We are faced with a radically new social paradigm. Consumers are getting smarter and demanding a higher level of experience. They want brands to treat them as individuals and not as a demographic group. The leading brands are already preparing for this. They try to seek authenticity in their communication, humanise their messages and predict the new courses of action that are coming so they can be the first to adopt them and thus anticipate change.
For digital marketing professionals, it is vital to be up-to-date and always informed about the sector; to be aware of new tools, new updates or versions of the various social media networks, relevant analyses and metrics, aspects related to the business and even to always keep a watch on foreign markets. Every year we try to predict upcoming trends, gather the best practices of the year and analyze consumer behaviour in order to be prepared to manoeuvre intelligently in different marketing plans for the coming year.
2020 presents us with new formats, new challenges, new ways of connecting with the user. Here are seven social and digital trends that will be essential in the coming year.
1. Ethical and committed brands
We are confronted with consumers who are less and less committed to brands and in turn, brands are suffering from a credibility crisis. They all want to be present in the imaginations of users and do everything possible to generate an impact on them, although in most cases all their efforts are irrelevant. The reality is that nobody cares about brands. People are concerned about what impacts their lives directly and in many cases brands do not meet this requirement.
According to one of Sprout Social’s latest studies, “two out of three consumers (66%) say that it is important for brands to speak out publicly and make decisions on social and political issues”. That’s right: users are looking to connect with brands that want to (truthfully) position themselves on environmental, social, political and cultural issues.
When we talk about ethically conscious brands with social movements we are referring to those that really align themselves with concrete causes. Brands such as Ecoalf which, during Black Friday, launches Recycling Black Friday; a clothing repair service in its stores in Madrid and Berlin. Or Visa with its #OneClick campaign that helps make women’s sports visible through an extension on Google Chrome that replaces the covers of male news sites with females, empowering women in the world of sport and thus ensuring they get the space they deserve in digital environments.
Cultural relevance generates brand growth. Consumers who perceive ads as “culturally relevant” are 2.6 times more likely to identify with the brand and 2.7 times more likely to buy it for the first time. According to AdWeek, they are also 50% more likely to buy the product again.
2. Personalisation of the message
Today almost 4 out of 10 Gen Z consumers use ad-blockers. They want to consume relevant content in their feed, so the personalisation of messages becomes a critical issue. Gen Z want to feel free to express themselves, seek authenticity without the need to fit into a group, are digital entrepreneurs and have a strong social profile, with very specific codes of behaviour; they aren’t willing to accept just any type of message. Personalised creative strategies help to generate greater attention from the user in the information overload environment in which we find ourselves today.
The personalization of digital messages refers to the process of segmenting content according to certain indicators: who our consumer is, where they are and what consumption patterns they follow, how they access our content or what they expect from us when we address them.
An example of personalisation that is gaining traction this year is chatbots. According to Statista, 65% of consumers used a customer service chatbot last year. This facilitated access to the brand in a much more accessible way, thanks to a user-led conversation where all messages were personalised.
An example of the Chatbot developed by Good Rebels for Lexus
Personalisation involves allowing the user to decide how they consume the brand’s content. It also involves giving them the possibility of being the creator of what they consume, letting them model the brand message as they please, and sharing it on social media. At Good Rebels, we developed a clear example of user generated content, the Pepe Jeans Custom Studio campaign through which an element as ephemeral and at the same time as powerful as IG Stories was used to share unique collections created exclusively by fans of the brand.
3. The power of recommendation
The power of social/digital recommendation is a key point for the millennial generation. The critical mass of both positive and negative comments can directly affect a brand’s bottom line. This is partly because users share and recommend their experiences through social networks. They are no longer mere spectators but are also actively engaged in dialogue with brands. No wonder McKinsey claims that the word of mouth is the main factor behind 20-50% of purchasing decisions. The influence of consumers even comes before a brand’s own marketing strategies.
Brand advocates have become a critical pillar that we can utilise to help us deliver excellent results for our brand. This is a heterogeneous group of people who have great influence when it comes to mobilising and generating opinion among their communities and are becoming part of the decision-making process of purchasing. Working to strengthen the consumer’s voice as a relevant source of recommendation and confidence building is a strategic path in our brand plans.
4. The relevance of video
The behaviour of millennials and Gen Z on social media focuses largely on the production of videos that they themselves share. That’s why they look for the same consumption pattern in their relationship with brands.
The trend already stood out in 2019, but it is still a latent territory for 2020. Developing audiovisual pieces adapted to different formats has become essential. The 9:16 vertical format has gained an unexpected relevance with the growth of content for Stories and even productions conceptualised from the beginning to be consumed on mobile.
5. Dark Social
Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are already in third place in the ranking of global applications.
Reuters Digital News Report 2019 states: “Social communication is becoming more private and users tend to migrate to closed platforms (which today have more than 5 billion active users per month). WhatsApp is becoming the main tool for social communication.” Instant messaging social networks are becoming increasingly relevant, especially among younger consumers, so we must begin to conceptualise content strategies which keep in mind everything that is shared across private environments.
6. Beyond the product
Consumers are more loyal to brands that offer them a high level of transparency in information about the product, its supply and production or simple commercial practices. Nearly three out of four consumers say they would pay more for a product that offers full transparency in all areas.
McDonalds Canada launched the Our Food, Your Questions campaign with the aim of improving its brand reputation. To do this, it created an online space where consumers could ask questions about the brand, the products and their ethics and where McDonald’s answered all questions directly.
7. From storytelling to storydoing
The decline of social media reach is already a reality. Relying on the volatility of algorithms when making decisions in our content strategies is one of the main concerns and challenges facing the future of social media.
For this reason, we must focus our efforts not only on promoting this content through paid media strategies, but also on reinforcing the brand message and building our communications in a more solid way. According to Forbes, there are 3 key reasons why storytelling is the future of marketing:
- In an environment of uniformity, be unforgettable
Having a quality product or service is no longer enough. We must know how to be able to talk about it in a way that really sets it apart from others. Instead of offering the consumer facts, statistics or brand testimonials, we should focus our efforts on making our brand reflective, memorable, real. Wrap your message in a story that transports people; it simplifies information and provokes an emotional response. Use the narrative to share your messages, challenges, successes and brand value propositions.
- More than consumers, build a tribe
When we develop our message, we must think about what our audience really needs (beyond the product or service). Using our story to create a deep emotional connection and turn our brand into a consumable experience is one of the paths that can lead to better results. This is, in large measure, what will turn customers who pay for our products and services into dedicated supporters of the brand.
- Be profitable and humane
Consumers increasingly demand that companies demonstrate the positive impact of their efforts. For example, supporting a cause and achieving results beyond economic gains. We go back again to the first point of the article (ethical and committed brands) where we saw the decline of the user innocence phase when they questioned nothing. We now need to be relevant and take action as a result of this change.
In this evolving digital universe, staying constantly updated is critical. At Good Rebels, we firmly believe that feeding this hunger for continuous learning, challenging ourselves as professionals as well as our partners, notoriously helps to maintain a high level of demand and achieve the best results in our work.
Therefore, we keep this firmly in mind when working on all of our projects in order to be prepared for a changing digital future in which we must be able to activate solid, yet simultaneously liquid strategies that respond to the different needs of the business.