Social media has always been an evolving marketing tool, but especially in the COVID era. We’ve been spending so much time at home or social distancing, and as a result social media has become an even more relied-upon method of communication and marketing.
Due to the influx of virtual communicators, social media has been changing, altering, and growing faster than usual, adding new features, platforms, and unwritten rules. According to the Digital Branding Institute, 95% of millennials, 87% of people aged 30-44, and 70% of people aged 45-60 expect brands to have a Facebook presence. If you want your brand to continue prospering in this day and age, being on social media is imperative.
Just maintaining a social media presence is not enough, though – you have to be strategic about what you’re putting out into the world. As Q4 is beginning and you’re starting to build out your social strategies for 2021, there are many new challenges and variables you need to consider and begin preparing for.
Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself
As always, you need to start by reviewing. To move forward, you have to learn from the successes and failures of previous years and adjust your strategy accordingly.
You should perform a social audit of your accounts on all social media platforms to gather information about your performance to date, identify your strengths and weaknesses and make adjustments as you head into the new year.
Here are some key questions to ask yourself:
- What social channel was most effective in 2020?
- What approach did you take on that platform to reach your audience, and how can you implement it on other platforms as well?
- What types of content received the most engagement?
- What types of content drove the most traffic to your website?
- What campaigns were effective and why?
After asking yourself these questions and determining the answers, see if you need to adjust your social strategy in order to achieve your business goals or meet deadlines. Once you’ve done a deep dive into your current social media, you can move to the next step of your 2021 planning.
Trends and Topics to Get Ahead of
Now, it’s time to build out your strategy. There are a few trending topics that may need to be included in your 2021 strategy, to remain relevant and to prevent potential mishaps, which are easier to occur when communicating on such widely used, high-speed channels.
Some new aspects to keep in mind in 2021 are:
Fake News and Controversial Conversations:
You need to put standards in place for the articles, news, and sources that you are sharing or promoting on social media. The current news is more opinionated and biased than ever, so you should be fact-checking everything you put out to the public.
Next, you need to determine how you want to position your company regarding current affairs and the political climate. Do you want to be vocal about political matters? Do you want to use your own brand voice for this or do you want to share outside content that aligns with your company values? Do you want to remain neutral? Do you want to avoid it altogether?
We are in a chaotic time due to the election season, but many of the issues we face currently will continue well past November 3rd. Social justice is something that we must continue fighting for until real change is made. Women’s rights are something that we must continue fighting for, and decisions past the election, such as the appointment of justices for the Supreme Court, may bring more controversial topics into conversation. You need a strategy for addressing the issues our country faces, while representing your brand values. Every brand has a platform, and customers expect you to use those platforms for good.
- What are your company’s values, and will they take precedence over customer retention in certain cases?
- Will you post, share, or retweet about current events and news?
- Will you keep a neutral tone when posting or engaging with others about news and politics, or will you share your opinions?
- What guidelines will you put in place to ensure that the content you share is factual?
- How will you stay informed about current events in order to make sure your posts aren’t poorly timed or seemingly tone-deaf?
- Will your customer base be expecting your company to speak out about certain issues?
There are pros and cons with any route you may take to address issues in this climate, but you’ll need to assess your company values and target audience to decide how to move forward.
Cancel Culture and Crisis Planning:
The term “cancel culture” has been a hot topic lately, and you don’t want to ignore the conversation around it. When a brand is deemed “canceled,” it means they have a crisis on their hands.
Because social media allows us to communicate to a much wider audience than ever before, you need to have guidelines in place for the content you’re putting on display.
Though posts cannot be taken back, even after deleting, you can still manage a crisis and come back from it – you just need to have a solid crisis management plan in place. Knowing when to own up to your mistakes and apologize for them is key in implementing an effective crisis management plan.
- What measures will you take to prevent a crisis from happening?
- What guidelines will you set for your employees on social media, in order to place the company in the best light?
- How will you ensure a timely response in the case of a crisis?
- What actions will you take to ensure customer satisfaction?
- What will your audience expect to hear from you in the case of a crisis?
- How will you show your audience that they are heard and acknowledged?
- Who will speak on behalf of the company in the case of a crisis?
The “cancellation” of a brand or company can be seen frequently on social media, through trending hashtags and viral posts bashing them. It has been shown that, depending on the severity of the crisis and circumstances surrounding it, the public tends to respond better when the company addresses them directly, quickly, and apologetically. Owning up to the actions of your company and sincerely apologizing for them is your best bet to win back your audience and brand reputation. Just make sure you are following up on your apology by taking actions to repair trust and ensure it doesn’t happen again.
The Unknown Availability of TikTok:
Is it here to stay? Depending on your audience, TikTok could be a vital platform for your business’s social marketing success.
There has been a lot of buzz about the growing platform and its existence in the United States, so you need to be staying up to date on the decisions regarding its permanence. The potential TikTok ban has been pushed back for now, with the nationwide preliminary injunction granted by the U.S. District Court on September 27th.
New social media platforms are being developed and growing constantly, but there are many that seem to be here to stay. Knowing your audience and buyer persona is key in determining which social platforms to put focus on. Make sure you are staying up to date on your target audience’s habits and behaviors regarding social media channels. If your target audience is habitually spending time on TikTok, the app could be a key channel to reach them on – as long as it stays accessible to those in your target markets.
- Which social media channels does your target audience frequent the most?
- What types of content do they go on these channels to consume?
- How will you adjust your content to each channel, to match your target’s intentions of being on the app and what is your business goal of having a presence on each channel?
- If you are new to TikTok, how do you want to present your company to users?
- What types of videos could you post to increase the chances of gaining engagement from your target audience?
- What are the risks associated with marketing on TikTok?
Never Guarantee a Viral Moment:
People often get confused about viral posts, because we see them constantly and the only thing they have in common is that they go viral without expectation. In a public relations or marketing agency, it can be difficult to explain the uncertainty of virality to clients or your own company’s leadership team. It is important to know that a viral moment cannot be guaranteed because it is solely based on how the public responds to and engages with the content.
Your social media strategy should not be based around “going viral” because you cannot always predict how users will respond to your content – it is up to their interpretation of it.
Posts that gain traction are often random or completely unplanned, making it difficult to project the outcome of any posts on social media. The public may latch on to a post that you never expected to be seen by more than 10 people. A post that you planned thoroughly and executed perfectly might completely flop.
In the rare event you do have a viral moment, how do you follow that up? It’s not enough to have one viral moment and then ride its coattails. In order to keep your audience engaged, it’s imperative that you remain consistent and follow that post up with more engaging, creative, and unique content to keep your audience coming back for more.
Did You Get All That?
The list of trends and topics to look out for only continues to grow, but don’t let it deter you. Social media plays an important role in communication, marketing, news, and change-making. It is definitely something that you want to be a part of. As long as you stay true to your brand values and listen to your audience, social media will only propel you forward.
For more information on creating your 2021 social strategy or to see how BAERING can help you improve your social media marketing initiatives, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.