This morning, we hosted an exclusive event at our office in London to launch our annual report, Think Forward, which uncovers some of the biggest trends in social set to impact brands in 2020.

This year, Think Forward examines how the new rules of the internet will make social media a safer, fairer place.

Law is finally coming to the wildlands of the internet. But it’s still a land of opportunity. It’s just time to get creative amid new constraints.

Historically, the internet has been a Wild West, exempt from the rules and restrictions of the physical world. But this culture of lawlessness – while seemingly liberating – isn’t without its consequences, from misinformation spreading like wildfire to teen mental health burnout.

As a result, 2019 has seen the Wild West get a little less wild. Users, creators, platforms, authorities – all are creating new rules and laws to help mitigate some of the damage in a landscape that’s been too free for its own good. Amidst this clampdown, brands have to operate within a range of new constraints – some policed by the platforms, others by communities themselves.

In this year’s Think Forward, our fifth trends report to date, we examine how the new rules of the internet can inspire brands to break out of the status quo and engage with audiences in ways that respect this cultural shift. Below we’ve summarised each trend in brief, and you can see the full report here.

Added Value
The internet has long been considered a Wild West for intellectual property rights. But in a maturing digital landscape, creators – and their content – are getting recognition.

Social Self-Care
Social was once a space for projecting and seeking validation. But in the wake of increased mental health awareness, people are taking a more measured approach to digital consumption.

Bad Influence
Influencers used to be beacons of authenticity, but being a content creator born on social media has lost its lo-fi sheen. As a result, there’s a growing backlash against influencer culture and the metrics that drive it.

Overt Privacy
People are sick of feeling surveilled. They’re taking control of their digital footprints – to hide from brands, platforms, and, increasingly, even their outer circles – and using more intimate social spaces.

Running Commentary
Social content is no longer all about brevity. In a maturing digital landscape, content and narratives across all platforms are growing longer and more complex.

Cultural Crossfit
People have often been forced to engage with cultural interests in isolation. People are now more open to collaborations between brands and platforms, so they’re consuming culture in more fluid ways.

Read the Think Forward report in full, here.