The state of social media in 2019 and beyond.

The first recognizable social media site came to fruition in 1997, and by 1999, the first blogging sites became popular. This was our first look into the social media sensation. But social media is constantly changing, from the features, platforms and abilities. It’s evolving into something greater and it’s happening in a blink of an eye. As a creative marketing agency dedicated to providing our strategic expertise to partners, it’s our job to stay on top of the trends and look ahead into the next year with social direction. Before we dive into 2020, let’s discuss 2019. From Cambridge Analytica to General Data Protection Regulation, to algorithm updates and IGTV – a lot happened this year. Let’s see what made 2019 a year to remember in social media.

Cambridge-Analytica and GDPR

Although the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke the news in 2018, we’re still living with repercussions today in 2019. Let’s rewind for a minute. Facebook exposed data on up to 87 million Facebook users to Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm. Cambridge Anaytica also worked with the 2016 Trump Campaign. This is the same firm that worked with the 2016 Trump campaign. The information was gathered without permission through a Facebook quiz app “thisisyourdigitallife.” Nearly 300,000 people downloaded this quiz, thereby handing Cambridge Analytica access to not just their own data, but their friends’ data too. Since the scandal, Facebook has implemented new regulations – most recently the ban of personality quizzes – since the third-party breach. But the ban on personality quizzes is part of a broader crackdown by Facebook. Facebook is now locking down a number of older application programming interfaces (API) for accessing user data, and it will prevent developers from accessing new data if a person hasn’t used the app in the past 90 days. After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the General Data Protection Regulation Act (GDPR) came into action in the UK. The GDPR sets out rules for those who use or store data about people and gives rights to those whose data has been collected. The law applies to data held on computers or any sort of storage system, even paper records. As of right now, the US doesn’t have a federal data privacy law similar to GDPR. However, California took an important first step forward in advancing privacy protection with the passage of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which goes into effect on January 1, 2020. CCPA was the first law in the United States to include rights inspired by GDPR. Only time will tell if this becomes a federal law. With our data and privacy on the line, social media will always be evolving from the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Algorithm updates

A lighter topic, but also important when looking back on 2019 was the algorithm updates with Facebook and Instagram. Since Mark Zuckerberg’s 2018 announcement that the Facebook algorithm will prioritize “meaningful interactions” from friends and family over content from brands and companies, it has become trickier than ever to ensure organic content from businesses gets the screen time it deserves. “Meaningful” interactions prioritize active interactions like commenting and sharing over likes and click-throughs (passive interactions)—the idea being that actions requiring more effort on the part of the user are of higher quality and thus more meaningful. Rather than passively scrolling through the News Feed and occasionally pausing to “like” a photo or an article, Facebook wants users to be inspired to engage in conversations with each other. Marketers and business professionals can do a few things to get their message seen to their followers:
  • Share video content
  • Avoid engagement bait
  • Focus on community building through Facebook Groups
  • Measure meaningful content
  • Invest in Facebook advertising
  • Establish influencers and brand advocates

Stories and IGTV

It began with Snapchat, moved to Instagram and now Facebook has entered the stories frontier. According to a recent Hootsuite study, since the number of people using stories has grown, so has the number of businesses using the format to connect with their audiences on social media. The businesses that are utilizing story formats are having success with it, too. 57 percent of brands believe that stories have been “Somewhat effective” or “Very effective” as a part of their social media strategy. With stories on the rise, what about IGTV? IGTV is Instagram’s video app that can be used to easily create vertical video content. The main difference between IGTV and Stories is that these videos are typically several minutes to even an hour in length. According to the Hootsuite study, the majority of brands don’t, and have no plans to use IGTV. It’s all relative on brand, but it looks like audiences engage more frequently with live videos and stories, rather than developed IGTV content.

Social media outlook for 2020

With only a few more months left of 2019, let’s shift our focus to 2020 – making note of the new trends, platforms and content we’ll begin to see.

New platforms

With video reigning the social media industry, it’s no surprise video-heavy apps are on the rise. Enter TikTok. Formerly known as, TikTok is self-described as “a destination for short-form mobile videos.” The company’s mission is to make everyone the creator and has built a platform that makes it easy for users to create and share videos with special effects filters, stickers and more. Content on TikTok has an unpolished, authentic look that makes it highly engaging and entertaining for a younger audience. Many compare TikTok to the 2013 video platform, Vine. However, Vine wasn’t nearly as successful as TikTok in monetization and number of users. Although TikTok itself doesn’t run ads yet, there have been several reports that the company has launched an ad unit and is talking with agencies to gauge what they’d want from an ad offering. With or without ads, TikTok shows no sign of slowing down as they reported 75 million new accounts in December 2018—up 275% from the previous year. If a brand is capable of producing quick video content that is compelling enough for a younger demographic, TikTok will need to be included in your 2020 social media strategy.

Privacy and security

As previously discussed, the Facebook data breach made waves in 2019, and we’ll continue to see changes into 2020. Already, we are seeing pushed data privacy and security initiatives more than ever before, starting with Facebook. Having launched mid-2019, the "Off-Facebook Activity," allows users to see and control the data that apps and websites share with the social networking site. According to Facebook, the new feature will allow you to see a summary of the information other apps and websites have sent the social networking site through a tool called Facebook Pixel or the Facebook Login service. From there, users will have the option to disconnect the information from their account so that it’s not shared with apps and other websites. However, Facebook will still have access. It’s a step in the right direction in being more transparent about tracking and sharing internet habits, but there is still room for improvement in the security sector of social media. Social media should be an essential part of your 2020 strategy. Without a concrete strategy, messaging can fall flat can your business may never receive the momentum it deserves. The team at Matchbook is filled with strategic thinkers who can enhance your social media presence and provide a higher ROI.