President of NOW Marketing Group. On a mission to return relationships to the forefront of business marketing.
What’s to come in 2022 as we dive into a new world of online communities?
The first wave of web was data, the second was social media engagement, and now we enter the metaverse. It’s an immersive evolution of how interactions are happening online, and those interactions are changing the dynamic between creators and their communities.
Savvy brands understand that when consumers are part of the creation process, they have ownership and create a belonging experience. This can build brand loyalty and advocacy.
• How team members show up online can directly reflect the brand’s character in the community’s eyes (e.g., recent actions of Arkon Mounts’s vice president of marketing made fans turn against the brand).
• How fans share the brand has an impact on the community (e.g., Ocean Spray and TikTok’s Doggface became connected together after his content went viral).
• Co-creation isn’t isolated to marketing only; more brands allow customers to create with them. For instance, Wren + Glory lets customers create custom-designed jean jackets, and Sugarwish lets users send a digital candy store e-vite, which allows recipients to personalize their gift with the exact sweet treats they want.
Smart brands in 2022 will awaken to 14 core areas of opportunity:
Culture: Starting From the Inside Out
Successful brands lean into their brand personality and have a solid claim on who they’re here to do business with and for. Start by establishing a brand manifesto.
In light of the Great Resignation, brands must focus on culture and identity to attract, maintain and secure a workforce in today’s world. People value time more than money and want to do work that inspires them. Brands must lean into building a strong foundation internally, highlight the environment the company has built and translate the culture one would expect while working there.
Unfiltered Brand Communication
In 2022, the veil between brands and customers will continue to become thinner. Brands will share “unfiltered” content that provides insight into what’s at the brand’s core and become more comfortable communicating with their customers where they want to do business (via messenger, text and social channels).
Monetizing on Messenger
Automation and AI are only going to get stronger and more dominant as consumers look for immediate solutions, facilitating brands to leverage messenger marketing and automation via chatbots in the inbox for accessibility more so than for marketing broadcasts.
Live Video Selling
Social platforms are making it easier for e-commerce brands to sell within their platforms through live video. Live video selling is an exciting value-add, and in 2022, we will undoubtedly see a shift in the number of brands using live video as a way to engage and sell in real time.
Social audio via podcasts, Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Facebook will continue to grow.
Brands will invest more in the quality and production of their live videos and micro-content and look at short-form content much more seriously.
Brands will begin creating more ways of incorporating AR/VR apps, as well as built-in collaborative website utilities. AR/VR will be built into strategies to help customers become more immersed in brands through engaging experiences that feel personalized, evoke emotion and tap into their senses.
User-Generated Content (UGC) Moments
Brands will focus on ways to create moments, opportunities and rewards for their audience to share UGC through photos, videos, affiliate links, etc. In 2022, brands will start working with influencers and embrace hiring, supporting and showcasing their employees’ personal brands as ways of creating UGC to expand their business awareness.
Power of Community
With the growth of dark social, brands know people are more likely to consider their business if it’s shared by a reliable and trusted friend versus a company. Brands will begin to realize the importance of collaboration and connecting with like-minded businesses and organizations that have a built-in, trusted audience. They’ll start generating more awareness by co-creating content and offers that benefit both organizations and their clients.
Brands will focus on establishing, understanding and auditing their data on where, how and why their community engages in order to know how to invest their time, money and resources.
Brands will elevate their game as it relates to providing content specific to their audience using personalized video emails, audio messages, ads and email messaging with their customers. With social apps allowing followers/viewers to pay/tip creators in real time, the value of content is in the eyes of the community. Brands will focus on crafting content that feels educational and relatable to their audiences (i.e., “edutainment”). Assigned value to creations — NFTs, collectors coins, etc. — are all part of this new shift.
Hybrid, Frictionless and Flexible
Brands will consider ways to merge the online and offline communities within events, workplaces and overall business processes. Brands will create online portals and utilize tools to allow their clients to perform actions that once were only done in person. They’ll also look for ways to make online experiences more engaging, immersive and inviting in order to stay engaged with their communities.
Brands will look into advancing their social, local and mobile presence and work harder at growing reviews, social proof and establishing a direct connection to their website via local directory listings and optimization.
Brands must rethink SEO via overall website Page Experiences and Google Core Updates and look at ways of turning their website into an interactive resource hub that gives their visitors a reason to return.
Customers want speed, accessibility and convenience, which is why the metaverse requires a mindset shift around how business is done.
The overall focus for 2022 will be to build relationships in order to turn followers into our biggest fans, our clients into our biggest advocates, our team members into our biggest evangelists and our community into collaborators.
It’s about showing up to relate to our customers on a personal level while operating with a service-over-selling approach. Doing this allows us to create organic marketing momentum that attracts, retains and secures the brand, serves as a magnet instead of a bullhorn and shows how we outcare the competition.