A cynical hashtag on a new platform. It turns out 2020 challenged us all to do things a little differently. For the better. Here are five predictions for 2021 from Dylan Davenport, managing director of The Wild, based on all the good stuff 2020 taught us.
1. Collaboration is king
This year we’ve seen brands and agencies pull together because they recognise they won’t win competing. Instead, their power lies in collaborating and partnering. Take Burger King and McDonald's – a history of mudslinging, particularly from the former, at their golden-arched rivals. This friendly enmity has now been put on ice and an olive branch extended. And Sainsbury’s of course. What a show of solidarity against the racist keyboard cowards. This principle of collaboration not competition will define 2021. It has to – and has been a long time coming.
2. Cut through the noise
Lockdown and social restrictions have meant a mass digital migration over the last nine months. Jungle Creations (the social publisher behind The Wild) experienced a 30% increase in views during the first national lockdown. The world has moved online and naturally many businesses have shifted their focus with it.
But this shift has come with a whole ton of noise; brands pumping out content for content’s sake. The need to be present has overshadowed the reason they’re there in the first place: to spark meaningful interactions with their audience.
2021 will see brands double-down on quality output, focussing on how they can add value to the feed, and treating it as a critical part of their brand experience. Which leads me to...
3. Social as the core to brand experience
Social is no longer the appendix to a marketing plan. Over the last year, with no live experiences, many retailers closed, brand touchpoints curtailed, social has taken on a critical role as the face of the brand, and the beating heart of a customer’s brand experience.
From discovery to research, it’s where consumers decide if you’re worth investing in – both emotionally and with cash. In fact, the online experience is now so important to purchase decisions that 36% of consumers said they would buy from a brand just to be part of the community built around it. (Global Web Index, Connecting the Dots).
With social playing an evermore important role in the consumer journey, it can no longer be seen as a nice to have on the end of a plan, or the graveyard of disposable ‘content’; it is the first stop for customers and will be core to 2021 brand activity.
4. Social will drive real world activity
Social impacts culture. In 2020 alone, Marcus Rashford, Sir Captain Tom, DoggFace and Ocean Spray, and TikTok teens made a significant dent in the real world (the latter being a personal favourite when they sabotaged Trump’s Tulsa rally).
Like the best of 2020, 2021 will be about looking beyond the vanity metrics on social and understanding how to mobilise audiences in the real world. Getting people to cross the digital border and creating offline action. Ultimately it doesn’t matter if a million people viewed your campaign while waiting for a bus, what matters is they did something as a result.
5. Social will keep you accountable – whether you like it or not
With the huge rise in spend on social, brands are going to have to have stronger accountability for it, a solid understanding of its ROI and its real impact on their brand over and above the CPEs, CPMs, CPCs and whatever other CPs. The truth is, social done well drives the largest returns, but done badly, the worst (Mediacom, Wavemaker and Gain Theory).
A recent study by Peter Field and Orlando Wood on the effectiveness of online video found that “right-brained (emotional) video campaigns generate greater numbers of very large business effects, and are more likely to report market share, profit and sales gains”. But what about brand building? Now social is stepping into the limelight, there will be a renewed focus in 2021 on how to attribute brand performance to the channel better.
I’ve no doubt that what we learned from 2020 will make #2021bestyearever