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What will be the social media trends of 2021?
Social media has become such an integral part of life, that it is hard to believe it is still in its relative infancy. Facebook, the behemoth of the social media landscape turns just 17 in 2021. Not even old enough to drink yet. Twitter is turning 15 this year, so can at least have certificate 15 films to look forward to. Whilst Instagram will become 11 and is off to big boy school now.
Social media is the place were friends and family interact, it is a preferred source of news and information and brands and businesses’ main communication channels to their target markets. Few businesses can operate successfully without some degree of social media reach and engagement. Yet, with an ever-widening breadth of options and an ever-changing landscape, it is important to stay right on top of your social media strategy.
In the last two years, TikTok has soared in prominence. The Chinese platform has risen from around 20m global downloads in the second quarter of 2016 to 220m in the third quarter of 2019. An estimated 60% of users are Generation Z, ie, born after 1996. Its rise has coincided with the decline in useage of SnapChat, once a preferred domain of Millennials and Generation Z, but with Instagram stories taking a bite from SnapChat’s unique feature, it has slipped in popularity.
Facebook and Instagram remain the UK’s most popular social media platforms.
Yet, such is the volatility of social media, assume nothing. Facebook’s strategic moves towards centralising the leading platforms, with Instagram and WhatsApp both now under the Facebook umbrella, does not find favour in US Politics. Recently elected President Joe Biden said of the American company and its owner: “I’ve never been a fan of Facebook, as you probably know. I’ve never been a big Zuckerberg fan. I think he’s a real problem.”
It’s not unthinkable that the platform could face a reckoning. It has long denied that it is a publisher and has avoided the accountability more traditional media platforms must adhere too. Such is its role in societal discourse, that is looking an increasingly untenable position.
Meanwhile, another Chinese giant WeChat has yet to make a concerted move on Western markets. WeChat combines the functionality of Facebook, WhatsApp, with music app Spotify, dating app Tinder and ApplePay. It is a one stop shop for more than 500m Chinese users. Could it one day play the same role in our lives?
Other platforms are not searching for world domination, but with their distinct personalities, Pinterest and LinkedIn have attracted tens of millions of users. The former as a visual discovery platform for those seeking lifestyle inspiration for recipes, crafting, home and fashion. The latter as a way of connecting professionals and recruitment.
It can be an overwhelming proposition to get social media right and many companies make the mistake of going scattergun. Instead, it’s important to take a thorough, considered review of your approach. Understand who your market is, which platforms do they inhabit, develop content that they respond to and consistently review and refine.
The transition to the virtual world has been accelerated through the pandemic with event organisers forced to adapt to the realities of lockdown life. But there are indications that rather than a return to normal service after the pandemic, many virtual innovations will be here to stay and for those organisations who have developed their digital delivery through 2020 and 2021, great rewards ahead.
On the face of it, the events industry has been devasted by the pandemic.
Yet, for those who persevered against the odds by pivoting to virtual delivery, there is a blueprint for lowering organisational overheads, reaching, and engaging wider audiences and fresh and lucrative revenue streams. The Virgin Money London Marathon is one such example. As the mass participation market ground to a halt, they postponed their traditional April staging and considered their options. They eventual came up with a model in October that saw an elite-only in-person event taking place in tandem with a virtual event for runners to be part of in their own communities.
It was not without its teething troubles. But they pulled it off with 38,000 ‘virtual’ runners. The brand stayed relevant and with runners peppered across the UK in their London Marathon race bibs, the event had – arguably – a wider reach. They delivered value for sponsors and generated revenue through the virtual delivery. Pre-pandemic, the event was consistently oversubscribed way above its 40,000-runner limit. This year, they have publicly stated they are aiming for 100,000 participants – both in person and virtually, more than doubling participation in a fell swoop.
Other hits (literally) of lockdown have been Gary Barlow’s Crooner Sessions, where has teamed up with the likes of Robbie Williams, Cliff Richard, Jessie J, and many others, striking a chord with millions across YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. Of course, the Take That national treasure has been delivering the sessions as a pep-up to the nation. But it has provided another indication of the new possibilities of the virtual delivery in all entertainment industries. It is a model that offers theatre and live music huge potential in the future.
In the corporate world, conferences have taken a hit with the traditional trade show and conferences model and their flesh-pressing culture impossible to deliver.
Yet with crisis comes creativity and platforms like GoToWebinar, Hopin and Big Marker have brought the in-person experience into the home. With interactive presentations with Q&A and audience polling features, breakout rooms, digital handouts, and recorded sessions – to ensure that you do not miss a minute, the model in many ways exceeds the in-person experience and is markedly cheaper too.
Of course, when the time comes, there is likely to be a resurgence in the event industry with people desperate for a level of human interaction that has been missing from their lives. But virtual delivery is here to stay with obvious potential in efficiencies, audience reach and the generation of new revenue streams. We expect hybrids model to be the core of event delivery post-pandemic.
For a technology that has been around for over 25 years, the QR code has had a chequered history (sorry, we could not resist that one!).
It is a feature of marketing that arrived with great fanfare, but not with widespread acceptance in the UK. It’s not quite a comeback that excites like the Spice Girls or Take That. Yet, yet this is one 1990s return that could actually be ‘back for good’.
Ironically, the pandemic has been the catalyst for the potential of QR codes finally being realised by UK businesses and their marketing departments.
As of December 2020, the NHS COVID-19 app has been downloaded over 20 million times in the UK and over 750,000 posters with QR codes have been created through the Government’s services to service test and trace. In short, we have suddenly become a nation of QR code users. It has been a long time coming.
Heritage sites across the UK were among the early adopters to utilise QR codes as a way for visitors to quickly access further multi-media information on site in the early 2000s and enhance the customer experience. But they were underused with uptake limited in the UK.
It is not the pattern globally. In China, consumers are reliant on QR codes for digital interactions, to make financial transactions, to access further information, and to authenticate their identify – all supercharged by the giant WeChat social media platform.
In India too, the QR code has become embedded in consumer life with retailers embracing the technology in their millions. QR codes use is also surging in parts of Europe, USA, Africa and the Middle East. It is inevitable to surge in the UK and is a technology that marketing professionals will need to urgently review.
Modern day marketing is grounded in data and analytics. Digital media has enabled businesses to track consumer behaviour and provide a true measure of their marketing activities, which threatened more traditional printed marketing channels such as advertising, leaflets and posters. After all, if you can’t measure the return on investment on a marketing channel, how can you be sure it is working?
However, the QR code changes all that and will enable businesses to make fuller informed decisions on marketing budgets – and perhaps lead to a comeback for traditional marketing channels?
As consumers become more open to the QR code, it provides businesses with a fresh avenue to reach customers, to better understand their behaviour, to better inform them of their products and services, to better interact with them and ultimately, to sell to them. Perhaps those 1990s trends were not so bad after all?
Stories create connections between people – they appeal to our emotions. No one is immune to a gripping tale. Whose ears haven’t pricked up or moved to the edge of their seat when someone says “Hey, I’ve got a good story for you.”?
People are emotional beings and their behaviour reflects it, including what they buy and what they don’t buy. Being a distant, faceless business with a good product has never been enough, particularly in today’s digital landscape. So many options are at the end of our fingertips, screaming for you attention, a little human touch goes a long way.
Who are you? What makes you tick? What’s your story? How do I connect with you? Finally, why should I give you my hard-earned money?
A brand’s narrative is a critical part of any organisation’s branding strategy. It must be grounded in truths – authenticity is essential. Every brand must have a clear purpose meeting needs of people. It needs to be relatable to win hearts over and create an emotional bond and loyalty between the brand and the consumer.
A good narrative gives your customers reason to buy your product or service. Every brand has an interesting story behind it, it just needs to be effectively and engagingly articulated. A great brand narrative can maximise your business’s reach, engagement, impact and profit.
Apple are a great example of a brand whose story has enabled it to become a market leader.
Apple still has a lot of the DNA of its co-founder and former CEO, the late Steve Jobs embedded its brand narrative, be it covertly or overtly. Despite being a multi-billion dollar corporation, it still has a brand that evokes a slightly maverick, but entrepreneurial spirit with an obsession to put the users (customers) needs first.
It is still a brand that commands enormous loyalty from its audience, that few others in the tech industry emulate. Largely, it’s down to its story. They have built a connection with their customers and from that, an enormous business.
We define it as promoting your products or services to your target market in an engaging way, that defines, differentiates, and converts.
Effective marketing boils down to the very simple principle of “right message – right time – right channel – right audience.” Actually, you can add an ‘s’ to all of those.
At Fruit, we believe in a multi-channel approach and a rule of seven; that means that people will typically respond to a marketing message when they have seen or heard it seven times.
Of course, one size does not fit all. The same message at the same time on the same channel to the same audience will not reap the same rewards across business and across brands. There is no silver bullet for marketing. We wish it were that simple.
Marketing must be tailored specifically to each business, their objectives, a particular product or service and their customer profiles. A simple example is the Unilever brands Dove and Lynx, which utilise very contrasting approaches. One is softer, subtle with body positive content, the other is cheekier and more overtly sexual. We do not need to explain which is which.
If you need some support and guidance on crafting your marketing strategy and operations, please contact Fruit for a no-obligations consultation. We can help you get it right too.
From their low-key base in South Devon, it might not be immediately obvious the national and international level of expertise that lies behind the boat house doors of SeaSports Southwest.
Little more than a stone skim away from the back beach in Teignmouth, this small enterprise is a Royal Yachting Association (RYA) and Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA) certified water sports training centre.
They are one of UK’s premier Water Sports Centres, specialising in water-based experiences and training courses for beginners through to advanced and instructor level, covering power, sail and paddle water sports.
They are also the foremost training base for one of the world’s greatest endurance challenges. Billed as “The World’s Toughest Row”, the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge takes place every year with dozens of teams attempting to complete an arduous 3000-mile journey from the Canary Island to Antigua.
To ensure a safe and successful crossing, SeaSports Southwest is the centre that more teams entrust their training to than any other centre in the world. From 2013-2019, they have trained 61% of all race participants from 16 countries, including 15 who have won the race or broke a world record.
SeaSports Southwest have trained more ocean rowing teams than anyone else in the world and are the only recommended training centre from race organisers Atlantic Campaigns
Fruit Marketing have been proud to work with husband-and-wife team Sue and Tim, ably supported by Sam and not forgetting Bradley the dog, who have led operations at SeaSports Southwest since 2017.
It has been a time when the website and brand have been refreshed and relaunched and new communications, marketing and advertising plans have been activated. It has resulted in an increase in social media following of 212%, off-season sales growth of 200% and an overall revenue growth of 35% whilst reducing previous adverting and marketing costs.
Sue Cox, Owner & Managing Director at SeaSports Southwest said: “What really makes Jo (Fruit Co-founder) stand out is that she has worked tirelessly to understand our business inside out. She listens to us and consequently her advice to us is sound and her marketing campaigns are successful.”
Life is not always plain sailing, but together, SeaSports Southwest and Fruit Marketing are safely on an even keel.
Social media has such a huge presence in our lives. You are probably reading this article after seeing it on social media first! For businesses, it can seem overwhelming and it is easy to fall into a scattergun approach. Instead, it requires a clear content strategy, on the most appropriate platforms. A sound strategy will support your business objectives, by reaching your target market, channelling them into a pipeline of prospects and ultimately, towards conversion. To help you decipher what platform and approach will work for your business, here’s a quick overview of the big players in social media in the UK today.
NUMBER OF UK USERS: 45m
MAIN DEMOGRAPHIC: 25-34 year olds (26%)
CONTENT: Videos are the best performing content on the platform. Content that is either inspirational, funny or practical consistently performs well.
NOTES: Keep up to date with the ever-evolving functionality. With video a key driver of engagement, the “Facebook Live” function and the ability to generate captions on pre-recorded videos are great features to lift engagement.
NUMBER OF UK USERS: 27m
DEMOGRAPHICS: 25-34year olds
CONTENT: High quality images. BUT, make them authentic, take people into your world. Don’t just share stock images. The audience is savvy. Tell visual stories, make use of the story option to multiply engagement.
NOTES: Go crazy with hashtags to get discovered by people looking for the content you serve, ie. content relevant to prospects!
NUMBER OF UK USERS: 9m
DEMOGRAPHICS: 35-54 year olds (an estimated 23% of the UK workforce are on LinkedIn)
CONTENT: Blog pieces of up to 2000 words that demonstrate thought leadership perform well. So too do quick tips
NOTES: Proving that every platform has a personality of its own, videos perform poorly on LinkedIn in stark contrast to almost all other social media platforms.
NUMBER OF UK USERS: 18m
DEMORAPHICS: Female 18-24
CONTENT: Images led content that inspires lifestyle decisions, such as recipes or home-making, even DIY
NOTES: It’s a platform remarkably devoid of negativity in relation to its social media cousins. It’s an opportunity for businesses working in lifestyle to bring their skills and expertise to a receptive audience.
NUMBER OF UK USERS: 3.7m
DEMOGRAPHICS: 18-24 year olds (42% of users)
CONTENT: All video, popular content includes music or dance re-enacting and viral challenges:
NOTES: A major new player, but limited scope for brands yet.
NUMBER OF UK USERS: 15.2m
DEMOGRAPHICS: 18-29 year olds
CONTENT: Images outperform videos on Twitter. “How to” content works well. It can be a very confrontational platform, but there’s room for irreverence.
NOTES: Twitter needs time and commitment as content is fleeting with a short shelf life.
NUMBER OF UK USERS: 35m
DEMOGRAPHICS: 15-25 year olds
CONTENT: Vlogs from influencers are popular, so too are gaming videos, best-of videos and educational videos (how-to videos).
NOTES: YouTube is also a great depository to host videos that you can easily and embed on websites. Try not to hyperlink from other social platforms to YouTube. Upload videos direct to other social platforms where they will autoplay and save the user the torturous agony of another click and a visit to another site. Yes, we are that lazy!
If you want to talk to Fruit Marketing over your social media strategy and delivery, please get in contact today.
If you have spent the last few months living on Mars, you probably will not be aware of today’s US Election (November 3).
For the rest of us, it has been in our faces for some time now; an ever-present feature of the news cycle, peppered across our social media feeds and a topic of (socially-distanced) and sometimes fraught conversations with friends, family and colleagues. Donald Trump has been a virtually unavoidable presence in the lives of us all these last four years. Bigly.
The American election tells us so much about marketing. And not all of it is pretty.
Firstly, it dominates political strategy and spending. An eye-watering $14 billion is set to be spent on the Trump and Biden campaigns combined, a record that will more than double the spending on the 2016 election. Much of the spending is on social media. You may have joined Facebook not long after it launched in 2004. Perhaps you even “threw a sheep” or “poked” an old school friend?
Back then, it was unthinkable that Facebook and other social platforms, especially Twitter, would become such major players on the political landscape. But social media’s incredible breadth of reach, its ability to target demographics with specific messaging and – most worryingly – its relative lack of regulation over content have made it THE critical battleground.
It has made the environment more challenging for the more tightly regulated traditional media, who have had to adapt their own tactics with a multi-platform approach.
It is hard to imagine that someone like Donald Trump, with no political experience, could be elected the leader of the free world in a time before social media. It gave him a platform to build an audience, that he would have been unable to do otherwise.
It is also a reflection of the celebrity-obsessed cultures we inhabit. Trump’s celebrity from shows like “The Apprentice” gave him a currency of credibility that an equally – or even more – successful businessman with no public profile would not have. It is by no means a new phenomenon. But it is still a strange feature of human psychology that we will listen to and be led by people who have achieved fame and notoriety, even when they communicate on a subject they have little or no expertise on.
Another huge lesson from Trump is the power of simple, effective messaging. Like it or not, “Make American Great Again” is one of the most successful slogans in political history. It’s a simple four-word phrase that is both provocative and memorable. It cuts through to the audience and speaks over the constant noise of messaging we all navigate online and offline. There is undoubtedly a real ugliness to US Elections, more so in recent years.
But if you can bear to watch, there are marketing lessons to be drawn for businesses of all sizes.