5 Social Media Marketing Trends for 2020 and Beyond

Written by Professional Academy Guest Blogger, Jason Obrien 

The use of social media has undeniably become a part of our daily lives. According to the new Digital 2020 July Global Statshot report, 3.96 billion people are actively using social media, which makes up for more than half of the global population.

Given the significance of social media in people’s lives, its various platforms have become an invaluable marketing tool for businesses to reach and engage with their target markets and beyond. However, as these platforms have continued to grow in popularity year after year, it’s gotten significantly harder for businesses to cut through the clutter and reach their target audiences.

The key to creating a fool-proof social media strategy is to stay updated on the latest trends. Here are five social media trends for 2020 that every marketer should know about:

1. Ephemeral Content

Ephemeral content pertains to posts – pictures, videos, boomerangs, etc. – that are only available for a short period, usually 24 hours. Facebook “My Day” and Instagram and Snapchat “Stories” are some examples of platform features designed specifically for ephemeral content. TikTok is an example of a popular platform that is entirely dedicated to ephemeral content.

What makes this format so effective? According to a 2019 study from the Technical University of Denmark, the global attention span is decreasing because of the abundance of information presented to the average consumer every day. Over the years, the way people like to consume content has shifted. “Stories,” which cannot exceed 15 seconds, effectively capture a user’s attention because they’re short, engaging, and addictive. Users can spend ample time scrolling from one story to the next.

The ephemeral content on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat has also become increasingly more engaging. Instagram, the leading platform for ephemeral content, has developed several elements within its “Stories” feature that marketers and businesses can use to interact with their audience, including shoppable tags, polls, and donation stickers.

2. Video Content

Video content has been, and will continue to be, one of the most captivating forms of online content. The immense popularity of TikTok points to this ongoing shift. TikTok, which is a video-only platform, became the world’s most downloaded non-gaming app as of January, 2020. Longer-form YouTube vlogs have also maintained popularity over the years, demonstrating that video content is the present and future of social media.

According to a study conducted by Cisco, a multinational technology conglomerate, 82% of all content will be on video by 2022. This shows us that more and more, brands are needing to become content creators with the capability to develop quality video content in order to stay competitive and relevant.

Creating video content does take more effort than static photos. Businesses can start small on features like Instagram Stories that cap content at 15 seconds, and work their way up to longer-form videos. All you need is an iPhone, editing software and a little bit of creativity.

3. Influencer Marketing is Still Effective

Influencer marketing has been around for quite some time, but it’s still useful for 2020 and likely, beyond. If you’ve been on Instagram, you’ve most likely come across “influencers,” – people who are getting paid to promote brands because of their large reach.

Influencer marketing is effective in creating and building brand awareness. 81% of marketers use influencer content, and 51% of those marketers said that influencer marketing outperforms brand-generated content.

Is there a strategy to this? Most marketers choose to work with “micro-influencers” who are more niche in the content they create and tend to appeal to a more targeted market, as opposed to big-name influencers who have a much wider reach. This is likely because micro-influencers are much less costly to work with which means that brands can work with them on a more consistent basis, as opposed to bigger influencers who you’d likely only be able to pay for a one-time post.

Here are two of the most popular ways to build brand awareness using influencer marketing:

  • Run referral programs. Influencers are given a promo code unique to them, which they then share with their audience through various platforms. It’s essentially a deal that’s exclusive to that person’s followers.
  • Run giveaways. Contests and giveaways are one of the most effective ways for brands to utilize influencers to create buzz and drive traffic.

4. Instagram Removing Likes

With over one billion monthly users, Instagram has become the platform that paves the way for trends in the social media landscape. When Instagram makes significant changes to its platform, other platforms tend to follow. One major shift that Instagram is currently testing is removing the number of likes shown underneath posts.

According to Instagram CEO, Adam Mosseri, this move is being considered to improve Instagram users’ emotional and mental health. While it was certainly not the “like” button’s intended effect, this feature has had a growing negative impact on people’s self-image and sense of value, which the app wants to combat.

That said, users are having mixed feelings about this move. Some people speculate that Instagram’s real motive to remove likes is to earn more money. As influencer marketing continues to soar, companies pay exorbitant amounts for influencers to promote their products or services and not a single penny of that goes to Instagram.

By removing the number of likes a post generates, it makes it more difficult for brands to measure the effectiveness of influencer campaigns. The idea here being that brands will be more likely to invest in Instagram Ads so they can more easily track the ROI of their advertising efforts. If Instagram can successfully implement this, it may very well encourage other platforms to follow suit which would require marketers to adjust.

5. User-Generated Content

It’s important for brands to interact with their customers through comments and feedback on their posts. One strategy proven effective for meaningful engagement takes this one-step further. User-generated content, meaning content that is created by platform users that the company shares. According to a survey conducted by Offerpop, a provider of a visual user-generated content marketing platform, 85% of consumers respond better to user-generated content than posts created by the brand.

Your target audience will most likely trust other consumers more than they will paid ads. By reposting what your customers organically say about your brand, you can capture potential customers' attention and improve the chances of converting them into new leads.

How do you do this? Encourage your customers to post about their experience with your brand and tag you, the brand. This will make it easy for you to share the user-generated posts via your company’s own social media platforms. This also adds an element of excitement for users, knowing there is a chance the brand may share their post.


Social media is a progressive and competitive landscape. Marketers and business who keep their finger on the pulse of the ongoing trends in this space are able to create relevant and compelling content that captures consumers attention. Stay diligent and work to leverage these trends when developing your company’s social media marketing strategy.