2020 PR & Marketing Industry Trends

Another decade may be behind us, but in an era of new technology and major industry changes, marketing and communications professionals can continue refining and redefining how our work helps companies for the next 10 years…and beyond. We gathered our subject matter experts at Franco to get their feedback on the most exciting industry trends in 2020 and how communicators need to adapt to support these trends.

Nonprofit

For nonprofit industries, it’s more important now than ever to demonstrate how your organization makes an impact on the community. Consumers want to clearly understand and see the difference between profit and nonprofit.

One of the best ways to create a genuine relationship with your audience is through powerful, first-person messages. Allowing the people who are positively influenced by your organization to tell their stories through online testimonials gives volunteers, donors and potential clients an authentic picture of the good you’re doing in your community. Not only does this help you reach new demographics and spread the word, but it also gives your current supporters reasons to continue and elevate their support. If you knew exactly how your donations and time were going to help someone else, wouldn’t you want to give more?

According to the La Salle University Nonprofit Center, donors are doing much more research before giving with the Internet at their fingertips, and website giving is the preference for four of five generations – with social media as a close second for Gen Z. For nonprofit marketers, this means having a user-friendly and mobile responsive website is crucial to create a seamless donation process for supporters. Beefing up your social media sites to showcase your work, mission and values is just as important. That way, when potential donors Google your organization, your brand’s online story is clear, concise and compelling – even more reason to give.

A report from the Congress for National & Community Service stated nearly 80 percent of volunteers donated to charity, compared to 40 percent of non-volunteers. Creating more volunteer opportunities and interactive events will give supporters a way to document and share their volunteerism with their social media networks – expanding your brand’s reach and chances for donations.

Nonprofits also need to think about how to make giving as easy as possible by leveraging technology in 2020 and beyond. A perfect example is how Toys for Toys uses Amazon’s Alexa as a fundraising platform.

Technology & Digital

Speaking of technology, in 2020, tech is expected to move from disruption to transformation, with Industry 4.0 in full swing as the fourth technological revolution. This digital push involves big data usage, smart sensors, 3D printing, augmented reality, cloud storage and computing, location-based information and the Internet of Things (IoT).

As IoT continues to keep consumers “plugged in” through smart technology, like Google Home, Nest thermostats and more, it’s communicators’ job to evolve with the times and find new and improved ways to reach target audiences. Is your organization prepared to ethically use big data collected through these products to better understand consumers and their needs? When someone asks Alexa about your brand, are your results optimized for voice search? Do you have an AI chatbot on your site to answer simple questions for an easy customer experience? These are the questions you’ll have to ask (and answer!) to keep up with IoT in the next decade.

Google’s new BERT updates should help in the search realm, as the algorithm is designed to not only understand the keywords you search for, but also the context around them, creating a more accurate list of results. This shouldn’t affect the way you optimize your content for SEO, but it could mean your Google Ad bidding may have to be reworked for additional longtail phrases as BERT is recognizing more natural language queries.

With all of this comes concerns of digital privacy and cybersecurity. Consumers are becoming more aware and cautious of their privacy in the digital realm as data mining stories continue to dominate the news. In early 2019, Facebook made some changes to its ad targeting options when it comes to housing, lending and employment, but there will inevitably be more changes to come.

Because of these targeting changes and the fact that consumers are more reluctant to share personal info online, it’s time for advertisers to get creative with digital and social ad targeting. Testing out contextual advertising and considering Consent Management Platforms could be solutions we start to see more of in 2020. However, relying on building authentic relationships with consumers through tailored customer journeys and valuable organic content will remain a key player in the future of digital marketing.

Automotive

Electric vehicles (EVs) are the next “it” thing when it comes to the auto industry. By 2040, 57% of passenger vehicle sales will be electric, according to Bloomberg. Whether you’re a dealer preparing to sell EVs or an automotive supplier preparing to create parts for them, your communications team needs to be ready for this big industry change.

Now is the time to start thinking about how you’ll introduce these EV products to consumers and clients – a product demo, an AR experience, a social sharing contest? As marketing initiatives continue to become more interactive and experiential, even the auto industry needs to keep up with the latest and greatest ideas.

On the retail side, customers are looking for an enhanced experience. This means cleaning up your e-commerce with increased online listings and better website functionality to allow prospects to easily and effectively shop online. Giving consumers an online platform to build their dream car with a seamless transition to pick it up in the dealership is going to be key in gaining loyal, satisfied buyers.

The next decade will also be filled with new communication channels between businesses and consumers. A multi-faceted marketing approach is the best way to create tailored messages for each buyer that will reach them at the perfect time in their journey. From snail mail and emails to social media and digital ads, each platform has a purpose that will ultimately improve the car buying process.

Healthcare

In 2020, people will be taking more charge of their own well-being. We all run on busy schedules, but the digital world has made it easier to obtain and maintain care that works for each unique person. Virtual doctor visits and support group sessions allow individuals to reap the healthy benefits without waiting in the doctor’s office or driving to a session.

As baby boomers begin to retire and move into senior living facilities, end of life care is increasingly becoming a topic of conversation. These senior care homes are utilizing social media to show their value by connecting with the families of current and prospective residents.

With a platform to authentically share what it’s like to live at one of their facilities, these organizations can showcase fun events, family visits, group outings and more. This allows family members to feel updated and connected with loved ones, even when they’re far away. “Create meaningful content” has always been a digital marketing mantra, and this trend is not going away any time soon – especially with 1 billion active Facebook users of all ages.

As journalists wear more hats and cover a wider range of topics, there are less healthcare-specific reporters, meaning public relations pros must get more creative with pitching their stories. The new decade will be a time to explore new avenues of getting stories out via owned media if local media outlets don’t have dedicated healthcare reporters. Utilizing blogs, whitepapers and social media to spread the word about organizational milestones and updates will give companies an opportunity to tell their own stories and reach new networks through sharing.

Social Media

Social media will still be a huge player in the marketing world in 2020, but its use will look different from years past.

While 84% of online interactions were private in 2018, online communities with shared interests are becoming more popular. Consumers find autonomy in these communities where they can connect with people of similar beliefs and learn about new products or services they will most likely enjoy – creating a huge opportunity for brands on social. Facebook Groups for your business can work just like a normal Facebook group, and if used correctly, could help consistently rank your content higher in the newsfeed.

While influencers are still popular, the rise of micro-influencers is changing the social media atmosphere. These individuals have smaller niche followings that provide companies with higher engagement for less risk and oftentimes a lower cost. The use of micro-blogs, such as Instagram highlights, allows more people to feel like bloggers or influencers and gives them the chance to continually share content without clogging up their feed.

In addition to micro-influencers, shoppable posts will become even more important for consumer brands selling physical goods in 2020. Once your product log is connected to your business Instagram account, tagging a product is as easy as tagging a person. While this is an exciting feed feature, it’s also available via Instagram stories. When your brand reaches 10,000 followers, you’ll be able to tag your products and allow users to swipe up to access your website, creating the seamless user experience all Instagrammers long for.

Is your communications team prepared for the next decade? Contact us to learn more about Franco’s data-driven public relations, marketing and social media programs.

Assistant Account Executive Mallary Becker and Digital Account Executive Kristen Alberti contributed to this post.