8 Pioneering Social Media Trends To Watch this Decade

Guest Post by Marius Jansen

You might wonder if and why it’s important for you to follow, understand and implement social media trends on top of your daily work. Here’s the reason: Industry developments and a fast-paced environment are heavily connected to your work efforts. In the long-run, it’s not the one with the biggest budgets or the strongest brand that is most successful but the one that is able to quickly adapt to a changing environment.

Only if you observe trends closely and are able to implement them into your strategy rapidly you can be a First Mover or a Fast Follower. A great example for a brand doing this successfully is Springlane. Since 2017, the brand acquires 50% of its online sales via Pinterest. Or take Daniel Wellington, a company that started building a brand imperium solely through influencer send-outs and giftings in a time when the word “influencer” was still mostly unknown in Germany.

Our trend radar serves as a guide through the most important trends – without claim to completeness – and to classify them according to their relevance. The trends are divided into three categories: 

ACT:

These topics are current trends with many existing best practices. Brands can follow and implement these trends without intensive reflection.

THINK:

For these trends, successful pilots already exist. Move fast on these ones and swiftly evaluate whether the success of these best practice cases is transferable to your own brand!

WATCH:

These megatrends are hypotheses of the future. Some promising pilots already exist but they don’t allow for a direct transfer to other brand’s marketing strategies yet. We will have to wait and see how these trends are further going to evolve in the long run.

Social Media Trend Radar by Social Match

Social Media Trend Radar by Social Match

WATCH these trends this decade

Visual Search

The options that first visual searches by Google Lens, Bing Visual Search or Pinterest offer can be very valuable, especially when the user cannot describe exactly what he/she is looking for. Examples are interior inspirations on Pinterest or researching the origin of buildings or objects we are interested in.

Visual Search offers a high degree of usability as we don’t really use our smartphone’s keyboard anymore, except for communicating via messengers. Even on WhatsApp and other similar services, there’s a trend towards voice messaging. SEO-enthusiasts should be aware of this changing environment.

Trend Forecasting 

Disciplines like content marketing, real-time marketing, and social media marketing require regular and quick adaptations of advertising campaigns and content to enhance attraction and image. It becomes more crucial than ever to recognize your audience’s trending topics and include them in your content strategy. Worst case, recognizing trends too late or implementing them incorrectly into your overall communication strategy can be harmful to your image. Implementing trends can be a challenge for marketers advertising to an audience and generation they are not part of, like Gen Z or a niche audience.

Marketers who now start to build structures and processes to discover trends early on will get ahead of the curve. Some software services and agencies already offer focus groups and opportunities for brands to gain access to their audiences.

WhatsApp Ads

In mid-2019, Facebook announced to include ads into its messenger. According to the latest news, these plans have changed and the company will only roll out ads in the status updates, so-called status ads.

If Facebook fully integrates ads into WhatsApp, this will have immense potential for the advertising industry. The messenger covers 75% of users in all age groups – numbers that no other social media platform or messenger app generates. We yet have to see when Facebook will make this move.

Virtual Influencers 

Apart from using virtual influencers as a medium, brands can even create their own virtual influencers to amplify their brand identity. Since this trend is still rather new, it’s currently easy for brands to gain attention and increase reach with this method. Brands like Calvin Klein, Vogue or Prada are collaborating with virtual influencers like @lilmiquela.

The challenge is to create video content regularly, e.g. for Instagram Stories, that delivers a relevant and ongoing story. Real influencers can produce this content ad hoc which is one of their success factors. For creators of virtual influencers, the efforts of producing videos and creative storytelling are comparably high. When the production is going to become easier in the future, this is definitely a thrilling trend to observe!

THINK about these trends in 2020 

Data-driven Content

To produce content that appeals to your community and has the potential to go viral, you need more than creativity. And creativity itself is only partly scalable. Thus, content creation becomes more analytical. One possible strategy is to test user reactions towards content through paid advertising in different audiences before displaying the ads organically.

It’s important to understand the success factors of successful content and to accept that data needs to be collected, processed and serve as a base for the creation of new content. Daniel Minini and his Social Sweethearts team managed to identify these decisive success factors for virality and to build data-backed processes that generate viral content with an impressive frequency, generating an organic reach of 70 million users per month on average.

Ethical Marketing

In 2020, a strong brand is also based on a credible moral positioning. An example is the trend topic sustainability and the successful “Sinnfluencer” (= “sense” and “influence”). Brands that jump on this trend but are not able to actually live up to their promises are quickly being sidelined for greenwashing.

Another example is the impact that influencers had on the European elections. It doesn’t have to be a brand’s mission to position itself politically but brands need to generate awareness internally about which topics are and might become relevant for their audience. The brand’s values should reflect on content creation, campaign concepts, and community management.

User Gen Content for Social Proof

Social Proof is the interaction between the community and the brand which creates trust for potential customers. Positive feedback, discussions, engagement, and recommendations from the community strengthen the brand and increase the products’ attractiveness.

Social Proof can be seen as the reality check of the brand’s promise. It’s no longer a one-way street of promotional communication. Instead, marketers are building a platform for exchange between users – 91% of consumers trust personal recommendations more than advertising promises.

One way of reaching an audience is User Gen Content. Campaigns and social media strategies should aim to promote this. The younger the audience, the more promising the strategy since younger users are more willing to create content which is obvious when we take TikTok and the amount of content that is produced on TikTok into account. Tools that analyze users’ content and provide this content to brands can be very helpful in this regard. 

TikTok Ads 

On TikTok, everyone can become a star. The algorithm of the parent company Bytedance neglects whom the user follows. It shows the videos according to the user’s interests and quickly recognizes which of the videos has the potential for engagement. With this method, videos with a high entertainment factor can easily go viral without having a high follower base.

Therefore, many brands and users are attracted by the opportunity to generate reach and awareness seemingly rather easily through this channel. For brands, however, there’s not yet an obvious strategy for success so far. The current concept consists of a strategy that combines challenges, influencer marketing, and owned brand content. To be successful on TikTok you need to know and understand these factors and be able to create your own creative concept.

Besides, the boarding costs for current advertising formats, e.g. the hashtag challenge, are quite high. Having to pay a six-digits amount without being able to create proper reportings after your campaign is not unusual. Since the beginning of this year, some selected agencies are able to publish paid advertising for low budgets. TikTok follows the Facebook Ad Manager model and makes it easier to start the first pilots. 


Marius Jansen is Managing Partner at Social Match, an agency for modern Marketing with offices in Cologne, Münster, and New York. The agency provides influencer marketing, social media, content, paid media and event experiences for holistic strategies. Marius’ passion is to continuously challenge the Status Quo and be the first one to try new trends. He has a firm understanding of successful strategies, methods, and tools to identify and implement success factors, helping Social Match’s customers and his team to be innovative players. Find Marius on LinkedIn.