Social media, its features, its trends, and the appetite of its users seem to change on a daily, if not hourly basis. Keeping customers interested in your brand, products, and/or services can seem like an ever-running treadmill, but it’s one worth staying on and keeping steady at. Staying up-to-date and relevant can be difficult, but 7 social media trends are unfolding this year that businesses should at least investigate to remain involved. Read on for our top seven, alongside some great customer engagement ideas that are sure to drive excitement, interest, and commerce.
Increasing Conversational (and Current) Brand Dialogue
Brand presence is, rightly, focused on driving brand awareness and conversions – but it doesn’t need to be all plugs. Clever examples of conversational brand presence on social media are widely shared and viewed favourably by the public. Examples include Tesco encouraging shoppers to visit their local pubs once they could re-open and Brewdog and Aldi sharing ‘banter’ over own-brand beers. Showing the human side to a brand is fun, but it also reiterates nicely the tone of voice, values, and personality of the business behind it.
Ranking Reviews from Real People
Multi-retailer online shops have seen a vast increase in false reviews, and these are continuing to be traded on social media channels; often with free products given for good ratings. Customers are smart to this and can recognise it quickly, lessening their trust in brands as a result. Instead, consider opting for a third-party review platform that verifies customers before allowing them to post. This demonstrates trustworthiness and authenticity and gives peace of mind to those looking for information, reviews, and references.
Extending Customer Experience to Social Media too
Social commerce and the ability to shop at product-based businesses are beginning to grow traction on Facebook and Instagram. If relevant, integrate your business’ e-commerce platforms into the sites as required to deliver a seamless customer experience with your brand that doesn’t even require a click-through to your site! Social commerce is usually considerably easier than a full online shop, so those with product-based businesses are likely to find their levels of small one-off purchases increase with it as a result.
Keeping Videos Accessible
Video content has been growing in popularity for years now, and with the explosion of TikTok and then Instagram Reels in 2020, it’s no surprise that it shows no signs of stopping just yet. However, the lack of accessibility options with video content has caused outcry across social media platforms. Instagram is now introducing automatic video captioning to help increase inclusivity, but it still isn’t quite perfect – so ensure all video content is properly captioned and, in a font, and colour that’s easily read to stay accessible to all of your potential audience.
Livestreaming soared in popularity through coronavirus lockdown periods as businesses sought to maintain and revive interest and engagement even when customers weren’t able to visit in person. Try ‘going live’ to show behind-the-scenes footage, hold Q&A sessions or even host an event such as a quiz, prize draw, or special guest interview for your audience.
Experiment with VR
People have never felt the need to get away and escape reality as much as they have during a global pandemic and well – who could blame them? COVID-19 restrictions have also seen virtual reality solutions begin to integrate with social media in the mainstream as consumers seek new experiences. Facebook Horizon is currently piloting virtual worlds with Oculus VR that allows users to play games together and so far, it appears to be going well. If VR is relevant to your brand, now is the time to ‘strike while the iron is hot’ and give it a go.
Market with a purpose
For all the negatives we’ve seen over the last 12 months, some good things have come out of these tumultuous times. More than ever, communities are working together, and society is encouraging and rewarding acts of kindness. 77% of consumers say they’d like to see brands acting more positively to support society, and expect the tone of marketing to change to fit this new, kind, context. Marketing with a purpose and embarking on initiatives for the good of both the company and the environment it operates within is likely to be well received and work not just as an advertising exercise but a good PR communication, too.
It’s true: social media is changing, society is changing, and consumerism is changing. The best things brands can do to adapt to the ‘new normal’ is to keep an eye and ear open to what customers (both potential and existing) want and roll with it. Customer engagement is getting more involved, more creative, and best of all – more fun!