As social media constantly evolves, making your business stand out can be trickier than it looks

Social media in 2020 – the do’s and don’ts for small businesses.

By Eimear McManus Digital Works

SOCIAL MEDIA IS evolving every day. The Big Six – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Youtube – are constantly updating and innovating their offering.

Now with emerging platforms like TikTok and Caffeine to consider, it can be tricky for SMEs to know what channels and trends to focus on if they don’t have the luxury of an agency to rely on or an in-house team member dedicated to content.

The reality is that social media requires constant attention and effort to reap its benefits so to help. Here are some of the key areas you should focus on in 2020, regardless of whether you’re a consumer brand or focused on a business to business strategy.

Live streaming 

Live streaming is my number one must-do for all businesses on social media in 2020. By providing premium content to your audience such as live streaming events, demos, Q&As, competitions, product reveals and launches, it’s the digital equivalent of having a face-to-face meeting. 

Most social channels provide a streaming function so whether your hero channel is Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram you can easily adopt it and achieve a cost-effective, direct and personal connection with your audience to better engagement and sales.

The best part is that live streaming generates invaluable data if used in the right way. By asking your audience questions and monitoring their responses, you can inform your marketing strategy. Live streams can also be saved and promoted so if you have a particularly successful stream you can get even more mileage out of it.

We all know Apple live streams all of its new launches with millions of people tuning in to be the first in the know. However, none of us will forget Tesla’s Cybertruck reveal earlier this year. Even though it’s likely you won’t be live streaming such a large-scale event, it’s worth mapping out the content of your stream as much as you can before you go live to highlight any risks in a demonstration.


Video is definitely safe in 2020, just look at the growth of video-sharing app TikTok, which has been gaining huge momentum here in Ireland, and the rise of Facebook Watch.

While TikTok isn’t for every business, and certainly not just yet, it’s worthwhile monitoring how this one will develop over the coming months and the advertising opportunities it will offer. 

TikTok aside, video is still huge across LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram and I would suggest that all businesses invest in the production value and storylines of their video content especially if you have an advertising budget.

Various channels will help you to create videos that incorporate an on-brand theme, graphics, animation and more to keep viewers engaged. 

Remember to optimise your videos for each channel – it takes a little more effort but as most content is watched on mobile it’s effort and time well-spent. Facebook videos are better in square format while Instagram must be vertical. member to make the most of your video distribution by sharing across all channels and even sharing with your email database.

User-generated content 

User-generated content is another must-do as consumer trust in social media and so consumer trust in brands on social media did dip slightly in 2019 as we all became more conscious of privacy and data.

Content that is generated for you is the digital equivalent of a recommendation so it’s incredibly effective in terms of building brand authority and sales. 

At Digital Works, we typically ensure that at least a third of a brand’s content is user-generated and try to focus on user-generated in its truest form, such as content from customers and followers that isn’t paid for. 

Be sure you share all the posts that your business is mentioned in. To try and generate this type of content you can incentivise followers by offering prizes or discount codes, develop and promote a specific hashtag which you can easily track.


Similarly to user-generated content, people prefer content from micro-influencers because it’s less scripted and usually educational and informative. Brands are also becoming savvier by using social listening tools and trying to better understand if followers are fake or bought. 

The influencer marketing bubble as we know it is about to burst with micro-influencers rising to the top and finally getting a piece of the pie by offering brands smaller communities but communities that are heavily-engaged and interested. 

It’s worth mentioning that micro-influencers typically focus on one niche be it food, tech, parenting, mental health or fitness so even if you have previously thought your business isn’t a good fit for influencer marketing, think again.

A micro-influencer that focuses on wellness might be a great fit for a recruitment agency who wants to build their leadership in the workplace culture sector, a motivational speaker trainer might be a great fit for a shared working space to communicate to its audience that it understands perseverance.

Social niches 

It’s never been clearer which demographics are where, so 2020 poses an excellent opportunity for your business to gain momentum on social media and use budget wisely. Instead of trying to use all platforms, try to better understand where your audience is and harness the power of that channel.

Facebook is certainly a platform for the older generation – we like to focus on the mid-millennial upward so anyone 28 and upward. Snapchat is where the lower millennial and Gen Z are hanging out while Instagram has a slight female bias while its users are broad from teens to middle-aged.

Personalisation and automation 

If you don’t already, you must invest in messaging. You don’t necessarily have to develop automated chatbots or 24/7 customer service chats but giving messaging apps like WhatsApp for business and Facebook messenger attention will certainly improve sales.

If you can get ahead of the curve by investing in an automated chatbot it will deliver amazing data to empower your decision making and retain customers. Consumers want personalised engagement and this is the top performer.

Less active users 

We need to be mindful that social media usage might decrease in 2020. People are much more aware of their screen time and wellness as part of that and so there may be less time to engage with your target audiences and the times they are online may vary in the coming months.

I recommend ensuring you use the insights sections social platforms offer you so you can get to grips with how your followers use social media. This highlights the need to invest in the premium content ideas above as you may have less opportunity to connect with people.

Eimear McManus is the founder and director of Digital Works 

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