There are two sides to social media. There’s the side that uplifts people, fosters community and encourages meaningful conversation. Then there’s the uglier face of it that can leave a company’s PR team working overtime. Needless to say, it’s important for brands not to get caught up in the latter.
Yet that’s perfectly possible if there’s no social plan in place. Because great social media strategies go beyond the day-to-day of what to post and when. Rather, they consider a brand’s online behaviour and actions as part of a longer-term goal and purpose.
During the pandemic, social media has brought people together like never before. Digital doors have remained wide open, and online engagement is through the roof. But noise is plentiful too. The task for brands is to pass the ‘so-what’ test with flying colours and more.
A powerful social media strategy and plan has moved over the past year to become core to most brands’ communications because it has become the best way to reach people. All the events and experiences where brands have interacted with people are on hold; traditional media has become harder to place stories in: and, for many brands, budgets for paid campaigns have been restricted.
On a recent Brands2Life webinar, client Conor Bolton, Senior Brand Marketing Manager & Social Media Lead at LinkedIn, highlighted the importance of brands asking the question: ‘what’s the point?’ when considering social comms. This ‘point’ should be answered in terms of a company’s vision and values, its marketing goals, the sales objectives and the expected KPIs. If anything isn’t aligned, or the answer is unclear, then it’s probably best to hold back and rethink.
For social media marketers with a defined social strategy, answering the above will be easy. Most likely, you’ll already have established your brand’s social purpose, content pillars, posting cadence, channel strategy, and mapped this to your audience personas. If you’re not in this camp, the time is very much now.
Taking social from being simply good enough to great takes work. But the rewards are long-lasting. If you’re ready for change, then here are five of the most important social trends for 2021 that brands can’t afford to miss:
We’ve seen TikTok turn into Instagram Reels. Snapchat cloned into Facebook Stories. It seems like social platforms are becoming more similar than ever before. So, it’s important to choose the right channel and formats for your brand and story. By doing so, you’ll be able to reach your audience and deliver your message most effectively, ensuring that they find you before they find your competitors.
Throughout last year, brands found smart ways to create video content with smaller budgets and in respect of social distancing. This has led to more videos with a DIY aesthetic that feel accessible and friendly – and also lends itself well to influencers. With video being an important format for driving engagement on social, making sure video content resonates with audiences and fits in with the mood of 2021 will be key.
Social media has allowed brands to measure, test and optimise the performance of campaigns with greater accuracy than any other media. It’s this data-driven approach that has convinced many brands to shift more budget towards social, especially in the last year. And this trend looks set to continue. But as life (fingers crossed) returns to something akin to normal, how brands pivot their messaging and use social effectively – and sensitively – will be key to how audiences perceive and engage with them.
Keeping up to date with the latest changes to social feed algorithms can feel like chasing your tail. With each social platform surfacing content in different ways, it’s not as simple as a one-size-fits-all approach to reaching your audience. A clear strategy to give your content direction and take advantage of algorithms is vital for delivering results, especially as we may be about to see major changes to how platforms decide which content users see.
As direct-to-customer sales grow, social platforms offer the opportunity to keep the entire customer journey on one platform. Knowing how to leverage these ecommerce features as part of an effective wider social and brand strategy could be a huge opportunity for sales and to stand out from the competition.
Many brands survived 2020. Making the most of social media may help you thrive in 2021. These trends are just the tip of the iceberg in an ever-evolving, digital public sphere. Similar to how a production team brings a TV ad to life, or how a PR specialist crafts a press release – social media also comes with its own experts who can help you connect with your customers, build awareness and increase sales through all the right channels. And help you go from good to great.
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.
And if you want to chat further about how we could help you build an aligned strategy and create real impact, get in touch with our dedicated social team via [email protected]
Written by Kinda Jackson, MD Digital & Influencer