2020 Social Media Trends, According to HubSpot’s Social Media Professor

If social media trends from 2019 taught us anything, it’s that personalized content is key for success. We also saw brands starting to listen more closely to their audience. I only expect this to intensify in 2020 with the world moving towards tighter data regulations and higher expectations from people for the content they consume. The world is numb to generic social media broadcasts.

On top of that, there are more social media channels than ever before, but the main three still lead the pack in regards to return on investment. In the most recent HubSpot Research survey, marketers reported that Facebook provides the biggest return on investment.

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To fine-tune your social media strategy in 2020, we’ll explore doubling down on social listening, investing in private groups for your hard-earned audience, and staying away from using your social media as a broadcast channel.

Continue Investing in Your Audience (Your Best Content Consultant)

When we talk about social media tactics we often discuss great creative, influencers, and copy. But, in a recent HubSpot Research survey, marketers reported social listening as their #1 tactic in their social media strategy. This is a trend we have been seeing at HubSpot.

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By listening to your audience, before creating anything, you foster community and learn what resonates.

Let’s take video content as an example. Videos can engage audiences on a personal level. They don’t have to be professionally produced — I’ve found that some of the best videos are created with smartphones.

I’ll never forget when an esteemed colleague congratulated me on my new HubSpot role with a short video on my Twitter feed, versus a standard tweet. How easy and cool is that? Don’t be afraid to try something new.

Once you’ve started to publish branded content that your audience is engaging with, consider sourcing additional content from your audience, and continue to test. Identify your KPIs, publish various types of content, track your progress, adjust your content, then repeat!

User-generated content not only ties into your brand, but also it provides a fresh voice.

If you see that fans of your brand are doing things that are inspiring, how can you highlight or do more of it? Keep encouraging fans to share, because their brand affinity grows when they see other people posting about you.

But don’t forget: always ask permission to reshare their content and make sure you give credit where it’s due.

Overall, your audience is one of your best sources of content. I’ll touch on this more later, but at HubSpot, we’ve seen a lot of success building communities for our audience.

According to HubSpot research, 80% of brands say their community building efforts have resulted in increased traffic. You can also expand that passionate audience by identifying niche influencers who you can work with to promote your brand.

According to a report from Talkwalker and HubSpot, conversations around influencer marketing have dropped 42% year on year, while mentions of fake influencers are on the rise. Based on that, the report predicts there will “be a revolution of how marketers manage their influencer campaigns. Micro & nano influencers (500 to 10,000 followers) will help mitigate potential risks and have built smaller, more enthusiastic audiences.”

Start Building Private Groups for Your Passionate Audience

In its early years, the internet essentially was organized as online communities of people talking to each other about specific topics. Then, somewhere, it shifted. But to me, that’s where the magic was, and that connection is what people still crave.

Our latest research shows that 18% of marketers in North America are using Facebook Groups. With 1.4 billion people using Facebook Groups globally, I can see this trend continuing to rise among marketers.

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Through groups, you can find exactly the right people to connect with. Creating a dedicated community for your loyal audience will increase engagement over time. Groups feel safe, encourage dialogue and are great for user research.

At HubSpot Academy, Corey Braccialini and Jen Stefancik created a private Facebook group to support people interested in learning more about content marketing. In the last 4 months, they saw the group grow from 0 to 5,346 people.

Corey told me, “we weren’t really sure if this was something people wanted, but the consistent growth and engagement rates have shown that people were eager to connect in an authentic community about this topic. It helps us identify who is our most engaged audience. To some extent, we know these are our advocates and promoters.”

The key to building a successful group is to stay engaged and involved. Nurturing a group is just as important as creating one.

Stop Using Social as a Broadcast Communication Channel

Social media marketing is about community building and engagement. It is no longer just a broadcast channel for brands, so you want to ensure you are not generating the one-way messaging that was so popular — and ineffective — in the past.

For example, HubSpot’s social team uses quizzes on Instagram Stories to engage with (and try to better understand) the audience.

A lot of this work to engage your audience is done in the copy. Don’t ignore your copywriting.

Social media marketers value creative imagery and videos, sometimes at the cost of engaging copy. I’ve seen some big mistakes that could’ve been easily avoided with a proper review.

But it’s not just about proofreading — make sure your team includes someone with the right content skills, including a strong understanding of voice and tone, and also proper context. Good copywriting can escalate a brand (think, Wendy’s Twitter), and bad copy can hurt your brand’s image.

What can you do instead of broadcasting your messages? Spend time fostering your community by engaging with your followers through comment replies, direct messages, or reposting their content.

You’ll also want a dedicated resource for social listening and monitoring, as well as escalating comments/posts internally as needed and leading external responses.

My Recommended Social Media Tool

There are some great online tools to help you create professional content quickly and easily. Canva is one of many resources for social media marketers to design images that are on brand and engage your audience. When considering your creative content, experiment with and test different styles and types of content. A savvy audience will get tired of seeing the same images in their feeds.

Take a Deep-Dive Into the State of Social Media Marketing

It’s a challenging and exciting time in the world of social media marketing. I’m sure your head is spinning. To get a sense of what other marketers are thinking, get access to over 70 data points and trends from over 3,400 marketers around the world. Dive deeper into HubSpot’s survey data by clicking the download button on the CTA below.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in our “Not Another State of Marketing Report” that went live on February 17th, 2020. A lot has changed in the world since then, so keep that in mind as you process these trends and data.

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