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  • Stephanie Chen, University of Virginia

2020 Social Media Trend Predictions

“Prediction 31: In the future, skilled professionals will flee their corporate jobs and become their own bosses in ever-increasing numbers. They’ll become entrepreneurs, consultants, prostitutes, and cartoonists.” – Scott Adams, The Dilbert Future

I can only aspire to be as accurate in my predictions as Scott Adams was in The Dilbert Future. Although the book was written in 1997 (before I was born), Adams accurately predicted today’s gig economy by stating that in the future, many people will become their own bosses. Adams was spot-on with entrepreneurs and consultants, but other modern day self-employees also include Uber and Lyft drivers, independent contractors, and social media influencers. Millennials and Gen Z’s are much more entrepreneurial than their predecessors and more likely to be engaged in side hustles.

A social media trend that I predict for 2020 is an increasing focus on experiences. Research already indicates that Millennials and Gen Z’s tend to value experiences over tangible products. We would rather spend our hard-earned money on vacations, concerts, and shows, rather than paying for more items to collect dust. Instagram stories, Snap Chat stories, and YouTube vlogs all take advantage of this trend by allowing younger audiences to follow the experiences of other people.

Taking the need for people to live vicariously through other people one step further, I predict that there will be a trend toward live video streaming platforms in the future. If smart glasses become ubiquitous in the future, then people will be able to record minutes to hours of their lives with the touch of a finger. These recordings will be live streamed and available for viewing later so that audiences can live vicariously through their friends’ and favorite celebrities’ lives. Watching real Hollywood drama in first-person would bring a new type of reality TV.

Additionally, I also predict that there will be a social media trend of interacting more with audiences to build communities. Celebrities and influencers alike always thank their fans and say that they love them, because after all, who would they be without them? In order to keep a lifelong fan, it helps to build a community around your social media brand. I believe there will be a greater focus on giveaways, sweepstakes, merchandise, and fan interactions in the future of social media. This could include a greater scale of activities that influencers already do such as Q&A’s with fan submitted questions, opening fan mail, surprising fans with phone calls, and meeting fans undercover.

Successful brands will increase the amount of interaction with their customers. I checked out Starbuck’s Instagram account, and was surprised to find that the account had 17.6 million followers. Clearly, I had underestimated how much Americans love their coffee! While, the follower count surprised me, the fact that Starbucks replied to every comment on the past ten or so posts on its account blew my mind. There were thousands of comments on the post, and usually with social media posts, fans were lucky if one post out of thousands received a reply. Although Starbucks is a company, not an individual, its social media influence is still sizeable. I believe its social media responsiveness models future social media brand interactions.

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