Debamalya, 6 hours ago
Social Media in 2021: Best Practices to Adopt for Brands and Agencies
Almost every brand all over the world has adopted social media as one of their chief engines for branding, advertisement, and publicity. Social Media in 2021 many global brands have even started investing more in digital presence and advertising than in ATL advertising and marketing strategies.
There are many reasons for this, some of which were expected, some of which was very unexpected. The rise of Social Media as one of the most powerful engines of promotion started an era in which brands had to maintain their social presence.
This was necessitated by the fact that nearly 2.5 billion people all over the world use some form of social media or the other. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest, and others are not distractions; rather they have become a way of life for human beings.
If you are as ancient as I am, you might remember a time, when social media used to be just about people, individuals, friends, families, etc. People would like, share, comment on birthdays, anniversaries, share personal and professional news, and so on. However, with the rise of brands on social media, we started consuming products, marketing materials, sales coupons, brand ambassadors, and a whole lot more.
An individual is not just on social media as a friend, family man, or a colleague (as was earlier the case). An individual is now a potential and powerful consumer, who has discerning tastes and preferences. S/he makes decisions about what to wear, where to eat, where to travel to, what gadget to buy, and other important ‘product’ decisions on social media. A few years back, this was unimaginable.
If there are so many habits of individuals that need to be countered, brands and agencies must come up with innovative and novel methods of attracting attention, keeping their best foot forward, and coming up with better and more engaging content that will not only increase brand presence and credibility but also convert into sales.
As brands and agencies, we need to keep in mind that the world is becoming a smaller place. Yes, social media has contributed to it, but Globalization and the Information Technology Revolution (of which social media is a big part) have bought countries and continents closer.
The word ‘global’ has been come to be replaced by the word ‘glocal’, and world citizens, at least for brands and agencies are well-read, well informed, updated, and smart. The democratization of the internet has ensured that class factors, that previously dominated mainstream advertising, have started disappearing into the background.
This means that if your brand does not create engaging content, which is attractive, has a great storyline, and offers more than your competitors, chances are that you will get lost in this dangerous and infinite world of social media.
No matter what your product, social media is a medium of story-telling, of building credibility, fostering customer loyalty, managing reputations, and of relationships. In this article, we bring you:
Technology evolves, and constantly keeps improving the lives of human beings. Voice-based virtual assistants- Alexa and Google Home are definitely the future of marketing and advertising.
You must have noticed how people are constantly moving away from typing, and trying to command or ask for information through speech. A person who is getting late for work and is frantically getting ready will ask Siri to book an Uber.
Chief Marketer predicts that by 2021, nearly 50% of all searches would be voice-activated, which means that brands and agencies need to adapt to changes in terms of their technology, strategies, and tools.
This also means that product searches on e-commerce sites will be voice-activated, meaning that brands and agencies need to develop and innovate on tech support and produce content that can be discovered by voice activation.
When videos started dominating our social media feed, we realized that social media giants have changed algorithms that made the organic reach of videos much more extensive than images or image albums. This meant that brands and agencies started creating more video-based content and integrating infographics, text, and communication messages, all in video format.
‘Live Streaming’ will further extend this shift away from images to videos. Instagram and Facebook, will increase the reach, publicity, and opportunities attached to live to stream, and Instagram TV. Brands need to figure out ways of engaging their audiences through live streaming and Instagram TV.
Scripted, coordinated, and well thought out videos, that have huge production value, will have to be replaced by much more relaxed, real, and informal live videos that will reflect the values and the pillars of the brands.
For agencies, this will translate into figuring out and implementing a proper live streaming strategy for their social media channels. As is the case, one more added vertical to the content and creative strategy will be added, one that will require careful planning, execution, and reassessment.
Not long ago, we were talking about Gen X and their mindset, goals, how they perceive values, and how a new subset of advertising and marketing has emerged to target them. Well, I am sorry to say, but Gen X is outdated!
This is the advent of the Gen Y generation. This generation is born in the age of Information Technology and has grown up with a cell phone and tablet in their hand. This is the Air BnB generation, and this generation wants their brands to wear their emotions, their values, on their sleeves.
The Gen Y generation cares as much about the brand’s ‘Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)’ as much as it does for the brand’s offerings. They not only want to know how ‘organic’ their food is, but they also want to know how it has been sourced, and whether or not, workers have been exploited in the process.
For brands and agencies, the challenge is to become socially responsible and weave this story-telling narrative in their social media strategy. Brand managers have to be socially aware of their brand workings, and agencies will need to highlight these aspects of a brand much more.
If you need examples, look at how Benetton has reinvented itself as a brand and focuses on diversity in the choice of its models. How Coca Cola has changed its strategy as early as 2013, asking its consumers not to drink coke, because of its sugar levels. Incredibly, their sales skyrocketed, when they started the offensive on their front foot.
In 2021, no brand can say that it is the ‘only’ producer of something. None can claim that their product is the absolute best, and it stands without competition. In this era of surplus, and over-presence in product categories, the choice between rational advertising and emotional advertising needs to be made.
Brands and agencies need to figure out ways of striking an emotional chord with audiences and creating a consumer base that would last with them. This cannot be done through rational marketing of the brand- highlight on products, locations, coupons, freebies, and other such modes.
The need of the hour is to pull or tug away at the heartstrings of consumers, make them part of an extended family, and share human stories with them. Humans of New York, is a good example, of how in these times of alienation and depression, people have started consuming more and more human stories, and anecdotes.
If your audiences and consumers do not relate to you, you have no chance of converting them into buyers. This means, that every brand and agency needs to be in accord with the global changes that are happening, and exercise its voice through its story-telling narrative.
Brands have historically stayed away from engaging with world affairs, however, Gen Y wants to know about their brand’s thought on a subject, and the brand’s voice on issues that are happening.
Agencies need to be closely connected to the ground and analyze global trends and how they can help their brand. Pampers’ recent campaign with John Legend and Adam Levine is a great case study in breaking gender stereotypes with regard to child-rearing. Big Basket’s strategy of using Bollywood star, Shah Rukh Khan, as someone who buys groceries and knows about grocery is a great change in demonstrating the brand’s thought process on gender.
Creative Agencies need to overhaul their thought processes. They not only need to invest in smarter, talented, and creative personnel but also hold sessions for their workforce which will help them stay updated with the latest in the world.
Many agencies work according to the brief given to them by the client. This involves working monotonously fulfilling the client’s request, whether it be in terms of campaigns, social media strategies, or even websites. This reduces risks, and affords lesser chances of ‘screwing up’.
However, a good creative and digital agency is one, which takes risks, has conviction over its creative strategy, and convinces the client that this can be a newer, more challenging, and radical way forward. CEOs and Creative Directors of agencies keep thinking- why couldn’t we do this. Why didn’t we think of this? You might have, had you listened to the junior copywriter who suggested this, and you turned him down.
Social Media Agencies need to state working on their story-telling process. A good social media post does not exist in isolation. It has a past, a present, and is linked to the future. If you want to make your brand relatable, credible, and honest, you need to have a strong narrative of the brand you are representing.
People are interested in knowing who you are as a brand. A brand has become an autonomous individual entity, having a distinct personality of its own. In this changed era of informal, unofficial conversations and dialogues, a brand, which does not strike the right chord with audiences, will wither away on social media.
Authenticity is the biggest takeaway in advertising and marketing in 2021. Right from the brand, to its products and services, to its employees, people want to know everything about them. Gone are the days when a hero product was enough to win people over. In 2021, changed circumstances necessitate brand’s increase their social offerings, Brand Reputation on Social Media, display their work, their team, and build meaningful and successful relationships.
Original content is the best mechanism to build trust if you are a brand. Shutterstock or Image Bazaar images will not cut it anymore! Agencies should start suggesting photo-shoots, video-shoots, and strong and original content creation.
This requires building new verticals like the Photography Department and the Video Department. However, as an agency, these verticals will help you put forward a better story for your clients and the brands you are servicing.
Marketing and advertising in the digital eco-system is a constantly evolving medium. What works today might get redundant tomorrow, and what was not working tomorrow, might become relevant today. As creative agencies constantly fight to keep themselves updated with the latest technologies, happenings, and global trends, they need to start hiring people who invest more and more time in doing research.
Agencies and brands need to start relating to their audiences more. You would be surprised by the number of times I have found how even Brand Managers do not know their brands or their target audiences. As a creative agency, you need to own the brand, be an extension of it, and feel as closely attached to the brand as the brand’s founder or CEO.
If brands and agencies utilize the Social Media Best Practices for 2021, chances are that they would be in a much better position than those agencies and brands that kept stubborn, and in time became antiquated.