Digital marketing is an ever-changing set of guidelines, best practices, and strategies for reaching your customers — and potential customers — through their preferred channels. If your digital marketing approach is not evolving in 2020 along with the latest technology, then you will quickly be overtaken by competitors who know how to adapt to the digital “rules of the game.”

Our Cobalt team likes to think of ourselves as digital chemists, producing and fine-tuning the right mix of chemical reactions to get the results you need at that moment, whether leads, reads, clicks, or likes — this is what we call The Cobalt Formula™.

One of the most important areas of digital marketing to pay attention to is when Google changes its search engine algorithm and other products. Last month, we wrote about how an update to Google Ads now gives users specific insight into recent changes in their digital performance, such as the most likely reasons for impressions, clicks, and cost changes. This allows users to focus more on executing campaigns and reflects the growing importance of having usable data and intelligence that makes it easier and quicker to adapt your digital strategy, in real-time.

But Google is just one piece of the larger digital puzzle and all the other tech giants — from Instagram to WhatsApp and TikTok — are forging new social media and content trends for 2020 and beyond. 

Here are a few of the big changes to keep on your radar.

Changing the Way Content is Ranked

Instagram is testing the idea of making “likes” private rather than public. The company has said that this would be a “fundamental change” to their product and that’s why it’s only being tested for now. The purpose of this change would be to shift the emphasis on how content is ranked and measured; rather than amassing thousands or millions of likes, the focus would be on content quality and relevance.

Although it’s a small change, it points to bigger changes in the evolution of social media. People simply have too many social media channels and connections to follow regularly, and companies like Instagram need to make sure their daily feed is delivering the most relevant content from the user’s network. A funny video may have millions of likes, but there may be another piece of content that is more relevant to that user, at that moment, even though it has fewer likes.

The important takeaway here is that social media content has to become more relevant and easier to consume. It is a privilege to have access to someone’s social media feed, and more brands will be focusing on the quality of content over going viral or amassing likes from people who may not be their core audience.

Using Social Media for True Digital Commerce

One of the knocks against social media sites like Twitter has been its inability to translate content into commerce. But this is changing as content creators are becoming more conscious of how their content can be used to get people shopping right from their social media feed. 

The old days of stock photos are giving way to branded photos and videos where actors are wearing the products they are trying to sell. Facebook and other sites are making it easier to pin these products with links to an online store. In other words, users can see it, click on a link, and buy it within a few moments of seeing the product.

Besides the direct sales benefits of this change, it also makes it easier for marketers to sell their social media strategies and budgets to C-level executives, who may be wary about spending money on something without a clear return on investment. 

Social media is now part of the fabric of how we share all our activities — personal, social, and commercial — and if you aren’t thinking about how to monetize your social media posts, then you are going to miss out on significant revenue in 2020.

The Rise of Video Content in the 2020s

Just as the text-based chat rooms and discussion forums of the early Internet gave way to photo-driven social media, we are now seeing a rapid transition from text/photos to video, even on sites such as LinkedIn. By 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer Internet traffic — an astounding 15 times higher than in 2017.

This is being driven by the growth of smartphone cameras, video-based apps such as Snapchat and TikTok, and the application of next-gen technologies such as augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR). 

But it’s also about being more personal and authentic on social media. In a world where people are Skyping into work and video conferencing with family and friends, nobody wants to sit down and read a long string of posts on Facebook anymore. Both B2C and B2B brands are using video to be more personal and intimate with their content, and integrating more video from their fans and customers (UGC or user-generated content).

It’s no longer just about having a social media content plan with a certain number of posts a month, it’s about having a real conversation and being more spontaneous with different kinds of content. That might even mean fewer posts but better quality with each post.

The Evolution of Messaging Apps as Social Media

Finally, messaging apps are not only growing in popularity, but they are becoming social media channels in their own right. This was pioneered by China’s WeChat and Tencent which combined text messaging with in-app services such as bill payment and virtually anything else. The dominant messaging apps in the U.S. such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are evolving in a similar way.

The “dark social” dilemma — where users share links or others engage in other activity privately in a messaging app — is going away and brands will have to approach messaging apps as true social media channels, where they can track and measure results, and even provide customer service.

Twenty-twenty is the start of a new decade, and social media is no longer the “younger brother” of digital marketing. In a way, social media is now synonymous with digital marketing and the very idea of “content” is evolving in new and unexpected ways.

Is your brand prepared to adapt to the changing technology and get the most effective results from your digital marketing strategies? Let Cobalt Digital Marketing help you craft a social media and content strategy that delivers results and helps turn clicks into leads, sales, and revenue.

Don’t let 2020 pass you by with minimal revenue growth and less-than-mediocre search engine results.

Our Cobalt Formula™ can help your business prosper, reach one of our catalysts today at (866) 224-5705.