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7 Digital Marketing Trends of Focus for 2021

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With the chaos of 2020 now behind us, it’s time to look ahead to what we can expect from the next 12 months.

2020 was unpredictable, to say the least. That meant that while some of the trends which were predicted pre-pandemic did end up coming to light, others didn’t emerge at all, with various forced adaptations reshaping elements of the marketing landscape.

Most notably, eCommerce sales went through the roof, people spent a lot more time on social media, and video conferencing became the norm. This has led to a major shift in the way brands connect with their consumers.

So, as we turn a corner into the New Year, what marketing trends will continue to permeate in 2021? 

Here are some key trends to consider:

1. Live-streams and an increase in influencer content

Stay at home orders meant events were canceled, and consumers were unable to attend in-person events. They weren’t even able to socialize with their friends and family. 

This led to an uptick in the number of people tuning into live-streams, whether it was a branded live-stream, a live video from their favorite celebrity, or an online workshop. 

On Facebook, live viewings spiked by 50% during lockdown periods, while viewings on Instagram surged 70%. TikTok use shot up in 2020, and there’s a good chance we’ll see this upward trajectory continue to play out in 2021. 

Human-drive content like influencer live-streams can create trust, and tap into the ‘in-the-moment’ connection that 2020 consumers crave. 

Amazon Live really got going during the pandemic. Influencers took to the platform to promote their favorite products during live events. What’s more, the livestreams were shoppable, which meant viewers could make purchases while they were watching. 

NYX Pro Makeup ran a similar promotion, where they invited influencers to live-stream make-up tutorials for their annual Pride celebrations. 

2. More goodwill and purpose-driven missions from brands

The 2021 Hootsuite Social Trends report notes that: 

“The smartest brands will understand where they fit into customers’ lives on social media, and they’ll find creative ways of fitting into the conversation.”

At the core of this is the need for transparency. 

It’s impossible for consumers to connect with brands that they see as ‘shady’ or insincere. Why would they want to invest in something that they can’t trust or don’t believe in? This is why connection will be pivotal for brands that want to remain trusted sources in 2021. 

Now more than ever, brands are having to dig deep to find out how to flourish in turbulent times. A report from Deloitte states that, to do this, brands need to “be deeply attuned to why they exist and who they are built to serve”. 

We’re no strangers to seeing brands doing good things, but there will be an even bigger emphasis on this next year.

We’ll see more brands running campaigns like Hilton’s #HotelsForHeroes, where they gave away free rooms to medical workers, or Chanel’s contribution to the pandemic where they tasked their seamstresses with making face masks. 

3. UGC to enhance the customer experience

Customer experience has never been more important. 

Consumers crave enjoyable experiences with brands that are easy and memorable. They want proof before they buy and they want to be reassured – after all, no one wants to make the wrong decision.

User-generated content (UGC) ticks all the boxes when it comes to connective content:

  • It builds and strengthens communities
  • It’s relatable and uplifting
  • It enables brands to meet customers where they’re already hanging out
  • It helps brands generate tons more content against a backdrop of stay-at-home orders and restrictive measures

UGC has long been an effective way for brands to forge relationships with their customers and provide social proof, and this will be a common theme in 2021 as well. 

4. An emphasis on sustainability

81% of consumers strongly feel that companies should help improve the environment. 

It’s a number that’s not that surprising. Over the past couple of years we’ve seen a shift in brands moving towards a more sustainable future, whether it’s through the materials they use, the packaging, their systems, or something else.

The hunt for a greener planet continues, and consumers are actively seeking out brands that are purpose-driven and conscious about the environment. As the world remains a fragile place, it will be key for brands to reiterate their sustainability in 2021. 

The Ocean Cleanup is a great example of a brand that’s done this well. In late October, they presented their first product made solely from plastic collected from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. 

They used TINT to share the announcement, which outlined how the brand will continue to use recycled products from the ocean to create beautiful, sustainable products. In a full circle turn of events, the revenue generated from the products will be pumped back into the brand’s cleanup campaign. 

5. Inclusivity will be key

Inclusivity also became a bigger focus in 2020, with the Black Lives Matter movement highlighting endemic issues that linger within various elements of society.

A study by Accenture shows that the cultural shift towards inclusivity is also impacting purchase behavior, with 41% of shoppers shifting away from retailers which don’t reflect their views on identity and diversity – and 29% are willing to switch brands completely if they don’t show enough diversity.

Brands that are seen to be non-inclusive, or who don’t appear to be a part of the inclusivity conversation, will likely see impacts in 2021. On the flipside, brands which openly showcase their involvement in inclusive causes, will reap the benefits and drive deeper connections with their buyers. 

6. Increase in voice and visual search

An increasing number of consumers are searching via voice-activated tools like Alexa. Perhaps that’s due to people have been stuck at home, with limited opportunities for conversation, or perhaps it’s simply because this type of technology is more readily available (about one in four American homes has a smart speaker of some kind). 

But it’s not just voice search that will prevail in 2021 – we can also expect other creative search methods to rise to the top, like visual search.

Tools like Google Lens enable consumers can search for whatever they can see. This means marketers will need to focus even more on image alt-text and sitemaps for images. Over the next year, visuals will become increasingly important in the SEO game. 

It’s going to be profitable too: Retail Customer Experience estimates that by 2021:

“Early adopters that redesign their websites to support visual and voice search will increase their digital commerce revenue by 30%.” 

7. Easy-to-consume content

2020 also saw people leaning on easy-to-consume content – things like podcasts that can be consumed on-the-go or newsletters that land directly in subscriber’s inboxes.

Studies show that 55% of Americans now listen to podcasts, while newsletter mentions were up 14% during lockdown. 

Advertisers are spending more on podcasts too, which is a hint to their continued success in 2021. 

Convenient and readily-available content like podcasts and newsletters will help brands connect more deeply with customers and provide a more intimate way to stay in touch. 

Take a leaf out of Nisolo’s book. They used their newsletter to connect with customers and check in with them, before providing relevant resources that might help them in turbulent times.

Are you ready for 2021?

The unpredictable nature of 2020 has forced brands to think long and hard about how they connect with their customers. Shop closures and stay-at-home orders meant people were stuck inside, which also meant that they were spending a lot more time online. This has pushed brands to branch out and create more human-centric ways of reaching their buyers.

Over the next 12 months, we’ll see this continue. Live-streams will become increasingly common, purpose-driven brands that champion sustainability will rise to the top, and UGC will remain an integral part of every marketing strategy. 

Socialmediatoday.com

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Snap Launches New Ad Campaign to Showcase its AR Offerings

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Snap Launches New Ad Campaign to Showcase its AR Offerings

Snapchat has launched a new promotional campaign which leans into the uniqueness of its viral AR trends, with a showcase of bizarre effects, as a means to present people with a different perspective on the real world.

Pretty trippy, huh?

As explained by Snap:

At Snap, we celebrate the joy, irreverence, and spontaneity of communicating with your real friends in fun, unexpected ways. Over the years, we’ve pushed the boundaries of how people see and experience the world through augmented reality. AR makes conversations and experiences better, and unlocks new ways to connect with others, learn about the world, shop, and more. [Our new campaign] shows you what it’s like to see the world the way Snapchatters do.”

It’s pretty weird, but will that get more people using Snap?

Certainly, the campaign will grab attention, and with 72% of active Snapchat users already engaging with AR elements in the app every day, there’s clearly a lot of interest in these types of weirdo activations that provide a new way of seeing the familiar.

Maybe that’ll prove to be a good lure to get people into the app, and broaden its user base. I mean, at the least, it’ll spark intrigue, which will likely get at least a few more people downloading the app to see what they can do.

AR is a key focus for Snap, and despite operating at a much smaller scale than Meta and Apple, which are both also investing big in AR projects, Snap has continued to punch above its wait in this area, by continually coming out with AR content that grabs attention, and engages audiences.

Meta is still struggling to maintain relevance with younger audiences, a key element that could de-rail its metaverse vision, while Apple has actually leaned on Snap to help showcase its advanced AR tools over time.

If nothing else, Snapchat has its finger on the pulse, which is why virtually every AR trend – from anime filters to baby faces, from crying faces to vomiting rainbows – all of these have originated from Snapchat, and that’s remained consistent over time, even with newer platforms like TikTok entering the same realm.

Snap is very in-tune with its user base, which is also why its Snapchat+ subscription offering is already doing better than Twitter Blue, even with the addition of tweet editing verification ticks (Snapchat+ has over 1.5 million paying subscribers, versus an estimated 325k for Twitter Blue).

That community sense has helped Snap maintain growth and relevance. But it also needs to expand – and maybe, through a bizarre showcase like this, that could help to make more people aware of the things that they can do in the app.

And this is how Snapchat Lenses tend to be shared. Somebody uses it, then they just have to show their friends.

In this respect, it seems like a good initiative, which could help Snap spark more interest and engagement.

It also serves as a demo of scanning in the Snap camera – if you want to try out any of the Lenses featured in the ad, you can scan the screen in the Snap camera, which will then open up whichever Lens is featured at that moment.

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Leveraging Social Media To Grow Your Career In 2023

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Leveraging Social Media To Grow Your Career In 2023

Employees are ready to change their jobs, with nearly half of American workers planning to look for a new job in the coming six months. According to a new Robert Half report, which surveyed 2,500 professionals, around 46% of them said they plan on making a career or job change in the first half of the year.

Job-hopping has become a workplace trend among young working professionals in the post-pandemic labor market. A recent Gallup study found that 60% of surveyed millennials – ages 27 to 40 years – are more likely to look for different opportunities this year. The percentage of non-millennials workers looking to switch jobs is roughly 15% lower.

A majority of Generation Z candidates have also claimed that they are likely to make a job change this year. In a 2022 Lever Great Resignation report, around 65% of Gen Z professionals said that they are likely to leave their job by the end of the year. Moreover, 13% of them are twice as likely to quit their jobs in the next month.

Job-hopping has become almost synonymous in the post-COVID workforce, and younger professionals are fueling this trend by leaving unfulfilling roles and moving on to greener pastures.

Yet, with so many professionals changing jobs, or looking to switch careers, even against the backdrop of a looming recession, many of them have geared themselves towards social media as a way to build a professional brand and market themselves to potential employers.

Using Social Media For Career Growth

Keeping your social media professional can be a hard ball to juggle. In a 2020 Harris Poll survey, around 70% of employers said that every company should screen candidates’ social media throughout the hiring process. Additionally, the majority of employers – 78% – believe that all their current employees should adhere to a work–appropriate social media profile.

Employees should care about what they share and post on social media. Although the debate over whether social media screening during the hiring process is ethical is still ongoing, candidates willing to leverage social media to develop or boost their careers will need to set up a social media strategy that can help them land the job they want.

Much of our digital identity is pinned to our social media accounts, and a lot of what we share, like and the people we interact with via these channels can speak a great deal of the types of person we are outside of the workplace.

Aside from employees using these platforms to grow their network, or search for possible job opportunities, employers and recruiters are using it to look for any possible red or green flags that you might bring to the workplace.

Social media has moved beyond its traditional form, and today it’s become a digital ecosystem that helps to connect like-minded professionals and their potential employers.

How To Use Social Media To Boost Career Opportunities

Searching for a job is more than browsing through recruitment websites and job listings on LinkedIn or Google. The internet, and social media is a vast place, with near-endless possibilities, and when it comes to growing your career through social media, you will need to know a few things first.

Have A Social Strategy

It might sound strange at first, but having a social media strategy will help you come in contact with the right people faster. Your social media strategy should include building an online identity that reflects your professional and personal side.

You can use different platforms for different connections or networks, it’s all about how you present yourself through your brand. Think of the type of content you share regularly, does it reflect who you are as a professional? How often do you post, or reply to comments and messages? Are there any areas where you can improve or update the information to help you grow your network of contacts?

Write some questions down to get you started, and start working on building an online identity that can get noticed by like-minded individuals in the same industry.

Network With Industry Professionals

Nowadays it’s easier than ever before to reach out to a company or recruiter through their social media, and the same goes for connecting with professionals working in the same industry.

Instead of using social media to only share insightful content, or engage with your friends, try to grow your professional network. On top of this, it’s important to engage with these people as well, even if it’s simply exchanging a few words now and again.

Be active in your mission to get to know the people that are out there, and spend a bit of time researching their profiles to better understand the type of skills and qualifications these people may have. Networking is one of the best possible ways to move around your industry without putting in much effort.

Grow Your Skills

Looking at other people’s social media profiles, whether it’s Twitter or Indeed.com, or even Instagram will give a better idea of the type of skills you might need to develop to help grow and make the next big career jump.

Often professionals will share their skills, and what they’re experts in at the top of their social media accounts, this way it is easier for recruiters to know who the person is, and for like-minded professionals to engage with them.

If you compare the skills of several professionals already working in the field you’re interested in, you will get a better idea of where you might need to upskill yourself by completing some courses or doing a bit of reading.

When we say advertise, we don’t necessarily mean flashy and colorful digital adverts that you’d hope will get the attention of your potential employer.

Instead try and convey your expertise through the type of content you can share such as blog posts, news articles, industry research, or even projects you’ve worked on. Additionally, you can also share your job title and relevant experience in the bio section of your profile.

The better you are at showing people your expertise in a professional, yet unpretentious way, the faster your feed will fill up with similar content and other experienced individuals.

Update Your Profiles

This is relevant to almost every social media profile you have, regardless of what you use it for. People often neglect social media platforms they don’t use anymore, and while it can be tedious to spend so much time updating photos or replying to messages, decide on a couple of platforms you’d like to use and stick to them.

Make sure that the platforms you end up using have a recent photo, and that all other relevant personal information has been updated such as your job title, industry experience, and your current city. You don’t need to do this every week, only when needed, or when you’ve changed jobs or moved.

The better you curate your social media, the easier it will be for employers and recruiters to notice you as you actively begin to network.

Final Words

Social media can be a professional tool, despite it receiving so much negative clout in recent years. Although it’s hard to determine whether possible employers or recruiters will screen your social media accounts before or during the hiring process, it’s best to always keep a well-groomed online identity – especially if you’re looking to make progress in your career.

Make well-informed decisions, and think about the type of content you’re sharing. Remember to engage with like-minded professionals, and have conversations online through the information you share with your followers.

The better you are at curating one or two social media platforms for career purposes, the quicker you’ll be able to expand your network, and grow your professional skills. Don’t think too much about it, try and have a balance as much as possible, as this will help you to enjoy your social media experience while maintaining a professional, yet fun digital identity.

Published First on ValueWalk. Read Here.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Fauxels; Pexels; Thank you!

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Meta Announces the Reinstatement of Former President Donald Trump in its Apps

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Meta Announces the Reinstatement of Former President Donald Trump in its Apps

In the scheme of things, this, specifically, is not a major shift in social platform policy, or in broader approaches to handling inflammatory or incendiary usage by world leaders. But in terms of symbolic, and even iconic gestures, it is significant – and may well have huge implications for US politics, at the least.

Today, Meta has announced that former US President Donald Trump will be allowed to return to Facebook and Instagram, after he was banned from both apps over his posts around the time of the January 6th incident at the Capitol building in 2021.

As explained by Meta:

Two years ago, we took action in what were extreme and highly unusual circumstances. We indefinitely suspended then-US President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts following his praise for people engaged in violence at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. We then referred that decision to the Oversight Board — an expert body established to be an independent check and balance on our decision-making.

In response, the Oversight Board called for Meta to implement more structured parameters around how such decisions were made, and how long any resulting suspension would be in place. Based on this, Meta announced a two-year end date for the suspension, with a review to be conducted to assess the risk of reinstatement at that stage. That’s now resulted in Meta’s decision to allow Trump back into its apps.

Which, reportedly, the Trump team has been pushing for in recent weeks.

With a 2024 Presidential campaign in focus, Trump’s legal team sent a letter to Meta last week which requested that Trump be allowed back onto its platforms, in order to give him equal share of political voice. Whether that influenced Meta’s decision or not is unclear, but now, the gates have been re-opened, which will give Trump and Co. reach to millions of US voters via his Facebook Page and through paid ads.

Which, in itself, is significant. But as noted, it’s not clear as yet as to whether the process has seen Meta establish more definitive guidelines for handling similar situations in future, and what sorts of penalties it will implement as a result of such actions.

Meta’s Oversight Board has called out this exact detail in its response to Meta’s announcement:  

The Board welcomes that Meta has followed the Board’s recommendations to introduce a crisis policy protocol in order to improve Meta’s policy response to crises, and to undertake an assessment about the current security environment. However, the Board calls on Meta to provide additional details of its assessment so that the Board can review the implementation of the Board’s decision and recommendations in this case, to define varying violation severities by public figures in the context of civil unrest, and to articulate the way that the policy on public figure violations in the context of civil unrest relates to the crisis policy protocol.”

As the Board notes, Meta has updated its approach to such situations, in a new protocol overview for dealing with posts by public figures during times of civil unrest, while Trump specifically, Meta says, will now also face ‘heightened penalties for repeat offenses’.

But the parameters around its decisions as to what constitutes public risk are still not totally clear. Which leaves those decisions in the hands of Meta management, which could still be viewed as a form of political censorship, depending on the case.

And that, ideally, is not what Meta wants:  

“As a general rule, we don’t want to get in the way of open, public and democratic debate on Meta’s platforms – especially in the context of elections in democratic societies like the United States. The public should be able to hear what their politicians are saying – the good, the bad and the ugly – so that they can make informed choices at the ballot box. But that does not mean there are no limits to what people can say on our platform. When there is a clear risk of real world harm – a deliberately high bar for Meta to intervene in public discourse – we act.

Meta also says that its ‘default’ is to let people speak, even when what they have to say is ‘distasteful or factually wrong’.

Ideally, Meta would prefer such decisions were made by an overarching regulatory body, which oversees all online platforms, but given the ways in which such a process could be abused, and the variable approaches to such in different regions, that’s a difficult proposition, which may not ever take shape.

As such, Meta is left to implement its own rules around what constitutes potential harm in this context, which it won’t always get right.

But really, there’s no other option, and such cases can only be ruled on, by Meta, as they arise.

So, will Trump come back to Facebook?

Trump’s also-suspended Twitter account was reinstated by Elon Musk back in November, and he hasn’t tweeted as yet – but that’s partly because of Trump’s stake in Truth Social, and his commitment to making that alternative platform work.

Trump Media & Technology Group has over $1 billion sunk into Trump’s own social media app Truth Social, with funding from a range Trump’s top supporters and advocates. A key proviso in that plan is that Trump has committed to posting exclusively Truth, even if his other social accounts are reinstated. There are ways in which Trump could avoid violating this, by, say, posting to Twitter or Facebook several hours after first posting to Truth, but essentially, Trump is at least somewhat locked into making Truth Social his focus.

But that won’t get him the reach or resonance that Facebook can.

Trump has over 34 million followers on Facebook, and Facebook ads have formed a key part of his previous campaigning efforts. Indeed, Trump’s team spent over $20 million on Facebook ads in 2019 alone, and while tweets became his primary weapon of choice for communicating with his audience, Facebook is also a crucial platform for promotion of his agenda.

As such, you can bet that Trump’s team is already strategizing their next Facebook ads push, now that they’re allowed back in the app.

Is that a good thing?

I mean, as Meta notes, people should be able to judge for themselves, but then again, the manipulative, targeted approaches to Facebook ads that Trump’s team has taken in the past do raise even more questions in this respect.

But that’s a whole other argument, and in basic terms, on the facts of the case, it makes sense for Meta to reinstate Trump’s account, and let him back into its apps.

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