Before 2020, writing a “trends for the next year” blog post didn’t feel too difficult. Now, it feels a bit naive to throw any predictions out there. If 2020 taught us anything, it is that the main trend you should act on is to expect the unexpected.
Last year, the parameters of what’s considered acceptable in your outreach felt like they got much narrower: reach out too much, and you’re being insensitive or tone-deaf. Reach out too little, and you’re not going to engage your audience at all. Your message needs to hit the right tone at all times. That made every marketing decision feel a little more dangerous. But, for the best teams, it opened new avenues for creativity, action, and growth.
It may seem overwhelming to jump into this new year with a plan. But just as every other year, you just need to ask yourself:
- What worked last year?
- What didn’t work last year?
- What new tactic do you want to try in 2021?
By focusing on these simple questions, creating and maintaining a plan seems a bit more palatable. The first two questions are about reflection. But what about the third? If you’re getting stuck on finding new tactics to act on, here are a few options that are post-2020-friendly and have helped many companies refresh their marketing strategy.
Credit: Instagram blog
Use all of the social assets at your disposal
Create social content with your partners
Your partners are your greatest assets. There are so many options for creating content with partners now, especially after all the virtual communication functionalities social platforms rolled out during the height of a pandemic. Because virtual conversations were so prevalent last year, your audience is privy to the value it can bring.
For example – many celebrities partnered with nonprofits, political figures, and companies to talk about causes, new products, partnerships, and general interviews. Many of these partner social conversations were considered valuable to their audience, so they know to look out for those in the future.
Whether you want to present an in-depth discussion, or just want to hold a casual and open-ended conversation, working with your network to create content increases your reach, introduces you to new audiences, and expands your content opportunities.
Set up your social purchasing
If you’re a B2C or D2C company that hasn’t set up Facebook and Instagram Shops, you are missing out on a great opportunity to find new customers right where they are looking for you. Last year, many of the main social media platforms rolled out a new purchasing functionality that makes it possible for customers to buy goods instantly without ever leaving the platform. With a little upfront work, companies can set up a catalog of products to easily promote and sell on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
The more your customers use this functionality, the easier and more natural it feels to quickly buy products. Credit card and address information are saved for the future, so you can buy a new product immediately with just a couple of quick taps.
Act on the diversity and inclusion promises of 2020
In 2020, many companies put out statements, sent newsletters, and were vocal on social condemning racism and promising to be more inclusive in the future.
But, what have you done to change your practices after that statement?
If you put out a statement in 2020 (and even if you didn’t), you owe your audience a status update that shows you put your money where your mouth is.
Consider posting a report or a statement or updating your impact page at the one-year mark of your statement. Cover what changes you made, how you sustained and gained momentum around this priority, data as a result of the changes, and the impact it made internally and externally.
Not only does this give you an avenue to showcase your hard work and actions supporting inclusivity and equity, but it sets you apart from the companies that didn’t do the work past writing the statement.
Cater to the informed buyer
Any time I consider purchasing a new product, I always need to answer a few questions:
- What is the company doing to follow green and sustainable practices?
- What does the company do to support local economies or marginalized communities?
- How does the company commit to diversity in its team?
- What kind of impact does the company make behind the scenes?
While this thought process wasn’t as common with older generations, it is much more prevalent with younger generations and will only increase as new consumers develop. Customers don’t just want to like the product – they want to understand and agree with all aspects of the company – from what you promote to what you don’t.
If your political/sustainability/social justice decisions align with your audiences’, make sure your customers and potential customers are aware!
Double down on email content to explain your impact mission
For example – PAKA example I recently purchased an Alpaca sweater from PAKA. I liked their commitment to greener textiles and local Peruvian communities. But, I didn’t know everything about the company. The emails I received while I waited for the sweater filled me in on the rest, and made me a full believer by the time the sweater hit my doorstep.
Look at your website as a potential buyer
With all the ways you can purchase products offsite, you can be assured when someone enters your website, they are interested in learning more. What questions does your website immediately answer? Do you have an impact page that covers details on your mission and values? What kind of promises are you making in your message? By viewing your website as a potential customer, you can take inventory of what information you offer off the bat and confirm that you’ve prioritized accurately.
Have your plan B locked and loaded
2020 taught us a lot of things, but the number one lesson we learned was how to pivot on a dime. Just because it’s a new calendar year doesn’t mean that everything resets and you can go about your pre-2020 plans. We aren’t out of the woods with the pandemic yet, and though things are looking up, having a plan B should be the norm with and large strategies going forward.
Some companies are planning to ease back into in-person events and strategies later in the year. Companies that have these events on their calendar should have a back-up plan to jump to so they don’t throw money and time into the wind.
In-person events need a virtual option ready to go. Even better, make it a joint in-person and virtual event. Everyone has different comfort levels around in-person events, and offering a virtual aspect makes the event possible to attend by those bound by social-distance guidelines as well as locational limitations.
This same plan B tactic can cross over into smaller campaigns, tone of messaging, and discounts offered. As we learned last year, even a seemingly-innocent social campaign can seem off-putting and tone-deaf in certain situations.
Create short-form video
2020 was the year of the short-form video boom. But 2021 is the year of perfecting it.
Many companies initially considered TikToks and IG Reels not relevant for their company, because it seems casual and unprofessional. But, many doctors, therapists, athletes, financial advisors, and engineers proved us wrong – short-form video can be for anyone (or any company) with a good idea.
Short-form video on TikTok and IG is the perfect medium for easily-digestible content that has great reach and performs well. What’s not to like about that? While it has its own set of parameters for what’s considered appropriate, in many cases, it’s much wider parameters than any other form of content. There’s no need for fancy editing platforms or cameras, and all you need is a great idea. It doesn’t even have to be original. Once you start tinkering with current trends around short-form video, you’ll find your niche and eventually find your engaged audience.
While we can’t predict everything 2021 will hold, we’re ready to take it all on by storm. Are you ready to jump into any of these trends? Reach out to our team to plan a great 2021 marketing strategy.