20 Social Media Trends for 2020

Social media continues to evolve and the new year is sure to bring creativity and innovation in abundance.

Mark from the The Mark McC Supersonic Food Marketing Podcast challenged us to put together our definitive list of key social media trends for 2020.  You can watch the video of us recording the podcast at the bottom of this page.

As a result of this challenge, here are our 20 Social Media Trends for 2020.


Video is set to be the dominate form of content. Both short-form content such as TikTok videos and longer style content such as IGTV are seeing increases in popularity and engagement. Video is attention-grabbing, authentic, and easier than ever to create. According to a Cisco study, by 2022, 82% of all online content will be video content.


2019 was the year that the swipe overtook the scroll – as more users now watch Stories than scroll through their Instagram newsfeed. The Story format plays perfectly into people’s short attention spans. They are quick, engaging, and as they disappear after 24 hours, there is a feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out) if users don’t view them immediately. 

According to an Instagram study, more than 1 in 3 said that they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it on Instagram Stories. In 2020, Stories will continue to grow in popularity. We’re bound to see more interactive stickers launch – such as booking and sharing activities from other apps. 


Expect Instagram to give IGTV a huge push in 2020. Snapchat has seen big success with its Discover shows in 2019, but IGTV hasn’t gained the same momentum.

Instagram is working on giving IGTV a revamp to better promote influencer and original content. 

IGTV has not yet been a significant consideration for most marketers. Given the reach and promotional potential that Instagram has, it’s worth keeping tabs, and perhaps experimenting with some test content. 


TikTok is now the 3rd most popular platform amongst teenagers, behind Snapchat and Instagram. It’s all about sharing short videos covering a wide range of categories, from lip-syncing to comedic skits to viral challenges. 

The meteoric rise of TikTok has brought with it a plethora of new tools for users to have a laugh and be spontaneous. There’s no need to worry about it looking perfect. It’s certainly more authentic than Instagram,  and there’s a real sense of performance and play. 

Statistics in Campaign show high engagement rates. It has 11.5 million monthly video views and people are spending 53 minutes a day on the platform. Users opening the app an average of 11 times a day. 

Brands including Adidas, Walmart and the NFL are already starting to take advantage of the advertising tools the platform offers. 

5. The Rise of Ambassador Influencers

Over the past couple of years, audiences have grown tired of seeing influencers in-authentically feature different products in their posts, resulting in a backlash. Marketers have been guilty of encouraging this behaviour. It’s easy to achieve reach for your client by paying influencers for one-off content (particularly apparent in travel and food and beverage).

However, this scatter-gun #ad approach can mean that your brand is quickly seen and then forgotten; replaced by the next brand the influencer chooses to feature. Also, issues around fake followers and inflated reach mean this approach is flawed.

In 2020, we’re going to see more brands move away from this method towards developing deeper, ongoing relationships with influencers. Influencers will partner with brands that they truly connect with. The authenticity of this relationship will connect their communities to the brand on a deeper level.

The expectation will be for influencers to do more than just the odd Insta post or Story – instead, brands and influencers will work together to create longer campaigns that stretch across channels. This will save the brand the time, expense, and effort of searching for a new selection of influencers for each campaign. 

To measure success, brands won’t focus on the volume of reach or shallow metrics such as likes and views. Instead, they’ll dive deeper to see how deeply the community is engaging with the content through conversation and conversion.

6. Micro-Influencers Dominate

Micro-influencers specialise in a particular vertical and frequently share social media content about their interests. For example, food, lifestyle, beauty, and fashion. Unlike traditional influencers, micro-influencers have a more modest number of followers, typically 3-20K followers. However, they do boast hyper-engaged audiences, seeing on average 6-8% engagement. Brands typically only get 2-3%. 

Marketers are not just collaborating with one or two influencers now.  They are working with a whole network of small, relevant, niche influencers. These kinds of influencers get much higher engagement and cost much less.

Going forward, more and more marketers will use multiple micro-influencers instead of one mega-influencer.


Instagram is now rolling out the global removal of likes on its platform. You will still be able to like a post, but the overall count will be removed. Don’t worry if you’re a business though, as you’ll still have access to this data in your Insights. 

This could make identifying influencers trickier for brands. However, Facebook has just announced a brand new tool for influencer collaborations which will roll out soon called Brand Collabs Manager. It looks like data will be included here for influencers.


The removal of likes on Instagram gives way to some of the other engagement metrics which are available to measure. In 2020, we’ll see more of a focus on activity such as Saves, Shares and replying to a Story with a DM. 


While there are numerous benefits of social media, there have been certain issues which have come to light in recent years. Data privacy and security are two such issues that have made the headlines for social networks like Facebook. For Instagram, it’s cyberbullying and content around suicide and self-harm which the platform has come under fire for not removing.  

2020 will see the main social networks and regulatory bodies tighten their rules, and put more protection policies in place. For example, Instagram will now warn users if their captions could be considered offensive.  




The number of UK businesses selling on social media is set to double by May 2020, according to research commissioned by Paypal. There are currently 8.4 million British consumers shopping via social media, with Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat being the most popular channels. 

We will see even more innovation in the area in 2020, with the launch of Instagram Checkout. This feature will give users the ability to purchase products directly in the app, and is being tested in the US at the moment. 

TikTok has confirmed it’s currently testing a new feature that allows some users to add e-commerce links to their content, TechCrunch reports. That also means creators may soon be able to earn some extra cash through sponsored content. 

In November, Facebook released Pay for Facebook and Facebook Messenger in the US, and on WhatsApp in India. When fully rolled out, it will work on Instagram too. This will be a gamechanger for shopping, fundraising, event tickets, and person-to-person payments. 

11. Private Spaces

The Future is Private’ – Mark Zuckerberg

‘By retreating into more private spaces, people are more liberated to be themselves and connect more naturally. This is the new social. In public, but with boundaries. Harder to track. More difficult to reach and manipulate.’ – We Are Social

The rise in private spaces is partially a result of social channels becoming overrun by brands and ads, and the negativity of trolls and negative behaviour online. It’s also a more efficient, dip-in-and-dip-out way of connecting and developing relationships with people that share particular interests. There’s also a sense of exclusivity; of being part of a select group.

From Facebook Groups, to WhatsApp Groups and Broadcasts to the new app Cocoon which markets as a dedicated space for the most important people in your life. Twitter is also releasing the ability to narrow the viewers of certain tweets, and only allow certain tweets to be RTed. 

We’ll see many more brands create private spaces for subsets of their consumers and employees.


As personalisation and relevance is more important than ever to stand out in the social media news feeds, we will see an increase in brands targeting localised areas to stand out to specific audiences. 

Already, brands use geo-tagging to reach out to and attract people from a specific geographic location. We will see an increase in advertising campaigns, with eye-catching creative and also with local influencers. 


Let’s be honest. Organic engagement has become seriously hard to achieve. It is still possible though – with unique and highly shareable content. Consider what value you can offer your customers, for example insight, humour, expert advice, useful tips, etc. Then create unique content featuring this valuable information. 

We’ve also seen a rise in meme accounts and posting fun, lighthearted and sometimes completely useless content has never been more mainstream. For example, the World Record Egg


“People don’t necessarily want to be cut off from the internet. They just want a better relationship with it” – We Are Social

Awareness of how social media affects mental health and wellbeing has been increasing over the last few years, and this won’t go away in 2020. Users are beginning to actively seek ways to ensure a more positive online experience and brands are more conscious about the way they communicate online. 

We might see users being more intentional about their screen use, and looking for brand content which is fun, valuable and meaningful – rather than promotional. 

Vodafone ran a #ScreenFreeFathersDay campaign to encourage people to put down their phones and celebrate on their family for a day. The #Offline48 trend encouraged users to go even further, but staying offline for a full two days. 

15. Higher Adoption of Augmented Reality

Augmented reality enhances our reality by adding digital elements to it and changing the way things actually look. Social media platforms have found interesting use cases for this technology and have started leveraging it in recent years.

The launch of Spark AR has propelled AR filters. There are currently 73,000 people in the official Spark AR Facebook Group. Some of the best filters can be seen on the SAR Insta. Numerous brands have created their own filters, including Mercedes Benz, Disney and McDonalds and we’re set to see many more in 2020.

This trend, though heavily popularised by Instagram and Snapchat, will be adopted by other social media platforms in the coming years. Facebook, for example, launched AR filters before Instagram, but they got popular later. Facebook is also experimenting with other AR and VR functionalities and will come up with more applications of these technologies in the future.

The applications of AR on social media are not limited to just photo filters to post fun posts and stories. Brands can also leverage augmented reality to provide better shopping experiences to their customers.

Photos courtesy of Later.

16. 5* Customer Service in DMs

Customers now expect a brand response within 30 minutes in social media. With the ease of DMs, it’s more important than ever to set a process for checking your brand enquiries and dealing with them in a succinct and efficient manner. Often, customers want to see personalisation, empathy, and solutions.

17. Honesty and Transparency (OWNING YOUR MISTAKES)

2020 will see the trend for honesty and transparency from brands hit a peak, with more holding up their hands and owning their mistakes. This will help to bridge the gap between brands and consumers and work on increasing trust. 

Consider Hawksmoor in 2019, who tweeted their mistake only to achieve a huge amount of PR off the back of it. 

18. Greater understanding of Ad Placements

Facebook recently reported that it estimates that more than 140 million businesses are currently using its family of apps (Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp) every month. 

With a huge choice in places to advertise in social media, we will see brands become more selective over where their ads. This will push for a greater understanding of what platforms offer which audiences and how consumers are behaving on each.

19. Less Fake News

Fake news became a huge buzzword in 2016 and is unfortunately still rife in today’s internet culture. Brands will be more conscious over sources they share, and more fact-checking will take place. 

In 2020 we will also see a renewed interest in premium news outlets from consumers driven by the GenZ demographic, and users looking to reliable news sources for information in the run-up to the presidential election. 

20. No Political Ads Here!

Twitter recently won acclaim for taking a stand and announcing that it would no longer allow political ads on its platform, in opposition to Facebook’s well-documented stance. Whether Facebook will follow suit is unknown – although they are rumoured to be looking into their policies. 

According to the New Statesman “Though the company could take the financial hit, the damage it would do to its relationship with the US government is a price it is not prepared to pay.” Greater oversight or regulation is sure to follow, most likely after the US elections…


I was a recent guest on The Mark McC Supersonic Food Marketing Podcast where we discussed the 20 Social Media Trends for 2020 in more detail. You can watch the full chat below:

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