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Five things brands should be leveraging in their digital strategies in 2020

Phone with colourful light reflections
Written by
Hayleigh Butcher

Hayleigh Butcher

A lot can happen within a year in the world of social media and digital platforms. As 2019 nears its end, we’ve taken learnings from the past year to provide some insight into what it takes to create successful and meaningful social media and advanced digital strategies, both now and as we enter a new decade.

1. Twitter is dead = #FakeNews

There have been more rumors about Twitter as a platform being dead than there have been new TikTok videos posted in the last week. You’ve heard it here: the rumors are nothing but #fakenews.

Twitter is in fact alive and thriving, and brands should still be using the platform (when it makes sense). Twitter users are incredibly influential, with 90 per cent of the audience actively influencing the purchase decisions of their friends and family. Twitter as a platform is great for breaking news, insights, and information. Conversations are happening—it’s up to you whether you’re participating.

Memory encoding and ad recall is significantly higher on this platform compared to other social media, so leverage it! Create for your audience, connect during key moments, and capture the attention by igniting the power of Twitter.

2. Lean into the meme

According to the Meaningful Brands Survey, 77 per cent of brands could simply disappear and no one would care. Ouch. Want to make people care? Cultural relevance might be your way in.

Cultural relevance correlates positively with better brand results. This means the more culturally relevant the brand is, the higher the score on other brand metrics.

Just make sure you tread carefully. It’s important to know your meme. Let’s use the woman yelling at a cat as an example. The woman is Taylor Armstrong, a reality TV personality who starred on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. And the moment? It’s actually Armstrong having an emotional reaction to describing her experience of domestic violence and abuse from her late ex-husband. While Armstrong has publicly stated she’s on board with the meme, it’s still good to know the context.

Brands can participate in pop culture moments, as long as you make sure you do the research to ensure you won’t be stepping in anything controversial.

3. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should

In that same breath, not every conversation is appropriate to participate in and savvy brands need to know the difference.

It’s important to do your research to ensure you’re not mistakenly getting your brand involved with something that may not be fully aligned with what you stand for.

Gillette’s Toxic Masculinity ad is a classic example of how even the most well-meaning campaign can lead to polarized reactions. The company received immense amounts of backlash for seemingly labeling all men and masculinity as bad, in an attempt to maintain brand relevance. The lesson? Make sure you understand your audience, your brand, and how you’re communicating your message.

4. Being good isn’t good enough

We’ve seen a shift over the last few years toward more cause-based marketing. Being a “good” company is simply not enough anymore. Consumers are expecting companies to “do good” too.

When the Northern California Wildfire struck in 2018, AirBnB activated the Open homes initiative, which sought out available housing for those displaced by the fires. This is an excellent example of the notion of “doing good” in action.

Just remember, this can’t be an empty marketing ploy. Your company or brand genuinely needs to believe in the cause. Otherwise, it could do more harm than good—just ask Pepsi, who received heavy backlash for its ad featuring Kendall Jenner offering a drink to a police officer in the middle of a protest.

5. Tell the story people want to hear, not the ones you necessarily want to tell

Knowing what to say and when is part of having a strong narrative. By knowing who your audience is and what they really care about, you can connect on a meaningful level.

Sometimes, organizations can get lost in the message of what they’re really trying to get across with their brand messaging and marketing tactics. It’s crucial to understand your audiences and recognize that what they care about can be fluid. In other words, what worked before might not work in the future.

Attention is a muscle and smart brands know how to flex it.

——— Hayleigh Butcher is a former Coordinator at NATIONAL Public Relations