Amid COVID-19, Companies Manage to Turn a Profit Using Social Media

By Jemima McEvoy Sunday, August 30, 2020

Over the past few years, social media has become a thriving medium for businesses. Entrepreneurs who seize the moment can reap major benefits from social media marketing. However, to succeed on the internet, it’s important to stay on top of trends, which continue to evolve and increase in sophistication every moment.

Here’s what you should know about social media marketing in 2020 and how companies have innovated amid the pandemic.

Popular Platforms

As of this year, there are over 3.8 billion users on social media. Though new players frequently enter the game, a handful of platforms continue to dominate the field, offering the most potential for entrepreneurs seeking marketing opportunities.

Once again, Facebook has emerged as the leading platform in 2020, boasting over 2.7 billion monthly active users. YouTube, which has continued to gain ground on Facebook over the past couple of years, comes in a close second. Following messaging platforms, Whatsapp, Facebook messenger, and WeChat, Instagram hovers in fifth with over 1 billion active monthly users. TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter, Reddit, and Pinterest follow behind.

Notable Newcomers

Though Facebook and YouTube are reliable front-runners, they aren’t necessarily the hottest spots for innovative marketing in 2020. This year’s interesting trend centers around the rising prominence of short-form video, evidenced by TikTok’s skyrocketing stardom.

As the notable newcomer of 2020, TikTok has inspired action from other platforms working to mimic their successful hosting of videos and engagement of young people, including Instagram, which recently released its own spinoff, Reels. TikTok and Reels appeal to marketers because they play to the shifting attention span of audiences.

Twitter has also adjusted its platform to be more accommodating to video content. According to a Cisco study, 82% of all online content will be video content by 2022, which means that marketers who haven’t already adapted should start trying to get a piece of the pie. Curating or sponsoring videos will not disappear as a marketing strategy any time soon.

Another lesson to be learned from the rise of TikTok is that seemingly niche platforms can gain popularity overnight. It’s better to jump on a train that may run out of momentum than arrive too late at the platform.

Storied Success

TikTok may be a pretty new toy, but Instagram’s constant evolution has kept it extremely relevant amid 2020’s social media marketing trends. Many marketing experts predicted that ephemeral content, content only available for a short period of time before disappearing, will continue gaining popularity this year.

So far, statistics on the usage of Instagram Stories prove this to be true. There has been a substantial rise in Instagram Stories’ active daily users since it was first introduced, with 500 million daily active users, according to the most recent data from January 2019 (the number is likely significantly higher today).

A Hootsuite report shows that 64% of marketers have either already incorporated Instagram Stories into their strategies or plan to do so. A Social Insider survey further bolsters the popularity of Instagram Stories among brands, explaining that brands post a Story once every four days. Posting temporary content helps brands casually connect with customers and promote new products.

Influencer Influence

Influencer marketing is a tried and tested marketing strategy, continuously yielding results. In 2020, the practice still has not lost power. Most recent figures put the average earned media value (EMV) per dollar spent on influencer marketing at $5.78, while some businesses make as much as $18 for every dollar spent. Influencer marketing, paying social media personalities with followings to post about or discuss your product/service, can be more cost-effective than a regular advertising campaign and can help with large-scale brand curation.

What’s important to note about influencer marketing in 2020 is that though it’s still very popular, the way companies and customers interact with influencers has changed. For example, consumers are now hyper-aware of influencers who appear fake or disingenuous. Larger influencers, who are also more expensive for brands, don’t yield the same results as they once did, and companies have seen more success backing smaller, micro-influencers — people who are part of specific communities and have genuine relationships with their followers.

According to Influencer Marketing Hub, “Marketers are not just collaborating with 1-2 influencers now, but are working with a whole network of small, relevant, niche influencers,” which costs less and results in higher engagement.

Additionally, specific industries perform better with this type of marketing. Sprout Social notes that the top three industries for working with influencers are luxury brands (91% work with influencers), sports clothing brands (84% work with influencers), and beauty brands (83% work with influencers). Of all types of brands surveyed, 89% indicated Instagram was the most important platform for influencer marketing.

Shop Straight Away

Many social media platforms are rolling out new features to increase the ease of shopping directly through the platform, a 2020 trend that will likely gain serious traction over the next few years.

So-called “Social Commerce” has become popular on Instagram, which has launched and continuously redesigned an Instagram Shopping platform through which businesses can create digital storefronts. Around 70% of consumers look to Instagram for product discovery. Facebook also has its own digital commerce functionality, launching a new shopping tab and shoppable live streams in May of this year.

What to Watch

Though 2020 has been a great year for social media usage — exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic that has kept many indoors and on the internet — complicating factors pose threats to social media marketing, which are just as important to watch as the shiny, new trends.

The US government has heightened a crackdown on some social media platforms accused of lacking regulation or promoting fake/misleading content. President Donald Trump has threatened an executive order against Twitter and signed an order mandating the sale of TikTok, which is Chinese-owned, to a US company within 90 days or risk shut down. These increased regulations mean that the prevalence of certain social media apps may be short-lived, or certain features could be updated or removed.

Nonetheless, social media remains an integral part of society and will continue to offer entrepreneurs ample marketing opportunities. Always keep one eye on what’s trending and be sure to make the most of platforms on which you can connect with customers and build trust for your brands.

About the Author


Headshot for Jemima McEvoy

Jemima is a journalist who enjoys reporting on business, particularly small business and entrepreneurship.

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