In a socially distant year, companies have seen firsthand the critical role social media plays in connecting brands with their customers. For some brands, 2020 was about trying new things in the social arena, while others prioritized involving the communities already built.
This year also confirmed the importance of social media marketers – and how many hats they are likely to wear. When not creating content or managing communities, social marketers serve as a brand’s first line of defense against trolls and critics when brands go wrong.
For many social marketers, 2020 was full of burnout and stress. But it was also full of valuable insights for marketers to apply in their future strategies. Above all, 2020 has shown how important social media marketers are to the success of a company. Here are nine predictions of what 2021 has in store for social marketers, from being part of marketing teams to the recognition they’ll earn from their peers.
1. You will take on a more strategic role
Without social media, brands would have struggled to stay connected with their audiences in 2020. Jenn Crim, Acquisition Marketing Manager for Social Media at Opry Entertainment Group, is confident that social media and those responsible will become a must-have for brands.
“I see the role of the social media manager in 2021 as absolutely important. Our work has always been shown publicly, but in a year when social media has become the main line of communication for many companies with their customers and audiences, social media managers have moved from being in the room to those running the room. If you don’t empower your social media manager to equip them with the knowledge and tools to best communicate with and trust your audience, you will awaken rude. “
They don’t just post content on social media.
They also build and grow a social program, maintain a brand presence online, grow an audience, support business goals with social media, etc.
Never let anyone treat you like you just hit the publish button.
– Jenn Crim (@jenncrim) December 11, 2020
2. You find new growth opportunities
While executives continue to learn about social media, social marketers can spend less time explaining what they’re doing and more time building their strategies and careers. Jayde Powell, Head of Social and Community at Sunwink, believes this will lead to greater clarity of roles and an expansion of the social media marketer’s career path.
“The role of the social media manager is very ambiguous and, in my experience, has been defined differently in every company. Marketing directors are still learning the skills and requirements required to hire social media marketing talent. Brands are now seeing the value of organic and paid social media marketing, which means more talent is being hired. The hope for the future is that there will be a clearer career path for social media marketers. “
have a boss who gets social >>>>
– Jayde me. powell (@jaydeipowell) November 20, 2020
3. You experiment with your brand voice
Gone are the days of tough marketing. As brands continue to take a more humane approach to the social, expect the nonchalance to have an impact on the social too. Lindsay Bruce, Marketing Manager for SMB on Twitter, believes the future of social media marketing will involve more experimentation in how brands connect with their audiences.
“Over the past 18 months, I’ve seen more and more brands adopt a more casual, human brand voice on social media, especially on Twitter. I think this will go on, making brand voice development an even more important part of a social media manager’s role. When brands leave the familiar roadmap of traditional “marketing speak” behind, they need help experimenting and developing new connection methods. “
Let’s see these pets in the office (and home office)
– Twitter Business (@TwitterBusiness) March 16, 2020
4. You get the recognition you deserve
A brand’s social presence is nothing without the wits and creativity of the people who work behind the scenes. Calum Shanlin, Senior Producer at CBC, is confident that the future of social media is recognizing the people behind the keyboard.
“In 2021, I hope that social media managers get the respect they deserve in the workplace. We all know it’s a lot of work and that the SMM plays so many different roles, but I feel like we get to know the managers themselves better and people in turn understand how much goes into them. I realize how happy I am in my current position, that I feel properly valued and totally trustworthy by my superiors, and I just hope that more and more social media managers feel the same way soon. “
5. You prioritize approachability in every customer interaction
Every customer interaction is valuable – even those that feel one-sided. Adrian Molina, Brand Marketing Manager at Aviation Gin, reports how even small engagements with fans make a big contribution to building a loyal community.
“I firmly believe the trend towards ‘approachable parasocial relationships’ (which I just made up) will continue into 2021 and beyond. Parasocial relationships refer to the one-sided admiration people can have for a celebrity or media personality based on their industry such as television, podcasts, or YouTube. Brands and social marketers aren’t necessarily big celebrities, and we live on the commitment to ultimately lead to our product and service. So there is a possibility in “approachable parasocial relationships”. “
6. You keep brands and customers on the same page
Sometimes it can feel like brands and their consumers operate in two completely separate planes. Brianna Foster, Pinterest social media manager, predicts the future of social media marketing will be bringing brands even closer to their audience.
“The role of the social media manager will always be to represent the digital personality of a brand. In 2021 this role will have a stronger focus. We have seen brands struggle with accountability as they embark on social events in order to respond to what is happening in the world, and we’ve seen that just saying something is not enough. You had to take steps to secure your statements. Social media managers can help bridge the gap between brand and audience on a personal level. You need to listen to their audience and stay up to date on current events. “
7. You are involved in conversations from the start
A common frustration for social marketers is that they are not considered during the planning stages of marketing campaigns or business decisions and then asked at the last minute to come up with a redundancy plan. Christina Garnett, Senior Insights Strategist at VIZIT, believes this will change in the new year.
“This year there were many open discussions about the work of social media managers and the stress that comes with it. I hope 2021 will see more respect and appreciation for these roles and social media in general. I hope more brands bring the social media manager into larger marketing conversations and incorporate them into part of more campaigns rather than incorporating them afterwards. “
8. You deserve the buy-in you need to be successful
In the past, brands may have had some concerns about investing money and resources in social media marketing. With a better understanding of the impact social media can have on a business, don’t be surprised if brands invest more in social media and those who manage it. Brianne Fleming, Marketing Instructor at the University of Florida, explains her prediction.
“During the pandemic, social media bridged the socially distant gap between companies and their customers. It was the glue that held that connection together, highlighting the importance of social media as a field. I see more brands investing in social media managers and understanding their impact on brand loyalty. “
Social media is a stage where you perform for the masses but still have the power to meet and greet
– Brianne Fleming (@ brianne2k) December 9, 2020
9. You build a brand that customers love
Few people really understand their customers as well as the social media manager. As the first point of contact with consumers, social marketers often hear firsthand what customers love and hate about your brand. Pat Timmons, Social Media Associate at Drift, anticipates social media marketers will continue to play this role in 2021.
“The value of the social media role can be felt on so many levels across the company. We interact with customers every day, we hear what they say about us and other brands, we are present throughout the entire customer journey. In 2021, our goal should be to tell this story to our teams and our leaders. “
Marketing is a love letter to your customer …
write accordingly ❤️
– Pat (pattimmons_) October 4, 2020
Get ready for the future of social media
It’s hard to deny how much 2020 cemented the importance of social media marketers and the value of branded social media. And many social marketers are finally getting the respect and recognition they deserve from the rest of their organization.
Don’t be surprised to see the role of social marketers and the social marketing space evolving over the course of 2021. Whether it’s bringing brands closer to their customers or creating new ways to connect with your audience, the possibilities for the future of social media marketing are endless.
When you’re ready to hone your social strategy in the New Year, download this worksheet and start connecting with your audience today.