The global pandemic is making the business world more digital than ever, and there’s no going back.
Coronavirus has forced all of us to be more tech savvy and digitally competent in order to safely work, socialize, and live our everyday lives as we shelter in place. Between the inability to shop in person and the permanent closure of many brick and mortar establishments, online shopping is a necessity, even for those who may have previously been hesitant to do so in the past.
This growth in digital competence has also raised the bar in terms of consumer behavior and expectations. According to recently surveyed CPG marketers and CMOs :
Social media engagement is also on the rise. Instagram added the most new users, with even stronger growth than Facebook, and Instagram’s advertising reach grew by 7.1% in the most recent quarter—more than three times Facebook at 2.2%. In fact, 4 billion people are on social media and more than 450,000 new users were added in the past 12 months, which is more than 12% annual growth.
So what does this mean for brands looking to improve engagement, sales, and retention after more than a year of global recession and economic uncertainty?
Less invasive, more efficient.
Less in-person engagement, greater digital competence, and a market flooded with competitive options has led consumers to reprioritize their expectations to a quality product from a brand they can trust, showing less interest in metrics like service and price.
Consumers don’t think about brands as much as brands think about consumers (or as much as brands think about themselves, for that matter) so creating a simple, seamless experience that respects the consumer’s time, focuses on improving their shopping experience, and materially adds value for them is the way to win in the digital space.
Add value with perspective, not pandering.
68% of people don’t think brands or companies share interesting content. Given the amount of content that is generated daily and how much is spent to produce that content, that is a sobering percentage.
Part of adapting a brand to a digital experience is knowing how to deploy social media and which channels best achieve your marketing objectives. Each social platform is a different tool with a different use and navigating the nuances between these channels allows brands to share the right content in the right place for the right audience, strengthening the relationship between the consumer and the brand.
For example, Twitter and Pinterest are the best channels for brands without paid advertising. Pinterest is best to drive bottom-of-funnel conversions and it recently added new ROI-driven advertising tools and a “Today” tab to keep users engaged.
Meanwhile Twitter saw a resurgence after a newsworthy year and is one of the top 20 most visited websites in the world, with total website traffic that was 3x larger than its actual user base.
So when evaluating when and what to share on social media, brands need to ask:
- Are we adding anything to the conversation that is unique, informative or entertaining?
- Do consumers expect us to weigh in, and if not, is weighing in an opportunity to share something they value?
- Do we gain more by observing than participating?
Embrace the intimacy.
The digital world allows any consumer to engage with brands in a public forum. It also allows brands to get to know their consumers more intimately and discover new and better ways to serve them.
Consumers are candid online in ways they aren’t in person or when participating in research. Social listening helps brands identify the best ways to connect to consumers more accurately and authentically and can also unlock opportunities to serve more diverse audiences across age, race, gender and ability.
Just like real relationships, the more personal a brand can be with its audience the stronger the relationship will be and growing diversity means the ‘one message to rule them all’ approach is no longer enough to ensure engagement and build loyalty.
Creating a robust, dynamic digital strategy as part of an overall communications plan is crucial for brands to succeed in the wake of the pandemic and enrich consumer/brand relationships. This requires a deft touch and commitment that may seem daunting but if executed correctly with the right brand agency partners, can set your business up to win now and in the post-pandemic days ahead.
 2020 CMO Survey
 Hootsuite 2021 Social Trends
 AdWeek Marketing Reinvented 2021 Report