Social media. Apart from politicians there’s nothing we love to hate more.

So, let’s sprinkle a bit of salt on our societal wounds by discussing what happened in 2019 and what might happen in 2020.

From privacy to messing about on TikTok, our experts have found their crystal balls as fecund as ever.

(Oh, also a quick reminder that anyone smart enough to subscribe to Econsultancy can access these excellent social media guides, too.)

Privacy, please

Michelle Goodall, consultant and trainer:

“[There’s] a return to ad-free, private digital communities and messaging, e.g. Telegram being used for local groups, and Guild for valuable business connections and networks.”

Tom Jarvis, Founder and MD, Wilderness Agency:

“Messenger apps will become ever more ubiquitous and our need to communicate to small closed groups will see a rise in platforms like Cocoon and others, with a dominate player set to emerge.”

TikTok engagement to be tested by ad platform?

Tom Jarvis, Wilderness Agency:

“2019 has seen the rise of Tik Tok which, alongside Snap, has set a pace for innovation that Facebook and others have struggled to keep up with. This has had a huge impact on the way we consume video and the adoption of AR in everyday life.

“Tik Tok will become less of an unknown as it develops an ad platform to rival more traditional competitors. This may well bring many well-meaning brands on-board but will also result in a dip in user engagement and potential waning of the hype.”

Sarah Baumann, MD, VaynerMedia:

“As TikTok continues to amass more users around the world and diversify its content beyond music, we expect more marketers to get involved on the platform.

“The playing field for brands opened up in 2019 when institutions like the NFL started implementing an always-on TikTok content strategy. And with the opportunity to work with emerging super star creators on the platform, there are many fun ways brands can reach the Gen Z audience.”

Trust is the watchword once again

Zoë Stephenson, Co-founder, The Social Shepherd:

“…we’re intrigued to see how platform changes will impact consumer behaviour, will the removal of likes cause Instagram to become more ‘authentic’ with regards to the content posted? Will consumers trust Facebook enough to process their payments in-platform?

Fake news on social forces advertisers back to premium publishers

Eric Shih, Global SVP, Business Development at Teads:

“In 2020 we will see the continued consolidation of news publishers globally, which will follow the high profile mergers of Gannett and GateHouse, Vox and New York Media, and the Daily Mail and i newspaper in 2019. We will also see a renewed interest in premium news outlets from consumers driven by the GenZ demographic, and in the US with consumers looking to reliable news sources for information in the run-up to the presidential election.

“As brand safety concerns mount, and with the increase of fake news on social media and user-generated video, marketers will need to shift their attention back to premium publishers. This trend will fuel further standardization of brand safety definitions and enforcement by the ad-buying community through buy-and sell-side participation in industry associations including the Global Alliance for Responsible Media.”

The rising tide of more conscious communication

Tom Jarvis, Wilderness Agency:

“We’ve seen brands like Lush and others in the last year trying to find ways to curb the negative effects of social media on their audience, whilst Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have all responded with measures to prompt more positive usage of their platforms.”

Facebook pricing marketers out?

Sean Cole, Social Media & Community Manager, Econsultancy:

“I foresee the New Year centred around social media ad spend and where marketers can get the most bang for their buck.

“This year, Instagram, SnapChat and TikTok all made major updates to their platform experiences for advertisers and consumers. And with costs on Facebook rising, I expect marketers to experiment and test out allocating more of their advertising spend to different platforms, finding new ways to sell to consumers in 2020.”

A reckoning of social media as a political tool

Tom Jarvis, Wilderness Agency:

“Following the Senate hearings of Mark Zuckerberg last year we’ve seen the public and political pressure ratcheted up for Facebook and others to change how they operate. This has led to Twitter banning the use of all political ads, Google making changes to how political figures and campaigns can target users and Facebook pressured to follow suit. Greater oversight or regulation is sure to follow.”