8 ½ Actionable Social Media Marketing Hacks to Grow your Brand in 2021

Graphic that says "Social Media"

Social media is everywhere. It has integrated into our lives to a point where people now spend up to three hours on social media platforms each day.

Social media has also integrated into the business world. It’s providing countless opportunities for business growth and over 70% of marketers believe that marketing on social media is effective for their business.

But even though the stats are easy to list, social media strategy execution can be hard. Here are eight and a half actionable hacks to help you create a 2021 social media strategy that’s worthy of accolades.

1. Use Data Storytelling

2020 saw the growth of data storytelling. It looks like the trend is here to stay.

Put simply, data storytelling is the ability to convey data as a narrative that the layman can understand. When you present your data in an easy-to-comprehend format, people can engage and interact with it.

Spotify has been at the helm of data storytelling for some time. The audio streaming company creates original content by collecting each user’s song data and using it to provide personalised streaming experiences.

For example, Spotify runs the famous year-end ‘Wrapped’ campaign which allows Spotify users to see highlights of their annual music choices. The campaign has been running for five years and it nets millions of hits for the brand.

Screenshot of Spotify's #2020Wrapper campaign

Goodreads has also been capitalising on data storytelling with its ‘My Year in Books’ campaign. The company creates individual landing pages for each user, highlighting the user’s annual reading stats and habits.

Again, this campaign provides users with personalised experiences and each user feels seen and appreciated.

Screenshot of Goodreads' 2020 Year in Books campaign

Although both Spotify and Goodreads users access their data through their accounts, the level of personalisation incentivizes social media sharing. This produces something that lots of social media users love — user-generated content (UGC). Social media sharing also increases brand awareness, customer loyalty and engagement.

Screenshot of Spotify's #2020Wrapper campaign
Screenshot of Goodreads' 2020 Year in Books campaign

Both Goodreads and Spotify have managed to differentiate themselves from competitors and fuel business growth using the data storytelling approach, which is a great way to make data unforgettable.

In 2021, you can use it to expand your reach and grow your audience on social media.

Top Tip: Your audience should drive what you say. Knowing what your audience wants from the data will help you deliver the data in the right context.

Similarly, your audience should drive how you say something. For instance, what you say to people who are new to your brand will differ from what you say to long time customers. You have to present the data in the form it will be best understood.

2. Create Video Content

According to Zenith Media, in 2021, the average person will spend 100 minutes each day watching online videos. Video content is what consumers want. Simple.

In light of this, it’s perhaps unsurprising that most social media platforms have pivoted towards video content. Video on social media has become a robust business asset for building brand awareness, acquiring customers, increasing social media engagement, building loyalty and driving sales.

For example, Later Media gets, on average, 5.5x more engagement with Instagram video content compared to non-video content.

Later Media Instagram post
Later Media Instagram post

As digital-first experiences continue to reign supreme, video content is likely to continue rising in popularity. Now is a great time to start working on a good video content strategy.

Top Tip: Know the optimum video length for each platform you choose to use. For instance, the optimal video length to maximise views with Facebook stories is 20 seconds or less and for other videos, it’s 3+ minutes.

3. Capitalise on stories

There’s a reason why all the popular social media networks now have a stories function — people want to consume their content with increasing speed. Shorter is better and TikTok’s success is proof.

TikTok came in with a robust shorter video strategy which led to the brand surpassing its growth predictions. The success highlighted the untapped potential of shorter video content.

Facebook soon followed suit with Facebook stories and Instagram reels. Now, LinkedIn has stories, YouTube has a snap video feature, and even Spotify has stories.

The massive popularity of stories is a good indicator of how important they are for shaking up your social media marketing in 2021.

Converse has been leveraging stories with great results. The shoe brand usually connects Instagram post content with story content when a new product or collaboration rolls out.

The post content

Screenshot of Converse Instagram post

The story content

Screenshot of Converse Instagram story

Top Tip: How you deliver your stories is key to how well-received they will be.

  • Make sure that your stories integrate with your post content seamlessly. The last thing you want is to confuse your audience with inconsistency. Also, stay on brand and maintain your voice.
  • Think about user experience. Since stories are almost exclusively viewed on mobile, keep in mind the best dimensions for the best immersive experience.
  • Cut the clutter. Don’t crowd your stories with unnecessary extras such as gifs and stickers. Cluttered stories can cause distractions that are bad for your brand messaging.

4. Take advantage of the surge in live streaming

The COVID-19 pandemic did not only increase video content consumption. It also caused the massive comeback of live videos.

According to Wyzowl, live videos took the lead as the most-viewed content in 2020. This trend is likely to continue in 2021 and we’re bound to see massive growth in social media live streams.

Some brands are already using live video to build brand awareness and foster relationships with their customers. Take Experian for example. Using the hashtag #creditchat, the consumer credit reporting company discusses various aspects of credit and debt with its audience via live video.

A quick scroll through the company’s Twitter shows just how successful the Credit Chat is compared to the other content on the feed.

Experian Twitter post
Experian Twitter post

Top TipKeep your live streams fresh and engaging by offering various types of content. Some possible events you can live stream include Q&A sessions, interviews and behind-the-scenes moments.

5. Leverage the power of memes in your social media communication

Turns out memes are not just good for some comic relief. You can now use them as one of your business growth tools.

Although they tend to have short lifespans, memes are a great way to nurture a brand personality that your audience can relate to. They are entertaining and witty and they can also boost interaction or even go viral. The beauty of memes is that they are easily accessible and cheap.

BarkBox, a New York-based subscription service, is one of the brands that have found much success with memes.

BarkBox Instagram post

Netflix is another.

Netflix Instagram post

Memes can be used by businesses of all sizes and therein lies another one of their advantages.

Top Tip: You can joke, but watch what you joke about. Your social media audience is made up of people from different backgrounds; something you find funny may be offensive to others.

As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to avoid topics on religion, gender and race unless you know what you are doing.

6. Use influencer marketing, and no, not just on Instagram

The influencer marketing industry is forecast to experience an 87.5% growth from its 2019 $8 billion valuation. This is according to the Business Insider influencer marketing report.

Although Instagram has by some default, become the go-to platform for influencer marketing, (maybe it’s because that’s where paid partnerships were born), another platform is worth your attention in 2021. TikTok.

Advertising on the platform is still relatively expensive, but micro- and nano-influencers are a cost-effective way to tap into the platform’s audience. Another benefit of using micro- and nano-influencers is that their engagement tends to be higher compared to that of macro and mega influencers.

82% of consumers are “highly likely” to follow a micro-influencer’s recommendations as opposed to those of an influencer with a bigger audience, according to Expercity. This is because people tend to view influencers with fewer followers as being more authentic.

Even big brands like Chrysler, Nissan, Coca Cola, Cadbury, and Google understand the benefits of using influencers without the big following factor.

Example of a nano influencer
Example of a nano influencer

You can also grow your brand in 2021 using micro- and nano-influencers. Just make sure that you choose your influencer(s) wisely and you build mutually beneficial influencer relationships.

Top Tips:

  • Start your influencer search small and local, especially if your business is local. Working with micro- or nano-influencers who are near you is a great way to get into the world of influencer marketing.  Local influencers will likely understand your local audience better than a person who has no connection to your business locale.
  • Get creative. Influencer marketing has evolved from merely posting a picture, adding a caption, and saying that you like the product.
    The modern consumer is ‘woke’ and it will take a lot more to convince them to buy. Make sure that the influencers you collaborate with use different content formats to keep things interesting.

7. Baby Boomers are Online, Give them Attention

In the past couple of years, brands have been focusing more on Millennials and Gen Zers with their social media campaigns. But the pandemic reshaped everything and other generations are moving back online.

Baby Boomers have particularly embraced social media and e-commerce. In fact, social media is now one of the top product research tools for this generation.

Baby Boomers may not represent a large portion of the population, but they represent a powerful market segment. They have more to spend. According to MagnifyMoney, Baby Boomers have 12x more wealth compared to Millennials.

Brands including Chanel, Nike, and H&M already feature Baby Boomers in their social media campaigns.

Nike Instagram post

You can also take advantage of the changing social media dynamics to boost your business growth. Social media usage among Baby Boomers is likely to continue beyond the pandemic so now is a good time to start catering to the needs of this generation.

Top Tip: Baby Boomers want services that are deeply customer-oriented. As such, make sure you can provide all the essential support on social media. Be available, be human and make life easier for the Boomers in your audience.

8. Remember, authenticity is still key

Social media has its merits, but it’s also dominated by fake likes, fake followers and fake news. All three elements are eroding consumers’ trust in brands.

Rebuilding consumer faith hinges on giving consumers what they want — genuine relationships and content they can relate to. As a result, perfectly curated content is out and authenticity is in.

Sendible is one company that has been doing well with authenticity

The company is transparent about its struggles and failures — basically, the things that many brands keep under wraps from customers.

Sendible LinkedIn post

The company creates a balance. Not only does it advertise its products, but it also focuses on educating customers and helping them address their questions and pain points.

Sendible Instagram post

The company often gives its audience a look at what happens behind the scenes (even when the entire team is working remotely). This humanises the brand and creates room for more personal interactions that increase trust.

Sendible Instagram post

2021 is a time to nurture relationships with authentic content. Think about how you can use things such as social media stories to show your authenticity.

Top Tips: Try the following:

  • Be human. Your audience is made up of humans not a group of robots; don’t be excessively data or fact-based. Present your facts and data in a way that brings out a relatable and interesting brand personality.
  • Focus on your values. Define your values and create content that embodies those values. Are you all about empowerment? Do you stand for equality and justice? Are you about challenging the norms in your industry? Let your values shine through your content.
  • Create an emotional connection. Forget hard sells and focus on creating emotions. You are selling to humans, so show some empathy.

8 ½. Track what matters

Social media analytics are crucial to any social media marketing strategy, but vanity metrics can be deceiving. For instance, the number of new followers may seem like a good measure of a marketing campaign’s success until you realise that only a few of those followers actually engage with your brand.

It’s better to have a smaller, more engaged audience. This way, you can use the interaction metrics to gain valuable insights into the type of content your audience enjoys.

Takeaway: Only measure metrics that can help you make sound business decisions. If a metric won’t help you to take action or to judge the value of what you are doing, then it’s not worth your time and attention.

These 8½ social media marketing hacks will help shape up your 2021 social media marketing strategy. However, it’s important to focus on what works just as it’s wise to ditch what doesn’t. The last thing you want is to waste resources.

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