If you’re not at all interested in the influencer industry and only alight at this station for wedding chat, mental health woes or from a questionable keyword that Google has picked up, move right on by.
But if you’re also a blogger and are keen dissect, analyse, theorise and just bloody gossip about what I believe will be going down next year, stick with me…
A Return To Blogging In 2020
As many of our favourite creators have taken a step back from publishing blog content in 2019 in the pursuit of growing an Instagram following, I predict those same creators will return to their websites in 2020.
You see, if you’ve grown a following of 10k but only 2k are seeing your posts and then only 100-300 people are engaging with them, you might start to wonder if the endless hours engaging, being ‘active on the app’ and ‘trying’ is really worth it.
Especially when each blog post could be read 4-5 times moreover.
Stories and stories
I’m not going as far to say, ‘structured, planned and curated content is out’ – because I genuinely believe that every type of creator has a space and has an audience.
But if, like me, you struggle to curate/create and prefer to document your life, interests and passions – telling stories on Stories is proving to be more popular as we end 2019.
Creators I speak to tell me that content on Instagram Stories about the plumber coming, a crack in the ceiling, a shit snack they thought would be legendary or an Aldi trip, get up to 5x more engagement than a planned post.
I think we’ll see our favourite creators dabble in giving us more of a ‘real-life’, behind-the-scenes, look at their lives, through Stories or by creating new Instagram accounts to capitalise on what audiences SAY they want.
However, if your Insta-style is perfectly curated, creative or EXTRA, there’s always huge value in what you do as often this is the content that attracts more shares, saves and has tended to perform better in the algorithm.
A Focus On Meaningful Engagement
Likes, follower numbers and impressions could be out.
Especially when they don’t translate to meaningful engagement.
This will be replaced by a focus on replies, comments (real ones), shares and saves.
That’s because Story replies show you’re building community, as do true comments.
Shares mean that your content is deemed worthy to be seen by many others.
Saves means your content is actually valuable.
A New Kind of Pod and Breed of Bot
Remember when making money on social media was all about who had the most followers and who could garner the most likes? (It still is for those brands that haven’t quite caught up yet).
Well if these metrics are losing the focus and metrics like saves, shares, DMs and comments are taking the stage… can ya guess what will happen (and already is)?
Bots will be filling creators comments with more sophisticated comments. No longer will bots be bought if all they can provide is a spammy emoji or, ‘love this hun’ (when it’s a post about grieving your dead cat) – bots will have to become better. And they will.
As quickly as Instagram find a way to banish some form on inauthentic engagement, a new one pops up and unfortunately Instagram aren’t THAT quick off the mark.
Where Instagram ‘pods’ or ‘engagement groups’ or whatever name you want to give them would be based on rules such as, ‘like every post before sharing your own’ or ‘comment on everyone’s last post with at least 4 words, no emojis and a recipe for your Mum’s best brownies’, new groups will emerge – and have.
Pods now require you to save and share each members last post and because these actions are currently, ‘secret’ (you can’t see who has performed them), then a post of someone’s trashy Sunday dinner (my favourite shit-post metaphor) will inexplicably be receiving hundreds of saves and shares, compared to Sally-Pure-Creator who spent 4-5 hours editing a beautiful fashion shot but who isn’t a member of a hun-pod.
And if we learned anything about the Instagram algorithm in 2019, it’s that if a post receives plenty of saves and shares, it’s more likely to be boosted to the top of feeds.
A Social Media Exhaustion
Many creators, in 2020, will feel exhausted over trying to figure out what engagement to create for, but then feel at a loss because whenever there is money involved, someone will always try and game the system.
There’ll always be unfairness. Someone will always, undeservingly, be given a leg up. That’s the way it is in business.
A Creative Freedom
I believe many creators, in 2020, will come around to what’s really important.
Authenticity with that they share, value provided for their audience and a sense of true community.
Metrics, games and exhausting politics really don’t matter when you focus on values like this.
I see so many creators say, ‘I just can’t grow!’ but at the same time, see someone who’s totally original, who’s building a fab community and who creates valuable content grow rapidly.
Therefore, those creators will create on platforms where they feel the most joy (and it may be Instagram) but they won’t create FOR engagement. Or to ‘beat the algorithm’. They’ll give themselves permission to create what they want, for the audience they have, and it’ll make them feel good.
There is, however a downside with creative freedom and saying, ‘not me’ when it comes to game-playing.
And that’s money.
It’s the ol’ Catch 22 isn’t it? By now we know what content ‘performs’, what style of account is most ‘sponsorable’ and we know how we could contort what we create for it to be deemed cash-worthy.
Creators often feel that if you want to be noticed by brands, become an influencer and monetise your social platforms via your personal brand (aka self), games (algorithms) have to be played.
There’s a sense that more often than not, you have to be in the right circles, tagging the right brands and with the ‘right’ style of imagery.
The face fits – just like in any corporate world.
But there is another way too… a way I foresee many more creators taking in 2020.
When I ask members in Grow & Glow what they’re doing it all for, a proportion say, ‘I need more followers because I want to earn money from my platforms.’
When pressed further, what they really mean is, ‘I want to make money on Instagram’.
And when I ask them, during our monthly calls, our community catch ups or at events, what that looks like, they say, ‘I need to learn how to beat the algorithm so I can get to 10k and then brands will start to pay me.’
To them, I say, ‘bollocks.’
What if I told you, that holding up a shitty deodorant for £50 is not the only way to become a ‘full time blogger’?
What if I told you that if you went, ‘fuck it, this game is too exhausting, I just want to build a life for myself,’ that there are other ways?
What if I also told you that I work with bloggers under 1k followers on Instagram who make more money on Instagram than those with 30k+? That’s for another post…
In 2020, we’ll see more and more creators diversifying their incomes by creating personal brands by themselves without having to rely on being an advert for another brand.
We’ll see creators releasing books, merch, their own ranges, e-books, digital products, coaching services and many more exciting things they can create through the authentic story, genuine community and assertion of expertise they’ve built for themselves.
More Bloggers De-Monetising
Where 2018-2019 was all about, ‘get that money honey’, many bloggers who have full time jobs or just wanted to have platforms to create on felt pushed out by this sudden rush for capital.
In 2020, I see more creators who are wanting to ‘just’ create excellent content coming to the forefront and saying, ‘Hey, just because I’m not being paid doesn’t mean my content isn’t great,’ and having the confidence to do so.
I see creators aligning to the fact that they can ‘just’ create and not every element of their ‘personal brand’ needs to be sold.
That working with a brand on Instagram isn’t their holy grail.
That sharing a creative passion alongside a 9-5 is just as worthy.
De-monetising your platforms gives you an incredible boost of freedom too. Why strive for 10k on Instagram when you don’t ever want to put up an ad?
Why spend 4-5 hours a day on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and Insta when you’re just using your platforms as a creative outlet?
There’s Room for Everybody
As creators hone in on their areas of expertise, there’s bound to be cross-over.
As more creators turn their hands to creating services or their own products, there’s bound to be others who come along and emulate.
As influencers see trends that are making waves (playing the game rather than daring to be different), there’s bound to be a lot of ‘sameness’.
And as some bloggers, say, ‘fuck it’ and strip it back to why they started, there’s bound to be a shift.
In 2020, the blogging community will experience a huge and probably unpredictable shift, as it always does. Who wrote one of these posts last year and predicted getting rid of likes or the rapid decrease in organic reach? Not many.
But what I know for definite in 2020, is this.
Every single one of you has the power to take a platform where you post pictures, write words, chat to peers and make a tit of yourself and turn it into SOMETHING.
Whether that’s keeping abreast of all of the latest social media trends to ensure you’re growing a bigger following and earning more sponsorship dollar, saying ‘fuck it all’, OR through building a sustainable personal brand that can turn your hand and your community to a diverse range of projects and products – you’re making SOMETHING.
Whatever it is, I’m here for it. And I’m here for you.