How can brands embrace social media as we pivot back to ‘normal’

Some of 2020’s best loved campaigns played on the new reality of WFH and lockdowns. These campaigns tapped into the current culture and gave people a sense of connection. For instance, Zoom got people involved with a creative virtual background competition, harnessing user-generated content to drive engagement and help foster global sense of community. While Coors Light asked people to nominate someone that #CouldUseABeer while sticking it out through the pandemic (and then giving away free beer).

Empathy always matters

These tough times have caused many brands to change the tone of their messaging. And in some cases, even their strategy. Because as well as sounding sensitive about the pandemic, it was also important to show it. To feel timely, scenes of busy offices had to be replaced with people working from home.

Yet despite the vaccine rollout and the glimmers of hope we all have for the year ahead, it’s likely this sensitivity will continue for the early months of 2021, at least. It might not be as austere and sombre as the messaging we saw last year – but it’ll still tap into the insights of modern life. Baking, home workouts and reminding someone they’re on mute is unlikely to go away.

Brands must make every moment count

In many respects, social media has become more central to our lives. It’s allowed us to stay in touch with family, friends and the wider world during the pandemic restrictions. So it’s little wonder that many brands have shifted more budget to online media as people spend more time online and at home.

But it goes beyond making the most of a current situation. The ability to test, target and measure results mean brand managers can predict and evaluate ROI with more precision than ever. This makes it especially appealing to marketers with limited budget but still ambitious targets to hit.

Again, this looks set to carry on as the world economy continues to feel the sting of the pandemic’s impact.

Keeping pulse is essential

As we start to beat the pandemic and make a steady return to normal (or somewhere closer to it), brands will start changing their messaging again. But how can they make sense of what the world looks like for their audience, and their role in it?

Staying up to date with the market where your brand operates is vital, as is understanding how it impacts your audience. We’ve used social listening and both quantitative and qualitative research surveys to understand how the pandemic has impacted the lives of the audience we are speaking to, helping us to develop content to meet them where they are.

Sensitivity and understanding is paramount for brands in this climate, demonstrated by the response to those that have made a misstep such as the timely Dettol adverts that went viral for all the wrong reasons.

Either way, with global uncertainty and lower budgets sure to be the case for a while, social looks set to continue to be an integral part of the marketing mix. And with format and channel options growing, it’s a good opportunity to push the creativity in online campaigns. This is especially important given the greater competition for attention as more brands are likely to invest in social.

This article is part of our five trends to expect in 2021 series. Catch up on all the trends we’re expecting to see play out over the next 12 months:

If you’d like to know more about how we can help you make the most from social and digital comms, please get in touch at [email protected].

Or find out how we can help you start thinking about creating a strategic online approach in our ‘Five steps to social media success’ guide here.

Written by Kinda Jackson, MD Digital & Influencer