Who could have ever predicted how 2020 would unfold? For many of us, it was a year we spent locked down at home for months. It was a year when new concepts like Zoom Happy Hour emerged, it was a year when all but the least tech-savvy amongst us adopted online behaviors to get together with friends, further our education, and of course, shop online. Nike CEO John Donahoe got it right, saying that “today’s consumer is digitally ground and simply won’t revert back.” Now, as we close 2020, based on the learnings from this year, what should social media marketers expect in 2021? Here are our three predictions:
1. Social Commerce Will Increase in 2021
This trend isn’t new, but it remains an area that few brands leverage successfully. Today’s modern consumer is predominantly digital and is purchasing online more than ever before.
If you want 2021 to be a year of growth, your business will need to make social commerce, conversational commerce or even live commerce a crucial part of your strategy. Social media platforms already provide the tools to manage the entire customer journey – from product discovery to post-purchase care, it’s paramount that businesses learn to take advantage of the reach and infrastructure that platforms have available.
This is important especially now when increasingly more purchases are made online. Emarketer is anticipating a further 34.8% rise in retail social commerce next year. If your business can learn how to make social commerce a part of your customer journey map today, you will safeguard the revenue of tomorrow.
2. Customer Service via Social Messaging Will Become a Standard in 2021
The global pandemic had a significant impact on how consumers engage with brands. It holds true for a multitude of areas, but it is particularly one type of experience that saw a rise this year – conversational messaging. Today, customer conversations have moved from traditional call centers and emails to social media and messaging apps. This is where customers spend their time and they expect brands to be there, too, responding to their questions without delay.
To meet customers expectations and manage the growing demand, businesses will be required to adopt a hybrid model of human agents working together with AI-powered social chatbots.
Conversational AI chatbots are already being used by businesses to help them instantly flag and answer the most frequently asked questions, regardless of volume, time, or language. This reduces the stress on the customer care team significantly, so that the more complex cases can be handed off to the customer care agent to be handled with their full attention.
3. Micro-Influencer Marketing Will Rise in 2021
Socialbakers conducted an in-depth analysis on the State of Influencer Marketing in 2020 to examine how the global pandemic was affecting the influencer industry. The data revealed that brands were turning towards smaller, niche influencers with dedicated followers who may offer great value for tighter marketing budgets. Nano and micro influencers emerged as a high-value resource, delivering higher impact without the higher cost of macro and celebrity influencers.
The US clothing brand Hanes ran an influencer campaign earlier in 2020 aimed to encourage people to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Using the hashtag #MaskAround, Hanes was able to extend its reach to younger audiences predominantly following influencers typically active on TikTok or Instagram. Econsultancy reported that nearly 61% of consumers aged 18 to 34 said that influencers did have an influence on their decision-making at some point.
Data from the Socialbakers report revealed that in 2020 more than 60% of brand collaborations with influencers were with influencers who had less than 50K followers. It’s a trend that’s likely to continue into 2021 as brands aim to deliver more personalized experiences to niche audiences.
Innovation certainly doesn’t end here. In 2021, we’ll see significant developments in all business areas that aim to understand, improve, and measure the customer experience on social media.
While the previous decade was the time when marketers came to grips with the new channels that their audiences moved to, this decade will be the time when we, as marketers, learn how to approach our audiences in a way that meets their expectations. Bad experiences will no longer be forgiven. This will define 2021.
Catch Yuval’s talk on marketing trends during the Socialbakers Engage Global event.