Social Media 2020

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Social media in general had a tough year in 2018. Criticisms of fake news, private data being sold and made public by hackers and other issues gave it a bad reputation in the general public. Even the media that uses, perhaps even relies on, social media was critical. But social media is not going away.

Hootsuite made some predictions for 2020 social media (jumping right over this year)  that are pretty safe bets to make. For example, based on their annual global study of internet, social, and mobile adoption across 239 countries, social media usage will continue to grow.  I agree.

In 2017, one million new people joined social networks every day. Nearly a quarter of a billion new users came online for the first time in 2017. Where is the fastest growth? No surprise that it is places like Africa. Five years ago it would have been the emerging Chinese market, but that country has been pretty much conquered. Though Google, Facebook and others would still like a bigger piece of the share.)

Product discovery becomes more visual and social, according to GlobalWebIndex, because about half of internet users follow brands they like or brands they are thinking of buying something from on social media.

Again, the fast-growth markets are in Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa. In  the Philippines, Kenya and Morocco, social media beats the big search engines as a way to research purchasing and so it is a good bet that by 2020 search’s grip on product research will be even less. I have to believe that search engine companies are looking hard at that trend. And we know that Google never got social right. We saw the end of Google+ in 2018.

Have you done searches in the past year using voice via Siri, Alexa et al? Visual and voice search are also growing and Baidu expects half of searches by 2020 are going to be through images or speech by 2020. Baidu has the second largest search engine in the world but (like the leader’s company) this Chinese multinational technology company that specializes in Internet-related services and products and artificial intelligence, is also involved in lots of other tech, such as autonomous vehicles.

Pinterest – which I find myself using less and less – has Lens which uses machine learning for brand and product discovery and could really help broaden their reach.

On the commercial user side of things, I don’t think we have really seen much innovation in areas like customer service and support using messaging apps and chatbots. That may be a 2020 trend.

Some would say that social video is at a saturation point. I agree. So if it is to grow there needs to be some evolution. We know that watching videos on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram is commonplace. How much of your time doing that is for social or pleasure and how much is coming from commercial and promotion?  I suspect the latter uses will increase. I read that for some late night talk shows and Saturday Night Live video replay on YouTube or their own sites now accounts for 20% or more of their advertising income. It’s no wonder that Jimmy Fallon urges you after every clip to subscribe to their channel.

With all this growth, there are still trends that point to possible declines. The video saturation may not cause evolution but instead just mean that people are tired of all this video hitting them and stop watching.

Privacy is a huge concern and people are sharing less personal information on major networks. I disconnected many social services from others. I don’t share my contacts as readily. I don’t use Google or facebook or Twitter to sign into other services if I can help it. Companies know this. facebook has disallowed me from automatically sharing posts from other networks on my profile.

I keep hearing that Gen Y and Z will drive increased adoption of technology like VR and AR. But that is not what I see in my students that fall into these generational groups. Like myself, they just don’t see compelling reasons to own and use expensive glasses/goggles or add apps yet.

I think it is a given that AI and mobile will continue to grow and slip into our daily lives in many almost unseen ways.


You can read Hootsuite’s report on Digital in 2018 and make your own plans to join (or rebel against) the rise of social in the year ahead.

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