We are now 5 months into 2021 and from a digital marketing standpoint, there’s been a lot of adjustments to make and lessons to learn.
In 2020 we singled out employee advocacy, video ads, content personalization, livestreaming and live video content as the key trends to watch out for amongst brands looking to stand out.
The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic further alienated traditional marketing-backed activities such as physical events and in-person activations, making digital communication channels the most ideal for targeting prospective clients.
What should we therefore expect in 2021?
Well, here’s a few thoughts and observations from us at Shupav Digital:
- Increased social media commerce
Most of us thought, and rightfully so, that social media is all about brand visibility and engagement. These are the lucky ones. Most company boards are yet to fully appreciate the role social media continues to play in the buyers’ journey.
With the fast-growing young and sophisticated target market, the need for instant information is becoming ever more important. This need for immediate information is also backed by immediate decision making pertaining purchase of the products and or services.
Social media is, therefore, no longer just about discovery and engagement; it is also about triggering and supporting the purchase decision for an increasing number of retail brands.
2. Virtual events and live interactions
As already indicated in the introduction, the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it the need for brands to adapt, fast! Virtual events and activations have also come in handy, enabling brands to keep their brand and products’ conversations going. We expect this to become a mainstay for brands as it offers convenience for the prospective buyers.
Potential and existing clients can now engage their brands from the convenience of their homes, offices and even on transit. This further boosts the reach for these brands, while reducing the costs associated with facilitating physical events and activations.
3. Brand advocacy
Whereas in 2020 we talked about employee advocacy, brand advocates can either be employees or non-employees. What links them is the passion they have to see the brand succeed. This differs slightly from influencer marketing which generally focusses on paid efforts to drive traffic to the right audience and driving conversions for the brand.
Brand advocates are actual fans/lovers of the brand who create a sense of brand authenticity, sharing personal experiences with the brand. A brand advocate has therefore either actively benefited from the brand and intends to share their brand experience story or knows someone else who has benefited from the brand’s offering.
In the case where the brand advocate enters into a paid partnership with the firm, it is important that this is exclusively highlighted in their (brand advocates’) messaging. This helps reinforce trust with the target audience and strengthen brand authenticity.
4. Increased user-generated content (UGC)
User-generated content (UGC) refers to any content (videos, images, reviews, copy, etc.) created organically by clients, employees, fans, partners, or influencers of a given brand and shared on their personal digital platforms – social media, tabloids, vlogs, websites, et.al.
The affiliated brands will often reshare the UGC on their social media platforms, chat platforms, and websites. This trend has been on the rise in 2021 especially in the entertainment industry, with many mainstream content creators such as musicians resharing content created by their fans on their social media.
The immense growth of social media platforms allowing in-app content creation [such as TikTok and Instagram (Reels + Stories)] has seen many brands benefit from UGC, with most of them opting to cross-share the content across all their social media platforms.
User-generated content (UGC) will go a long way in delivering connective/relatable content, strengthening online communities for the brands, and saving the brands a lot of money that would have otherwise been use to buy digital media and deliver similar interactions or visibility/impressions.
5. Conversational marketing
Everyone wants to feel special and most brands are catching up with this need amongst their prospects and clients. Digital marketing is shifting from brands talking about themselves and their products, to creating conversations around the needs of the prospective clients and how the brand’s products and/or services help meet these needs.
Conversational marketing facilitates two-way feedback between clients and brands – this is crucial in designing products that adapt to the changing needs of clients. With conversational marketing, brands get to understand processes that can be shortened and made worth the prospective client’s time. Additionally, brands get to understand what about their brand/products resonate most with their target market. This informs direction for future marketing campaigns in addition to enabling co-creation of the brand/products using client feedback.
Conversational marketing is also identified from the language used in the content brands post on their social media platforms. Is the message final, or is it put out to trigger conversation amongst you followers?
Prospective clients are looking for authenticity in the brands they choose to get into business with. Authenticity builds trust which not only brings paying clients, but also makes them advocates of the brand. Clients who become advocates of the brand will recommend the brand and its products to their immediate friends and family. Additionally, such clients are very easy to retain, which ensures repeat business for the brand.
Let us know what you think of the article in the comments section. Which other 2021 digital marketing trends in Kenya would you have liked to see in our list?
This article was written by Victor Ooko, a marketing and communication strategist at Shupav. Email Victor via firstname.lastname@example.org for a free audit of your business’s digital marketing or contact us via the form below: