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7 Digital Trends That Really Matter in 2020

Welcome to the new decade! In the last ten years, the social media landscape has changed rapidly, evolving from a space to poke your mates, browse an ad-free newsfeed and reliance on good lighting over filters, to the shoppable, mass meme, influencer-led, politically charged platforms we now use on a daily basis.

As we enter a new decade of scrolling, liking, following, swiping and double-tapping, we wanted to highlight the key trends that we think brands should take note of in the coming year:

1.Artificial Reality

Pinterest announced this week it’s introducing an AR tool for users to try on make-up, and with arguably the first real viral trend of the year taking form as Instagram ‘what are you?’ story filters (sorry Dolly Parton!), this is a trend that cannot be ignored.

Leading technologists even predict that the screens we use on a daily basis to access information will give way to AR glasses within the next decade. With brands already adopting the technology via AR filters on Snapchat and Instagram, there are plenty of innovative ways to utilise the technology.


As part of it’s ‘Second-hand September’ campaign in 2019, Oxfam worked with InRiver to uncover the appetite for sustainable clothing. The research showed 20% of consumers only ever purchase sustainable products, and 69% would be more likely to, if products detailed the environmental impact it would make. 

A further 90% are willing to purchase a product clearly labelled as “up-cycled” or “100% recyclable”, while 62% say they would stop using a brand if it was found to be “detrimental” to the environment.

This appetite is only set to increase in 2020, with media giants already banding together for the #Do1Thing campaign, encouraging readers to help tackle climate change and save the planet.

3.Customer behaviour

Nearly two-thirds of marketers surveyed by Sprout Social felt that social listening will be crucial in 2020 – diving into conversations and sentiment analysis, marketers are growing more concerned with the context and sentiment, rather than the volume of engagement. With the removal of likes on social, the focus is shifting away from artificial engagement and brands are increasingly looking to generate more meaningful interactions with users.

Data is central to this shift, with consumer behaviour and social listening allowing brands direct access to consumer mindsets, and programatic advertising making it easier than ever to target the right consumer, in the right mindset, at the right time with product or service information.

4.Organic Influencers

According to the Nielsen Consumer Trust Index, 92% of consumers trust organic, user-generated content more than they trust traditional advertising. This is because brands don’t pay for UGC, it is unbiased and created by users based on a genuine brand experience. As a result, UGC is perceived as more authentic and honest.

With the growth of fake news online, and the ASA taking a stricter approach to influencer-brand campaign partnerships, encouraging and utilising UGC as part of your content mix is a no-brainer for 2020.

5.“The future is private”

At the annual F8 conference last year, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would transition away from the News Feed and public posts and move to become a “privacy-focused communications platform”. New features such as Instagram Threads allow people to only share their Stories with a select group of friends. This gives the platform a more intimate, friends-only feel. Meanwhile, Facebook Group marketing continues to be a valuable way to market to smaller, private communities as organic reach on Facebook is flat for most brands.

But this is also increasingly becoming the way people prefer to communicate, with 63% of people preferring to use private messaging apps to share content or information.

6.Shorter attention spans

Not long into 2019, a study from the Technical University of Denmark revealed the collective global attention span is narrowing, and trends don’t last as long due to the volume of information we receive every day. 

In addition to this, Digital marketing experts estimate that the average person is exposed to around 4,000 to 10,000 ads each day. With so much noise, and such little attention available to grab, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for brands to achieve cut-through with their content.

Looking to 2020, we will focus more on data-driven relevance, and meaningful content. It’s no longer about how much noise a brand can make, but more what the noise means to those who are listening.

7.Loss of trust

Following elections, Brexit and a year of uncertainty, consumer trust in the media is at an all time low. More worryingly, the 2019 Edelmen Brand Trust Survey revealed 41% of people say they don’t trust brands’ marketing communications to be accurate or truthful.

Social media platforms are also facing fresh criticism for fuelling the spread of misinformation, with Twitter removing all political ads from the platform, and YouTube facing pressure to demonetise and delist viral climate denial videos. 

In an era of fake news, deep-fake videos and ongoing data and privacy hacks, consumers are more wary than ever of the content they consume online. A shift towards more honest communications is on the horizon for 2020, with fact-checking websites such as FullFact.com and FactCheck.org working to tackle misinformation in the media, and calling for platforms to take more responsibility for the spread of false information.


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