Social media marketing is becoming increasingly important to consumers and marketers as the events of 2020 force more and more communication digitally, but the ways they are used are evolving.
We are on the cusp of a long-awaited new year. Vaccines are being released, positive changes are moving forward on racial equity and climate change, and it’s safe to say that most people are cautiously optimistic about 2021.
For marketers, planning for 2021 will look a little different than in previous years. While it’s true that changes in marketing happen all the time, 2020 has shaken up the field so much that many marketers are reconsidering everything from personas and buyer routes to brand purpose.
The resurgence of social media marketing
One marketing discipline that has returned to the top of its game in 2020 is social media. It makes sense – when the world was forced to remain physically distant, social media bridged the gap and kept us connected to the family, friends and brands we love.
Before the beginning of this year, most brands knew where they stood on social media. They had the right balance of engagement, listening, content and advertising. However, after the pandemic hit, the rules of the game changed.
New social rules for marketers
Hootsuite, the most widely used social media management platform, just released its annual “Social Trends Report” to help marketers chart their course for 2021. The report is based on a survey of 11,189 marketers and supplemented with insights from interviews with dozens of industry experts and third-party research from leading industry analysts. Here are some highlights for marketers:
Trend 1: The race for ROI: Social is building a bridge to a new customer experience
Nearly three-quarters of marketers surveyed for the report cited “more new customers” as the top result of using social media in 2021, up 58% from last year. However, deals alone don’t create memorable brands or provide long-term growth.
In 2021, marketers will continue to use social media for two equally pressing tasks:
- Delivering short-term ROI through targeted impact marketing tactics
- Creating innovative digital experiences to win long-term loyalty
Clarins Beauty Coach is digitizing the makeup counter with online tutorials distributed throughout the lock-in period.
Trend 2: Silence is gold: Brands are finding their place in the conversation
Many brands made the mistake of trying to capitalize on increased social media activity during the pandemic, completely overlooking the fact that people primarily wanted to connect with each other, not brands.
For the most part, these brands realized the error of their ways early on and cut back on advertising spending, redirecting their attention to crisis management, social customer service and engagement. In 2021, marketers will be looking to put more value on content rather than engagement – passive audiences will still consume your content.
Trend 3: Much more than OK: The generation ignored by digital marketers is experiencing a social media boom
Marketers have typically targeted baby boomers with traditional television ads, which are still one of the most effective ways to get their attention. However, the number of baby boomers discovering new brands and products through social media has increased by 66 points in the past four years, and more than a quarter of baby boomers are spending even more time on social platforms as a result of the pandemic. In 2021, social marketers will continue to explore this increasingly digitally savvy audience.
Poundland is one example of a brand sharing user-generated content to increase brand favorability for baby boomers.
Trend 4: Do I know you? Tying engagement to personality gives advanced marketers a new impetus
The pandemic has forced CEOs to re-evaluate social media as the strongest bridge to connect with customers after many traditional strategies failed.
A Hootsuite study found that 85% of organizations that integrate social data into other systems are confident in their organization’s ability to accurately measure the ROI of social media.
In 2021, marketers will take steps to bridge the gap between customer engagement and identity by connecting more customer data with social data.
Groupe Pierre & Vacances Center Parcs combines social and CRM to better understand the customer journey
Trend 5: The perils (and promises) of purpose: bold brands start in the boardroom, not on the front lines of social media
In 2020, marketers will face the need to publicly address issues their organizations have never focused on. In 2021, strong CMOs will use data collected by social media teams to help organizations adapt to new customer insights and pave a new path to growth that will require balancing the two demands of building a better business and a better world.
Brands like Ben and Jerry’s have acted on their brand goals by using their platform to educate their followers about the Black Lives Matter movement.