That special time in December-January when everyone is either preparing for the holidays or trying to recover from them is also the time when every marketing blog and website turns into a clairvoyant. Everyone is trying to predict the next big social media trends — we tried to do it twice ourselves: based on research and on the biggest news and updates of 2019.
But if you’re going to predict anything, you might as well use all the prophetic tools available. So I turned to astrology (don’t act surprised, you’ve read the title). As a resident office astrologist, I just had to! The idea is simple even though somewhat off-the-wall: I took the most important astrological events of 2020 and tried to predict how they will affect the world of social media.
You’ll ask me: “But Anna, do you actually believe in this nonsense or are you using a ridiculous gimmick to write about the likely path social media companies will take based on the political, social and economic zeitgeist?” And in response to that, I’ll smile mysteriously and ask your time of birth.
Before I get to the actual predictions, there is one more thing to get out of the way. When we’re talking astrology, we just cannot avoid mentioning zodiac signs. I already wrote about how social media feels about zodiac signs, but what about the zodiac signs OF social media platforms. I assigned zodiac signs based on the launch dates of the networks — some of them turned out to be extremely fitting. Here are the zodiac signs of social media companies.
Facebook — Aquarius. Facebook’s ‘move fast and break things’ moto is really fitting there — Aquarius is all about breaking rules, rejecting traditions, introducing innovation and so on. This sign is also considered to be socially conscious — something that I would say Facebook lacks, but maybe with time, the company will become more like its zodiac sign.
Instagram — Libra. I let out a happy squeal when I realized that Instagram was launched during Libra season because Libra is the style icon of the zodiac. This sign is ruled by Venus and it’s all about taking pleasure in the visual and showing your aesthetic — isn’t it perfect for Instagram?
Twitter — Cancer. The main theme for Cancers is Emotions (not the Mariah Carey song). People surely share a lot of those on Twitter, just look at Trump’s Twitter account.
LinkedIn — Taurus. This sign is considered to be quite materialistic, so it seems like a good match with the business-oriented concept of LinkedIn.
Pinterest — Pisces. The creativity of Pisces is reflected in Pinterest’s use case: you go to the platform to get inspiration or learn a new artistic skill.
TikTok — Virgo. Virgo is ruled by Mercury which represents quick thinking, communication, and trickery — all the things you can find on your TikTok feed.
Now that we know who is who, let’s see what social media trends may arise from the movement of stars and planets in 2020.
Social media horoscope 2020
Astrologically, 2019 was the year of losses. Especially the latter half of it was the time when cosmos wanted us to get rid of something, to end something in order to move on and make space for the new. 2020 is the year when we’re supposed to get this fresh start.
According to the stars and planets, 2020 will be a challenging and exciting year. It’s the year of Saturn and Capricorn: the two main workaholics of astrology. Capricorn signifies big goals, ambition, and the willingness to work hard for those. Saturn represents responsibility, limitations, and harsh reality. All in all, it means that this year we will have to work hard to get the best results: there won’t be any freeloading (which I personally find atrocious). But what does it mean for social media companies?
Well, if we follow the main themes, many companies in 2019 got rid of something: Facebook gave up on being “the living room of social media” and focused on private communication, Twitter banned political ads, and Instagram set out to get rid of like counts.
Looking at the state of social media companies right now, I would say that responsibility and facing the harsh reality will be extremely prominent themes for the year to come. The idea of responsibility had a looming presence in the discourse around social media platforms for quite a while now, but it seems like 2020 will finally be the year when the harsh reality will force social media companies to come up with better strategies to make news spreading and communication on the platforms healthy and truthful.
The harsh reality aspect is already acting up: it’s only January and we already came back from the brink of war fueled by some hot-headed tweets (but Twitter could also be credited for deescalating the conflict, so good on them).
The United States just spent Two Trillion Dollars on Military Equipment. We are the biggest and by far the BEST in the World! If Iran attacks an American Base, or any American, we will be sending some of that brand new beautiful equipment their way...and without hesitation!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2020
With the upcoming US elections, social responsibility will become more important than ever — after all, arguably the biggest scandal in the history of social media happened around the elections of 2016. To make social media less prone to manipulation and abuse is a tall order: it’s not just one aspect of it, you’ll need to change feed algorithms, the way people can comment and reply to each other, ad regulations and more. This is just what Capricorn wants: an ambitious, somewhat larger-than-life task that will require a lot of effort to accomplish. And Saturn will make sure that you won’t be able to get away with ignoring this task.
Therefore, the main Capricorn-Saturn challenge for social media companies in 2020 will be to rethink the way their respective platforms' functionalities and business models in order to eliminate platform manipulation, prevent the spreading of false information, and create a healthy and positive experience for users.
The cardinal signs, i.e. Capricorns, Cancers, Aries, and Libras will be especially susceptible to this influence so Twitter and Instagram are to be really shaken up this year (if the stars are right). Should we expect more vanity metrics to disappear? We will see.
Now that we’re done with the main theme for 2020, let’s move on to the details. There are several influential events that will take place in the sky this year, and while you need to focus on hard work for the ambitious goal of your choice as Capricorn suggests, you need to consider other aspects and transits as well. Here’s a 2020 astrological calendar for social media companies (and you, the reader):
January: Saturn-Pluto conjunction in Capricorn.
This aspect sets up the whole year ahead. This aspect is grabbing you by the shoulders, looking you in the eyes, and telling you: “Listen here you dumb little fool. You have been slacking off and ignoring something important in your life. I know there’s something important for you out there, but you’ll have to get it by the skin of your teeth. You need to suck it up, face the past mistakes and pay for them. And if you don’t, well, prepare for the worst.”
No wonder that instead of phrasing his annual challenge for the year as something like “read a book every week” Mark Zuckerberg wrote a gigantic post talking about a “longer-term focus” for Facebook.
In it, he looks back at the history of the company and highlights 5 major areas of focus in the next 10 years (looking at the bigger picture is favored by Jupiter which also plays a major role in this year's astrology, more on that later). These areas include:
Generational Change. This point describes the motivation Mark had when he started Facebook: to give voice to the younger generation, to his generation, which he felt was being ignored.
It turned out it wasn't just my generation that felt marginalized and needed more voice though, and these tools have given power to lots of different groups across society. I'm glad more people have voice, but it hasn't yet brought about the generational change in addressing important issues I had hoped for. I think that will happen this decade.
It’s true that Facebook’s popularity among the youngest consumer segments has been decreasing. In the years to come, Facebook is going to focus on “providing a platform for younger entrepreneurs, scientists, and leaders”, whether it’s for the sake of social change or profit.
A New Private Social Platform. If you’ve been following social media news, it will come as no surprise for you. Facebook realized that their vision of everyone talking to everyone is not what people want from the platform — so they’ve decided to change the vision. Now they are focusing on smaller communities and messaging.
Our digital social environments will feel very different over the next 5+ years, re-emphasizing private interactions and helping us build the smaller communities we all need in our lives.
Decentralizing Opportunity. That area encompasses giving people more opportunities to use Facebook products, and not decentralizing Facebook properties as I initially thought when I saw the headline.
If we can make it so anyone can sell products through a storefront on Instagram, message and support their customers through Messenger, or send money home to another country instantly and at low cost through WhatsApp - that will go a long way towards creating more opportunity around the world.
Basically, Facebook wants to integrate more eCommerce features into its products — an ambitious task that could bring huge changes for marketers.
The Next Computing Platform. In this part, Zuckerberg talks about the next big techno-break that Facebook wants to be the trendsetter for. Mark hopes for a big future for AR technology and virtual reality: expect more from Oculus.
New Forms of Governance. This covers the main challenge I and astrology set for social media companies: the role of social media platforms in fueling societal division and spreading misinformation.
One of the big questions for the next decade is: how should we govern the large new digital communities that the internet has enabled? Platforms like Facebook have to make tradeoffs on social values we all hold dear - like between free expression and safety, or between privacy and law enforcement, or between creating open systems and locking down data and access. It's rare that there's ever a clear "right" answer, and in many cases, it's as important that the decisions are made in a way that feels legitimate to the community. From this perspective, I don't think private companies should be making so many important decisions that touch on fundamental democratic values.
The solution Mark calls for is a greater regulation implemented on a governmental level. He claims that the regulatory framework should come from the sources independent of social media companies themselves, such as governmental bodies and independent committees. That would likely mean more limitations for Facebook, but as the Saturn-Pluto conjunction hints, you got to pay off your debts and give up something in order to progress. Seems like Zuckerberg is thinking the same.
March: Saturn enters Aquarius
So if the two winter months are for the battle preparations, the battle itself begins in March. With Saturn moving to Aquarius, it’s time for action. In astrology, Aquarius represents two themes that are important for us here: social change and technological progress. Combined with Saturns symbolism of limitations, constraints, and responsibility, what this transit could mean for social media companies is:
Proposal of new laws for social media regulation
Updates to feed algorithms
Inner changes to ad management (involving limitations in some way)
May-June: Venus retrograde in Gemini
Venus is the planet of pleasure, beauty and in some way, public appearance. Gemini is the sign associated with communication, information, and travel. And retrograde is never a simple thing: it brings back the past, it usually signifies some reflection, reevaluation, and change. Retrograde can also cause some turmoil or unrest.
I would expect some kind of public scrutiny involving a social media company. Being a Libra, a sign ruled by Venus, Instagram could become the one to get under hot fire.
December: Jupiter enters Aquarius
While Saturn is all about constraints and limitations, Jupiter symbolizes expansion, broadening one’s horizons, seeing the big picture. At the end of the year, Jupiter could serve as a kind of counterbalance to the constraining effect of 2020 or could reward you for all the hard work you will have done by this point.
This could mean that in December we can expect a grand new vision from one of the social media companies or a technological breakthrough (Aquarius’ effect). As you might remember, Facebook was launched during the Aquarius season so everything that’s happening at this sign will affect it more.
Did I do a good job of fitting current social media trends into the predictive framework that is thousands of years old? You tell me! I encourage you not to take this blog post or astrology in general too seriously, and maybe come back in a year to see if I was right?