The maturing of social media, and other PR power trends

by | Oct 20, 2020 | Public Relations

If social media belonged to a generation, it would be Generation X, those born between 1955 and 1980. Launched in the 1970s by the University of Illinois through an extension of what was called the PLATO system, social media has since exploded and matured to become a favorite platform today of Gen Zers and millennials.

Last year’s predictions bear fruit for brands

A survey of 3,110 marketers in the third quarter of 2019 by social media management company Hootsuite generated several predictions for this year that have already been validated. One prediction was about the pressure on social marketers to expand their skillset and become more proficient in performance marketing tactics. This was borne out by brands like KitchenAid, which spotted consumer trends through social listening after the pandemic began. Because more people were cooking at home, KitchenAid built its ad campaign around topics with the greatest demand and content ideas that engaged customers. Crafting messages that result in meaningful connections can be achieved by understanding a brand’s target audience.

Hootsuite also predicted TikTok’s accelerating popularity

During the period of quarantines, The Guardian even called TikTok the “social media sensation of lockdown.” The platform appeared to be the perfect solution to boredom and an escape for people seeking fun. Barring any unexpected surprises on its recent sale to Oracle, TikTok and its more than 100 million downloads is expected to remain a mainstay of the younger generations. The other prediction that was spot-on was that brand purpose and employee activism would become more prominent especially with the rise of digital PR. The pandemic, as well as activism throughout the country brought both issues front and center in a faster and bigger way.

Companies get a well-earned trust boost

An Edelman Trust Barometer survey in 2019 reported that 75 percent of respondents trusted their employers to do the right thing. This ranked higher than their trust in government, the media and business in general. What Hootsuite observed after the pandemic hit was that many of these companies came through with donations to first responders and serving their communities. Hootsuite noted that many of those same companies received positive consumer reviews.

Brand purpose is powerful. A KPMG study during the pandemic revealed that brands that showed a positive impact on people’s lives grew 250 percent more than lower-impact brands. Those same companies, the firm reported, outdistance the stock market by 134 percent and have happier employees. It added that nine in ten employees would even take a pay cut to have more meaningful work.

Authenticity proves to be key

With all these calls today for activism, words alone won’t suffice. Today’s consumer sees right through it. Empathy and sincere action after listening to a brand’s audience on social media about causes they care about are so critical. Of course, any action by the company must also align with the brand’s values. Brands catering to a younger audience but not yet advertising on TikTok might reconsider. An interactive campaign for the right brand reaching the right audience with the right message could be a big hit. At the same time, keep an eye out for Reels, TikTok’s competition on Instagram. That may be another option.

Shops presents a double opportunity for brands to sell on both Facebook and Instagram. Because they’re interconnected, higher conversion rates over a brand’s website are distinct possibilities.

And don’t forget Pinterest

That platform also saw an uptick in popularity after the lockdowns. It could be particularly prime for brands that cater to consumers interested in DIY, lifestyle, healthcare, and financial asset management.

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Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations: 5WPR is one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.

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