Hootsuite, a social media management platform, recently released their fifth annual report on the latest global trends in social media, “Social Trends 2021.” The in-depth report reflects on where social media is headed in 2021, especially given the changes in consumer behavior that occurred in 2020 due to the pandemic and other global unrest. By focusing on “discovery, connection and entertainment,” the Hootsuite study found that advertisers can expand their reach to consumers and grow as brands by tapping into the resources that social media platforms offer.
7 Social Media Facts That Can Help Advertisers
As ad dollars increasingly shift to digital and mobile platforms, advertisers need to maximize the value of social media. And, as the pandemic rolls on, brands are going to need to continue to be both agile and reliable in order to build loyalty with consumers. Social media is likely to play a pivotal role in creating and maintaining connections with consumers in the coming year. Here are seven quick takes from the Hootsuite Social Trends 2021 report. (Respondents include 11,189 marketing professionals.)
1. Digital Advertisers Rely On Trusted Social Media Platforms
Leaning into familiar favorites and platforms that grew despite a difficult year, 60% of surveyed marketing professionals “are planning to increase their Instagram budget, and almost half are planning to do the same for Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.” Instagram added the most users in Q3 2020, and its “advertising reach grew by 7.1%” during the same period. (Interestingly, despite huge popularity in 2020, TikTok is not a priority for advertisers.)
2. Customer Acquisition Is A Top Priority For Social Media Advertising
The upheaval of 2020 slowed business growth for many brands and turned customer acquisition into a critical goal for advertisers this coming year. “73% of all marketers ranked ‘increased acquisition of new customers’ as their top outcome for social in 2021, compared to only 46% last year, marking a 58% year-over-year increase,” according to the Hootsuite survey. Some insiders warn that this narrow objective could negatively impact innovation in consumer experiences, and disappointing experiences may have a long-term impact on loyalty and brand engagement. Social media advertising can be very effective for scaling customer acquisition, but digital advertisers should remember to consider long-term brand and consumer value as campaigns are built.
3. Ecommerce In Social Media Delivers Sales And Connections
Ecommerce will continue to boom in 2021. Livestream and short form video, both of which rely on social media platforms, are going to see increased growth in 2021, offering digital advertisers more opportunities for direct access to consumers. Multiple consumer touchpoints are important for brand growth and engagement. And, by putting shopping links into social media advertising campaigns, including through live and virtual events, advertisers can reach more consumers across more channels.
4. User Generated Content (UGC) And Influencer Marketing Are Popular Social Media Strategies
Many younger consumers prefer to get recommendations from peers and influencers than directly from brands, making UGC and influencer marketing popular choices for advertisers trying to grow their social media presences. “If you don’t have the impulse moments at the checkout anymore, where people grab something spontaneously off the shelf, recommendations from trusted creators can become that source of inspiration,” said Jim Habig, global head of business marketing at Pinterest.
5. Consumers Want Brands That Listen — Social Media Is Great For Listening
The rise of multiple crises in 2020 required advertisers to quickly calibrate proper responses to avoid being overly sentimental, inauthentic, tone deaf or ignorant of the many elephants in the room. For digital advertisers, understanding when and where to become part of bigger conversations, social issues or viral moments is pivotal for gaining consumer trust and boosting engagement. Taking the time to practice effective social listening to find out what consumers want can help create understanding of consumer desires and interests. According to the Hootsuite report, “In 2021, 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 instead of trying to lead it, creating content that breaks through the wall of indifference.”
6. Social Media Isn’t Just For Young People
The move online for consumers in recent years includes Baby Boomers, many of whom embraced ecommerce and other internet usage in 2020 out of necessity and are now likely to keep up with their new online habits. Hootsuite notes “In 2021, marketers cannot afford to overlook older generations on social media. By using smart segmentation and thoughtful representation, marketers that include Baby Boomers in their digital strategies can leapfrog those still stuck in stereotypes and capitalize on this growing technological enthusiasm.”
7. Advertisers Should Increasingly Work To Integrate Consumer Identity And Social Media Use
Although advertising on social media has grown to be indispensable for many brands, understanding who is responding to ads within social media platforms continues to vex digital advertisers. Hootsuite found, in a separate study on social transformation, that “54% [of 2,162 marketers and executives] aren’t confident that their social media followers are more valuable customers than those they don’t engage with.” However, as social media platforms get more sophisticated and data integration becomes more commonplace, advertisers are finding out more about the consumers that engage with their products and services. Hootsuite saw “a correlation between more mature social advertising practices – such as using lookalike audiences, building custom audiences, and syncing data to CRMs – and confidence in social ROI.”
Leveraging Smart Social Media Strategies
As with all advertising strategies, advertisers that deploy social media campaigns must be true to their company ethos, tone and tenor. Any kind of inauthentic outreach or forced attempt to reach new consumers will fall flat. Instead brands should find connections with their consumers, by listening, spending time getting to know them and not being afraid to engage the right new audiences. Many of the strategies that worked in 2020 will continue to be successful in 2021, but brands have the opportunity to mature their social media efforts, increase loyalty and scale engagement that leads to increased revenues.
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