It’s been a whirlwind of a year and anticipating what lies ahead is no easier to navigate. Our friends at Hootsuite launched their 5th annual Social Trends report illuminating the top trends set to shape brands in 2021 and how to adapt and thrive. You can download the full report here, but here’s a peek at some of the high-level insights backed by the brightest minds in marketing and data.
A shift to short-term ROI
This year saw a rush to deliver a short-term return on investment (ROI) to recoup lost sales from the upheaval of the pandemic. In fact, 73 percent of all marketers ranked “increased acquisition of new customers” as their top outcome for social in 2021, compared to only 46% last year, marking a 58 percent year-over-year increase. This has led to a very transaction-focused year.
But transactions alone don’t create memorable brands or long-term growth.
That’s why you need to innovate to win long-term loyalty and engagement. How? By bringing back the fun to the buying process, making shopping more social and using social as a way to connect with customers, foster loyalty, and prevent disjointed experiences.
Finding your place in social conversations
The uptick in social media use in 2020 translated into numerous opportunities for brands. Unfortunately, many faltered by jumping in too soon instead of taking crucial time to listen to their audiences. The reality is, many people want to engage with each other, not brands. Those that let their audiences guide them were able to find spaces where they could fit into the conversation in a meaningful and authentic way.
Brands who will find success in 2021 are not necessarily the ones leading the conversation, but rather finding creative avenues to fit into it and break through the walls of indifference.
To join the conversation instead of just interrupting, lean into user-generated content (UGC) in lieu of costly content production, bolster social listening to find where you fit, and pick your time and place for engagement and participation.
The tipping point for baby boomers
Baby boomers are spending even more time on social platforms now as a result of the pandemic, yet marketers still overlook and under-represent this lucrative group in favor of targeting younger demographics.
Why? For one, we have a tendency to fall prey to the irresistible chase of newness—rather than pursuing effectiveness. To capitalize on boomers’ growing tech enthusiasm, look to smart segmentation and thoughtful representation. That’s how savvy brands like yours will leapfrog over companies still stereotyping.
Tying engagement data to identity
Social media isn’t simply about racking up likes, those are just a means to an end. You want to make sure your social efforts drive real results for your business. To do it, move beyond reactions and dig deeper to see how social data can help you understand your customers better.
Linking social media engagement to identity is more critical than ever for marketers. After so many traditional approaches fell by the wayside, it’s become the strongest bridge between brands and customers. To achieve this, look to establish a solid UTM framework for both paid and organic ads and integrate your data into your CRMs. This will ensure greater visibility into customer touchpoints and untapped opportunities.
Success will boil down to taking steps — big or small — to gather key insights from quantifiable data. Be sure to map these back to your broader marketing objectives to avoid getting lost in a pit of attribution or stuck measuring social in a silo.
Becoming a purpose-driven brand
While 2020 wasn’t the beginning of the shift towards purpose-driven marketing, it kicked things into high gear.
Now 53 percent of people say they want brands to proactively make the world a better place.
Becoming a purpose-driven brand isn’t something you can fake or simply mimic on social media. You can’t tick a box and be done. Brands must be cognizant of what is going on in the world and take into consideration the conversations already unfolding. If you’re going to take a stance, make sure your actions back it up.
In 2021, the strongest brands will balance the twin demands of building a better business and better world. This strategy must start in your boardroom and should use social listening to learn and gain intelligence.