Some of the business trends seen today are likely to continue into next year. While a full recovery may take some time, it is still important for brands to equip themselves with a solid marketing strategy, based on data-driven insights and consumer trends. There are three social media trends that are expected to generate the most impact, according to experts and consumers. 

The impact of socially conscious audiences

Today’s consumers are more socially conscious than ever before. Generation Z and Alpha are actively engaged in conversations about social issues such as mental health, equality, education and climate change. They consciously seek out brands with social values in line with their own, avoiding those that are not.

“Brands need to realize that they need to go far beyond words and do the work of creating honest social impact. According to a 2019 Forbes survey, 88% of consumers want to support brands that have social causes aligned with their product/service.”

In 2020, people around the world were negatively affected by the pandemic. This, along with other major events that year, led consumers to speak even louder about the issues affecting society today.

Conversations about these issues are likely to continue in 2021, especially on social media. Therefore, brands should regularly engage in discussions about the issues that matter most to their consumers, while ensuring that they actively create a positive social impact. It is also crucial for brands to be discerning in identifying the issues most relevant to their target in the region.

“While global issues such as climate change and gender equality are important, Asian consumers want to engage with issues that often feel closer to home: poverty, clean water, healthcare, local democracy. Brands that create and engage with a global purpose must be aware that one size does not fit all.”

The rise of digital misinformation

While the problem of “fake news” was plaguing social media for the past few years, in 2020 this issue came to the forefront due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to high levels of uncertainty, consumers were desperate to obtain, as well as share, information related to COVID-19. But it was not always accurate.

The spread of such misinformation could have serious implications. In Singapore, around 40 instances of COVID-19-related fake news were debunked between early 2020 and May 2020, prompting the Singapore government to activate the Protection Against Online Misrepresentation and Manipulation Act to curb the spread of false information.

In light of the rise of digital misinformation, in 2021, major social media channels took active steps to curb this trend through means such as tagging social content that is deemed inaccurate or misleading. Therefore, brands should have adopted a culture of transparency with consumers to reduce the chances of filling information gaps with inaccurate news about their brand. Companies should also practice brand monitoring to detect any instances of fake news linked to their brand and address the problem before it becomes a full-blown PR crisis.

“Weary consumers gravitate toward trusted media brands to help them navigate uncertainty. Tech giants are under increased public scrutiny. There is an opportunity for brands and marketing and communications teams to build trust by authentically interacting with their audiences.”

Conversational marketing

This concept is all about engaging customers and building relationships through personalized content. Today, brands can no longer simply send messages and hope for the best. There is a growing need for them to establish a two-way conversation with consumers and connect with them on the issues that are most important to them. Especially during a crisis, sales are no longer a priority for consumers. Rather, genuine engagement and relationship building are the key factors in creating a solid customer experience strategy.

“With a quarter of Millennials and Gen Z users seeking out stories for information about brands and products, and with social media platforms increasingly exploring ways for users to connect purchases to this experience, growth is expected for the remainder of the year. The challenge for brands is to find new ways to create innovative content that stands out and keeps followers from scrolling.

Brands should leverage tools such as chatbots, live video streaming platforms and social channels to build authentic connections with consumers while showing them the human side of the brand.

They should also conduct social media eavesdropping to create a single source of truth, an integration of various customer data sources, and then use the information to optimize the consumer journey.

All 3 trends highlight the importance of brands putting consumers at the center of every marketing initiative. To do this successfully, it is crucial to stay on top of the latest industry trends that will shape consumer behavior.

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