Since well before the pandemic started, but especially over the past 12 months, whenever I’ve spoken with a CEO or small business owner about the digital transformation of his or her company, time and again I’ve had to remind them how important social media is.
Yes, this is largely an issue of demographics, as younger entrepreneurs are most savvy about social media. It’s usually boomers who don’t get how crucial it is to be on Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter, even though they spend a good bit of time each day liking photos of their grandkids in their children’s Facebook news feeds.
Even if your brand has a good website and a robust email distribution list, social media is still the crest of the mightiest wave. There’s no better way to expand your audience and find new customers.
As we enter the third decade of the 21st century, take a look at some of the statistics Backlinko compiled for 2020:
- Social platforms almost tripled their total number of users between 2010 and 2020 – 970 million in 2010 to about 3.81 billion in 2020 (out of a global population of 7.7 billion)
- Out of 3.96 billion social media users, 99% access the websites or apps through a mobile device
- Globally, the average time a person spends on social media per day is 2 hours 24 minutes
- Facebook is the leading social network at 2.7 billion monthly active users, followed by YouTube (2 billion) and WhatsApp (2 billion), Facebook Messenger (1.3 billion) and WeChat (1.2 billion)
- 70% of U.S. residents or 231.7 million people have social network accounts
- In 2020, the average person had 8.6 social media accounts
This is quite a head of steam and a dream come true for digital marketers. The question is, how do we capitalize on this juggernaut? What’s up for this year and what’s the best way to leverage it?
The Forbes Communications Council published a great article at the end of January, “How To Leverage 14 Social Media Marketing Trends In 2021” that compiled insights from its members. Here are my four key takeaways:
Social Commerce Comes Alive
People are on social media constantly for entertainment, information and communication. Your social media activities are crucial to brand recognition. Make sure you’re consistently branded across all channels, and that you’re using an app like Hootsuite or Semrush to create an effective calendar. Your goal here is to become part of the atmosphere. Let consumers breathe your brand.
The Face Behind the Facebook Post
Ever since the late, great Lee Iacocca became the face of General Motors, and the fictional Bartles & Jaymes became the faces of California’s poshest wine coolers, we love it when our brand’s stories are biographical. The Internet is the great equalizer, and we love to see the people behind the products and services we love.
With the exception of M&Ms – we love those giant M&Ms (they’re like chocolaty Mr. Potato Heads) – they’re folks just like us. The best advocates for a brand are often the people who make its products and provide its services, as passionate about the brand as its customers are. And you can bring this to your customer service strategy: your customers should be able to reach you via social media and receive quick and meaningful responses to their queries and suggestions from an actual person. Don’t just maintain a presence; be present.
You’re telling your brand’s story across multiple channels. Make sure it’s consistent in terms of images and messaging. You’re probably already there, but it’s always good to check in and make sure everything is up to date.
2021 is a great time to start thinking about podcasts and videos, which aren’t expensive to produce and continue to gain massive popularity. Both can be shared across all of your channels. With your videos, remember to make sure they’re captioned: According to a 2019 Verizon Media study, 69% of consumers watch video with the sound off.
Put Social Responsibility in Your Social Media
One positive to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic is an increased focus on corporate social responsibility. We’ve all come to see how interconnected we are and how much help we can actually give each other.
This has also taken hold at a corporate level, and consumers want to see brands doing some sort of good, such as sponsorships, donations and carbon footprint reduction. Your customers want to align themselves with a brand that makes a real contribution. It doesn’t matter what your brand is doing, what’s important is doing good and using your social media channels to promote it.
The best for you, gentle reader, is to do an audit of what you did last year, figure out what worked and do more of it. The best trend to follow is success, right?
Scott Hirsch is CEO of Media Direct