Social Media Trends 2020: Will They Stay?

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Sophie Monks

Senior Social Specialist

We love making data-led predictions, but who could have foreseen what 2020 would bring? Looking back at the social media trends of 2020, many of the patterns we can identify are directly related to the world-wide effects of Covid-19. From how we use social media to how often, there has been radical change across the board.

So, what were the biggest social media trends of 2020 and will they stick? Come with us as we dive into some key data and insights from the past year, and determine what the social media trends of 2021 might be.

Social Media in 2020: What Changed?

We Became Early Risers

With so few opportunities to enjoy nightlife and be sociable, we’ve turned into a nation that is early to bed and early to rise. This means one of the biggest social media trends today is more people scrolling through their social feeds in the early hours. To take just one example, 5 am Facebook usage rocketed by 98% between Q2 and Q3 in 2020.

For marketers, this early morning window could be a new opportunity to get content seen and engaged with. Look at your audience’s activity levels: when are most people online, and does this match up with when your content goes live? If not, it might be time for a strategic re-think.

We Spent More Time Online

Predictably, with people cooped up indoors, our average internet usage went up throughout 2020. We now spend 4 hours and 2 minutes a day online, up from 3 hours and 29 minutes in 2019, according to Ofcom.

How much of our time online is devoted to social media? Well, it’s more than you might think. One report shows users spending as much as 2 hours and 29 minutes daily on social media – more than half our total time online.

Video Content Continued to Perform

Video usage and consumption on social media has boomed in recent years, and 2020 continued this trend. 90% of global internet users now watch video content online, and 50% say that video is their preferred form of content on social media.

Here are some interesting video stats for 2021:

  • There are more than 4 billion video views every day on Facebook.
  • Video posts make up 14.9% of the content on Instagram.
  • IGTV (Instagram’s video app) has been downloaded by over 7 million users.
  • LinkedIn Live streams have seen a 437% year-on-year increase in views.
  • TikTok has now surpassed 2 billion downloads and has 850 million active users worldwide.
  • Users now watch over a billion hours of video every day on YouTube.

Sources: Social Pilot, Ricky Wang

If video wasn’t a central part of your social media strategy for 2020, these figures might convince you to give it a larger role in 2021.

Social Media Became a Bigger Brand Research Tool

How important is social media when it comes to building the knowledge and reputation of your brand? Well, if the 2020 figures are anything to go by, VERY.

42% of internet users state that they use social media to research brands before a purchase, and this is only marginally less than the percentage of people who do their brand research through search engines (51%).

To take this further, 3 in 10 people say that the main reason they use social media is to research products they want to buy.

An increased appetite for ecommerce on social media is one of the key social media trends of 2020 – and with physical shops closed for weeks at a time, this comes as no surprise. However, as we move forward (and our high streets hopefully reopen), this new buying behaviour is unlikely to just disappear. So, investing time and energy into the experience of your online customers could pay dividends.

Individual Platforms Jumped in Popularity

Though Facebook remained the most popular social media in 2020, there were some notable increases in user acquisition for other platforms.

TikTok continued its meteoric rise in 2020, generating 80% more downloads in the first two quarters of the year (615 million) than the same period in 2019 (343 million). TikTok’s growing popularity has led others (most notably Instagram) to piggyback on its success by introducing similar features. Instagram introduced Stories and Reels, Snapchat launched Spotlight videos, Twitter added Fleets, and even YouTube got in on the action with YouTube Shorts. It’s no wonder comments that “all the social media giants are becoming the same” are becoming more frequent.

Another – sometimes overlooked – platform that excelled in 2020 is Pinterest. Pinterest saw 58% YoY growth in revenue during Q3 of 2020 to $433 million, while active users increased by 37% to 422 million. When it comes to how users engage with content on Pinterest, 55% say they use the platform to shop and buy, which presents an opportunity for marketers.

Social Media Trends 2021: What to Expect

You might say one of the biggest social media challenges in 2020 was the increased competition, as brands boosted ad spend and content to capitalise on audiences’ increased activity. In 2021, we expect this – and the other trends mentioned here – to stick around.

From the popularity of video content to increased early morning activity, there’s a lot we can learn from a look back over 2020. We look forward to seeing new brands innovate and excel on social media in the coming months.

Need additional expertise? We support a range of businesses with top-notch digital content and social media support. Get in touch with our team today to find out more.

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Sophie Monks

Senior Social Specialist

Sophie has over 6 years of experience in the social media and content space, working in both in-house organisations and agencies. She has worked with exciting established brands in her time such as Campari, Aperol Spritz, Oppo Ice Cream and PayPal Australia. She enjoys the content creation process – from mapping out the shot and…

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