Social Media Marketing in 2021

Social Media Marketing in 2021 - #TwitterSmarter chat with Carlos Gil - December 17, 2020

As we bid a massive goodbye to what’s been a devastating year for many of us, we must again prepare to take on the social media reins in the new year. But how do we even plan for 2021 after all that’s been going on? We invited marketing consultant and author of The End of Marketing, Carlos Gil, to talk about the future of social media marketing. Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Carlos Gil
Topic: Social Media Marketing in 2021
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: What social media stats should you measure in your end-of-year marketing evaluation?

When you’re analyzing your yearly performance, it’s crucial to consider audience sentiment. While your engagement rate is an important metric any time of the year, sentiment goes a step further to understand how you’ve made your community feel. Of course, if you’ve been considerate and empathetic throughout the year, your audience sentiment will naturally be high.

Another good stat to watch out for is the types of content that performed well during the year. Based on your goals and the types of audience engagement, such as liking, retweeting, and replying, you can narrow down people in your audience you want to re-engage and embrace into your community.

Follower count can be an important indicator of your engagement as well. Dive into your followers list and identify people of shared interests. You may have influential people who engaged with you a few times, highly-engaged super fans, and others in the industry you could potentially partner with in the future.

Our friend from Wholesome Media nicely summed up all the important data, including click-through rates, video views, and organic reach. Make sure that you’re looking at your stats from throughout the year, and not just during a specific period. When you look at overall stats, you get a better and more accurate picture of your performance.

Q2: Name some great marketing activities you saw in 2020.

Carlos pointed out how Ben & Jerry’s and Adidas were vocal about their support during the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States. In a previous chat, we spoke about the importance of global brands recognizing social issues like BLM. It was an inspiring and necessary gesture by these brands.

Similarly, when COVID-19 put a grinding halt to all physical events and business as we know it, brands like SAP, American Airlines, and Mariott stepped up their game and supported their customers.

Rachel from Express Writers noted that many businesses embraced live video on social media. It was a great way to bring communities together and make the audience feel connected and welcome.

Janet told us about the #JerusalemChallenge in Africa and how a lot of brands joined the dance effort to share their stories and uplift local communities.

Q3: What are some marketing failures you saw in 2020?

This year was nasty on so many levels. Aside from the raging pandemic, we also had many social and economic issues that impacted everyone in the world. However, as our guest mentioned, a lot of brands failed to recognize the hardships their audience was going through. They failed to listen, and as a result, didn’t know what their audience wanted.

Carlos explains this further in his book, The End of Marketing, where he discusses why brands need to listen and be more relatable to their audience.

That said, as our friends from Agency Boon rightly said, the adage “we’re with you” has become something of a cliché. Although customers appreciate brands that acknowledge the hard times and show empathy, some brands began using that as their standard response, without sincerity in the statement.

Harrison brought up an excellent point about how marketers failed in 2020 by over-planning and setting rigid goals. When the world started to go into lockdown in March, almost every business had to rethink how they operated. And those who struggled to pivot hadn’t allowed for enough flexibility in their strategy.

Q4: How has COVID-19 changed the way marketers plan for the upcoming year?

This year threw light into so many socio-economic issues we hadn’t acknowledged before. Add in a pandemic and it’s unsurprisingly pandemonium. This means that every business is now using social media more to connect and communicate with their audience. Marketers should realize that branding has taken on a completely different meaning—you no longer establish your brand using promotional tactics, instead, you focus on socializing and growing communities organically.

How we consume digital content has been changing for a long time now. However, 2020 also showed us that you can be locked inside your house and still create and publish great videos. Marketers should consider newer possibilities in their plans rather than relying too much on traditional methods.

As Nick so well put it, not even marketers are expecting to attend events that promise 10,000 attendees. How we see space and human interaction has changed forever. It’s imperative for marketers to approach technology as an enabler for a new way of working.

Q5: What are some things to consider when making a social media marketing plan for a post-COVID world?

One of the biggest lessons that COVID has taught us is the importance of the human element on social media. Throughout the year, people turned to social media for comfort and companionship. That’s why businesses should be more engaging instead of selling.

Remember that the best way to engage an audience is through content. You want to hook them so that they will remain interested in what you say.

Nureen listed out some excellent points to consider, including knowing how you can assure your audience, how your brand can help with their emotional situations, and whether you’re overpromising in your communication.

Q6: What are some key social media lessons you learned from 2020?

Carlos mentioned that his biggest social media lesson from 2020 was that audience want to be educated, inspired, or entertained—especially during a tough time like the pandemic. If your content doesn’t directly achieve those things, then you’re falling short.

Reflecting on some of our community members’ points Gabriela, also mentioned how important it is for brands to be accessible, in addition to being empathetic and transparent. Your customers’ and audience’s needs change every time. That’s why you need to be available, to help and support them when they need you the most.

Jim reminded us that social media channels are constantly changing as well. As a brand, although you should have social media strategies, you should also be mindful of new trends, technology, and features that you can experiment with and make use of.

Q7: What will be the role of social media in marketing in 2021?

Carlos predicted that social media in 2021 will focus more on education and meaningful conversations and less on traditional forms of marketing and promotion that we’ve become accustomed to.

He also explained how he enjoys apps like Clubhouse and TikTok for the sense of community and creativity he derives from them.

As our friends from Biteable added, customers nowadays are well aware of brands. They actively research and discuss with friends before choosing brands to work with and endorse. That’s why the future of marketing will depend a lot on social media channels making a good impression in the audience’s minds.

Q8: What are some exciting social media trends to look out for in 2021?

Showing your human side on social media is the most important thing for a brand right now. So as you plan for the next year, remember to humanize your brand. It’ll also result in more of your employees becoming social influencers rather than you seeking them outside.

As Riley pointed out, videos had a significant impact this year, across all social platforms. With new features like Reels and Fleets, the use of video will only grow in 2021.

Another important trend that’ll grow in 2021 is the effective use of silence. As Jake explained to us, many brands have realized the value of evaluating conversations before joining in. With so many issues discussed on Twitter this year, it’s clearly unwise to jump headfirst into a conversation without considering the consequences. That’s why more brands would (and should) consider the impacts of their content before they tweet. Remember, Twitter still doesn’t have an edit button.

TalkWalker has also put together some social media trends for the new year, curated from experts worldwide. Take a look.

Well, folks. That’s all from me this week. Thanks a lot for reading, as always. And for more great insights from our chat with Carlos, check out this Twitter Moment that Joana put together. If you need some time away from all the holiday fever this Christmas Eve, join us at 1pm ET for our next #TwitterSmarter chat. In the spirit of holidays, we’re keeping it light—it’ll be a community chat and y’all are the guests!

Hope to see you there. And if not, happy holidays from the crew anyway!


About me, Narmadhaa:

I write all the things—technical and marketing copy to fill the pocket; haiku and short stories to fill the soul. A social media enthusiast, I’m a member of the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and always happy to take on writing gigs.

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