[Editor's note: We've written extensively about influencer marketing, artifical intelligence, and loyalty trends for 2020 — and we always welcome outside perspective that adds to the discussion. Here's a few more predictions for 2020 from the tree, a UK content marketing agency.]
December is the time of year when it’s traditional for marketers to put on their thinking hats and look to the future. Everywhere you look online, you come across speculative ‘Trends for 2020’ pieces, and it seems most marketers agree that change is coming (here's our Loyalty Trends in 2020: How Will This Year Be Different? piece if you missed it).
But is that really the case? And how much change can we expect? It wasn’t that long ago that Pokémon Go was supposed to herald the arrival of augmented reality into marketing. Let’s take a look at three of the most common predictions for next year.
By: Daniel Andrews
Is influencer marketing really here to stay?
It was a strange year for influencer marketing. In July, Instagram trialled hiding ‘likes’ on its users’ posts, frustrating influencers who believed that the move would put them out of business. Instagram defended its decision by saying that it wanted to create a ‘less pressurised environment’ for users and make using the platform feel less ‘like a competition’. Soon, major websites were asking whether the ‘era of the influencer’ was over — or just evolving.
The answer is, it depends on how you look at it. The end of the Instagram ‘like’ definitely made things more complicated for many established influencers. Celebrities such as Kylie Jenner have been known to receive $1 million for just one sponsored Instagram post, and ‘likes’ play a part in providing a kind of ‘proof’ that something is worth looking at. But replacing the influencers who relied mostly on ‘likes’ are micro-influencers measuring their posts by engagement, which is a far more meaningful and reliable metric. And as that market becomes more competitive, nano-influencers — users with smaller audiences but more engaged ones — are also growing in popularity. Influencer marketing might be here to stay, but it may change almost beyond recognition.
How big will TikTok be?
In social media land, TikTok is supposed to be ‘the next big thing’. It’s a video-sharing app with more than 500 million users around the world. It’s sometimes compared to Vine, which is now defunct, but unlike Vine TikTok relies much more on viral trends and encourages short lip-syncing clips and trend-led comedy.
It’s important to remember that in just two years, TikTok has become the fourth-largest social media platform in the world. That doesn’t happen by accident. The makers of TikTok have managed to identify and take advantage of something real and something desired. And because the app encourages authenticity, and because much of the content is individual but driven by community trends, it appeals to younger Millennials and Gen-Zers coming of age who feel underserved by other platforms. That’s a vast market. More: TikTok is already a great platform for nano-influencers. It’s no surprise that brands are building their own channels on the platform.
Will AI Transform the Marketing World in 2020?
In 2017, one headline read, ‘What will 2018, the Year of Artificial Intelligence, bring to the world of online marketing?’ Last year, an article headline read, ‘AI poised to take the marketing world by storm in 2019.’ This year — you guessed it — many are predicting 2020 will be the year that AI finally transforms marketing beyond recognition.
There’s no doubt AI has had an effect on marketing over the past year. In August, JPMorgan Chase signed a deal with Persado, a software startup that uses artificial intelligence to write marketing copy. But AI has hardly transformed the industry, and it might be premature to say that it will transform it in 2020, too. For over half a decade, VR has been expected to come into its own and change the way we live, and we’re still waiting. So though AI will surely have its moment at some point, developments in technology are notoriously complicated and involve many moving parts. So those who predict that now is the time do so at their peril.
Every year, new platforms and forms of technology emerge, and many of these prove to be useful to marketers. But if I had to make one prediction for the year ahead, it would be that humanity will return to marketing. With consumers growing more concerned about privacy and the use of their data; and, with some marketers leaning too heavily on tech at the cost of developing a real relationship with their target market, the order of the day is a more empathetic, more personal, altogether more human approach to marketing. And that, I believe, is what we’re likely to see next year.