Looking for trends among the billions of online conversations is akin to looking for a needle in a haystack: A very difficult job.

Talkwalker and HubSpot have gathered more than 50 industry experts, PR professionals, and social media gurus from the Middle East and across the world to co-author a report that defines the trends that will shape the industry in 2020.

According to eMarketer report, there will be 2.77 billion people on social media by the end of 2019 and this figure will increase to 2.9 billion by 2020, and leapfrog to 3.02 billion by 2021.

Social media trends follow movements in culture, and they allegedly reveal the factors that influence consumers into purchasing products.

From the rise of TikTok to the growth of video, to the growing significance of brand trust, to the acceptance of AI:  these are the trends every marketer will be discussing next year and for years to come, said the Talkwalker and HubSpot report.

Here are the six biggest trends identified and how they will evolve in 2020.

Influencer engagement is starting to wane. "The inflated egos and megalomania of celebrity influencers and micro influencers will soon burst," said Ron Jabal, CEO of PAGEONE Group.

While conversations around influencer marketing have dropped by 42 percent year-on-year, inversely, mentions of fake influencers are on the rise, driving over 9,000 engagements in the first half of the year.

In 2020, the report predicts there will be a revolution of how marketers manage their influencer campaigns. Micro and nano influencers (500 to 10,000 followers) will help mitigate the potential risks. These are influencers who have built smaller, more enthusiastic audiences.

TikTok will be the next generation of social given that 66 percent of TikTok's users are under aged 30 and younger. According to the report, TikTok has close to 750 million monthly active users now.

Instagram, which is the fifth largest social media channel, hit 1 billion monthly active users in 2019. TikTok is obviously catching up fast.

Big brands like Pepsi, Nike and Sony Music are building communities on TikTok, aligning with new influencers to create content and dedicated brand following. Pepsi India is driving great user-generated content through their #SwagStepChallenge, with zero marketing spend on the platform.

Social media wellness will be an essential part of consumer engagement given how #digitaldetox is invigorating users. Social media addiction is now a recognized affliction, according to the report.

People are becoming more aware of how social media can impact their mental health. "Techniques for self-care and digital detoxes are set to become more common within workplaces that have a focus on employee health and well-being, including within the education sector,' said Dr Karen Sutherland, social media educator at University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia.

Social media marketers are advised to focus more on quality messaging over quantity— if people are cutting down on their social media usage, you’ll have fewer opportunities for them to bite.

Harnessing the power of data privacy and reining in fake news will be in focus to rebuild trust. About 3.1 percent of news stories related to brand trust were related to fake news and disinformation. However, fake news mentions dropped by 10.2 percent in H1 2019, compared to H2 2018.

“Powerful forces — like personalization and privacy — are changing the rules of social media," said Eva Taylor, senior manager, social marketing, Hootsuite.

In 2020, the big trend will be brands and platforms working hard to counteract the distrust perceived in social media. This will probably incorporate some form of regulation. Even Facebook believes there should be government regulation to help manage social media.

With 5G at hand, and the latest handsets with tech like 3D-depth lenses, 2020 looks to be the perfect time for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), to take off. Big time.

About 62K mentions of VR or AR were linked to 5G. In 2018, experts still considered the technology behind AR to be too discorded for practical use.

Brands like Coca-Cola are integrating augmented reality into all aspects of their digital transformation. If AR helps improve the user experience instore, VR will be essential for boosting it online.

Advertising is getting tougher. Millennials and Gen-Z are tech savvy generations demanding innovation, creativity, personalization, brand purpose, and transparency. In 2020, if you want to drive engagement and find new ways to reach your customers, you need to reconsider your ideas for marketing to Gen-Z.

About 84 percent of millennials say they don’t trust traditional advertising. With that generation owning significant spending power, new disruptive technologies will be needed to shake up marketing strategies, said the report.

“We live in the age of minimal attention spans and consumers are exploring new avenues of media consumption every day. When it comes to digital, brands need to embrace the outside in strategy," said Hitesh Rajwani, CEO of Social Samosa, an online publication that reports on social media marketing.

(Writing by Mily Chakrabarty; Editing by Seban Scaria)


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