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Entering the New Age of Digital and Social Media

December 18, 2020

Sometimes, it takes a village… or a team. To tackle the ever-changing digital landscape and its trends moving into the new year, we assembled The Martin Group’s social and digital experts to share their insights. Hear from our team on elevating your paid media, digital marketing, social media content, and influencer marketing for 2021. 

Social Media Content

The prevalence of thoughtful social media marketing isn’t a new trend, but the need for intuitive content has put itself at the forefront. The pandemic and election have put trauma and fear in front of everyone’s timelines and that isn’t going to end anytime soon. Marketers on social are put in a tough spot moving into 2021 that forces us to stop, listen, and pivot constantly. 

The need for digital prowess in the new year is evident. It’s about finding your new brand voice and creating a functional, engaging user experience starting with strong content marketing that’s unique to each platform. 

What’s important for content strategy in the new year?   

1. Instagram does it all

Surprising no one, Instagram launched Reels, a 15-second video feature aiming to compete with the ever viral TikTok. Not only do 15-second videos outperform 30-second content pieces, but organic reach has also made its way back to the platform with the addition of Reels. In an attempt to upset TikTok’s popularity, Instagram has prioritized reach for Reels, making it an extremely vital tool for marketers to master in 2021. 

Google, who? Instagram has also recently announced that the platform will become more search-friendly. Keywords in captions and bios have just as much power, if not more, than hashtags. Keeping industry keywords prevalent in your Instagram profile is now more important than ever.

Last, but not least, the need for eCommerce and shoppable posts on social media for brick-and-mortar businesses has grown into a necessity amid the pandemic. Instagram’s new update places the shop tab where notifications used to be, so one can imagine this is a huge focus for the platform and its capabilities.  

2. Humanize your brand on Facebook and YouTube

Why do people still use Facebook? Because it’s ingrained in us. Facebook remains the social media giant it always has been, a hub for marketers to hit a variety of objectives and audiences. What is changing about the platform is a call for social responsibility, positivity, and personality. 

Creating authentic content on Facebook and YouTube, that brings brands to a human level with personality, is the correct route to take in the new year. Brand and businesses have a responsibility to listen to their audiences before jumping into conversations. Specifically on Facebook and YouTube, where video content puts the brand front-and-center, the content tone is a huge factor for how audiences are going to respond. Show brand faces and be conscious! 

3. LinkedIn culture pivots

This year has pushed brands to be more transparent on LinkedIn; before the pandemic, many conversations were strictly business-focused. Now, brands and businesses are touching on company values, personal stories, and social responsibility; this makes networking on the platform a lot different. In 2021, marketers should focus on building meaningful relationships and content on the platform instead of cold pitches or “business-as-usual” approaches.

Paid Media

1. Video 

While video advertising is not new to the advertising space, as technology continues to evolve, this medium is highly likely to be top of mind for brands and advertisers alike. The pandemic has escalated the need for new and relevant content as channel usage has skyrocketed over the past year. The contents of the video are imperative for success, as consumers want the most clear and concise messages possible. Easy to watch, short form videos are going to be very popular moving into 2021; creatives and brands need to keep an eye out on how to shift perspective on storytelling to storyselling.

2. Looking Beyond Facebook

Again, paid social advertising is nothing new for 2021 but shifting platform channels will be something to be on the lookout for in 2021. While Facebook continues to be the largest utilized platform with over 2B active users, recent current events have opened the door for other channels to be effective for the overall goals of the campaigns. If engagement is a goal, Pinterest may be a channel to experiment on. It’s not new, but its growth has steadily increased year over year and with the UI evolving for advertising purposes, it’s a channel that has a place at the table. 

3. Streaming Audio

2020 reports have shown an uptick in digital audio and podcast consumption and for good reason. With people sheltering in place, many tend to stream music on a more frequent basis whether it be working from home or walking around their neighborhood. Moving into 2021 with working from home likely to become the norm, reaching audiences on this channel should not be overlooked. 

Digital Marketing

While marketing and advertising has been digitally dominated for some time now, there has been much digital transformation beyond how we consume media that has influenced our day-to-day lives. This past year’s shift in consumer behavior has forced brands to rethink or tighten up their customer service processes to compete in today’s economy. Looking into 2021, there are five identified buckets that need to be in play at all times. 

1. Marketing automation

2020 has put a large, glaring microscope over brands re-working their business models to support the reality of our economy and consumer behavior. This has had a natural ripple effect on resourcing and productivity. Utilizing a marketing automation platform to support each phase of your customer journey is an essential tool to scale consistent, yet personalized communications.

2. Creative automation

Marketers need to rethink how creative and media work together: What ad types are you utilizing? How many versions of creative are you testing? How are you making personalization a priority? Scaling up your creative to test multiple ad sets, test messaging, and retarget will uncover what works and doesn’t work for your audience.

3. Data-driven decision making

The beauty of the digital platforms is that there is so. much. data. available. Getting comfortable in your various analytics platforms and putting together insightful reports, or partnering with a specialist to do so, is a must-have priority in 2021. Listen to your customers and review data trends. That should inform every next decision you make.

4. Brand identity

In the midst of figuring out what your business looks like in the current economic landscape, it’s important not to lose sight of your brand’s core identity. Consumers of this new decade want authenticity and trust. Lean into company values, relevant messaging, and attention-grabbing creative across all channels to stay memorable and competitive.

5. Content marketing

Content continues to remain king heading into 2021 and can be woven into every single one of your tactics. How can you drive digital users to more engaging content? How can you create content for each phase of your customer journey? Where can you produce digestible content and long-form content? How is video a part of your content marketing strategy? These questions can help you increase awareness, encourage engagement, secure sales, and delight your fans.

Influencer Marketing

1. Video Content Creation

Between TikTok and Instagram (Reels, Stories, Video Posts), video content is (still) on the rise! Incorporating video content into every campaign is essential as social media videos have the potential of generating more than 1200% more shares than traditional image or text posts. Video content reaches higher engagement numbers, is favored by algorithms, and helps build a closer, more meaningful bond.

2. Diversity

Diversity and inclusion are no longer optional, they are a necessity. As 2020 has brought racial injustice to the forefront, customers are looking to brands to continue supporting communities, take a stance, and diversify their influencer campaigns. Diversity isn’t only ethically right, but it’s proven to be good for business. Plus, your audience will be thankful for the authenticity and reward you with increased engagement and brand loyalty.  

3. Ambassadors

Gone are the days of one-off influencer partnerships. The more often you work with an influencer, the better the results from their audience as it shows continued connection and an authentic relationship to your product or service. Influencers should be repeatedly tapped four or more times each year. In fact, repeat influencers or ambassadors are able to push conversions or purchase intent more so than new influencers. Don’t forget to continuously review how your ambassadors are performing, continue engaging your top influencers, and drop underperformers. 

4. Multi-Channel Usage

Influencers can create cost-effective, professional, and high-quality content that can be repurposed for more than just your social channels. Think about integrating their content on your website, email newsletter, and even your social media or TV ads. We’ve found that reusing influencer content will more than double audience engagement. Take advantage of the quality content you’re receiving! 

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