. Staying neutral will no longer be an option. Brands must take clear positions on complex issues, such as the environment, diversity, and gender equality. Consumers need to buy into you before they buy from you.

According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, 75% of people said they trust their employers to do what is right—and they trust them more than NGOs, businesses, government, and the media. According to Deloitte, purpose-driven companies report higher workforce and customer satisfaction. And they also experience higher market share gains and grow three times faster on average than their competitors.

Levi Strauss & Co is a fantastic example. The company is strongly committed to social issues—and it’s definitely paying off. Levi’s had a great debut on the NYSE in 2019 (and continues to do well), touting its commitment toward the environment, gun control, LGBTQ rights, and parental priorities as a competitive advantage. By treating its employees generously and investing in social responsibility initiatives, Levi’s was early to realize happier employees stay longer and try harder, and customers, in turn, reward companies that share their values.

A new year is the ideal time to energize your strategies and set fresh goals for the next 12 months. Social is more fun and more connected than ever before, and consumers are ready to take the leap and love you if you can connect with them and not just sell to them. Are you ready? 

Up Next

Trends

5 New Year's Resolutions Marketers Should Make (And Keep)

Strategy

Where Executives Are Placing Their Biggest Bets In 2020

From the Blog

Dig Deeper