November 1, 2019Published by: Drew Benvie

Social media trends for 2020: highlights from Battenhall’s annual event

It's that time of year again when the Battenhall team takes a moment to reflect on how the world of social media has evolved over the last 12 months, and how brands will need to navigate the year ahead to stay ahead of the curve. 

At our seventh annual social media trends briefing this week, we launched our second Battenhall Instagram Brands 100 report, and here our leading consultants share some of the key trends we predict for 2020.

Instagram Brands 100 report 2019

In our first report in 2018, the use of Stories had just begun to overtake posting to the news feed for the biggest brands on Instagram. This year we’ve seen that balance tip even further, with Stories up, posts to the feed down, and the chasm between the two widening. In October alone, the top 100 brands posted 10,954 times on Stories. 

It’s not just Stories keeping brands busy, though. With new functions and types of interactivity at our fingertips, they are reacting fast to stay relevant. In October, the top 100 brands posted 400 times on IGTV, but went live just 3 times. Live, it seems, is over.

Lastly, fake accounts are still a focus for many platforms to improve, and many have made headway in tackling them. But our research found that the average percentage of fake or suspicious followers across the 100 is 17.6%, up slightly from 2018’s 16.9%. 

Download your copy here for the full analysis and brand case studies

Social media trends for 2020

2020 will be a tipping point year for regulation, influence, audio, video, politics, sports and safety. We’ve identified three key trends that we predict will see social media go full circle, fusing the old with the new and and taking innovation mainstream: the sustainability of influencers and their approach to social media; the importance and strength of  the digital athlete; and the inevitable creator comeback in a time of the digital natives.

Trend 1: Influencer sustainability

Influencers are now mainstream, but there has been a definite trend towards distrust in 2019. We see this at a tipping point for influencers and brands alike to work smarter with influencers to get the most out of future campaigns. 

The influencers who will succeed in 2020 will be those who have a true sense of purpose, who stand for the stuff that matters, who have the integrity to say ‘no’ to conflicting opportunities, who create content and collaborate with brands beyond the use of #Ad, and those who live beyond Instagram to show breadth and depth to their offering. 

Brands will need to think smart and optimise their brand strategy to ensure that they are investing in the influencers who will bring both short and long term value to their business.

Rhian Robinson - Senior Account Director

Trend 2: The digital athlete

2020 is an Olympic year - one where the digital athlete will be more important than ever before. Brands and athletes alike are harnessing the power of social media to drive interest, awareness and excitement about the biggest sporting events, and they are doing it well. It’s now almost a necessity for athletes wishing to strengthen their career prospects.

A number of factors have funnelled into this becoming a trend to watch out for, but it’s mostly down to the way sports have become more digitally synced via tech and data tracking - not just with elites, but weekend-warriors too. 

It also comes with its own unique challenges - due to more free, accessible sports broadcasting via social media and higher quality viewing experiences, people have also been staying at home, so getting ‘bums on seats’ has been hard to achieve. 

But with the power of influence, these social-driven athletes are changing the game with their content and we, as viewers, are really starting to see the value of being present both for ourselves and for the athletes. Those sporting stars who have focussed well on their content mix and partnerships, have sailed above other celebrities on social media.  Triathlete Lucy Charles Barclay employs a photographer full time for social content and the biggest GB gymnast on youtube, Nile Wilson has over 1.2m subscribers.

In 2020, watching sports and engaging with athletes will be on many of the same platforms. Athletes will lead where brands will follow, so it’s important for us to find ways in which we can collaborate in an authentic way that supports all involved. 

Charlie Gregory - Design Director & Joe Cant - Account Manager

Trend 3: The creator comeback

We see a new kind of creator culture impacting social media in a positive way. With Instagram now at 1 billion users and Tik Tok at 500 million users (Twitter has just 139 million for comparison), digital natives, aka teen consumers and your future customers, see the world through a creative lense. 

To break through the noise in 2020, we need ‘next-level’ creativity, focusing less on copy paste content and more on innovative, creative and multi-dimensional assets using audio and music that have a real feel good and fun factor.

We need to look beyond the channel strategy and look at ways to cross-pollinate audiences and work with influencers and ambassadors to help direct our followers towards dedicated social media zones and communities both on and offline.

Steph Bennett - Director, International


About Battenhall

We look after brand profiles on social media, and we're proudly the world's #1 at what we do. Named The Drum's social media agency of the year for the last three years running. Get in touch!

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