It seems like a lifetime ago… that I was abruptly pulled out of the workforce and thrown into motherhood (my baby decided to come 3 weeks early). 10 months on, and the blissful, yet hazy days of mat leave are now a distant memory. I have now jumped back into work at The Wired Agency with SO many industry changes to digest with foggy, tired mummy eyes (yes my baby woke 3 times last night).

Sure, the digital world moves quickly and as a marketer you need to adapt at the speed of light, being agile and responsive is key. However, the last 12 months have been HUGE and a global pandemic meant the landscape changes were even more dramatic. 

As someone who pushed the pause button for 10 months, while I was googling ‘can I die from sleep deprivation’, the notable changes our industry has gone through have slapped me in the face even harder. As a marketer, these changes organically force a shift in your thinking and strategic planning.

Four big dog ways the social landscape has changed, from a return-to-work mum of a gorgeously delicious 10 month old…

  1. Users and influencers are now the art directors and creatives of the world! 

Gone are the days of the Donald Draper creatives, smoking cigars and selling creative ideas into clients. Low production content has been evolving for a while now, the impacts from COVID-19 have organically pushed this to the forefront of the creative scene, with platforms like TikTok taking off and making noise. More and more big dog brands are steering away from the polished content they once produced to low budget, DIY style.

  1. The robots are here…

AI is getting smarter and smarter and as social media networks grow, so does the tech that comes with it. Ads are now being delivered based on impulse signals, rather than assumed interest based behaviour. This is being done in a similar way to Netflix, and how they just know that Bridgerton is the show you’ve been dying to watch! Clever advertisers will use this algorithm to their advantage, to spark conversations and get their content noticed, instead of the stock standard top-down funnelling.

Further to this point, when the iOS 14 update is rolled out, retargeting on social is going to take a big hit. Some of our fave apps have started prioritising consumer privacy and preferences, meaning retargeting, based on user history, will be harder and harder to nail. The age old topic starts to resurface again – CONTENT IS KING. We want our audience to choose to opt-in to our ads.

  1. Brands are not afraid to have a voice.

Gone are the days where brands are afraid to stand up for what is right, or have an opinion on a political or social debate. In fact, the brands that don’t join in the conversation are the ones that are being left behind.

Last year saw some huge movements go viral (think Black Lives Matter, HeForShe), and consumers expect brands to take a firm stand. Nike did a great job of this with their BLM campaign, flipping their famous tagline to “For once, don’t do it”.

Brands are starting to give the younger generations what they are craving… Purpose and hope. Mission-led campaigns are being rolled out by the big players, and as a result, connecting with their audiences on an emotional level, creating loyalists amongst the future generations.

  1. Diversify or die!

Using Facebook and Instagram as your sole social platform just doesn’t cut it anymore. Sure these channels still serve a purpose, but one good thing to come out of Covid, was the HUGE growth in e-commerce. People just have more time on their hands, and are scrollin’, fast n’ hard. The same applies to using social channels. Legacy platforms, like Pinterest (46% growth in 12 months) and Snapchat (22% growth in 12 months) have seen a huge turnaround in usage. And, they’re putting their money where their mouth is, by investing in developing their technology. And, then there’s the newer platforms like TikTok (52% growth in 12 months), creating a space for brands to engage with younger audiences. Some of our clients are seeing more conversions with less investment, than traditional channels. The big players still have a place as they hold market share, but 2021 is all about diversifying your digital marketing mix. Time to tap into audience groups that were unreachable, or harder to reach. Time to capitalise on these up and comers… Less noise and competition equals more visibility as a brand.

The digital landscape has had to adapt to some very uncertain times, from a global pandemic to some huge political movements, that shook us to our core. As a marketer returning to the industry after nearly a year off, I can see with fresh (somewhat tired) eyes, some pivotal trends and changes that need to be capitalised on. It’s an exciting situation to be in. I am sure 2021 is going to continue to deliver some huge industry changes, where agility and speed are key to facilitate growth for our clients.

Author, Shae Boyer, Business Director & Producer

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