If 2020 has taught us anything as social media marketers, it’s adaptability. The plans you had for your 2020 marketing may have had to be adjusted, put on hold or scrapped altogether. Now, as you create a 2021 marketing strategy, you might be wondering how to approach an uncertain future.
Rather than get overwhelmed at the thought of creating a 2021 marketing plan, look to the lessons learned from 2020. The consumer behaviors we’re seeing today on social media provide a good idea of what to expect in 2021 and post-COVID, whenever that day comes.
By looking closely at how consumers are engaging on social media, you can predict how they’ll behave in the coming year. And while we always recommend doing your own research related to your particular industry, the following predictions should serve as a good starting point. Using these predictions, you can begin formulating a 2021 marketing strategy and prepare for whatever lies ahead.
Another caveat: These predictions are always subject to change based on unforeseen circumstances. Keep an eye on the trends as we move into the final days of the election, the colder days of winter and flu season coinciding with COVID, and any local weather events that could impact buying.
Consumers Are Planning for Better Days Ahead
The panic buying of toilet paper, groceries, hand sanitizer and other essentials we saw early in the pandemic have subsided to a degree. Although we’re still seeing lines to get into some grocery stores and some shelves emptier than others, we’re also seeing the sentiments shift on social media.
People who had to postpone their weddings, travel plans and other events are now thinking beyond the pandemic. Rather than stock up on endless supplies of paper goods, they’re thinking of ways to spend their money on fun.
They’re enjoying staycations and eyeing vacation home rentals and camping excursions to fill their calendars. With time on their hands and a desire to connect with nature, families are hitting the road.
Forbes adds, “An oversupply of oil is slashing gas prices and enticing more travelers to hit the road. Many people, especially families, are also looking toward nature, and some private and public campgrounds have seen an increase in visitors over the past few months.”
2021 marketing strategy: Adjust your messaging to address how you’re helping people make the most of pandemic times or look forward to happier days ahead. Do you own a tire shop? Tell customers you’re ready to help them get on the road. Flower shop? Show customers your beautiful wedding bouquets. Use language that inspires positivity and makes your followers feel optimistic for the future.
Recommended resource: Rallio Local for custom, local content with spot-on messaging
Contactless Is Here to Stay
We’ll continue to see a rise in contact-free options for making reservations, ordering food, checking in, shopping for goods and services, and earning loyalty rewards. By eliminating common touchpoints, businesses are providing a clean, safe, convenient way to carry out tasks that previously required much more hands-on interaction.
The cost of implementing these new technologies is an upfront expense that may prove to be a burden for some businesses. However, this is a necessary expenditure if you want to survive and thrive in 2021. Consumers now expect there to be contact-free and ecommerce options if they’re going to give you their business.
2021 marketing strategy: Implement touch-free and ecommerce options if you haven’t already. Share what you’re doing on social media to let your followers know how to take advantage of these technologies.
Recommended resource: The Free Website Guys for a beautifully designed, ecommerce-enabled website built for you totally free — yes, free. No credit card required.
No Moment Is Too Small
While people were watching the moments tick by at home, they also started to make those moments count. From breaking out Halloween decorations early to supporting local bakeries on National Dessert Day, consumers are looking for reasons to celebrate.
2021 marketing strategy: Step up your marketing around everyday celebrations to help your followers find some joy at home. Additionally, dedicate extra planning for the traditional holidays that are coming. People will likely be shopping online in record numbers this holiday season and starting their gift-buying research early.
NetImperative notes, “July (along with August and September) has one of the highest rates of UGC interaction, highlighting that shoppers are engaging with customer reviews, photos, and questions and answers as they research gifts online.”
Recommended resource: Facebook IQ holiday marketing guide
Read more: Planning for a Christmas like no other
Customer Service Is Paramount
Social media is not only a social platform, but also a customer service channel. People are routinely turning to a brand’s social media pages to air concerns, ask questions and learn more about the business.
2021 marketing strategy: Respond to every review, comment, inbox message and other social interaction. Treat social media as an extension of your customer support team.
Recommended resource: Rallio Local for responding to all of the above on your behalf, ensuring nothing slips through the cracks.
Doing Good Translates to Good Business
More than ever, customers are interested in seeing brands participate in initiatives that serve the greater good. From advocating for social justice to providing resources during the pandemic, businesses have stepped in and stepped up — and consumers are taking notice.
As Inc.com puts it, “Nine in 10 Americans expect companies to do more than make a profit. Is your company taking action to build a more just, sustainable, and prosperous world?”
If you’re shying away from heart-centric endeavors, just remember that your followers may feel differently. Deloitte reports: “Executives also told us they’re prioritizing improving efficiency and productivity over more human-centric initiatives such as strengthening customer engagement and increasing the company’s impact on society. But when we polled consumers, they told us that these are precisely the types of actions they expect from brands. More than a quarter of consumers said they walked away from companies they perceived to be acting self-interestedly.
“The message is clear: Efficiency may be paramount to survival, but at a time when people are demanding more from businesses, marketing post COVID-19 is about creating an authentic human connection.”
2021 marketing strategy: Consider ways you can be a force for good in the coming year. Define how your marketing can communicate your desire to be of service and help others.
Recommended resource: Deloitte’s 2021 Global Marketing Trends
Stay Flexible With 2021 Marketing Plans
The past year reminds us that being ready to change on a dime is critical to surviving as a small business. Keep an eye on your own customer base, their likes and dislikes on social media, and their needs and wants going into 2021. Be ready to change course if you’re thrown another curveball.
Oh, and stay positive. Be prepared, but don’t panic. And that, perhaps, is the best advice of all as we round out this strange, chaotic year.