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That reality spawned a whole new digital marketing discipline as businesses sought to keep up with the fast-moving changes in the social media landscape.
Now, though, as we move into the 2020s, digital marketers face a more mature marketplace. Gone are the days when clever hacks and unorthodox approaches could create a winning social media campaign. Going forward, it's going to take solid planning and even better execution to turn an otherwise run-of-the-mill social media campaign into a winner.
It'll also be necessary to get a handle on where the market is heading in order to get out in front of the latest trends. To that end, here are three social media marketing predictions that will shape the industry for the beginning of the new decade.
Almost without anyone noticing, social media app TikTok came from nowhere to surpass Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat in terms of monthly downloads – with an astounding 1.5 billion by the end of 2019. Now, it's the platform every digital marketer will need to set their sights on in 2020 and beyond, as it's captured the valuable Gen Z cohort that just about every business now targets.
That's going to mean becoming versed in the latest in TikTok automation tech and techniques as the platform evolves into yet another primary social media marketing channel.
That's likely to happen very early in the new decade, as the company expands further into western markets and begins rolling out new advertising tools and promotional opportunities.
Right now, in fact, brands are scoring early opportunities to partner with TikTok influencers for a fraction of what comparable deals on other platforms cost and the companies that get in early will have a big leg up on the competition.
Over the last few years, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) seemed poised to become the next big thing in the world of technology. Then, as Google Glass stumbled and one-time tech industry darling Magic Leap closed out the decade on the verge of disaster, people started reconsidering that notion. The thing is, VR and AR aren't really a matter of if, but when.
For marketers, there's a good chance the answer to that question will come in the early part of the 2020s, and it will pay to be ready for it. Already, industry analysts are forecasting that spending on the twin technologies will jump by 79% this year.
The fact that many of the biggest players in the field are owned or backed by social media platforms means the people most likely to adopt the next wave of the technology will be social media users.
That means there will soon be a whole new social channel to reach consumers with, and that it represents the kind of ground-floor marketing opportunity that businesses salivate over.
For a long time, marketers viewed the ability to respond to changing consumer trends and real-world events in real-time as something of a holy grail. As the 2020s begin, it's looking all but certain that artificial intelligence (AI) is going to finally make that a reality.
Using vast troves of data, the latest AI platforms can already analyze customer behavioral data and produce personalized marketing materials within moments. Some can even autonomously build customized web pages aimed at a single customer and rebuild them to suit the next.
According to the SEO experts at OutreachPete, the same may soon be true within the world of content marketing, too. They predict that it won’t be long until AI makes it easy to craft articles and other sponsored content that changes to suit each viewer.
For example, the data from a targeted consumer’s social feed could be the basis for a filter system that adds or subtracts subject matter from various written and video content on the fly. The result would be individualized market messaging on a scale that was previously impractical.
As the 2020s wear on, AI is going to make it possible for digital marketers to build ever-evolving campaigns that break targeting down to the individual level. The first examples of it are already making waves among social media marketers.
The next generation of AI-driven campaigns will also manage themselves to a large degree, freeing marketers to work on more creative endeavors and stay abreast of the latest industry developments (like the ones covered here). It'll be nothing short of a revolution in the digital marketing business – and one that will see the next decade end looking nothing like the one before it.
There's no telling how soon the trends mentioned here will come to fruition, but it's going to be soon. The marketers that adapt the fastest will stand the best chance of exploiting them and furthering the interests of the clients and businesses they serve.
They'll also become a part of the new leading edge of digital marketing, which will see the industry evolve and change at an even faster rate than it did over the past ten years – and I for one can't wait to see the results.
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