Social media use has increased significantly over the past year, triggered by the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the daily lives and habits of people in custody.
New data found that the number of global social media users rose to 3.96 billion in early July 2020, an increase of more than 10% over the past year. It also means that more than half of the world’s population uses social media.
Marketers take note of this, of course. According to Econsultancy Future of marketing According to reports, 64% of marketers see social media as more important to their company’s marketing effectiveness over the next two years.
What impact will this have on brands’ social strategies if more people use social media than ever before? Let’s take a look at some of the trends that have shaped and will continue to shape 2020.
We will see:
- Ad revenue is slowing down
- Marketers are re-evaluating influencer partnerships
- Video just keeps getting stronger
- Brands that want to profit from the growth of TikTok (or Reels?)
- The risk of boycott and gambling increases
- New functions that reflect our new normal
- Social selling is gaining momentum
(PS: don’t forget to read our social media best practice guides and platform trends.)
Ad revenue is slowing down
Facebook saw its slowest revenue growth since going public in 2012 in the second quarter, up 11% year over year. That was still 7% higher than analysts expected, however, and along with a 12% year-over-year growth in daily active users (to 1.79 billion) – Facebook has shown surprising resilience so far.
It is, of course, far from previous growth. And along with other effects of Covid-19, the full aftermath of the ad boycott won’t be known until the third quarter. Further losses could also come from the possible ban on political ads on the platform in the month of the US election – a move Bloomberg is currently considering.
The decision to impose a general ban on political ads is ambiguous as it will be difficult to determine where to draw the line (and this does not necessarily mean an automatic solution to disinformation). In a speech Mark Zuckerberg said last year, “Political ads are an important part of the vote – especially for local candidates, emerging challengers and stakeholders who otherwise may not get a lot of media attention. The ban on political ads favors incumbents and everyone covered by the media. “
Even if brands get back to Facebook’s ad platform, banning political ads could slow the platform’s recovery from lost revenue.
Interestingly, big brands turned their backs on Facebook long before the pandemic and the “Stop Hate for Profit” initiative. Data from Pathmatics reported by Digiday shows that 11 of the top 20 Facebook advertisers who paused their ad spend spent less in the US in the past two years. As a result, we could see the trend continue long after the boycott ends, but it won’t necessarily hurt Facebook too much. This is because a large percentage of the nine million or more advertisers are small businesses that are less likely to be able to sacrifice Facebook’s reach.
Elsewhere, Twitter’s latest earnings report wasn’t as bad as expected, but sales continued to decline. Despite a “gradual, moderate rebound” in March, Twitter’s revenue fell 19% year over year in the second quarter as brands paused ad spend amid the pandemic and unrest in the US. Twitter typically generates advertising revenue from sports and live events.
Interestingly, however, Twitter has increased its daily active users by 34% to 186 million – a record since the platform began sharing data. Twitter is now said to be considering a subscription model that will charge users for certain parts of the platform. It is unknown how or if this will affect users in the near future, but it is certainly a sign that the platforms’ reliance on ad revenue is being shaken.
In terms of ad strategy, the coronavirus pandemic is likely to continue to shape the paid social environment for the remainder of the year, especially for retailers. Depesh Mandalia, founder of SM Commerce, predicts that before Christmas we will see the trend of consumers giving direct instead of ordering and giving gifts in person. As a result, he suggests “shifting messages from messages to messages like” Deliver directly to loved ones “to help brands reach out to consumers.” Additionally, Depesh predicts that people will shop sooner rather than later around the holiday season (due to delivery concerns as well as increased online demand due to physical limitations). Therefore, “early awareness-raising through paid social networks will be the key”.