Hey Doctor Digital, what are your predictions for digital media in 2021?
Doctor Digital Says
After 2020, the prediction game has slightly higher stakes. I mean Mad Max was set in 2021, and we aren’t quite post-apocalyptic and wearing hub caps, chain mail and fur down to the shops. Well, ok sometimes if there’s a toilet paper sale on. If Mel Gibson and Tina Turner can get it so wrong, then how does a humble Digital Ready bot stand a chance? But I’ll use all my crystal ball emoji powers to see what I can see.
As the year ticked over into 2021, the pandemic was yelling PARTY along with the rest of the world. As IRL interactions will still have risks, hand sanitiser, and masks associated with them, e-commerce is going to continue to dominate in 2021. What will change is the integration of those shopatunities with your social media feeds. All major social channels – Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok are strengthening their capacity to help users see what they want and buy it straight from the feed. This is a continuation of the consumer trend towards omnichannel purchasing, where the shopping experience is seamlessly vertically integrated no matter what channel the shopper uses.
Thinking more broadly about the customer experience, more than ever digital and social are the links to where your people are, and they will want the experience of retail to mimic their experience of social – that is fast, flawless and simple. Making sure the transaction involves the fewest strokes possible is the aim, along with making the customer feel they are at the centre of the transaction.
I’ve said this every year since Sheryl Sandberg predicted Facebook would be 100% video in 5 years. It’s not quite 5 years yet, but the digital domination across all channels rolls on. If it’s not short and sharp in Stories, Reels, TikTok or Snaps, it's explainer vids on your website, video advertising on your social channels, a YouTube channel for your fans, and courses showcasing your genius through the power of video. Smart phones are probably more powerful than the cameras used to shoot MadMax, and there is every kind of cheap consumer gadget available to make sure you can turn out a decent video for your brand just by hitting the record button.
If you aren’t using video, you need to be, because your brand needs to be speaking to your customers using that medium. And increasingly, algorithms are going to be oriented to preferencing video content, so the eyeballs on your business will diminish. You don’t want that. And did y’all think I meant pre-recorded video? Oh no, the live is here to stay, so you better get used to being natural and spontaneous for your people, showing who you are with a few unfiltered bits for authenticity. Remember with all live performance practice makes perfect. None of us began as we evolved, so be brave, be you and keep going.
What COVID taught many of us is that we care about each other, and when a virus threatens our lives, what really matters comes into sharp focus. We will continue to see an elevation of brand stories that have meaning and purpose and want to support them. Tell your local stories, make connections with what you stand for. Build in corporate social good and show without bragging and exploiting where you are making a difference. And while you’re at it, be mindful of your diversity lens. There was a big focus on race and diversity in 2020, and we are all hopefully a little more aware of what privilege looks and sounds like. So when you are creating copy, run your eyes over it for the assumption of binary gender pronouns, make it accessible to everyone to read and view, think about who you want to use and experience your brand and make sure it is inviting them into the conversation, don’t just assume they are already there.
As with every disruptive organic movement, change is inevitable. We’ve watched the rise and rise of influencers, and their moment continues. We’ve moved from mega-influencers to micro-influencers and in the last year have seen some beautiful unplanned influencers (I’m looking at you Ocean Spray cranberry juice Fleetwood Mac guy.) Understanding how an influencer can work with your brand is knowing how to thrill your customers so they will become advocates for your brand, and while you can definitely be strategic about it, you want to be prepared for those beautiful organic happenings where you can be in the right place at the right time with the right person. I think we’ve seen the end of the super influencer, with too many falls from grace as the people in the feeds showed they were humans just like the rest of us, but the use of a spectrum of well places micro-influencers that really speak to your audience will bear fruit if you use them well.
One of the other outcomes from being stuck at home during endless lockdowns was that we developed an appetite to learn. Which means we love content that can teach us something, whether it is free on a social channel, or a micro-credentialled course where we can pick up some rad skills in the comfort of our jammies and uggs. What can you teach? What do you know that others will love to learn? What is part of your brand that can be revenue from learning? Have an audit of what you have, and what you haven’t yet created, and think about how you can build an educational component into your content. At worst, you will help your customers to better use your products and services. At best, you will find a whole revenue stream you didn’t know existed.
Finally, the whole game is about storytelling at heart. We want to be entertained by our brands, to have their stories as part of our stories, so in the crystal ball it is crystal clear that you need to not only know what your brand is, what you represent and why, you have to be able to take us on that journey with you, and weave us into your narratives, across all platforms. Convergence is real in terms of all of the digital spaces you play having to have the same vibe, same feels, same welcome and atmosphere.
Welcome to 2021, the Digital Ready team is here to support you as you step into the new normal or the old normal or the chaotic ever changing normal. The coaching team can now offer Tasmanian businesses with an ABN four hours of coaching with our coaches, so why don’t you use this as an opportunity to sharpen your focus, learn some new skills, or just get a helping hand to revise your digital and social strategy.