What a year it was.
For the past nine months, social media leaders have been grappling with a global pandemic, natural disasters, social uprisings, and controversial general election. As people spend more time on social media from being stuck at home, social teams are also under pressure to be always active. Many social media marketing directors also had to ditch their original strategies because they were no longer relevant or seemed inconsiderate. In short, 2020 was a year most of us would like to forget.
Despite all its ups and downs, 2020 was also a (albeit sometimes stressful) growth opportunity for social media executives. And the lessons learned from social media can be applied to future strategies in a year after the pandemic and after the elections. Read on to find out what lessons nine social media leaders can learn into the new year.
1. Listen, listen, listen
Working on social media means working in a fast-paced environment. But as fast as social teams move, it’s important to know when to slow down and really see what’s going on around you. Lindsay Bruce, Marketing Manager for SMB on Twitter, shares her thoughts on why listening will be an important tool in 2021.
“It’s always a good idea to read the room before posting on social media, but this year it got especially critical. Before each tweet, I would look at the headlines of the day, hold conversations, and see if / how other brands were getting involved.
I plan to continue taking those few extra minutes to get a feel for the climate of the day (or week or minute). Not only does this save you from posting insensitive content, but it also helps you find meaningful ways to connect that day. “
More than 6 million questions about Coronavirus / COVID-19 have been tweeted in the past few weeks. For #WorldHealthDay, we partnered with @WHO to provide answers to some of your most frequently asked questions.
See the answers????
– Twitter (@Twitter) April 7, 2020
2. Lean in uncertainty – but be careful
When plans go wrong, our instincts are to put the brakes on and try to fix the situation. But as we’ve seen with 2020, sometimes it’s better to just go with the flow. That’s a lesson that Austin Braun, social media manager at the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University of Colorado, will take with him through 2021.
“Embrace the unexpected – but more importantly, learn to love it. 2020 has proven that a great social media manager can think quickly and work on a whim. If [that’s] Suspending or trending content ad hoc during a time of crisis and trusting your gut instinct to protect (or improve) your brand is invaluable.
Think equally critically about how your brand’s tone, personality and message are perceived [something] All social media managers should consider this before posting. Think about each trap and always think about the end at the beginning. “
3. Take care of your people
One of the best things about social media is the ability to bring brands and people together as a community. And this year has shown how powerful communities can be when we take the time to listen and take care of one another. Brianna Foster, the social media manager at Pinterest, has this to share with her colleagues on social media.
“2020 was the year in which community management was really in the foreground. Listening to what your audience is saying, monitoring social trends, and keeping an eye on social movements proved to be more valuable than any other strategy. This year we really had to throw away all the initial ideas of the planned work and really sit down with our audience to see how we can better serve them in this state of the world. “
In an ever changing year like 2020, introducing new routines can be a nourishment. This month we’re going to slide into your timeline with bursts of inspiration to liven up your day. And maybe even stimulate new traditions.
– Pinterest (@Pinterest) August 2, 2020
4. Run with the values of your brand
In 2020, more brands than ever before spoke out on various social issues. If speaking is part of your strategy, you need to be ready to back it up. Jayde Powell, Head of Social and Community at Sunwink, explains what marketers need to consider before taking a stand.
“Value-based marketing is important. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that consumers want to buy from brands that are on the right side of history. This year, several brands have used their platforms to talk about social injustice. Social injustice, however, wasn’t just a 2020 issue. Social injustices have happened every day and have been for centuries.
The future of social media marketing is using social topics to voice their opinion on issues facing marginalized communities, amplify the voices of marginalized people, and shed light on issues affecting our earth. I believe if a brand’s social media marketing strategy isn’t rooted in their values, their community will navigate elsewhere. “
I like brands to participate, but it has to make sense to them. If the company doesn’t have clear values then they should probably be quiet unless they’re there to learn and listen.
– Jayde me. Powell (@ Jaydeipowell) August 20, 2020
5. It’s not just about you
While consumers expect brands to advertise their products and services on their social profiles, there are times when consumers get tired of seeing a brand talk about themselves. Promoting a promotion, for example when people are having trouble finding employment, seems insensitive. Pat Timmons, Drift’s social media contributor, extends this observation:
“Your audience doesn’t want to hear about the brand continuously. They want you to offer them value that is relevant to the feeling in that moment. Meet your audience where they are and put them at the center of your action. “
In marketing, you don’t take people out of their everyday lives.
You meet them where they are.
You can surprise them, but on their terms.
– Pat (@pattimmons_) December 8, 2020
6. Don’t be afraid to break the fourth wall
While following social branding and style guidelines is a best practice, sometimes it’s okay to break character and speak directly to your audience. Brands like Wendy’s and Steak-umm have different personalities like a person on Twitter and Tweet. Alexa Heinrich, the Social Media Manager at St. Petersburg College, shares her findings from 2020:
“Sometimes it’s okay to break the fourth wall with your social media. Your audience is very fine for the most part when you humanize a brand. Personally, I also plan to set boundaries for myself to maintain my mental well-being in a very fast-paced work environment. “
Officially in vacation mode. All notifications are disabled. ⛴
– Alexa Heinrich (she / she) (@HashtagHeyAlexa) December 15, 2019
7. Speak from your (brand) heart
This year was an emotional roller coaster ride for many, which further underlines the importance of friendliness towards one another. For brands, this can be as easy as checking in with consumers and realizing that times are tough. Brianne Fleming, a marketing teacher at the University of Florida, doubles up on this important reminder that everyone should consider when planning for 2021.
“Marketers know empathy is important, but it was the real essence of 2020. As I head into 2021, I’ll remind myself that regardless of the social media innovations introduced, people are always looking for compassion and respond powerful stories that speak with the heart. “
8. Perfection is overrated
A sophisticated social presence might be nice to look at, but how effectively is it helping your brand achieve its goals? Curating a perfect social account takes time and resources that can be devoted to more impactful content that feels less sophisticated but resonates well with your audience. Christina Garnett, Senior Insights Strategist at VIZIT, advises brands on improving their social content.
“Social connection does not come about through perfection. It is built up through relativity. Brands and personal accounts are what get the most buzz when they start conversations, show what’s behind the curtain, and share their human (flawed) side. Consumers want to connect with brands they understand. McDonald’s has done an incredible job harnessing the voice and emotions of its consumers. “
9. Take some time for yourself
Few teams have been gripped like the Social Team in 2020. Some feel like they haven’t been able to take a break since March while others are on the verge of burnout. Working in social media places high demands on marketers. It is therefore important to prioritize self-care and take breaks when necessary. Jenn Crim, Social Media Acquisition Marketing Manager at Opry Entertainment Group, offers this reminder for social media executives looking to the New Year.
“Know when to unplug and turn off your computer and phone. Social media places high demands on social media managers, and when you’re working around the clock (as is so often the case), it’s easy to burn yourself out. Communicate with your guide if you need a break, a day or a certain amount of time to unplug it. You can’t do your best job if you’re not at your best – and 2020 has definitely stepped that up for me. “
All social media managers please repeat after me: I am human, not a robot
– Jenn Crim (@jenncrim) December 9, 2020
What lessons are you taking in 2021?
2020 is coming to an end (finally), but there are many lessons from social media that we can learn from this unpredictable and challenging year. Leading with empathy and learning to love the unexpected are just a few insights that social marketers can use to improve their strategies for 2021.
So, as you look forward to the New Year, don’t forget to take a moment and look back at everything that happened in 2020. We can learn a lot from our victories and failures in a year that has put many of us to the test beyond our own limits.
If you’re looking for more inspiration to move your social strategy from good to great, check out our free toolkit to improve your social marketing 2021 today.