Oh, what a year! There are no words to describe 2020 accurately. However, for any adverse situation, there are positives to be found! Social media usage increased dramatically during the pandemic, which has empowered businesses to connect with their audiences online more.
So what online marketing trends have emerged this year? What can we expect from the New Year? I had the pleasure of speaking with five of my most valued marketing colleagues to get their insights into the situation. Here is what they had to say:
Short Form Video Content Rules…
“In the age of content! Content! Content! Short, engaging, catchy videos are de rigueur. TikTok especially realises this and has invested heavily in editing software being available inside the app. A day spent in a TikTok vacuum, should you have the stomach for it, will tell you all you need to know about current trends and which style to create your engaging content in (and ads). The same can be said for Instagram Reels, a combined force which has contributed to the rapid decline in popularity of Snapchat – who’d have seen that coming two years ago?
The current podcast revolution is still in its embryonic, land-grab stages in terms of creation and consumption. This gives hope to those who prefer to digest long-form, in-depth content, as opposed to the monotonous abyss of anxiety-inducing disposable ‘like-bait’ currently on offer from TikTok, Reels and Snap. Even Twitter and LinkedIn now include Stories features.
For now and into 2021 it seems we’ll have more of the Selfie-Ring-lit skits that have dominated the last 12 months. This begs the next question; ‘What’s next’? Who knows for sure?! – that’s why we love digital marketing! Adapt or die. “
Ben Allen, BAM Music Marketing
“I think a big trend in corporate video for 2021 will (or ‘should’) see businesses putting forward their people, values and history. With all the changes going on this year, people want to feel connected to the companies they choose to work with or buy from. I believe audiences, now more than ever, will want to feel like they ‘know, like and trust’ people and firms they choose to do business with.”
Rhys Jones, Blueberry Pictures
“What I hope to see is brands continuing the trend of humanising their communications on social media, especially on LinkedIn. If there’s one tiny positive to take from the pandemic, it’s the way that brands have paused the overly promotional posts, and stood up to say, ‘this year has been hard on our people and us, but this is what we are doing to support them’. We are all looking to buy from brands who show us their authentic values, and reveal the people and teams behind them – more of this on social media please!”
Alison Wise, OML Media
Authentic Imagery & The Rise Of Cinemagraphs…
“The use of photography to market your business will see 2 key trends emerge in 2021. The first key trend is authentic imagery. This is not about staging or high-end editing; this is about the real-life of your business and processes – Why you do what you do and who you help and support.
Secondly, I’ve witnessed a rise in cinemagraphs. These are still images with a small area of movement. This could be steam coming off a coffee cup or a water feature running in a garden design project. What’s great about this type of imagery/video is that it has the power to grab the attention of your audience, even if it’s just a few seconds more, which increases engagement.
Gary Cooper, Square Freedom Photography
SEO Stays Steady…
“One of the most important things you can do if you own a small business is to ensure your Google My Business listing is verified and kept current. For B2C businesses that draw customers primarily on a local level, the Google My Business listing provides valuable information about your hours (particularly important of late during Covid-19), services and geographical location. It’s one of the key factors in search and it’s still as important as ever.
Another trend that remains set to continue with gusto is the acquisition of high- quality backlinks. It’s one of Google’s favourite and most influential, ranking factors and as Google continues to evolve, it remains favourable to quality over quantity. What are ‘quality’ backlinks? Prioritise the most relevant, powerful links from authoritative (trusted) websites and you won’t go far wrong.”
Nicola Younger, Make Me Local
Paid Live Streaming & Micro-Marketing Explode…
I love all of these insights from my colleagues. But what do I think? Well, 2020 has forced businesses to innovate online for survival. Most social media platforms have adapted very quickly to meet this demand. Instagram and Facebook have enhanced their e-commerce capability to empower small business owners to sell their products more seamlessly online. Facebook quickly introduced “Facebook Rooms”, and HouseParty became a “thing” to cater to the demand for personal video conferencing. Facebook has now also introduced a paid version of its Events page to rival Eventbrite.
In 2021, we will see social media platforms continue to adapt to the online demands of our new pandemic world. A world where paid live streaming becomes the norm as businesses offer hybrid models of their events, classes, lessons and business meetings. Messaging apps will also continue to rise in popularity as the demand for one-to-one connections continues. I’m very interested to see how Facebook develops WhatsApp for business to cater to the popularity in micro-marketing, and where the rise of short-form video content will take us.
What trends do you predict for 2021? I’d love to know.