After a cataclysmic shake-up of year that not even The Simpsons could have anticipated, if we’re certain of anything, it’s that life cannot always be forecasted or prepared for.
Even the list-writing, box-ticking, manic-planning control freaks have found their chill in dealing with the unknown after we were as a nation, collectively told (not unlike a child on the naughty step) what we could, or rather, couldn’t do.
Even the world’s savviest marketers (ahem) could not have foreseen the monumental surge in social media usage throughout 2020, as everyone leaned on their platforms more so than ever to stay sane, entertained and connected to far-away loved ones. To put this into perspective, 3.6 billion people on the planet are now using social.
But leaving Megxit, Brexit, Carole Baskin and Wembley’s massive lasagne firmly in our repressed memories for now, we are here for 2021 and all that comes with it.
As we accept that we cannot predict any further incoming madness, we can at least hazard a guess or two at what’s on the cards SOCIALLY this year, am I right? Let’s take a look into Truffle’s crystal ball for our predictions in the social game…
Brands Set Out on Purpose-filled, Activist Missions
We’ve seen first hand how keen companies are to prove their ethical values to consumers, especially in times of crisis. Like when Chanel started making face masks or when restaurant chains were quick to offer discounts to healthcare staff. Airbnb even helped the staff they had to lay off find new jobs.
The unfolding of recent events - such as the global uprising against racism and police brutality - means brands are facing more pressure than ever in having to address current issues. And they’re certainly getting judged if they do not.
In 2021, we expect to see this taken to another level as brands adapt further to meet the socially-conscious mindset. But, brands should beware - consumers are far more concerned on whether a business actually makes the world a better place and actions speak for themselves.
If you want your voice to be heard, pay attention to key societal issues in order to remain relevant and show that you are cause-orientated through your messaging. We expect that brands who act superficially in doing this are likely to fall flat on their faces, so stay human and find your place in the conversation.
2. Bye-bye Social Media Ageism
Long gone are the days of our parents and grandparents being utterly incapable on digital. According to the reporting dons at Global Web Index, there has been a 66-point increase in baby boomers discovering new products, accounts and brands via social media over the past 4 years.
With increased reliance and time spent on social, the mums are leveling up from their Facebook groups to explore new platforms. Global head of business marketing at Pinterest, Jim Habig, explains how this demographic are aligning social media with their retirement hobbies such as gardening, travel, art, cooking and DIY.
This audience cannot be overlooked in 2021, and marketers tailoring their strategies to target older audiences will overtake competitors that are stuck in their ageist ways.
3. Livestreaming, Gaming and Virtual Events Will Continue to Flourish
Adapting to life indoors brought with it the golden age of live streaming and virtual events, with concerts, festivals, tours, recitals, shopping experiences, lectures and practically anything you can think of being streamed from various platforms.
For brands and creators alike, this has made for fresh new ways to engage with their followers and communities. We expect companies to spend more of their time understanding the culture of their communities, in order to provide on-demand streams that catering to their interests.
Gaming and VR also cannot be overlooked. Both the amount of time dedicated to gaming and length of gaming sessions are on the increase along with audience backgrounds becoming more diverse.
The popularity of immersive experiences are growing fast as gaming is no longer simply about competitive play. The Travis Scott concert hosted on Fortnite is a fine example of this. As the lines between social and gaming continue to merge, we can expect a lot more focus on interactive, shared virtual spaces as an extended version of our reality.
4. Kindness Holds the Key to Connection 🔑
There’s a reason empathy made the 2020 buzzwords list. People have been struggling and companies must show their dedication in continuing to support followers through times of hardship.
Going beyond contingency and crisis management, this is a whole plan in itself. As much as everyone is a) sick of talking about covid and b) wants it all to be over, people are simultaneously coming to terms with the fact that its ramifications will be with us for a while.
For businesses, this means jumping off the fence of indifference and going out of their way to keep promises, making sure people know that they’re in it for the long haul.
5. UGC Content Will Reframe Campaigns and Strategies
User Generated Content has proven to be the one-stop-shop for online output, providing consumers with uplifting, comedic and most importantly relatable content without many brands having to move a muscle.
Like an excellent review, UGC instills a deeper level of trust between business and consumer and allows brands to showcase themselves in the context of real life scenarios. If utilised properly, UGC content can inspire your audience to re-create certain looks, outfits, recipes or spaces for themselves.
With restrictions still in place for now, we definitely expect to see brands making the most of this cost-effective approach in the coming year.
6. The Big 'S'
You guessed it. Sustainability awareness has accelerated through the roof and through our screens, due to an unignorable emphasis on environmental concerns. As consumers grow more invested in this globalised issue, they want to see brands aligning with their own values - fast.
Brands will be firmly under the microscope with customers considering all aspects of their supply chain, from where they source their products to the welfare of their employees.
Now that it’s not only millennials but Gen Zers on the case too, businesses have nowhere to hide and must adopt genuine, displayable sustainability practices unless they want to be sacked off for their competitors.
7. Snackable Content Alongside Your Cuppa