Social media changes every day … that’s not an exaggeration. As we close out 2019, let’s look toward, and prepare for, the social media trends that small business owners should know about if they want to stay relevant and grow their audiences.

Since the beginning, social media has been largely about public conversations among strangers that share interests. 2020 is going to bring private messaging to the forefront in a big way with communities and one-to-one conversations. Remember instant messaging? It’s coming back.

WhatsApp surpassed 68 million US-based users this year, Viber continues to grow in popularity for free calling and instant messaging. Telegram also offers free messaging and has a group chat feature that can support up to 200,000 members each.

Facebook, too, rolled out several features for Groups this year, and we should expect even more in 2020 as the platform focuses on facilitating private communities for users. I’ve seen several commercials in recent months highlight Facebook Groups, that’s a not-so-secret clue that it’s at the top of the priority list for next year. As the algorithm continues to evolve and include less content from businesses, having a group is going to become a necessity for reaching your desired audience. Within my networks I’m seeing business owners create Facebook Groups centered around individual products to allow their customers and clients to crosstalk about their experiences.

We can expect to see bots used on a wider scale as a part of an overall marketing strategy. Advances in artificial intelligence will allow for more sophisticated conversations customized experiences for consumers. The robots are here and they’re not going anywhere.

Knowing the social media trends are nice, but if you don’t have anything to say this information is worthless. Content is the engine of every social network, and Facebook is making a significant shift in the way they handle content that we’ll see play out on a larger scale in 2020. Facebook Watch is turning long-form videos into the new TV. With partnerships that produce exclusive content plus original programming, small business owners should definitely consider how to leverage videos that are original, authentic and help break through the algorithm.

Don’t feel pressured to dive headfirst into all of these trends, my advice is to choose one or two that align with your 2020 business goals and commit to being consistent for at least the first three months of the new year, by then we’ll probably have a new trendy platform to explore anyway.

Moniek James is a serial entrepreneur and nerd who helps small business owners use social media to be more awesome online. Find her at www.moniekjames.com where she shares her favorite entrepreneurial hacks and musings.

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