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Social Media trends 2020 – what to expect

Updated: Oct 9, 2023

What’s the betting that, despite the headway that you’d been making with your digital detox, your screentime has actually gone completely the other way during the COVID-19 lockdown?

Of course it’s increased. Our mobile devices – and social media – are our window into the outside world and our way of connecting with it.

From a very human perspective, social media helps us keep in touch with people and learn how they’re dealing with the crisis we find ourselves in; and, from a business and marketing perspective, it’s a vital tool in keeping things going and engaging with our audiences.

A blog on the social media trends to look out for in 2020 written today will be extremely different to one written in January or even early-February. One talked about social media usage continuing to grow in developing countries, but plateauing somewhat in economically advanced countries.

Well, with the wholly unfair benefit of 20/20 hindsight, I think we can quite confidently say that social media usage is continuing on an upward rise right across the world. Indeed, people are reportedly spending significantly more time using social media apps than they were before COVID-19 enveloped the world around us.

But how is the COVID-19 lockdown affecting user behaviours? We’ve recently discovered a great report by HubSpot on some of the trends they and their partners are expecting this year, and have summarised some key findings and takeaways below - with our own twist tailored to the academic marketing community.

Facebook usage up by 27%

A study published by The New York Times has reported a huge 27% upsurge in Facebook usage during the COVID-19 lockdown. Facebook enjoys 2.41 billion monthly active users and is the world’s third-most visited website after Google and YouTube.

So, those marketers in the academic community that were thinking of reducing their paid or organic activity on Facebook may want to think again.

The TikTok phenomenon

Do you TikTok? If so, you’re one of the whopping 1.5 billion people around the world that have downloaded the app, and, if you’re anything like us, you’re on it all too often – because it’s bonkers!

Without getting too bogged down in statistics, TikTok content creates more engagement than any other social media platform, and it caters for a younger audience in a way that no other mainstream social media audience can.

The challenge is going to be how brands and marketers really harness TikTok’s potential power to reach audiences in effective ways that represent a good return on investment (ROI). We think that the inherent differentness of the academic community could really play in its favour on TikTok. What are you waiting for? Get TikTok-ing!

Trust and kindness

If you’ve been watching TV – as so many of us have – or listening to the radio (or consuming any media, really), then you will have noticed a real softening of commercial and marketing messages and the way they’re being delivered. People just don’t have the tolerance for the ‘dog-eat-dog, we’re the best, look at us’ messages traditionally used by so many organisations. And this is translating to social media as well, of course.

So, see 2020 as a year not so much for celebrating awards or achievements, but as a way of building trust and human connections with your communities. Ask how they’re doing or how they’re coping at this difficult time for the world. Think wellness and well-being, kindness and hope.

If you’d like some inspiration, please check out our FREE WEBINARS offering expert advice on agile marketing, staying motivated at this strange time, and how to manage stress.

Also, check out the fantastic CILIP Wales For the Record initiative, which is asking for stories from everybody across the library and information world – from public libraries and knowledge managers to school librarians, higher and further education, the NHS, freelancers and specialist libraries – about how they’re managing during the COVID-19 lockdown.

LinkedIn is the best place for creating organic reach

LinkedIn may long have been seen as the very serious, straight-laced ‘please don’t treat this like Facebook’ member of the mainstream online media platform family (the one that you don’t want to get stuck with at a party) - but it’s going through a remarkable transformation.

Edgier and irreverent marketing is enjoying fantastic engagement and ROI on LinkedIn because 1. it goes against the traditional LinkedIn grain and brightens up people’s timelines 2. there is so much scope for great organic reach, due to LinkedIn not tying non-paid content down in the way that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram do.

We’d highly recommend, then, that marketers in the academic community consider rethinking their strategies and approaches to LinkedIn in 2020. Amazingly, it’s the new great old place to be seen!

Would you like to contribute to our blog or feature in one of our podcasts? Then please get in touch – we’d love to have you!

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