I'm sure most folks will be glad to see 2020 over and done with! But what will 2021 bring? What 2020 has taught us is that we need to be ready for change. You need to be flexible. Moreover, you need to be able to pivot in a short amount of time if you want to stay in business. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, most advertisers halted their campaigns. This affected the social media networks with a loss of income. However, with people staying at home and having to connect online, their membership and usage went up tremendously. Hence, as companies re-imagined their advertising, the social media networks are back and growing.
Now, remember, when it comes to technology and the digital world, we really don’t know who’s going to come up with the next great idea or who’s going to fail. So, the best thing to do is to keep up with all this stuff. Clearly, you have to in order to be successful with your marketing efforts. There are various links to external articles and I encourage you to follow some of these experts on your favorite social networks or subscribe to their blogs. Use an online news reader like Feedly.com to manage your subscriptions so you don't have to get a bazillion emails.
Here are 13 Major Social Media Marketing Trends to Look for in 2021
- Video Marketing – in fact, all visual marketing – is still the top, most effective form of digital marketing for 2021. The key to effective video marketing is to reveal the benefits in the first 15 seconds. Then, close with a compelling call-to-action.
- Instagram Reels -- if you're trying to reach the average consumer, then Instagram is where you want to be. Reels are short videos -- under 30 seconds -- uploaded directly into Instagram from a mobile device.
- Stories -- Everybody, including LinkedIn -- now has a stories feature. Stories are short videos which appear at the top of a user's feed. The only thing about stories is that they disappear in 24 hours. The strategy here is -- so you don't think that the videos, which take time to prepare, record and edit, are wasted -- is to reuse them. What this entails is having several different videos prerecorded them alternate posting them. Don't post the same ones over and over again. That's a sure way to lose followers fast.
- Animated gifs are fun and eye catching -- When it comes to visuals, nothing beats an animation. They catch people's attention. The free online graphics tool, Canva.com now has the ability to easily create animations.
- Live Broadcasting -- Everybody's doing it! Should you? The question is: will this help reach your audience? It will help if you already have a social media following. Next, check your analtyics and insights to see when your following is most likely to be on a network. At first, it might be a lot of hit or miss tries. Promote your live broadcast ahead of time. If you have an email list, promote it to them. A Live Q&A session with the expert usually attracts people with questions in your industry. What's cool, is that your Live session records and you can use it in other networks. Many platforms allow you to live stream to say, on Facebook and YouTube at the same time.
- Plan ahead what you're going to cover, but be prepared for participant questions that may take you off topic.
- Strategize what you'll say. You may want to script the intro or a short presentation then open it up for questions.
- Podcasting -- Podcasts are easier to produce than video, podcasting is also a popular way to reach your target audience. Here are some podcasting tips to help you get started.
- Influencer Marketing -- This will be vital for B2B as well as B2C. Here'a perfect example of how influencer marketing works. For B2B, the best place to network and find influencers is on LinkedIn.
- Facebook – Facebook hasn't changed its mind on the algorithm change so don’t expect to get much organic exposure of your business page’s posts unless you pay for the reach. Nevertheless, share your blog articles and post regular organic (not paid) content -- this helps with search engine optimization (SEO). But, be aware that they won’t get as much reach as the paid posts.
- Know Your Competition -- If your competition is not using social media regularly or are blogging less than weekly, you can bump them off the first page of Google and put yourself there by posting on social daily and blogging more often. Any competitive research you may have done before 2020, needs to be redone. Don't underestimate the tech-savviness of your competition. Most have been forced to embrace technology this year.
- Diversity -- Yes, showing cultural diversity is a good idea in your marketing, however, it's more important that your marketing reflect your target audience. If you determine your target market is over 40, then use pictures that show diverse older folks, not youngsters.
- User-Generated Content (UGC) -- One of the best advertisements you could ever get is a happy-camper customer using your product or service. Encourage them to send you pictures of themselves, but let them know that it will be used in marketing and ask for permission.
- Social Listening – Monitor social media using tools like HootSuite or TweetDeck and watch when and how your competition posts online, as well as how your target market and industry influencers use the networks. On Twitter you can create Private Lists – those you add to it won’t see that you’ve added them – and view what they post. Another place to do social listening is in groups. LinkedIn and Facebook both have groups. What's important is to search for and join groups where your target audience is as well as potential referral sources. On Facebook, some groups may let you join as your business page. Check the group's rules and respect them. Make sure your profiles are updated and accurate before you start requesting to join groups. The group owners will check you out to make sure you're not going to spam them.
- Know Your Audience -- If you try to reach everybody, you'll reach no one. Clearly define your target marketing niche(s). Then do some research to learn all you can about them.
- Focus on User Experience (UX) -- The UX is everything a potential customer touches from their initial website visit to the conversion -- whatever you want them to do. Check your website and UX in all web browser and mobile devices to make sure everything looks and works well. A bad UX will cost you sales!
- Empathy and emotional marketing -- See how your target audience views the world and keep your biases and political leanings aside. Keep personal and business separate.
- Trust and Credibility – with all the deception still going on, people want to know who the real person is behind the brand or the company name. Authenticity, credibility, honesty, disclosure, transparency and trust are very important to consumers. As a small business owner, establishing your expertise and knowledge is key to gaining respectability and sales.
Where to start is with your LinkedIn personal profile. You need to have a nice headshot with your full name. Your company logo should be on your company page and that should be listed in your personal experience. Never create a personal LinkedIn profile in the name of your company or use anything but your professional-looking picture on your profile. Keep the animals, party, travel and family shots on Facebook.
- On Facebook, in the “About” section, that I hope you have filled out completely, add yourself and any other pertinent people of your “team”.
- On Twitter and Instagram, share pictures of yourself in action.
- Blog regularly and use your full name. Take credit for your expertise. Share the articles on social media and repurpose them on LinkedIn. View my profile for an example.
Social media networks evolve with the times – and your marketing should, too!
Advice on How to Manage all your Social Media Marketing:
If you're budget is tight and you can't afford to hire someone to manage your social media for you, here are some tips to help you handle it all and keep your sanity! If you do decide to hire someone, make sure the person has experience in MARKETING on social media, not just posting on it. This is an essential function of your business, don't give this job to someone with no marketing knowledge or expertise.
- Clearly define your target market(s).
- Plan out your marketing in monthly campaigns and be prepared to change them if needed. Be sensitive to what your target audience is going through. Set SMART goals.
- Focus on one objective at time each month.
- Set SMART goals and strategize on how best to reach your target market.
- Create eye-catching graphics and/or videos with your marketing message and calls-to-action (CTAs).
- Don’t post erratically on social media. Have a posting schedule and your analytics and insights will tell you when the optimum time to post is for each network.
- Monitor everything. Respond to comments and quires.
- Review your analytics and insights at the end of the month to see if you reached your goals. Take note of what worked and what didn’t work. But don’t get bogged down or over-think the data.
- Plan out the next month’s marketing and implement it.
All-in-all, no one knows what the "new normal" will be in 2021. We don't know how having a vaccine will affect people's social interactions. My best advice is to watch your analytics and insights to stay abreast of your target audience's changing needs, wants, pain points and problems. You then must be ready to pivot and change in order to better meet them.