What are some of the most important business trends you’ve noticed increasingly more often since the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic last March? Perhaps you’ve noticed a stronger push for virtual conferencing software such as Zoom or Google Hangouts with a larger portion of employees working remotely or from home. Maybe you’ve noticed your friends or even your kids spending more time scrolling through viral videos on Instagram or TikTok due to the increase in viral challenges and campaigns from influencers. If you’re anything like viral marketing maverick Rick Schirmer or his supermodel-turned-mogul wife Rachel McCord, chances are high that you’ve picked up on several marketing trends that have grown in popularity and influence across the internet since the pandemic began.
Since leaving Disney/Pixar’s marketing team in 2002, Schirmer has seen prominent success in his ability to reinvent viral marketing campaigns. Having struck paydirt in organizing one of the first and most successful influencer-driven marketing campaigns to coincide with the release of a feature Hollywood film, Schirmer together with his wife/business partner McCord co-founded the ViralBrand marketing agency in 2016. When asked about viral marketing during and following the COVID-19 era, both Schirmer and McCord noted that current conditions have accelerated 7 marketing trends in ways that couldn’t have been imagined before 2020.
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
This is one trend that, thankfully, seems like it is here to stay. Over the last few years, corporations, organizations, and agencies in virtually every consumer market have dedicated tens – if not, hundreds – of thousands of hours in collecting and analyzing data to better assess the needs of their DEI strategies.
With consumers now more aware and involved than ever before on matters of social and racial justice, inclusion and equality, it can be safely said that nearly every consumer brand in America will be developing strategies to define their values for customers.
- Rapid Acceleration of Influencer Marketing
For any influencer or brand looking to expand their audience or engage more deeply with an established audience, content is king. In this case, video content in particular through social media platforms such as TikTok has exploded over the past two years.
Despite video content and influencer marketing being two saturated markets, the barriers to entry remain minimal. Essentially anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection can quickly start down the path towards becoming an influencer. With a 33% increase in brands looking to hire influencers for content creation in 2020, influencer marketing looks to be one marketing trend that we can expect to see continued growth from in the coming years.
- Organic User-Generated Content vs. Traditional Ads
Between 2019 and 2020, we saw a 40% increase in the performance of influencer-generated ads on social media. Coupled with the reduced cost that comes from sourcing ads through influencers targeting niche market segments, it can be assumed that the “traditional” model of advertising through social media is slowly being replaced by more personalized and hyper-targeted advertising.
- Humanizing Social Issues Empowers Brands to Share Values
Between all the socio-political issues that made headlines since the advent of COVID-19, more consumers than ever are becoming more conscious of where and how their money is spent.
Though consumers, in general, claimed to spend less money during periods of financial crisis or economic uncertainty such as last year’s pandemic, one survey from Deloitte mentioned that over 60% of consumers would be more likely to, “spend with companies who have taken extra steps to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their employees” during last year’s lockdown periods. In that same survey, Deloitte found that consumers also said they would be less likely to spend with companies which “display less social conscious or purpose.”
As such, more and more companies have become more transparent with their target markets about the values they and their brands hold, and have done more to align their values and philanthropic efforts with issues and causes important to their consumers.
- Continued Exponential Growth of Live Video Across Major Social Platforms
With the series of lockdowns and quarantine mandates that came about as a result of COVID-19’s spread, more social media users flocked to platforms that offered live video streaming and conference call options such as Facebook Live, Zoom, and others in order to fill the gap left in face-to-face communication.
Livestream options are ones often overlooked by those not aware of new trends in the gaming industry, but this sector alone grew by nearly 50% between March and April of 2020 alone, nearly doubling the industry’s year-over-year (YoY) growth. With lockdown mandates still in place in several countries, the exponential growth of live video streaming is only expected to continue into the future.
- More Live Video Campaigns From Market Makers Like Amazon
Gamers and influencers aren’t the only segments who have sought to capitalize on the exponential growth of live video services. Large companies and market-movers have hopped aboard this train, too, with brands such as Amazon, Nissan, and even Experian utilizing video livestream campaigns as ways to grow their customer base and improve relationships with existing customers.
Campaigns such as these allow brands to conduct live Q&A with their target audience, showcase new products or services, or address widespread concerns all in real-time. This reduced hassle on behalf of the consumer makes live video campaigns an enticing marketing trend for almost every brand moving forward.
- Voice Search As A Rapidly-Growing Frontier
If your company or brand hasn’t optimized your search engine optimization (SEO) for voice search, you are losing out. As of 2020’s close, roughly half of all online searches were made using voice search or some kind of voice search assistant, with nearly 1 in every 5 searches from mobile devices being made through voice, and nearly 3 in every 4 users who conduct voice searches from their mobile device saying it is now a near-daily routine.
This rapid growth in voice searches over the past few years means that consumer brands can expect well over 50% of post-millennials to utilize voice search in searching for and engaging with their brand online daily in the months and years to come. One other sub-trend that may arise from this main trend is the advancement of voice search technology (such as Amazon’s “Alexa” smartspeaker) to conduct more refined and focused voice searches.
About The Author
Rick Schirmer is one of the world’s top influencer marketing pioneers. As the CEO and co-founder of ViralBrand, he specializes in launching viral brands and campaigns with the clear mission of generating an exponential return on marketing spends for his agency’s clients. Visit viralbrand.com today to learn more.