While it’s difficult to know what the future has in store, it’s important for businesses to begin preparing for the transition out of the Covid-19 crisis. For us marketers, part of this will mean envisioning the ways in which social media marketing will change to meet the pressures of a post-pandemic world. 

Those who begin to prepare early, will be in a better position to react to these new trends and, as a result, will emerge stronger than those that don’t. At YS, we’ve pulled together four social media marketing changes we anticipate in 2021: 

Using social as a brand building channel

So far, we’ve seen a massive increase in the amount of time people have been spending online, and specifically an increase in time spent on social media. Alongside this, we’ve seen the rise in popularity of challenger platforms like TikTok (with users increasing by 75%), Twitch (where views are up by 24%) and Houseparty (which has reported 50 million sign ups in the last month). Not to forget Dispo and Clubhouse too. 

As a result, there’s been a huge shift in the way that brands are using social media. Namely, brands are taking a more empathetic approach to messaging. Take, for instance, Deliveroo supporting NHS staff with donations and discounts, and Budweiser’s gift card scheme, coming to the rescue of UK pubs. If there’s one thing that the pandemic has revealed, it’s that social media is no longer a channel for simply touting a product or service. Social media is now a central tool for brand building.

So, what does this mean for social media marketing beyond the pandemic? It means brands will need to use social as a tool for communicating their core values, tapping into how their particular product or service can have a positive impact amidst crisis. For non-essential services, this could mean using social channels as a means of providing uplifting and entertaining content. Engaging consumers by asking questions, sharing polls, and hosting mini-events, are all great ways to bolster a sense of community. 

Coupled with this, research shows that, through investing in brand building advertising, businesses are more likely to emerge safely from recessions, making social media an excellent way for brands to build a voice that is trusted by its audience and has longevity within markets.

Effective social campaigns  with smaller budgets

It’s safe to say that the pandemic has left many brands feeling more risk averse. This is why, post-pandemic, we’ll see brands increasingly turning to smaller budget social campaigns and content creation.

In fact, this is a big trend we’ve been seeing as an agency, taking note of some of our favourite #EpicMarketingWins over the course of the pandemic. Weetabix recently sparked a heated debate on twitter after sharing an image of their cereal topped with baked beans, to which the US embassy responded ‘This is not the UK/US collaboration we were hoping for…’.

This more experimental and playful form of marketing is showing up more and more and is largely a result of shoot locations and studios being less readily available. In response, brands have turned to the more DIY-feel of social media to convey their message. Now more than ever, people want to feel good and be entertained by their brands – a bold social media strategy, mixed with the right dose of controversy, is a great way to generate some effective noise around your brand while not breaking the bank.

Consumers have become accustomed to using online alternatives

From companies adopting remote working, to gyms closing and  moving exercise classes online, to students learning from home, there are very few aspects of our lives that haven’t been drastically affected by lockdown.

While it’s hard to imagine Zoom family gatherings ever entirely replacing the real deal, Covid has undoubtedly made consumers of all ages more comfortable using technology as part of their regular social and entertainment schedule.

For businesses, this means the safest bet is not simply to return to old ways, but to offer services and products in a hybrid format. Using social platforms to host online alternatives will ensure businesses cater to the preferences of both sides of their consumer base. And, above all else, having a generally more tech savvy population greatly increases the potential of customers online, making any investment in social media a smart long-term decision.

A growing demand for agile social media strategies

Finally, if there’s anything the pandemic’s taught us, it’s that everything can change in an instant. In light of this, there will be a greater demand for agile social media strategies and an ability to pivot as new priorities emerge.

For marketers, this means responding flexibly to sudden changes and having multiple strategies to stay ahead of the ever-changing consumer landscapes. Brands willing to re-evaluate their social media strategies rapidly will minimise risk and maximise their opportunity to engage with their audiences. Alongside this, social media platforms will increasingly become a space to test out new brand messaging, advertisement and offerings, enabling businesses to receive direct and measurable feedback from target consumers.

Takeaways

Brands who start thinking about the transition out of the Covid-19 crisis early, will be in a better position to drive social media marketing trends going forward. This isn’t to say there won’t be many more unknowns along the way but, by responding to the recent changes in consumer habits, and viewing these changes as part of a broader movement towards digital, rather than a temporary fix, brands can develop a social media marketing strategy that’s forward thinking, even beyond the context of a post-pandemic world.

If you’re a growing business, looking to supercharge your social media marketing this year, we’d love to help.

Get in touch.