The holidays are coming
It’s official. The holidays are coming. When we’re not critiquing this year’s John Lewis Christmas ad, our heads are in planning mode. At any given time in December, you’ll find a Social Media Manager with a tab that’s always open. It contains a spreadsheet – next year’s calendar waiting to be filled. A bit like a stocking on Christmas Eve.
#1: We’ll (finally) stop counting likes
I see a change coming in how we report on social media engagement. It’s well documented that Instagram is trialling the removal of public likes. Back in July of this year, econsultancy’s Nikki Gilliland reported that Instagram is expanding the geographic regions of a “like count ban” test. Essentially, the test hides public like counts from users. And Twitter has been testing an app called twttr that no longer displays the number of likes, retweets, and replies on reply threads. YouTube is ahead of the game, they have already simplified the way in which they display subscriber counts.
So what does this mean for those of us required to report on social metrics? Well, a focus on quality engagement rather than the sheer volume of likes is nothing new. Since the dawn of click farms and bots, many of us have looked further than the numbers. Here at Orlo, we’ve always counselled our clients to determine success on metrics that show quality engagement, or that truly signal success for your brand and campaign. We get it – likes and a growing subscriber count make us feel loved. But in 2020, smart companies will look for other genuine metrics of success. Less noise, and more authentic engagement.
#2: We’ll “channel” our efforts appropriately
Brands have a plethora of choice in terms of places to engage with their community. And new channels are popping up all the time. This year, everyone became obsessed with TikTok. And rightly so. They have grown from 500 million monthly active users in June 2018, to over one billion. And when so-called “serious” brands (such as The Washington Post) pay attention, then others will naturally follow. Meanwhile, Snapchat now has 210 million average daily users. And earlier this year, US teenagers claimed that it was “the most important social network of their generation”.
We could list many other emerging social media platforms, but we’ve got other things to cover in this blog. The main networks aren’t going anywhere, so there’s only one question: how will social media managers spread their time in 2020?
Now more than ever, you need to consider carefully which channels you focus on. And, most importantly, where your communities and target audiences are actually spending their time. Think about what they care about, and what they look for from you. What problems are you, as a brand, solving in their lives? And how (and where) can you best deliver content that does just that?
Remember that the quality of social content we see is staggering. There’s video content out there that’s worthy of a cinema screening. If you’re going to make any sort of impression, you need to contract and focus on what you can do well. Less is more, especially if you work on your own or in a small team.
#3: We’ll make it micro
When it comes to influencers, there’s no doubt that the industry is growing. The BBC recently reported that influencer-sponsored posts grew by 150% in the last year, and predicts that brands will up their spend on influencer marketing in 2020. This would make it a $10bn industry. It’s also an industry that is becoming more regulated, with the CMA publishing guidance at the beginning of this year regarding transparency of endorsements.
However, whilst the industry is growing, the days of blowing your whole budget on one sponsored post are, perhaps, ending. Rather than working with the big names, many brands are preferring to invest in micro-influencers who have niche communities. It’s about relevance. If your community is engaged in topics around gardening, it makes sense to work with a gardening micro-influencer, who has a small but engaged audience. Rather than picking a celebrity with a huge following, and hoping for some crossover with your target demographic. Your budget will go further, and your collaboration will appear more authentic and relevant.
Also, to our first point, many social networks are changing the ways in which engagement is displayed. Brands will, therefore, need a closer connection with the influencers they work with. It’s the only way they’ll be able to access meaningful metrics about their partnerships.
A focus on quality over quantity
The beady-eyed amongst you will have noticed a theme here. A focus on relevance over trend. Genuine engagement over meaningless likes. Engaged niche communities over mass broadcast to millions of subscribers. Our main prediction for 2020 is that marketing teams will need to focus on what they do best, on quality over quantity. Both in terms of tactics and metrics. It’s also kinder on our budgets, and a sanity-saving approach for the busy Social Media Manager. It’s a great reason to step back and double down. Just think of it as our gift to you.