Sure, technology might be turning lots of us into digital zombies, but it’s not all bad out there. Here are some marketing and social media trends that I feel pretty good about.
1. Content still wins
Pretty designs and fancy animations are a commodity now. An immaculately designed SquareSpace site with wordy, vanilla, or overly stiff content won’t do the trick anybody anymore. What sets professional websites apart from DIY sites is the quality of the text content and the degree to which it draws the reader into a compelling narrative. A minimal site with well-written content is better than a beautifully designed site with mediocre fluff content.
2. Companies moving towards original content instead of ads
Some forward-thinking companies, like MailChimp, are slashing their advertising budgets and putting their dollars towards creating original content instead, such as podcasts, videos and series.
Content that is genuinely useful and entertaining is attractive and sharable. (For example, I’m sharing it right now!) A cool branded video shared by one of your friends will have much more interest than the obnoxious ad clogging your newsfeed. When companies don’t need to spend a ton for distributing their content via ads, they can afford to create high quality content.
3. Smaller more engaged audiences
Your company doesn’t need to become a household name. You don’t need to become a top Instagram influencer. You just need a small but committed tribe of people that like and support your work. Mass media has long been dead, but many of us are finally realizing just how small a niche can be and still be viable for a business. Because the more specific your audience is, the more you can deliver exactly what they love/crave/value, without watering it down to a broadly palatable message.
4. Imperfections are charming
People crave realness in our plastic world, which is why web/graphic design trends are incorporating more and more hand-drawn and other “imperfect” elements. It makes it feel like it was created by a real human rather than a machine or template. Realness > Perfection.
5. Video will continue to dominate
Videos are so much more engaging and entertaining than text, and as a result every social media platform is pushing users towards more videos, even those that used to be text or image focused, such as LinkedIn or Instagram. If you haven’t already, start publishing videos in 2020.
6. Continued trends towards short, informal, unpolished video
Instagram Stories, IGTV, Tiktok, and others are so compelling because they feel so real and unfiltered. This informal style of video creates a sense of closeness, spontaneity, and fun. The good news is you don’t need to invest in a film studio to start putting videos online. Just pull out your phone and talk for 30 seconds about something you care about and publish it.
7. LinkedIn is so hot right now
If you’re career-oriented, running a business, or trying to expand your impact as a nonprofit, you better be on LinkedIn. Many of us wrote off LinkedIn years ago as a boring site only used by people when they were looking for a job. That’s no longer true. It’s the best platform for connecting with people in your professional space and has done wonders for my business growth over the past year.
Unlike Instagram and Youtube that are already over-saturated with content and ads, LinkedIn is pushing hard to get more attention on the news feed. Which means organic content gets good reach and doesn’t have as much competition as the rest. This won’t last forever, though, so now is the time to carve out your space. Also it’s owned by Microsoft, who will pour money into it so they aren’t left out of the social media arms race with Google and Facebook.
8. Dark mode
Not too long ago, dark backgrounds on webpages and apps were generally discouraged, but over the past year or so everything is going dark, from Google Chrome to your iPhone, and all the apps in between. I’m not sure it’s objectively better than what we had before, but it’s now associated with new freshness. And it’s nice on the eyes.
That’s what I got
I’m not saying it’s all moving in the right direction, but it’s a good time to be a small but committed business or nonprofit. Show up as a real human online, connect with a small but energetic audience, and rock it this year!