Sara Nettesheim
Sara is a Consumer Insights Analyst at Mintel, with a focus on producing social media research and infographics for reports.

Mintel is taking a look back at social media in 2020, with a focus on platform overview, noteworthy campaigns and brand initiatives, and platforms to watch in a three-part series.

As the pandemic forced many inside and on their phones, lesser-known platforms stepped up and grabbed the attention of consumers in 2020. Here, we spotlight platforms to watch.

Triller emerges as the latest hotspot for video creators

Source: Apple app store

A potential ban of TikTok had users looking for alternatives, and concerns over data privacy caused popular TikTok creators to join competing platform Triller. Like TikTok, Triller allows users to create videos set to music, though some users feel editing options are less robust due to the app’s use of AI-powered editing software. And while TikTok focuses on growing its own talent, Triller has strong ties to already established musical artists and celebs.

Triller represents an opportunity for brands connected to the entertainment industry. Because it currently limits monetization to content creators, brands looking to capitalize on the app’s rise to popularity should opt for creator partnerships that feel authentic to Triller’s entertainment-focused audience.

Venmo courts retailers

Source: Venmo

Despite years of no ads or branded content, peer-to-peer payment app Venmo began making connections with retailers in 2020. After partnering with various retailers to allow users to pay for purchases with Venmo money and earn rewards, Venmo added branded animated stickers for users to add to their payments. Considering the ubiquitous use of Venmo, especially among young consumers, retailers should think seriously about forming partnerships with the app.

Houseparty connects quarantined consumers

Source: Apple App store

After being acquired by Epic Games, maker of Fortnite, in 2019, Houseparty experienced a surge in use as consumers worldwide found themselves in quarantine. The app, which is widely available on iOS, Android, macOS and Chrome, allows users to video chat multiple friends at once, similar to Apple’s FaceTime and Zoom video conferencing.

Houseparty sets itself apart from its competitors by enabling users to play games like Heads Up together within the app. As more consumers turn to gaming as a form of mainstream entertainment, apps and social platforms using video to connect users should follow Houseparty’s example and incorporate elements of gaming into their offerings.

Zoom helps consumers and brands stay close during lockdown

Source: Taco Bell

With more than 300 million daily meeting participants, video conferencing app Zoom became the go-to communication tool for consumers during COVID-19.

With Zoom now a household name across the country, brands moved quickly to incorporate themselves into consumers’ video conversations. Brands like Taco Bell, West Elm, and Behr Paint released branded Zoom backgrounds, while publisher Teen Vogue partnered directly with the video conferencing brand to bring a virtual prom to housebound teens. Brands looking to capitalize on the success of Zoom would be wise to remember and address consumers’ top motivation for using the tool—the desire to maintain close connections from a distance.