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PR and SM trends to watch out for in 2020

December 11, 2019

As some of our favorite podcasters often say, we’re not in the prediction business. At Sprocket, we generally choose to rely instead on smart strategies, data, and knowledge gleaned from years of experience to craft future ideas and campaigns.

But as we all tend to look toward the new year, it’s hard not to think about what overarching PR, Social Media, and Influencer themes will present themselves in the new year. What strategies will be omnipresent? How will users engage with our current social media channels, or will they jump onto new channels instead? After considering these and other questions, we put together our best predictions for where our industry is headed into 2020 and beyond. 

  1. Direct shopping through social media will increase. Instagram unveiled its in-channel shopping feature in 2018, and the feature has helped brands increase sales considerably. Pinterest, too, features Buyable Pins. Increasingly, social media users will want to make things even simpler by purchasing directly in the app. For Instagram’s part, the channel is continually increasing the list of brands who can sell directly via Instagram. That list is only poised to get longer in 2020. 
  2. Stories over errythang. Users have proven that they love the short-term nature of Instagram Stories and similarly short-term content, and these features will, increasingly, be a major consideration in advertisers’ ad strategies. We saw that some in 2019—that Instagram bumped up users’ exposure to ads in Stories—and it’s likely to increase in the new year. Also, we wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a downturn in time spent / amount of content posted to the Feed as attention increasingly focuses on Stories. 
  3. Data-driven PR campaigns will be utterly, completely necessary. Truly, this has been non-negotiable for several years, but for those communicators who haven’t yet done it: the Data bus is about to leave the station. 2020 is the year to implement tangible, reportable measurement into your campaign strategy, or risk being left behind.
  4. Disappearing likes will have negative consequences for influencers. To date, social media channels like Instagram don’t receive a cut of the money influencers are paid by brands—unless those influencer campaigns include an ad buy. If Instagram removes ‘likes’ from Instagram content (which they say they’re doing to have a positive impact on users’ mental health) the engagement metric becomes less of a measuring tool for brand campaigns. Instead, advertising data becomes a metric that brands can look to, and so social ads become a larger piece of brands’ influencer strategies—potentially leaving less budget left over to pay the influencer herself. 
  5. LinkedIn will continue to gain traction. This year, LinkedIn users and advertisers saw some improvement in its ad platform. In 2020, that will continue, and the channel’s ads, which have a reputation for being almost prohibitively expensive for some advertisers, will get cheaper. 
  6. TikTok may falter. This one’s controversial, we know! But hear us out. In terms of user base, TikTok is fairly similar to Snapchat—mostly because a lot of Snapchat users migrated over to TikTok in the past year. That same fate could meet TikTok when the next It channel launches and Gen Xers and Millennials hop off the TikTok bandwagon and onto the next one.
  7. Social media companies will face increased regulation. This one depends largely on the political climate in 2020, and how much time and political capital politicians want to devote to oversight of social media entities. Of course, Mark Zuckerberg has spent plenty of time in 2019 in front of Congress, which we wrote about here. Will his behemoth social media company—the one that invented social media—be broken up by regulators? Or, at least, will Facebook and other channels start to more seriously regulate themselves? 

What trends do you think will emerge in 2020?