2020 fundamentally changed the role social media plays in consumers’ lives. It became a lifeline to friends, family and colleagues, a forum for political activism and a hub for spontaneous and planned virtual events and get-togethers.
Those changes laid the groundwork for trends that will reshape the social media marketing world in 2021 and beyond, where leveraging the power of brand ambassadors will impact a new era of digital marketing. Read on for insights on how you can look to these high-value advocates, fans, and followers to craft an authentic and impactful digital marketing strategy for your brand.
Trend 1: Authentic Content Beats Studio-Produced Content
While social media has become the center of brand marketing, it’s organic content that’s at the leading edge of reaching consumers, especially when compared to advertising.
At Greenfly, we’ve seen how well this authenticity-first approach translates across a wide variety of industries and platforms. The Biden for President campaign team found in their internal tests that traditional political ads — professionally produced, slick-looking 30-second posts — were far less effective than impromptu, behind-the-scenes footage from voters using their smartphones or webcams to share their passion in voting.
The Democratic National Committee also turned to their surrogates to get the word out on social and digital channels about their 2020 election voter guides, including former U.S. President and voting enthusiast Barack Obama for its I Will Vote campaign.
Authentic content works just as well at the consumer level. For example, the social team at fitness franchise I Love Kickboxing has been able to refresh and differentiate their brand to respond to fast-changing, local market COVID-19 conditions by collecting content updates recorded by over 100 of their local studio managers across North America. And SailGP successfully tapped into sailing team athletes around the world to share content captured from body cameras during competitions.
Trend 2: Fans Aren’t Followers — They’re Part Of Your Creative Team
Fans are becoming quality creators (a term some prefer over influencers) themselves. Although some user-generated content still remains orchestrated by brands, there’s no better way to promote a product than by calling on real experiences from real people.
In the midst of the pandemic, with no ticker-tape parade insight, the Los Angeles Dodgers MLB World Series championship called for a virtual celebration. The club's digital team rallied over 3,500 fans to submit their championship moment reaction videos through Greenfly, which they compiled into a social media video montage.
This campaign allowed the team to remotely capture all the energy of those celebratory fan responses and include their most fervent advocates in the win.
Trend 3: Social Media Is The New Arena To Grow Partner Value
With the global shuttering of most live events in 2020 and the aforementioned rise in digital influence across borders, social has now become crucial to demonstrating partner ROI and helping to fill in revenue gaps. In fact, social media has been among the most used marketing channels to activate sponsorships in recent years.
Partners are increasingly demanding more proof of a return on their investments and more visibility into how their business is being helped by social media. Organizations are finding this value in direct sales, new sales leads, expanded brand awareness and new product promotion.
As noted during a recent Sports Business Journal panel, Major League Baseball’s five-part original series, On First With Pete Alonso, presented by Gatorade, connected the sports beverage brand to baseball fans in an organic way on the league’s YouTube channel.
Sponsor value can extend even further to drive meaningful social change. The Rajasthan Royals cricket team launched a campaign with NIINE sanitary napkins in India, where there is a real stigma attached to periods. During the recent IPL tournament, NIINE offered nine girls a three-month supply of sanitary napkins for every run that was scored, totaling 186 runs and 1,674 girls.
Authenticity, genuine endorsements, and raw material will always beat forced brand ads. Soliciting fan-generated content will allow brands to create powerful campaigns that cut through stale ad promotions. They’ll stand out among competitors with greater appeal for partners and, in return, see social media’s value in revenue.