2020 Vision: Social Media Trends For The Year Ahead

Greg Miles | December 16th, 2019 | Read Time: 6 mins

As the book closes on another year (and another decade!) it’s time to reflect on the biggest changes in the world of social media over the last 12 months, and look ahead to the trends that are likely to shape 2020.

From banning political ads and tackling misinformation, to algorithm updates and new ad formats, let’s first take a look at the stories that mattered in 2019.

Or click here to go straight to our predictions for 2020.

January

  • To tackle misinformation, Facebook rolls out fact-checking operation in UK – Read More 
  • WhatsApp targets fake news with message limits – Read More
  • YouTuber James Charles brings Birmingham to a standstill, highlighting the growth of the influencer industry, as 8,000 fans turn up to his 30 second appearance – Read More
  • TikTok starts quietly testing ads on its platform – Read More

February

  • Facebook announces that all ad campaigns will be migrated to its automated budget allocation system, to automaticlaly optimise budgets across ad sets – Read More
  • LinkedIn rolls out its video live streaming service, LinkedIn Live – Read More

March

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  • TikTok hits one billion downloads – Read More
  • YouTube rolls out ‘information panels’ which provide users with fact checks for certain search terms and phrases – Read More
  • Tumblr sees traffic drop by nearly 100 million views following its porn ban – Read More
  • Instagram adds in-app checkout – Read More

April

  • The UK Government proposes new laws to protect social media users – Read More
  • LinkedIn introduces post reactions – Read More
  • Lush leaves social media – Read More
  • Pinterest begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange – Read More

May

2020 social media trends

  • Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes calls for the company’s break-up due to it having “unprecedented amounts of power.” – Read More
  • Facebook announces two News Feed algorithm updates – one to put close friends higher in the feed, and another to demote click bait – Read More

June

  • Instagram allows brands to create ads from influencer content – Read More
  • The UK Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) bans adverts which contain or promote harmful gender stereotypes – Read More
  • Facebook reveals plans for Libra Cryptocurrency – Read More
  • Instagram introduces ads to the explore tab – Read More

July

  • Facebook hit with $5 billion fine by the US Federal Trade Commission for its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal – Read More
  • Twitter tests new ‘hide replies’ feature – Read More

August

2020 social media trends (1)

  • Pinterest exceeds expectations with its Q2 results, as users grow by 30% – Read More
  • Facebook tests subscription model for Watch – Read More

September

  • Facebook launches Dating service in 20 countries – Read More
  • LinkedIn makes it easier to connect with service providers – Read More
  • Facebook announces Horizon, a new VR social network – Read More
  • Snapchat relaxes time constraints for ads, allowing video ads up to 3 minutes in length – Read More
  • Pinterest launches ‘Shop The Look’ ads – Read More

October

  • Instagram launches Threads, a Close Friends chat app – Read More
  • Snapchat tests dynamic ads for product catalogues – Read More
  • Twitter bans all political ads – Read More

November

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  • Twitter launches topics, a new way to follow curated lists of interests – Read More
  • Instagram tests hiding likes globally – Read More
  • Pinterest launches Pinterest Shop for small businesses that make and sell products – Read More

December

  • Instagram begins asking new users for their birth date and will bar users younger than 13 from joining – Read More
  • Reddit reports 30% growth in monthly active users – Read More

What Next?

After keeping a close eye on the trends shaping the social media and digital landscape this year, let’s now turn our attention to how the story might unfold in 2020. These are the Bumbl predictions to help you stay ahead of the curve.

Influencers will show more integrity

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This year it became apparent that consumers were starting to distrust social media influencers, with one study finding that just 4% of users trust what influencers say online. The ASA also warned hundreds of influencers for breaking guidelines around sponsored content on the likes of Instagram.

With conflicting brand partnerships and overly-styled, disingenuous content, it is easy to see why consumer trust has followed a downward trajectory. To buck this trend in 2020, influencers will need to start saying no to brand offers more often, focusing only on high quality, well-aligned and long term partnerships. And hopefully that means a better quality news feed for everyone.

Digital detoxing will see overall screen-time decrease

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While platforms like TikTok, LinkedIn and Pinterest all showed impressive growth this year, in the new decade we may start to see more users spending less time on social media across the board. With studies claiming too much social media usage can lead to depression, and the public becoming more conscious of their media usage thanks to tools like Apple Screen Time, it’s likely that many users will start to shift away from screens to increase productivity and improve mental wellbeing.

As a result, people may also audit who they follow so that when they do spend time on their chosen social platforms, they are only seeing quality content. So if you’re not relevant, interesting, entertaining or insightful, your brand may get the chop.

Brands will get more creative, and focus less on engagement metrics

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The hidden like count is expected to inspire brands and users to be more experimental with their content, as they can hit publish without the pressure of being validated by fans and followers. Engagement metrics used to play a major role in a brand’s success on social media, acting as the driving force behind beating the algorithm and increasing reach. That still holds true today to some extent, but when you consider that organic reach is at an all time low, only a small % of users actively engage with content at all, and there being little to no correlation between engagement and brand sales, it’s likely that engagement will fall down the priority list for marketers.

This means that brands, as well as creators and everyday users, can now be more creative and experimental without worrying about social validation. With so much content published every day, there is now also a need to be different in order to break through and stand out.

Pinterest will provide new opportunities for brands – LinkedIn might not

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Pinterest’s growing arsenal of ad products provides an interesting new avenue for brands. Shop the look ads enable businesses to showcase multiple, buyable items within a Pin, and with users increasing by 30% since 2018, there are genuine opportunities, particularly for ecommerce brands that target its core user base of women, on the platform in 2020.

LinkedIn has also been touted by some as a new way of reaching B2C audiences, after a successful year of growth for the company. But unlike Pinterest, LinkedIn ads provide unapologetically expensive cost per clicks compared to the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. It’s also naturally riddled with hard sales messages, with many people being in selling mode (or bragging mode) on the platform. This jarring experience means some users may start to use the platform less, rather than more in 2020.

We’ll be closer to sports stars than ever before

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2020 will be a big year for sport, with the Olympics and Euro 2020 joining the list of sporting events that bless fans each year. And the sports coverage landscape is beginning to shift, with Amazon moving into Premier League, and Facebook and Twitter also entering the broadcasting space. 

But it’s the behind the scenes content and commentary from athletes themselves that make social media so exciting in the context of sport. We’re now closer to our sporting heroes than ever; reading their reaction to the game moments after the final whistle, and getting a glimpse of the dressing room via Instagram Stories. This makes social media the perfect ally when watching sport, which is why 93% of mobile users aged 18-25 use a connected device while watching TV. The second screen phenomenon brings with it more sponsorship opportunities for brands.

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