5 Most Significant Social Media Changes in 2019

by Abbie Judge

As a new year begins, it's the perfect time to reflect and take a look back. In 2019, we witnessed significant transformations to the social media landscape, altering our approach to social media marketing and transforming the way brands connect and interact with users. From removing likes on Instagram to the meteoric rise of TikTok, 2019 was a big year for change. To help you navigate the ever-evolving social media of last year, we've curated a list of the most significant social media changes in 2019.

1. Instagram tests removing likes in the United States

You can't talk about social media and 2019 without mentioning the controversial decision to hide likes from Instagram. While Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri stated the removing of likes was an experiment to determine if the change would help "depressurize Instagram, make it less of a competition," it divided the internet. On one side, people, including many celebrities, agree that eliminating likes will create a more positive and authentic environment on the platform. Others, however, believe it will negatively impact brands and influencers who rely on likes for success and exposure. As the test removal is still rolling out in the U.S., everyone is looking to this year to see how hidden likes will impact user experience, brands' marketing strategies, and influencers' approach to the network.

2. Facebook emphasizes ad transparency

In contrast to Instagram executives who opted to hide likes for increased authenticity, Facebook elected to emphasize transparency by sharing more metrics in 2019. In a bid to rebuild trust with users following the privacy and political ads scandals of 2018, the social media network introduced a searchable collection of all active ads running across Facebook Products, including Instagram. Now users can access any Page's current ads, even the ones they may not have seen because they were not part of the target audience.

Along with allowing users to view active ads, the Ad Library saves every current and inactive advertisement about political and social issues published since May 2018. These ads are available in the Library for seven years.

3. Platforms streamline social shopping

In a bid to simplify the process of social ecommerce, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and other social media platforms, launched several new shopping features and tools throughout the year. In March of 2019, Instagram introduced Checkout on Instagram, which allows users to buy products from select brands, receive updates on their purchases, and track shipments without leaving the app.

Similar in some ways to the Checkout on Instagram, Facebook began rolling-out Facebook Pay in November 2019. Facebook Pay enables users to buy from businesses directly through Facebook. Further, along with making purchases, people can use the tool to send money through Messenger and donate to fundraisers on the social media network. Not to be left behind, Pinterest also welcomed easier social shopping with its "Shop this Look" feature. When looking at a pin with this feature, shoppers can now view and buy exact or comparable products pictured in the Pin.

4. Instagram and Facebook stories get a revamp

Both Instagram and Facebook continued to develop and improve their Stories features in 2019. Instagram implemented a new format for its Stories camera to include "Create" mode.  In "Create," users can try out different creative tools, interactive stickers, drawings, and text without a photo or video. The social media network also added the Quiz sticker, which is also available in "Create." In 2018, Facebook launched Spark AR, which allowed approved creators to make custom face filters and effects for Instagram and Facebook stories. Due to the popularity of these custom filters, in 2019, Facebook extended the tool and now permits anyone to create augmented reality effects.

5. TikTok becomes one of the fastest-growing social media outlets

Although TikTok launched in 2016, 2019 was a big year for the creative video-sharing social media app. During the year, the app reached 500 million active users worldwide, surpassing Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat. Further, in the first quarter of 2019, Tiktok was the third most downloaded app globally, gaining 188 million users, and the most downloaded app on the Apple App Store with 33 million downloads. As TikTik's popularity is still reasonably new, brands are still learning how to navigate and market successfully on the social sharing app.  

2019 was a year of building trust, improving user experience, and encouraging creativity for social media. As the year unfolds, we’re excited to see what trends and changes will define social media for 2020.

January 1, 2020