If you've been working on social media marketing for as long as I have (13+ years, starting with a Land Rover brief back in 2006!), you know that this is the time of year when predictions fly around like Christmas confetti.
While my predictions for the top five social media trends that will dominate in the coming year may not be revolutionary, they may help in putting social strategies together for 2020.
Influencer marketing will grow... differently
The Influencer Marketing Hub reports that 59% of marketers plan on increasing their influencer marketing spend in 2020. That's due in no small part to the fact that, according to the same source, every $1 spent on influencers generates $5.20 in revenue. Many of our clients are seeing similar results.
But as savvy consumers get wiser and wiser to the commercial realities of influencer marketing, I think trust in (and therefore appeal of) traditional influencers will begin to fall next year.
That's when we'll see the rise of new kinds of influencers. Thanks to the continued rise of micro-influencers - already an established niche - to new areas like employee influencers pioneered by platforms like DSMN8, influencer marketing won't die next year. It'll just evolve.
The maturation of social shopping
Shopping directly from social platforms has been around in various rudimentary forms for a couple of years now. But with the likes of Instagram and Pinterest going all-in to enable consumers to buy stuff directly from their platforms, 2020 could well be the year when the social shops are open to brands of all sizes. The result? Even more convenience for consumers and even shorter purchase funnels for brands.
Stories become unstoppable
Once upon a time, Snapchat was the only platform for brands to share playful, less polished and more honest content in a story format. Now Facebook, Instagram, and even YouTube have their own story tools. With the 'average' brand sharing almost as many Stories per day as in-feed posts, and brands like Gap reporting a 73% higher CTR from Insta Stories vs feed campaigns, it's impossible to see anything other than an increase in story usage in 2020.
IGTV flies or flops
Only a few weeks ago, the conversation in our office turned to how "nobody uses IGTV". Driven by its intense rivalry with Snapchat, whose own Discover tool has been a big success this year, I think Instagram will push IGTV hard in 2020.
That doesn't mean it will succeed of course. My team's feeling was that IGTV will fizzle out over the next 12-18 months. But given the edge that Instagram Stories now has over Snapchat, expect to see the head honchos at Instagram throwing everything they've got at IGTV in a bid to make it fly.
More political chaos
After Brexit, Cambridge Analytica and all that, next year sees the return of the boss of them all: the American presidential election.
Given the role of social media in the 2016 election, the 2020 match-up will be probably the most closely scrutinised of all. With Twitter already announcing a total ban on political ads and Facebook going in exactly the opposite direction, the battle will certainly be fought differently next year. Organic content will arguably become more important (see Boris Johnson's Love Actually parody as an example from our own election) and journalists and pressure groups will be paying close attention to the Facebook Ad Library.
So there you have it; plan wisely for the year ahead.