How 2020 Shaped The Social Media Landscape For 2021

  For many ringing in the new year, the excitement to dispel the old year outweighed the enthusiasm for the new one. Our country experienced tremendous hardship economically, medically, and individually. But where there is suffering, there are survivors who see adversity as an opportunity to innovate. We’ve all become experts at social parkour, jumping from one challenge to the next in the swiftest way possible. In the old advertising landscape, corporations acted in unison, all offering the same press releases in response to social events. In 2020, social media changed all that. Corporate approaches to social commentary were widely-varied, ushering in a new era of unique brand personality. Brand voices are now as distinct as human voices; no two are the same. Social media is the first line of defense to a company’s brand character and the swiftest form of communication that a company has with its audience. Being able to balance expediency with substance is the mark of a great social media guru. Here are three things social media managers learned in 2020. 


  1. Trade in customer experience for quick acquisition.

    Traditional methods for building customer loyalty through exceptional customer experience are not possible in the new distanced merchant environment. You can’t try on your clothes, you can’t have a food sample, and you can’t even get into a conversation with an employee at close range. These used to drive our purchases and create a sense of fondness (and eventually loyalty) to our favorite brands. While we can’t replicate these organic experiences digitally, we can shift focus. Acquiring new customers and holding their attention spans will be critical for increasing your return on investment.


    In social media, “less is more” thinking will defeat you. Multichannel campaigns have higher returns than single media ones. This is also true for features. Use every feature available to you. This will improve your relationship with algorithms and help to replace the in-store experience. For example, use live streams to show off products. Scrolling through product search results isn’t a good substitute for fun window-shopping with friends. Inspire users to buy things by showcasing them with a charismatic showman. 


  1. Slow and steady wins the race.

    Addressing a global pandemic and a rocky political climate while still prioritizing sales was a huge challenge for brands last year. Brands that chose to center themselves in important conversations were the ones that missed the mark. People were seeking to connect with each other rather than companies during times of crisis, and brands who ignored this came across as insensitive and selfish. Brands that stepped back from advertising to listen intently to their audience were the ones that we’re able to connect in a meaningful way once they returned. The lesson to be learned is that saying the right thing should be prioritized rather than saying something first. Even if self-promotion seems critical to your business, there are times when it could backfire. Don’t be afraid to hold back until the correct narrative is clear. Customers admire restraint and integrity. 


    When Nathan Apodaca went viral for his skateboarding TikTok video set to the calming ambiance of Fleetwood Mac and while enjoying swigs of Ocean Spray cranberry juice, Ocean Spray took over a week to address the viral moment. After taking the time to conduct “social media listening,” they used the moment to give back to Apodaca rather than soak in the free publicity. Ocean Spray sent him a new truck and a supply of cranberry juice, much to the delight of TikTok users (a notoriously hard audience for corporations to win over). They even got their CEO to recreate the viral video, adding a moment of lightness to an otherwise heavy atmosphere. 


  1. Stop underestimating baby boomers once and for all.

Brands initially considered social media the direct link to Millenials and Gen Z, leaving a generation of users (and potential customers) in the dark. According to Hootsuite’s Digital 2020 data report, 70% of internet users between 55 and 64 have bought something online in the past month. So why do marketers keep ignoring them? Ageism is a real issue manifested on social media through a constant lack of representation of older people in images. In 2021, neglecting to appeal to this older audience could mean being surpassed by brands not tied down by stereotypes. 

Merely including this demographic isn’t enough. Monolithic views of an entire generation are not rooted in reality. Not every boomer is a potential customer of your brand. Thoughtful segmentation of this demographic will lead to increased brand favorability. Instead of targeting audiences by age, try clustering them by shared passions. Facebook is the biggest platform for boomers, but Pinterest is the second-largest and offers a more valuable insight into all users’ interests. Assuming that boomers are elderly people incapable of exploring new things is a dated stereotype that is hurtful to a group that is perhaps suffering the most in this current situation. Compassionate creative can help us show a new world that is kinder to those over 50.


We do our homework. 

At The Ad Leaf, our social team is paying attention to the trends shaping the new-age media space. We scan the internet and analyze data so that we can pass those insights on to our clients and generate success both in terms of brand favorability and return on investment. 


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