Charne O’Haughey, Social Specialist at Reprise Digital South Africa enquires how marketers and businesses are connecting with target audiences in 2020, given that there is an already large flock to social platforms. She also discusses social media trends for this year.

It’s clear that social media has become an integral part of people’s lives, forming a large part of their daily routine. Connecting with audiences can prove to be extremely difficult for brands, especially when it comes to standing out in an already crowded space, unless of course you have a clear social media marketing strategy fuelled by staying up to date with the latest social media trends. Below are five big moves to keep your eyes on.

The use of ephemeral content

These include Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp Stories (with advertising opportunities starting for the latter this year).This temporary content takes advantage of real FOMO by only being accessible for a brief period. Attention spans are short and looking at how consumers consume information on social media, being pulled here and there – scrolling – swiping – laughing – scrolling – reading – scrolling – forgetting it all, makes ephemeral content appealing and more engaging as users are encouraged to create user-generated content, partake in polls, Q&A’s and so much more. This type of content is more spontaneous and allows brands to connect in a unique way, becoming recognised as more human, relatable and reliable.

Social commerce expansion

While we know that dominating platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have been long used by brands to sell their products, it’s safe to say that social commerce has become a new retail avenue for brands and this is going to rise in 2020 with more brands climbing onto the bandwagon. More niche platforms will follow suit by introducing selling/shopping posts. We will see these channels becoming mainstream retail on par with retail websites and offline stores. This means that competition will be fiercer, challenging new strategies around content and implementation on these already crowded platforms.

Domination from video content

Across all social platforms that may have been traditionally dominated by image or text content, it is clear that the most engaging form of content is video and this goes hand in hand with mobile users. Users are twice as likely than TV viewers and 1.4 times more likely as desktop viewers, to feel a sense of personal connection to brands that show video content or ads on their devices. As data continues to become cheaper, we can expect to see a significant increase in video content consumed by South Africans. So whether it be short ephemeral content or long form YouTube videos, it is important to utilise video content in order to stay on par in the social media domain.

Personalising segmentation

While a brand has a main identity (with many sub factors), a key aspect we are able to leverage off of is the ability to personalise ads to reach different target segments. Social platforms offer advanced targeting options, including customisation of audiences, and on various platforms we can include more than one primary copy, headline copy, description copy and customisable placements. Personalisation will continue to rise with platforms serving ads to users who have showed interests in similar products from different brands.

Customer service

We have established that social platforms have evolved into retail platforms, product discovery platforms, awareness platforms and now customer support platforms. This trend began gradually as a result of delayed/no response through various other channels. From there, brands started directing users to the correct channels to use. It’s not just some one-off cases where customers post their questions or complaints on social media and brands respond. Now, it has become a significant enough customer service channel for brands to recognise it as one.

Social media is dynamic, and it is important to leverage these trends, which will dominate the social media landscape in 2020, in order to stay ahead of competitors and to woo consumers.