What is the hottest social network of 2020? It may surprise you…
Every year we see strategy-altering changes from every social network. Leveraging the right networks in your marketing strategy can mean the difference between success and failure. Now, no network is going to be the very best for every single business. However, there are overall trends and changes that are important to be aware of. By the end of this article, you’ll know the following:
- The trends and changes that are happening on the 7 major social media platforms.
- Strategies for creating videos and posts on these platforms in 2020.
- Predictions for where the networks are heading in 2020 based on current trends and shifts.
- My picks for the “best network for B2B, best network for long-term growth, best network for bloggers, and the hottest social network of 2020 .
I’ll cover 7 major social media platforms: Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Pinterest.
For the majority of businesses, these are the main seven that people focus on and utilize. I want to start by talking about how many active monthly users each platform has worldwide.
- Facebook: 2.3 billion monthly active users.
- YouTube: 1.9 billion monthly active users.
- Instagram: 1 billion monthly active users.
- LinkedIn: 562 million monthly active users.
- Twitter: 326 million monthly active users.
- Pinterest: 250 million monthly active users.
- Snapchat: 191 million monthly active users.
You can also look at this handy chart and commentary I made when I studied the total active number of users over the last 18 years.
I do hear a lot of clients with the perception that everyone who’s younger is now off of Facebook, and on Instagram and Snapchat. However, that’s not completely true. There are still more people in the age range 18 to 24 that use Facebook versus Instagram or Snapchat, and YouTube is actually the network that young people use more than any other.
I’m going to do yearly updates on the state of each platform, because they’re constantly changing.
Social media changes RAPIDLY
To illustrate how rapidly social media platforms can make adjustments, here’s the changes that have been made on Instagram in the last 5 years:
- 15-second videos added.
- Sponsored posts.
- Analytics offered in the U.S.
- Instagram allows 30-second videos for advertisers .
- Global Instagram ads.
- Instagram introduces boomerangs.
- Instagram switches its feed from chronological to algorithmically-driven best posts first.
- Instagram announces that it will launch new business tools – including analytics that allow users to see audience demographics, post impressions, and reach.
- Instagram launches Instagram Stories.
- Instagram launches image zoom.
- Live videos.
- 60 second videos.
- Multiple posts.
- Live Instagram Stories.
- Instagram TV .
- Story ads.
- Huge algorithm change.
- Instagram TV preview in stories.
- Minute-long stories.
Social Networks: Which one is the hottest right now?
So, before we narrow in on which network is the hottest, let’s start by learning about each platform.
Pros: Facebook has the largest user base, retargeting ads can be powerful.
Cons: Organic reach is severely limited.
Facebook is the biggest user base at this point. Facebook ads can be powerful with the proper amount of testing and skill, and retargeting is powerful. Retargeting lets you advertise to people who’ve visited certain pages on your website (or have taken certain actions).
However, in terms of organic reach, Facebook is very much lacking at this point, especially on pages.
It has really become a pay-to-play platform. This has been happening over the last several years, but a number of pages have found their organic reach declining from closer to 16%, all the way down to under 2%. People are reaching a fraction of the people they used to reach with the same strategy.
Facebook groups have a much higher engagement rate, and live videos do better than prerecorded videos (especially ones that are longer than 2 minutes). Facebook is also promoting Facebook stories.
I typically recommend that businesses have a Facebook page since it’s a bit strange when none exists.
It’s nice to have a platform where people can leave reviews and see some hours and content, but, it’s increasingly difficult to get in front of a bunch of people and increase your reach without using money. And once those people like your page, you’ll need to spend more money to make sure more than 2% of people actually see your posts.
A Facebook business page is required to run Facebook and Instagram ads.
I wouldn’t recommend spending much time on content you’re not going to put money behind. Facebook ads are also beginning to creep up in cost, so some that are using the ads to grow their business are nervous that it’s no longer going to be profitable. I think we’re going to see an increase in the cost of Facebook ads and people moving away from content made specifically for their business pages.
Facebook made it so text and external links no longer have any reach, and my prediction is they’ll move even further in the direction of video (or at least slideshows).
YouTube: The social network that can get you long-term results.
Pros: YouTube is the second biggest platform, high growth potential.
Cons: Hard to rank for search keywords, large time commitments.
Let’s move on to the second biggest platform. YouTube currently has 1.9 billion monthly active users. If your YouTube channel is new or just getting started, it will be challenging to compete for keywords that lots of people are searching.
YouTube is growing more competitive as time goes on. However, I believe there is still a space for huge results from YouTube; it just requires an incredible amount of time and energy.
YouTube cares far more about watch time than views.
To monetize an account, you need 1,000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours. There’s no view requirement. I’m seeing more and more content creators making 10-, 20-, and 30-minute videos that they release frequently, and for some it’s daily. While the competition is going up, the consumption is going up as well, especially with mobile videos.
The ability to speak eloquently and deliver a large amount of useful information is becoming an important component of doing well on YouTube. The growth potential on YouTube is fairly high as well, since a video that ranks well on a top keyword can send a ton of traffic.
The potential to build a relationship with an audience is huge. On many networks, people will swipe past within 3 seconds or watch 15 seconds of a video and then move on. On YouTube, people come to watch your video. If the video is engaging enough, people can spend 30-60 minutes watching your videos. It takes a lot to grow, but it has incredible growth.
Instagram: A huge growth in the number of users.
Pros: Good organic is still OK, Instagram story ads.
Cons: Harder to drive traffic off the platform (you only get one link out, and it’s in your profile, not your posts), reach is falling fast.
Instagram was my top pick for the hottest social network of 2020. Will it keep the crown?
Instagram is all about engaging visuals and short attention spans. Photos tend to get more likes and videos tend to get more comments.
Instagram has a ton of ways to reach new audiences, with their explore page, hashtag system, and the ability for businesses to interact with or comment on just about any post.
Instagram’s organic reach dropped significantly in 2020. You still get a far greater reach than Facebook. Some marketers are reporting getting 20 times the engagement with Instagram vs. Facebook.
Instagram has a ton of momentum, and I don’t see any reason why it would slow down now. Story ads are a recent addition, and I think there’s potential for businesses to find creative ways to make money with Instagram stories.
I do worry that organic reach and ad cost will go down the same path as Facebook (especially because Instagram is owned by Facebook).
Because of reach, it’s no longer the clear winner.
LinkedIn: Effectively making the transition from just profiles to an all out social network
Pros: Good organic reach, great for B2B marketing.
Cons: Targeted ads are expensive. It is challenging to build a traditional following.
LinkedIn actually now has the fourth highest active monthly users.
LinkedIn feels like the old days of Facebook.
Text posts and articles can do fairly well on this platform. You can link to a YouTube video, and it will actually be shown to people (although it’s still better to upload your video directly to LinkedIn in a square format). Videos on LinkedIn are fairly new and have a decent reach. If you’re getting a high number of likes and comments, your posts can get shown to a lot of people who aren’t directly connected to you.
Generally, 1-2-minute videos centered around a specific topic perform the best.
It is more expensive to do LinkedIn targeted ads.
LinkedIn has some of the most expensive targeted ads, costing more than Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Here’s a comparison of Facebook ads vs LinkedIn ads
However, in terms of organic reach, LinkedIn is a very effective tool that people should consider. And of course, this is not Facebook, so you shouldn’t be posting personal photos and information.
Your posts should be about relevant business subjects. LinkedIn is especially good option for local businesses that serve other businesses.
I feel the biggest downside is it’s more challenging to build a more traditional following on LinkedIn. Following people is not as common, and it’s the only platform where I’ve had tens of thousands of views on a post but gained only one new follower.
It’s great that content can reach a larger audience—with less people opting in to follow, this makes it more challenging to build an ongoing following.
One upside is that you can use more hashtags than you would on some other platforms, increasing your reach. The ideal number of hashtags for a LinkedIn post is around five, while on Facebook and Twitter, one hashtag is best. If you’re in the B2B space (or work with other businesses frequently), LinkedIn can’t be beat.
Twitter: The only social network that’s losing numbers
Pros: One of the easiest ways to directly connect with celebrities, brands, etc.
Cons: Growth has slowed, must be very active to be effective.
Twitter is the fifth biggest social media platform, but it has really stalled out in terms of growth.
While lot of businesses have used Twitter effectively, Twitter’s growth has gone down in the last year. Twitter is all about joining in on discussions and popular hashtags, finding people to respond to insert yourself in the conversation. On Twitter, you’re going to get very little engagement if you just schedule out your your tweets, and you’re not commenting and responding to other people. You also have to be a lot more active on Twitter than on other social platforms.
Studies have foundthat on Twitter and Facebook, posting once or twice a day is optimal. But on Twitter, it’s more like 12 times per day. And these are mostly responding to people and engaging with people directly.
Twitter does have video, but it’s more effective if you do it as a direct response or a direct video to someone. The shelf life of tweets is incredibly small, and you need to be quick on your toes.
I know a lot of people who are devoting energy to Twitter instead of some other social networks. However, they’re not approaching it in an effective way, and their time could be much better spent either adjusting their Twitter strategy or moving on to a different platform.
I’m not expecting to see a significant growth on this platform, and I think a lot of small businesses will transition toward other platforms that are growing more quickly. A lot of small businesses owners have trouble finding the time to approach Twitter properly.
I’m the least excited about Twitter, because of the drop in growth and how difficult it is to schedule content in advance.
Pinterest: The new kid on the block, they’re growing rapidly in 2020.
Pros: Great for bloggers, strong pins can generate engagement years later.
Cons: Ads still in early phases, user base is still smaller.
Pinterest is another fast-growing social network. For those who aren’t very familiar, Pinterest is a visual search engine. While the platform’s active users used to skew strongly female, there are a lot of men starting to join as well.
For bloggers, rich pins are a great way to create links to your blogs and allow people to share them. Studies have found that 80% of pins should be other peoples’ content (although it’s not bad to have one board that’s exclusively your content). The great thing about Pinterest is that a really popular pin can continue to generate results over time, potentially for years.
On Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it’s strange for a post from a month ago to suddenly get a number of likes. You can pin videos, and now some pins are starting to play videos directly within the pins. Pinterest ads are still in the early phases, but I’m expecting the opportunity and functionality to expand.
Snapchat: Not just for tweens anymore.
Pros: A good social network for reaching younger users, custom Geofilter feature.
Cons: Content is fleeting, hard to gain a following.
Snapchat’s active users skew a lot younger than the other social platforms: 78% of those 18 to 24 are using Snapchat. But for the older demographics, it’s 7%.
Snapchat works well as an add-on social media network, so, if you have a decent following elsewhere, and you want to leverage it to help your business, there’s a lot of opportunity.
However, if you only have time to run one or two social networks, Snapchat probably isn’t going to be the number one pick.
Your content goes away quickly (or immediately), and it’s challenging to gain a high number of followers without leveraging other networks.
The challenge is that Snapchat started as such an interpersonal platform, with one person sending photos or videos to one person or a small group of friends. So, it’s harder to gain a following as a business on this platform. With Instagram Stories growing so quickly, it’s much easier to gain an audience using by Instagram’s tools and using stories to help sell your business than by trying to grow your Snapchat followers.
Time to crown a champion: What IS the hottest social network of 2020?
So, which social network is currently the hottest for business? Of course, there is no one best social network for every business. But it’s a cop-out to simply say “the best one is whichever is right for you.”
The best for business to business (B2B):
The best for bloggers and driving traffic
And the hottest social network of 2020 is:
This year was a tough call. Instagram was the winner last year, but its reach has fallen significantly. It’s likely it will continue to fall.
LinkedIn was a strong contender, great reach, great for B2B, and forming connections. LinkedIn ads are just so expensive. For a lot of small businesses, it makes sense boost or run ads on the most popular posts.
Pinterest was another strong contender. It’s the best for sending website traffic and pins stay around for months or years.
But, in the end, it had to be YouTube. Here’s why: don’t get me wrong, it takes a while to grow on YouTube. But, the potential for building a relationship with your audience is huge. On no other network will people spend 10 minutes ,20 minutes, maybe even up to an hour with you. If the right video takes off, it can generate results for your business for years and years. There are also well priced YouTube ads and placements that can help you grow faster.
It’s not for everyone. It doesn’t always make sense for local business. It can take 1 year+ to grow. But it has a huge upside. That’s why it’s my #1 pick for 2020.
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