Pandemic driven business closures, budget cuts and sweeping changes in consumer habits have forced marketers to throw out their playbook, developing new strategies on the fly and pivoting from quarterly plans to going week by week.
Forced to make-do without access to production teams or facilities, marketers have embraced digital media in new and unique ways, placing even greater reliance on social media to reach consumers.
“We can’t go get images and shoot videos for most clients. This situation calls for a lot of virtual communication, both externally and internally,” one marketer explained in a whitepaper produced by Social Media Today. “Just got off of a two hour Zoom call during which we solely discussed social media!”
But will these strategies survive in a post-COVID world? What will the future look like for digital marketers?
Those are the questions Social Media Today put to its 1 million+ audience, finding that many of the experiments the pandemic has forced upon marketers will become — in fact are already becoming — best practices.
Among the six trends Social Media Today’s readers identified is the rising value of social media jobs and creativity skills.
“Out of all marketing strategies, I believe that social media will be the main one to thrive in the post-COVID world,” said author and digital marketing consultant Lilach Bullock.
“For one thing,” she said, “It’s easier and cheaper for brands to leverage social media and for another, people all over the world are spending more time indoors than outdoors – and therefore, more time online.”
Her view was echoed by Esa Mbouw, deputy head of business administration at Swiss German University. “I see a huge positive shift towards the digital world post-COVID,” he says. “People of all backgrounds are adapting to the digital lifestyle and I predict they will be craving for more social media content.”
Data from The Harris Poll tells us Americans are already consuming more social media than before the virus outbreak. Harris found half of all consumers were using more social media with the largest increase (64%) among those 35-49.
As the world continues to open up, the time spent online will inevitably decline, but almost certainly not to previous levels. Exposed now to a broader range of content, consumers will want more. Marketers will fill that demand, Social Media Today found, with even greater and more innovative use of video.
But not just any content, say marketers. They predict brand communication will be more authentic, tinged with a sense of social consciousness that will be empathetic and compassionate and influenced by greater listening to what consumers are saying.
“Social media content will be created that better engages the consumer — asking questions, sharing polls, and hosting mini-events like Twitter chats and movie watch-along nights that are relevant to their industry on Twitter,” said Deborah Sweeney, CEO of the online business documents and services firm MyCorporation.com.
Finally, marketers predict that change will be constant.
As one marketer tweeted, “You gotta be constantly learning, innovating, & putting it out there. Not to be Captain Obvious but that must continue. Consumers want more.”
Photo by Szabo Viktor