Insights

2021 so far: Digital trends

Posted by
FHR
Insights

2021 so far: Digital trends

Écrit par
FHR

If there’s anything we’ve learned from 2020, it’s that our forms of communication are changing and adapting more rapidly than ever before. As social and digital media continues to play a strong role in helping Canadians stay connected to peers and brands alike, we’ve summed up the biggest trends in the first quarter of 2021 that will shape communications in the months to come.

  1. Audio Only Apps

While still in its pre-launch phase, Clubhouse has already amassed over 8M downloads of its app. This has, to no surprise, triggered an influx of other media giants announcing the arrival of their own audio-inspired features and apps. Among the main players detailed below, Spotify, LinkedIn and Discord are also throwing their hats into the ring.

Currently only available for Twitter iOS, Spaces are public like tweets and can be accessed by anyone. Automatically appearing at the top of your timeline, each Space has a link that can be shared publicly, and anyone can join a Space as a listener. Users can invite followers to join a Space via DM, tweeting out the link, or copying the invite link to send to friends and followers. A maximum of 11 people can speak at once during a Space session (including the host).  

Described as a mashup of Instagram Live and Clubhouse, Facebook Hotline is in Beta, allowing creators to speak to an audience who can then ask questions through either text or audio. However, unlike Clubhouse, creators can opt to turn their cameras on for the event, instead of being audio-only. Interestingly, even though this feature is from Facebook, it requires sign up from a Twitter account, and has a distinctly different format to Clubhouse, separating attendees that are engaging by asking questions, from those who are simply listening. It is currently only available via web, with no release date for an app.  

Audio will continue to dominate 2021, with pressure being put on brands to enter these environments authentically and make their leaders available in real-time like never before.

  1. The Rise of Communities & Groups

As the pandemic continues into year two, more people are actively looking to smaller communities and interest-based groups for closer connections. Results from a survey conducted by Facebook in October of 2020 indicate that online communities are thriving, with 77% of respondents saying the most important group they are part of now operates online. 98% of people who belong to an online group say they feel a sense of belonging to that group. Communities are playing a vital role in connecting people and providing emotional support during these challenging times.

The same Facebook survey showed that over the next 12 months, 87% of people whose most important community group is primarily online, say they’ll continue engaging with that group at the same level (48%), or even more frequently (39%).  

Recently announced Communities, is Twitter’s answer to Facebook groups, providing a more private engagement option, which would enable users to interact with others around dedicated interests, helping to foster closer communities, and see an even greater lift in engagement on the app. Once a user has joined a Community page, only those members are able to share tweets within.

With the continued impact of COVID-19, the value of digital connections and community cannot be overstated in this respect, and that has become evident in seeing where social media platforms are investing next.

  1. Privacy and Transparency is Changing

This year we’re seeing how online tracking and privacy continue to be common topics, following the introduction of regional measures such as GDPR as well as browsers such as Safari and Firefox limiting cookie functionality in previous years. In 2021, this topic has become more widely discussed as Apple announced the iOS 14 update which requires mobile apps including Facebook, news apps and mobile games, to provide its users on Apple devices with information about how their apps are tracking and using personal information, as well as give the users an opportunity to opt out of that tracking, among other things.  

Several major advertising platforms pushed back against this update, most notably Facebook, which claimed that small businesses in particular would suffer from this change as it would limit their ability to create personalized ads, potentially impacting the effectiveness of ad campaigns, and ultimately decreasing sales.

But how does the IDFA update impact social media? As users begin to opt out of tracking, advertisers will notice:

  1. Conversion tracking capacity will be reduced, both for app installs and web conversions
  1. Retargeting challenges as the pools will be smaller than past campaigns
  1. Reduced data reporting which creates challenges for measuring the ROI for campaigns

Possibly related to the concerns raised by large organizations such as Facebook, Apple has provided advertisers with tools to mitigate the extent of the data loss. While it does not provide the same level of tracking, it does provide some ROI information that would otherwise be unavailable. Facebook has also provided updates for advertisers to meet the IDFA changes, however, these changes ultimately mean reimagining how campaigns are set up, tracked and reported on moving forward.  

Online privacy and tracking transparency will continue to be a hot topic of conversation, with more browsers, operating systems and regions making moves to protect user data, and ensure users are in control of how their data is used.  

While marketers and brands may see these shifts as a challenge, it reinforces the need to invest in 1st party data, driving higher-level funnel tactics, and including more multi-channel strategies that reach audiences in ways they feel comfortable with.  

  1. Standardizing Influencer Agreements

With brands expected to spend $15B on influencer marketing by 2022, up from $8B in 2019, the world of influencer marketing has become a massive revenue stream. SAG-AFTRA, the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, recently launched an agreement allowing influencers and content creators to join the actor's union, bringing the industry a big step closer to standardization. In addition to offering access to benefits, the union will also be able to advocate on behalf of creators and further peruse legislation to better serve the community.

The agreement symbolizes a major shift by not only legitimizing this business practice, but also providing regulation and giving the industry a powerful collective voice. While this currently only impacts influencers and campaigns based in the U.S., it’s possible we will see something similar in Canada with ACTRA - the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists.  

Canadian marketers and brands are likely to experience a change in how creators negotiate fees and contract terms as influencers demand more transparency in rates and pricing across the industry.

  1. Shoppable Content

With daily social media consumption seeing significant growth in the last year, a new shoppable environment has emerged for brands, and influencers are at the center of it – cue shoppable streaming. Platforms like Amazon and Instagram have launched live shopping features where influencers show off their favourite products to viewers, with links in the stream to purchase the items directly. The trend has already taken hold in other countries like China, where Kim Kardashian West partnered with Vijya, a popular Chinese influencer, on a live shopping stream and sold over 15,000 bottles of perfume in minutes.  

This new form of influencer driven retail marks the gradual move from top funnel tactics to stronger lower funnel conversions, helping to prove the impact and ROI of influencer marketing for brands.

  1. Non-Traditional Influencers

Influencers are typically thought of as content creators with a large following, but in 2021, we are seeing more influencers emerging in ways that allow brands to build communities and tap into audiences as content generators.  

  • Employees: Through employee advocacy programs, companies and brands are encouraging employees to share ‘behind the scenes’ content, highlighting how they use products and services in every day life. This drives consumer trust and faces and personalities to the brands they work for – a rapidly growing trend. Wendy’s saw great success with this after an employee video called ‘How-to make a Baconator’ got over 3M views on TikTok. Wendy’s further leveraged this by sharing the employee content to their own brand channels.  
  • Customers: Loyal customers have always been powerful brand advocates, and in 2021, these honest and authentic opinions have remained a high value offering throughout the pandemic, as more people turned to friends and family to understand which brands aligned with their beliefs. By encouraging loyal customers to create content, brands like Urban Outfitters (#UOonYou) and Aritzia’s 'Aritzia IRL' Highlight on Instagram, customers are incentivized to engage with the brand on a social media, fostering a two-way connection and a sense of community.
  • Trade: For B2B marketing, targeting people with a niche background in a specific industry allows your brand to reach a specific audience in a powerful way. Trade influencers may not have the largest following but are typically considered experts in their field and are often followed by other industry experts.  

While brands still have the most dominant role to play in storytelling and reputation, the trend of leveraging mouthpieces around those brands is expected to continue its growth in 2021 as relevancy trumps reach.

If you’re interested in talking with us about how these trends impact your social and digital media strategy and what it means for your industry, contact our Social & Innovation team here.

If there’s anything we’ve learned from 2020, it’s that our forms of communication are changing and adapting more rapidly than ever before. As social and digital media continues to play a strong role in helping Canadians stay connected to peers and brands alike, we’ve summed up the biggest trends in the first quarter of 2021 that will shape communications in the months to come.

  1. Audio Only Apps

While still in its pre-launch phase, Clubhouse has already amassed over 8M downloads of its app. This has, to no surprise, triggered an influx of other media giants announcing the arrival of their own audio-inspired features and apps. Among the main players detailed below, Spotify, LinkedIn and Discord are also throwing their hats into the ring.

Currently only available for Twitter iOS, Spaces are public like tweets and can be accessed by anyone. Automatically appearing at the top of your timeline, each Space has a link that can be shared publicly, and anyone can join a Space as a listener. Users can invite followers to join a Space via DM, tweeting out the link, or copying the invite link to send to friends and followers. A maximum of 11 people can speak at once during a Space session (including the host).  

Described as a mashup of Instagram Live and Clubhouse, Facebook Hotline is in Beta, allowing creators to speak to an audience who can then ask questions through either text or audio. However, unlike Clubhouse, creators can opt to turn their cameras on for the event, instead of being audio-only. Interestingly, even though this feature is from Facebook, it requires sign up from a Twitter account, and has a distinctly different format to Clubhouse, separating attendees that are engaging by asking questions, from those who are simply listening. It is currently only available via web, with no release date for an app.  

Audio will continue to dominate 2021, with pressure being put on brands to enter these environments authentically and make their leaders available in real-time like never before.

  1. The Rise of Communities & Groups

As the pandemic continues into year two, more people are actively looking to smaller communities and interest-based groups for closer connections. Results from a survey conducted by Facebook in October of 2020 indicate that online communities are thriving, with 77% of respondents saying the most important group they are part of now operates online. 98% of people who belong to an online group say they feel a sense of belonging to that group. Communities are playing a vital role in connecting people and providing emotional support during these challenging times.

The same Facebook survey showed that over the next 12 months, 87% of people whose most important community group is primarily online, say they’ll continue engaging with that group at the same level (48%), or even more frequently (39%).  

Recently announced Communities, is Twitter’s answer to Facebook groups, providing a more private engagement option, which would enable users to interact with others around dedicated interests, helping to foster closer communities, and see an even greater lift in engagement on the app. Once a user has joined a Community page, only those members are able to share tweets within.

With the continued impact of COVID-19, the value of digital connections and community cannot be overstated in this respect, and that has become evident in seeing where social media platforms are investing next.

  1. Privacy and Transparency is Changing

This year we’re seeing how online tracking and privacy continue to be common topics, following the introduction of regional measures such as GDPR as well as browsers such as Safari and Firefox limiting cookie functionality in previous years. In 2021, this topic has become more widely discussed as Apple announced the iOS 14 update which requires mobile apps including Facebook, news apps and mobile games, to provide its users on Apple devices with information about how their apps are tracking and using personal information, as well as give the users an opportunity to opt out of that tracking, among other things.  

Several major advertising platforms pushed back against this update, most notably Facebook, which claimed that small businesses in particular would suffer from this change as it would limit their ability to create personalized ads, potentially impacting the effectiveness of ad campaigns, and ultimately decreasing sales.

But how does the IDFA update impact social media? As users begin to opt out of tracking, advertisers will notice:

  1. Conversion tracking capacity will be reduced, both for app installs and web conversions
  1. Retargeting challenges as the pools will be smaller than past campaigns
  1. Reduced data reporting which creates challenges for measuring the ROI for campaigns

Possibly related to the concerns raised by large organizations such as Facebook, Apple has provided advertisers with tools to mitigate the extent of the data loss. While it does not provide the same level of tracking, it does provide some ROI information that would otherwise be unavailable. Facebook has also provided updates for advertisers to meet the IDFA changes, however, these changes ultimately mean reimagining how campaigns are set up, tracked and reported on moving forward.  

Online privacy and tracking transparency will continue to be a hot topic of conversation, with more browsers, operating systems and regions making moves to protect user data, and ensure users are in control of how their data is used.  

While marketers and brands may see these shifts as a challenge, it reinforces the need to invest in 1st party data, driving higher-level funnel tactics, and including more multi-channel strategies that reach audiences in ways they feel comfortable with.  

  1. Standardizing Influencer Agreements

With brands expected to spend $15B on influencer marketing by 2022, up from $8B in 2019, the world of influencer marketing has become a massive revenue stream. SAG-AFTRA, the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, recently launched an agreement allowing influencers and content creators to join the actor's union, bringing the industry a big step closer to standardization. In addition to offering access to benefits, the union will also be able to advocate on behalf of creators and further peruse legislation to better serve the community.

The agreement symbolizes a major shift by not only legitimizing this business practice, but also providing regulation and giving the industry a powerful collective voice. While this currently only impacts influencers and campaigns based in the U.S., it’s possible we will see something similar in Canada with ACTRA - the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists.  

Canadian marketers and brands are likely to experience a change in how creators negotiate fees and contract terms as influencers demand more transparency in rates and pricing across the industry.

  1. Shoppable Content

With daily social media consumption seeing significant growth in the last year, a new shoppable environment has emerged for brands, and influencers are at the center of it – cue shoppable streaming. Platforms like Amazon and Instagram have launched live shopping features where influencers show off their favourite products to viewers, with links in the stream to purchase the items directly. The trend has already taken hold in other countries like China, where Kim Kardashian West partnered with Vijya, a popular Chinese influencer, on a live shopping stream and sold over 15,000 bottles of perfume in minutes.  

This new form of influencer driven retail marks the gradual move from top funnel tactics to stronger lower funnel conversions, helping to prove the impact and ROI of influencer marketing for brands.

  1. Non-Traditional Influencers

Influencers are typically thought of as content creators with a large following, but in 2021, we are seeing more influencers emerging in ways that allow brands to build communities and tap into audiences as content generators.  

  • Employees: Through employee advocacy programs, companies and brands are encouraging employees to share ‘behind the scenes’ content, highlighting how they use products and services in every day life. This drives consumer trust and faces and personalities to the brands they work for – a rapidly growing trend. Wendy’s saw great success with this after an employee video called ‘How-to make a Baconator’ got over 3M views on TikTok. Wendy’s further leveraged this by sharing the employee content to their own brand channels.  
  • Customers: Loyal customers have always been powerful brand advocates, and in 2021, these honest and authentic opinions have remained a high value offering throughout the pandemic, as more people turned to friends and family to understand which brands aligned with their beliefs. By encouraging loyal customers to create content, brands like Urban Outfitters (#UOonYou) and Aritzia’s 'Aritzia IRL' Highlight on Instagram, customers are incentivized to engage with the brand on a social media, fostering a two-way connection and a sense of community.
  • Trade: For B2B marketing, targeting people with a niche background in a specific industry allows your brand to reach a specific audience in a powerful way. Trade influencers may not have the largest following but are typically considered experts in their field and are often followed by other industry experts.  

While brands still have the most dominant role to play in storytelling and reputation, the trend of leveraging mouthpieces around those brands is expected to continue its growth in 2021 as relevancy trumps reach.

If you’re interested in talking with us about how these trends impact your social and digital media strategy and what it means for your industry, contact our Social & Innovation team here.

FHR
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