2020 has been a long year, emotionally, physically, and globally. Lots of things have changed almost every month, with one of the biggest areas affected being marketing. Brands and businesses have had to constantly change their entire operations and marketing strategies just to stay afloat in this environment. So, by looking at the title of this blog you may be laughing at the thought that we have the ability to know what will be the trends to follow next year when we don’t know what next week will bring!  

This is why we contacted the team at Talkwalker as they recently partnered with HubSpot to interview 70 global experts and frontline professionals about what they believe is in store for businesses in the year 2021.  

They kindly agreed for us to use the below infographic for this blog and we’re going to go through it and break it down section by section to give you a helping hand for your digital marketing future. 

Trend #10 – Remixing 

A remix is a term typically associated with music and involves taking elements from one area and transforming them to fit another. For music, this would be taking a song like “Singin’ in the Rain” and adding a different beat to it so it sounded more like a dubstep song for example.  

So how does this relate to a brand’s digital marketing? A lot of brands are making their customers a part of their brand, rather than passive bystanders or consumers. This has been done in many different ways. For example, take Cadbury’s and their now annual “Cadbury Inventor”  program where three flavours created by members of the general public are sold as official products and can be voted on to become permanent options. This is just one of the ways  Cadbury’s has brought new life to their brand as they are always looking for ways to reinvent the chocolate wheel, and because of this, they are still the world’s biggest chocolate brand. 

Remixing can be done in many different ways but the basic premise is that you allow your audience to transform your brand in some way, even if the idea is a hilarious failure, it will still cause interest and talk about your brand and it shows your audience that you are looking to be inclusive rather than simply corporate. 

One of the campaigns run by Cadburys for their “Cadbury’s Inventors” label.

Trend #9 – The 4 C’s 

It’s no wonder that 78% of consumers want brands to help them in their daily lives, and with the current situation, that number is only going to rise. Many businesses have already adapted their environments to cater to customer and government guidelines and have done a  great job of changing with the updates. There’s not much to say regarding this but we believe that a lot of these guidelines will remain commonplace after the pandemic has passed.  Contactless is on the increase and will become a lot of people’s new preferred method of payment after having to do it for the majority of 2020, so if you are a business that doesn’t offer this option, best to get on it as soon as possible or risk losing sales. 

Trend #8 – Meme Messaging 

Memes have become an internet sensation and have been around for as long as I can remember but have almost hit the mainstream in recent years with the increase in social media platforms and usage. Memes are a hard thing to explain, especially to businesses consisting of older generations but as you can see with many brands’ social content and even our own, memes are being incorporated.

To briefly explain what memes are, they are an image, sound clip, or video clip that has been edited, remixed, and transformed by multiple different people in different ways, becoming a transformative piece of media. One of the most famous memes is that of a stock image involving a boyfriend looking over his shoulder to admire a woman passing, while his girlfriend looks in disgust. A funny image by itself but the internet took this image and added text on top to refer to other relatable things, this then evolved to replacing the faces, completely redrawing the image, and much more. We believe that memes are a fun break from the stream of sell, sell, sell that many companies use their social platforms for. It helps to engage their audience, promotes sharing and commenting, and shows that these brands “get it” without being too “How do you do, fellow kids”. If you need a few more examples of meme-based digital marketing for businesses, here are a few posts from our socials we’ve created over the past year. 

The original “Distracted Boyfriend” meme image.
A simple example of how this image has been transformed.

Trend #7 – Nostalgic Content 

Everyone loves nostalgia. Just look at the latest media on the market right now and the majority of it is 80’s pop culture. Trends always come back around and soon we will be talking about the 90’s and there will be Netflix shows all about a group of kids fighting monsters in Woolworths with Digimon characters in the background. Nostalgia sells and brands are jumping on these bandwagons any chance they can get.

Once the Netflix show  Stranger Things took off, the 80’s were everywhere ad many brands put 80’s influences in their content, be that neon colours and font, synth music, using famous characters from that time period, you name it. A great example of using nostalgia for marketing can be seen with a  recent series of adverts from Barclays where they used famous Hanna Barbera characters to advertise bank loans and savings accounts. A weird combination as I don’t think half the characters are even human so can’t take out a loan, but because we recognize those characters causes us to be interested in what the advert is talking about and as a result talk about it online, giving the brand engagement and potentially resulting in new customers. We have a strong feeling that next year will be the year of the 90’s with a new Space Jam movie coming out (Yes, that’s correct) and more 90’s properties hitting landmark anniversaries, it seems logical. 

Trend #6 – Conversational Marketing 

Now, this is a feature we love to see with brands. How many times have you visited a  company’s Facebook page or website to be greeted by a chat pop-up asking if we need anything and offering a range of commonly asked questions? This feature is growing more and more popular as it removes the need for customers to contact customer support or spam their mentions on Twitter, and increases sale times as customers’ questions are answered faster than ever before all via an automated service, with the option to speak to a real representative if the query is not answered.

Not only are AI chat rooms becoming more common, but more customers are making the most of their social platforms by engaging with their audience in the comment sections of their recent posts and announcements. Not only does this increase the post’s reach but it helps your brand to feel more human and emits a  positive vibe. When you see a comment saying “Should we go here Jenny?” and you like the post or reply saying “Go on Jenny!” it makes the person feel connected with and will probably be the persuading factor to go through with the thought. Plus with lockdown you are probably online more than usual so why not make the most of this time and connect with your consumer base? 

Trend #5 – Gaming and Social Media Collide 

Just like memes, the world of video games may allude the majority of you, but this is a huge industry, one that’s bigger than the movie industry in this current climate and with many people’s jobs being “Professional Gamer” or “Let’s Player” more and more brands are using these influencers to their advantage to reach whole new audiences. When watching videos on  YouTube, you may hear the person you are watching exclaim “This video is sponsored by…”  to which they will proceed to sell a company’s product to their audience before or after their main topic of discussion. For YouTubers, sponsorships are their lifeline and help them to make the videos they want to make, so not only are brands helping fund people’s livelihoods but in return are having these people advertise your product or service to their audience that you would probably never reach through other means.

Another big name in this industry is  Twitch. This is a platform where people play games, create artwork, and more, live and with up-to-date chat rooms for each “streamer”. A lot of streamers are given exclusive discount codes to share with their audience and in exchange will get a small percentage of sales for everyone who uses the code. It’s an effective strategy and one that should not go under the radar, especially with more people online than ever before, and these platforms growing every day.  

A Twitch streamer showcasing a brand, with their audience spamming “POG” reaction images in response.

Trend #4 – Old School is “New” School 

It’s funny to say but with all of these new online apps, subscription services, and visual marvels for the eyes, one of the most popular services is podcasts, which boil down to a  group of people talking about random topics with no visuals. So basically, the radio is cool again. Podcasts are great for long journeys or as background noise, they don’t take much to set up, just a microphone and basic editing knowledge and you can talk about whatever you like. A lot of brands are using this outlet to talk more about their services or give in-depth updates about the future of their business. One of our clients, MAXX4 has a weekly podcast that talks about their CBD products in more detail, the process behind its production, and they frequently have guest speakers to further increase the brand’s trustworthiness. 

One of MAXX4’s many podcasts focusing on their CBD production.

Trend #3 – Adapting To The New Normal 

As more brands start selling masks as part of their product range, confirming that we are in this for the long haul, social media platforms are following suit and implementing new features to bring them up to date with the current situation. For example, Instagram automatically adds a link to COVID-19 information whenever a user mentions the virus in its copy or hashtags, helping more people to keep in the loop and find advice faster. Even Tinder has had to adapt as due to lockdown, people can’t meet up for dates anymore, so they’ve created new features such as face-to-face video calls enabling potential matches to continue interacting in this environment and as a result, keep their app in use.  

Trend #2 – No More Fake News 

Free speech is all well and good, but with the wide availability of the internet, it has become much easier to spread false information and endanger the lives of others while remaining an anonymous voice behind the screen. Both Facebook and Instagram have been cracking down on fake news in recent months, using third-party sources and moderators to remove any misinformation on their platforms.  

“We’ll remove COVID-19 accounts from account recommendations, and we are working to remove some COVID-19 related content from Explore unless posted by a credible health organization,” the company said in a blog post. “We will also start to downrank content in  feed and Stories that have been rated false by third-party fact-checkers.”  – Representative for Instagram

Trend #1 – Audiences Will Be More Aware 

2021 will see more brands working to make their platforms more like they should be, a social network. Connecting with each other, messaging, linking, updating, and more will be a priority. Connection is key and without it, your brand will be another voice in the choir of salesmen, rather than the conductor leading the others on how to do digital marketing right. 

We’re here to assist you and your business with all things digital marketing, from creating social media content to engaging with customers on posts and creating marketing material that encourages engagement and connectivity.  Many thanks to the team at Talkwalker for providing this infographic and for taking the time to research what the trends for 2021 will be. If you would like to read the full report from them, with insights from over 70 industry experts and influencers, click this link to download it now. https://bit.ly/38cFy9P