Social Media Predictions for 2020

2020 — a new year and endless possibilities. As we head into the new decade, we turn our thoughts to what’s next, what’s new and how social media will continue to evolve in the year ahead.

We’ve all followed the hype around the explosion of new platforms (TikTok anyone?). Read the studies about Gen Z flocking to more authentic, real-time video. And, followed the privacy issues and political hearings on Facebook. But, sometimes with social media it can feel that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The top dogs still remain, with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube leading the pack.

So, will 2020 bring a major tidal shift in the social media landscape or incremental changes and updates? Which trends are here to stay and which ones are just flashes in the pan?

Well, you’ve come to the right place! The BU social media team offers predictions on the biggest shakeups, changes and impactful features in social media and beyond.

Katherine Gianni | Public Relations & Social Media Administrator

In 2016, Instagram rolled out what appeared to be an exact replica of Snapchat’s core identity. Instagram Stories exploded in their popularity; their initial features allowed users to share videos and photos with their followers for 24 hours before expiring. In the three years that followed, Stories have continued to evolve. This year, “create mode” allowed users to swipe through their post options, everything from boomerangs to hands-free video, with ease. Users also had the options to overlay text, geo-locations, hand-drawn doodles, and GIFs over their photos and videos. Instagram has also introduced music in their Stories feature, where users can choose a soundtrack to play alongside the moment they’ve chosen to share.


This move strikes me as eerily similar to TikTok, the former app that asks users to share short videos of themselves lip-syncing to their favorite songs. Some of the most popular TikTockers have also gained notoriety through voiceovers of popular movie and TV characters. As we look to the new year I predict that Instagram will steal…I mean borrow this same idea, seeing that in March of this year TikTok was the most downloaded app in Apple’s app store for five consecutive quarters. I envision Instagram using the same audio samples, as well as continuing to expand their face filters to allow users to create more TikTok-savvy content. There could also be enhanced story video editing software on the horizon, which would let Instagrammers slice and dice their videos right in the app before posting for all of their followers.

Hilary Katulak | Associate Director of Public Relations

Adopting integrated communication strategies that emphasize strong storytelling and a multi-channel approach will continue to be critical in 2020 and beyond. Earned media coverage is just one piece of the puzzle and PR professionals need to be thinking about how to leverage and amplify their owned channels through video, content, and a paid social strategy if they want to be successful.

Molly Gluck | Digital Communications and Public Relations Associate

In Q1 2019, Facebook removed 2.2 billion fake accounts — almost as many as the number of real accounts on the platform. Heading into 2020, Facebook cracked down further by hiring a legal team dedicated to platform enforcement and developed a clear legal strategy of suing scammers caught abusing its platform and users. Historically, Facebook did not take legal action against bad actors, but since Facebook’s new litigation strategy, they’ve filed more lawsuits malicious platform users than in all previous years combined. Facebook is taking serious action to become a more trustworthy platform and reduce the spread of misinformation — from its lawsuits to updating its ad policies, heavily restricting putting paid advertising behind content relating to “social issues, elections and politics.” This enforcement practice will continue into — and intensify throughout — the New Year.

In an effort to protect users’ well-being and mental health, Instagram (owned by Facebook) began to hide likes on the platform. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri noted that this decision was “about creating a less pressurized environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves.”

Facebook will increasingly make efforts to become a platform with more integrity in the New Year — even at the expense of advertisers, influencers and revenue. We’ll see iff their efforts pay off for the general public!

Carol Duan | International Social Media Specialist

No one can deny the importance of influencer marketing, especially when brands are trying to engage Gen-Z on social media. According to a recent influencer report conducted by Morning Consult, over 50% of Gen-Z trusts social media influencers and 61% of young Americans are likely to organically post about brands they like. Marketers nowadays are collaborating with a network of tiered influencers, and this trend will continue to rise in 2020.

In the higher ed industry, during the past few years, we’ve incorporated influencer marketing into our digital communication strategy and seen great success. Our intern team helped us identify a group of micro-influencers (with followers less than 250k) on campus. From Instagram takeovers to WeChat guest posts to YouTube Vlog videos, these influencers helped us increase brand awareness and online exposure, as well as engage the BU community online.

Given the rising popularity of YouTube and TikTok among Gen-Z, more and more brands are pondering how to utilize these two platforms. And influencer marketing might be the key to create a winning communication strategy. Both YouTube and TikTok are known as platforms of choice for social influencers and creators. Working with influencers on these platforms makes it easier for brands to chime into the online conversations, for example, participating or launching a TikTok hashtag challenge. It also helps infuse an authentic tone, since people trust peers’ opinions.

Dave McDonald | Assistant Director of Social Media

2019 brought us the rise of TikTok, Facebook watch parties, and Instagram Threads. 2020 is sure to expand upon these as the social sphere gets more private than public, and video continues to rise across networks. Get ready for yet another pivot, readers. Here are my predictions for the coming year:

Groups will become the new normal: More and more groups are slowly segmenting our social media feeds. Whether it be through Facebook messenger, Facebook groups, Snapchat group chats, or Instagram, we’re seeing a shift where fewer people are following pages and their cluttered newsfeed, and more people are following topic specific forums around their interests and lifestyles. With Facebook pages now including the ability to incorporate groups into your page, in 2020 the new trend may be to Like a page, but then engage within group. Still a big fan of updating your stats for all the world to see? Maybe save it for Twitter. However, with Twitter starting to narrow the reach of tweets, with new options like “Topics,” it looks like groups discussions are the social media future.

Rough over polished posts: Millennials are all about making everything on their feeds look perfect. Generation Z couldn’t care less with new platforms on the rise like TikTok, and YouTube being a fan favorite amongst the youngest generation. In the future, we could see a rise in less touched up content and more organic raw content. With Gen Z focusing more on the “now” over the “what happened,” there’s no time to make things look pretty.

Live video on LinkedIn: We’ve seen Facebook Lives, and we’ve watched the periscopes on Twitter. In 2020 the new trend will be live on LinkedIn, opening a new way to network and connect with others in your professional circle. Interviews with experts, live webinars, and messages from CEOs are sure to step-up LinkedIn’s game, giving users more reasons to visit the site. — The days of needing to attend a conference to see an inspiring keynote speech may soon be over.

Rachel Lapal | AVP, Public Relations | Social Media

2020 may very well be the year of hard decisions for social strategists and managers as they look to strike a fine balance between experimentation and staying laser-focused on strategy and audience-first goals.

TikTok’s rising popularity and the ensuing media focus have sparked internal debates about whether its a platform organizations “need to be on.” As social strategists and shepherds of our online brand, it can be hard to resist the knee-jerk reaction to join the newest platform or adopt the latest feature, but our dual role as marketers and follower advocates requires that we take a thoughtful approach. We must ask ourselves and our organization the hard questions whenever we change strategy, prioritizing or deprioritizing a channel: who is my audience, how do my followers want to engage with my channel, what content and tone do they expect from me, and, finally, what is my goal? Putting the audience first and prioritizing their needs will help organizations understand where and how they should engage. Only then, can organizations think strategically about their goals and success metrics.

YouTube is another area that seems ripe with choice and opportunity. A hybrid platform — social, search, asset library — the channel has lots to offer and may touch many teams. As a preferred platform of Gen Z, YouTube’s importance will only increase in social strategy in 2020 and may raise some difficult questions about ownership — video team, social team, digital team — and workflows. Making this complex channel work for your audiences and team will be a critical challenge and opportunity in 2020.

What’s your social media prediction for 2020? Sound off in the comments.




Tips, tricks, trends, updates & news from the social media team at Boston University. Learn about our best practices and more:

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Tips, tricks, trends, updates & news from the social media team at Boston University. Learn about our best practices and more:

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