Social Media Trends 2020


“What are the biggest social media trends for 2020?” What better question to kick off this year’s Social Media Week Bristol?

Whether social media marketing is your main role, or a skill you’re developing as a business owner, it’s an aspect of running a business that can’t be ignored.

As organisers of Social Media Week Bristol, Team AMBITIOUS had the opportunity to attend lots the events – a PR agency perk!  So, we headed to Social Media Trends 2020 to find out where social media is heading, what the biggest social media trends are and how it will affect brands and businesses.

Hosted by integrated communications agency Battenhall, founder Drew Benvie and Account Director Rhian Robinson shared their insights for the year ahead …

Trend 1 – the year of Stories

For any regular user of social media this one will hardly come as a shock, but the power of the stats might still surprise you. Battenhall analysed 100 of the biggest brands on Instagram and monitored their content for a month. It found:

  • 10,079 Stories were published – compared to 8,949 feed posts, 205 IGTV posts and 125 live posts
  • 98% of accounts used Stories
  • Almost a quarter of brands posted Stories on a daily basis, with nearly a third posting a few times a week and a quarter posting them once a week.

So, Stories are clearly being favoured by big brands. But what makes them so successful?

  • Innovative – new features pop up all the time, keeping the interface fresh and appealing.
  • Easy to use and enjoy – Stories can be ‘rougher’ than feed content and can be created quickly and ‘in the moment’.
  • Authentic – the audience sees a more real side to the brand, leading to better engagement – content has moved on from a status update to a conversation starter.
  • New way of browsing – navigating Stories is different to the scroll, breeding a different type of behaviour. They can be personalised and more private and disappear after a day, so there’s no legacy.
  • Be a curator – users can easily share other Instagram posts and Stories to their own Stories.

What’s next for branded Stories?

Brands are undoubtedly making the shift to Stories – often they don’t understand or use them personally, but they are recognising that there’s a need to invest in this content.

Drew predicts that brands will be investing more into design and animation, and that they will use Stories as a place to push the audience through to longform TV on IGTV.

Another new territory could be the growth of social commerce. Facebook is already making noises about its own currency, so we could see a more seamless commercial journey appearing in Stories in the near future.

Trend 2 – Insta reality

Are you bored of Insta-perfection yet? The evidence shows that users are now just as keen to see the real side of life on Instagram as the beautiful depictions that helped the platform rise to fame.

Battenhall’s Rhian Robinson explained how users now want to see before and after, behind the scenes and the journey. And, engagement can be high even if the content isn’t perfect – often it’s the imperfect stuff that gets people talking.

Take Lily Pebbles’ posts about the difficulties she’d faced in pregnancy, which were incredibly popular. Place that alongside Celeste Barber, who has 5.7m followers and has become an influencer in her own right for the comedy images she posts of herself copying celeb poses. Even the celebs she is mocking love her and repost her images.

Everyday users are also making fun of Insta-perfection – images that appear to be taken on plane journeys are revealed to show that they are simply travel magazines taken through toilet seats!

What does this mean to brands and should they embrace real life storytelling?

We only need to look at paid influencers being called out for being too fake to see that audiences want something more authentic – even if it is clearly paid or sponsored content. Rhian acknowledges that this takes more work to get right, but says it is achievable.

She urges brands to consider unlikely influencers, citing how Battenhall looked beyond beauty influencers when launching a new beauty product. Instead, they found extreme sports stars and gaming influencers – both groups had lifestyles that benefited hugely from the product, but had never been approached by beauty brands before.

Trend 3 – Putting the ‘anti’ into social

A number of high-profile social media campaigns, including the Brexit vote and Trump elections, promoted divisive political movements and used underhand methods.

This growth in hacks, fake news and false accounts are creating the desire for change and greater privacy.

As a result, we’ve seen messaging apps increasing in popularity and posts to news feeds decreasing. But, this rise in ‘private social’ creates a headache for brands as they can’t see and listen to what people are saying about them.

Social networks have been forced to up their game – Facebook now has thousands of staff paid to remove bad content. In the first three months of 2019, Facebook deleted a lot of anti social media:

  • 19 billion fake profiles – that’s 1 million profiles per hour being removed
  • 76 billion spam posts
  • A further 81.4k deletions per day
  • Twitter has released 10 million anti social posts and 4,000 profiles for open analysis

In the year ahead, this will lead more brands towards private social. Battenhall predicts that social experts will spend more time on reputation and crisis management to help police the brands.

They will also put more energy into creating ‘private content’ that works on messaging apps and private Stories, and more time into listening and insights to help them understand this new world.

Trend 4 – the next big social network: Tik Tok

Talking to an audience mostly out of the core Tik Tok demographic of teens and tweens, Drew started by explaining how the latest big social network has come about.

Previously called, it started as a music discovery platform, with people singing or lip-synching to a song on camera. A year ago, it was bought by Asian network Tik Tok and it is now bigger than Twitter! In 2018 it was one of the most downloaded apps.

This poses another problem for brands – it’s not a platform where companies can create a profile and post away. The content is user-generated, and users put a lot of effort into what they post.

There are opportunities for brands to work with influencers and collaborations, but it’s got to be authentic. So how can brands make their mark in this popular platform?

5 top tips to get the most from Tik Tok

  1. Download it and browse
  2. Use search and hashtags to explore
  3. Look at how other brands are featured in content
  4. Identify other influencer collaborations
  5. Be aware that teen trends lead the way – this platform may not seem relevant to you right now, but look at how Instagram adopted many of Snapchat’s features to widen their appeal.

Read more about our experiences at Social Media Week Bristol – and if you went along, connect with us on Twitter to tell us what you thought of the events.