Where will social media audiences spend their time in 2020?
One possibility is that huge numbers of people will continue to share their lives and Stories on Facebook-owned Instagram, which will soon turn 10 years old. But will Facebook see another election-year backlash in 2020?
TikTok, which has become enormously popular among young people for lip-synching and other themed challenges, could continue its meteoric rise.
Or, none of the above could happen.
PRWeek asked corporate and agency experts to predict the very unpredictable nature of social media use. Their answers, naturally, are all over the digital-sharing ecosystem, but most declare the social media platform of 2019 was TikTok.
In that chorus is the CMO of IHOP, which launched a #SyrupTurnUp challenge on the platform this holiday season, encouraging users to lip synch a revised Christmas classic using syrup bottles. However, Brad Haley notes that "if 2019 was all about TikTok, I suspect Quibi might be the next big, short-format storytelling platform for brands to take advantage of. We’re keeping our eyes on Quibi in 2020."
Set to launch in April, the mobile-only streaming service will feature short-form programming from the likes of NBA star Stephen Curry and reality TV personalities Kris and Kendall Jenner. It’s also planning to revive 1990s Nickelodeon game show Legends of the Hidden Temple.
With the proliferation of streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ and more competition on the way, Haley is expecting programming formats to be developed with which brands can partner.
"As the current dominant players start to lose their influence, streaming services will become more brand-friendly, creating a playground of creativity for brands to connect with consumers," he says. "As always, the best opportunities will be the ones in which advertisers are able to retain their authentic brand voice and reinforce their message in the most direct manner."
Julie Batliner, president of Carmichael Lynch, has two social media platforms, Facebook and TikTok, on her watch list, but for different reasons: Facebook to see if there is user backlash against political ads, and TikTok to see how it navigates growing up.
"It will be interesting to watch how Facebook’s policies on political advertising unfold and how the online community responds. How many people will be annoyed, post about being annoyed and then take a hiatus from the platform?" she asks.
She notes that TikTok is a "deep well of fascinating insights into how teens are spending their time," and is keeping an eye on "how it lives on, evolves and how much the information safety issues keep users nervous, or at least keep their parents nervous."
TikTok is estimated to have an astounding 1.5 billion users globally after adding 500,000 in 2019. This month, the China-based company settled a $1.1 million class-action lawsuit for violating child privacy laws. That followed a $5.7 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, which was the largest penalty collected by the FTC in a child privacy case.
Kelly Williamson, APCO Worldwide North America president, believes privacy will again be a hot-button issue for every social media platform in 2020, not just TikTok.
"The fierce debate around privacy will continue at a rapid pace," says Williamson, who adds that "it’s never just about one platform. It’s about a consistent, authentic experience that lives online and in the real world."