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Ideas Social Media

The social seesaw: predictions for 2020

Meghan Myszkowski

Headed into a new year and a new decade, Essence VP of Social Activation Meghan Myszkowski and SVP of Media Activation Gila Wilensky take a look at three main trends we anticipate shaping social media and share some predictions for the major platforms in the year ahead.

1. Increasing wariness of public and permanent social posting

As more users age into social usage, they bring with them a critical eye and an understanding that what is said and done on social, can impact their lives offscreen as well. This is a generation that was raised seeing teachers fired for Facebook posts, Tweets go viral for all the wrong reasons, and Snapchat screenshots shown on the nightly news. This brings us to the social seesaw, which continues to swing at a rapid pace as we move away from the traditional conversations, and towards quick-form, visually-led content including Stories and ephemeral content.

2. Rising ad spend on social networks (approaching 50% of TV ad spend)

It’s estimated that $32.18 billion will be spent across social in 2019, with the vast majority—$27.57 billion on Facebook properties. That will bring social ad spending to 47% of TV ad spending ($69.17 billion) this year. With the launch of Facebook Watch and IGTV, platforms continue to heavily invest in video, competing with incumbent YouTube for views. While social video does best in short form (Twitter sees the best result in 6 second videos), emerging platforms such as TikTok show that social is where people create and ingest video content. 

Social network video ad revenues will grow impressively, by 26.2%. In fact, three in ten social network ad dollars will go to video ads this year. Facebook and Instagram lead in this space, but the increase in social video advertising has especially benefited Twitter, for which video will account for nearly 60% of its total ad revenues in 2019.

The combination of quick form content, niche groups and video propel social forward, continuing the conversation in an ever changing landscape.

3. A shift from the newsfeed to stories and groups 

In 2019 we saw a continuation of the trend that users are rarely posting on their own newsfeed. They are posting heavily on stories and within niche groups that appeal to a shared interest. Currently, these groups are not available for ad targeting but as the social footprint moves heavily there, we expect ad revenue to as well. Messenger offers a variety of tactics, reliant on customer support, such as click to Messenger, on WhatsApp and Messenger. Instagram chat will soon be integrated into these.

The ongoing integration of Whatsapp, Instagram and Messenger makes Messenger a true social extension. In Q3 2019, the number of Messenger users equaled the number of social media users for the first time in history, and we will likely see Messenger surpass traditional social platforms, by a significant margin, by the end of Q1 2020.