As we gear up to enter a new decade it couldn’t be more obvious that the world has become increasingly more digital, a reality that will continue to drive how we do business. Every year, Hootsuite commissions a digital report that looks at the global data and trends, and for us it is fascinating to dig into the data and make sense of our ever-growing digital and connected world. Since we started, the world has become more digital, more connected, more social - and simply more people. We always start looking back at the information we gathered from Digital 2019 to help us predict trends, and with that provide some insights for marketers in 2020 as we prepare to launch the Digital 2020 report.
Last year we found nearly 4.4 billion, or 57%, of the global population are active internet users, and as of Q4, over 3.7 billion of those people are confirmed social media users. Those numbers are staggering when we consider that just over 15 years ago, in 2004, MySpace was the first platform to reach a million users a month. Social media continues to define itself as the place where people convene, connect and engage, and where brands must be to be part of their world.
Canada is a global leader for social media adoption — ranking as the seventh largest advertising audience for LinkedIn globally with 16 million users over 18 years old, that’s 52% of our adult population accessible via the networking platform. Not surprisingly, Canadians also love Instagram — ranking as the fifteenth largest Instagram audience globally at 12.4 million, or 38% of users over 13 years old. But some data was a bit more unexpected. Eight million Canadians are on Snapchat, and the age demographic is fairly evenly split from 13 to over 35 years old. Same goes for Pinterest where nearly eight million Canadians can be found. This opens up all kinds of opportunities for marketers to get creative and challenge the rules in 2020. Hootsuite gazed into the crystal ball and put together a look ahead at the turn of the decade and 2020, identifying the key trends marketers should use to reach this active audience.
Trend 1: Brands strike a balance between public and private engagement. It’s something we do as humans, so it’s no surprise that brands should follow suit. According to data from GlobalWebIndex, 63% of people say messaging apps are where they feel most comfortable sharing and talking about content. However exposure to the content is most often on public social feeds. There’s a need for both in a well developed social marketing strategy: start the conversation in public, give it an opportunity to deepen in private. It’s the natural journey of most social conversations, whether brand to consumer or friend to friend. Think about how you might seamlessly move people from your public channel to your private feed while delivering a consistent brand experience. And make use of the tools available to automate that process where it makes sense. Messenger bots are best for addressing the most common customer queries, the ones that come up time and time again, while real people still need to be available to handle the more nuanced customer inquiries and personalize your brand.
Trend 2: Employers take center stage in a divided world. It’s no surprise that our respondents highlighted the feeling of division in our society. But not all is lost. The good news is that people are placing their trust in their employers and looking to their leaders to take a stand. According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, 75% of people say they trust their employers to do what is right — more than government, media, or business in general. So it’s up to brands to heed the advice. Brands that earn employee trust through a genuine commitment to purpose will gain a significant competitive advantage, if they do it right. It can’t just be a marketing strategy, but instead should be thought of as a way of being. If it is core to your brand identity, employees will also get behind it and be your biggest advocates. Pride in your brand will set the right tone from the inside out, and people will take notice.
Trend 3: TikTok shakes up the status quo. It has certainly come in with a bang. TikTok was the most installed app in Q1 of 2019, and now boasts over 800 million monthly active users, spending an incredible amount of time — 46 minutes per day to be exact — consuming videos that are typically only 15 seconds long. Will it last? It’s hard to tell. What we do know is that it will be fun while it lasts. And it can provide marketers with insight into the tastes and motivations of the next age demographic, armed with buying power. Gen Z is fully in the driver’s seat on TikTok, 69% of users on the platform are between 16 and 24 years old. Knowing what resonates with them can help inform marketing strategies you might implement on other channels where ROI can better be measured.
Trend 4: Social marketing and performance marketing collide. In putting together these trends we interviewed over 3,100 marketers around the world and found that the top two outcomes they want to achieve on social are brand awareness and driving conversions. Makes sense. But one can’t really exist without the other and neither one is mutually exclusive. ‘Social Veterans’ may be inclined to see separate strategies for each of these outcomes, seeing the role of organic social contributing to brand awareness and possibly sitting with your PR team, and paid social contributing to sales. But the impact of brand building is a marathon, not a sprint, and should be given the time to grow. Paid campaigns can boost brand awareness and initiate a relationship with your customer long before they are your customer. In 2020, social media teams that can optimize ads on the fly without losing sight of the longer term strategy, all while staying on brand, will be the most successful.
Trend 5: The social proof gap closes. Let’s call it the age old quandary of measuring the impact of our social marketing efforts against business objectives. Despite increased access to technology that provides all kinds of data, measuring the return on investment is still a big challenge for social marketers. For example, 70% of our survey respondents aren’t using an attribution model at all, which makes it hard to prove the value of social compared to data-rich channels like paid media. However through our interviews we found marketers who feel they are doing a great job measuring ROI. And what do they have in common? They unite their social data with other metrics to get a more holistic view of their customers. All relationships are complex - whether person to person or brand to consumer. The more you view data points as integrated and connected, the more likely you will be able to build relationships that last.
A key learning for 2020 — always be ready for change. Use these trends to help forge deeper, more authentic, and longer-lasting connections with customers, putting social at the center of everything they do. But also remember to remain flexible and responsive to whatever gets thrown your way. And the full report can help you with that too.
Henk Campher is Vice President Corporate Marketing at Vancouver-based social media management company Hootsuite