The pandemic has done more than close schools, cancel concerts and bring international travel to a grinding halt: it has changed the face of marketing as we knew it, and the world may never go back to the old normal.

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A recent Forbes headline read ‘CMOs Report Massive Shifts In Consumer Behavior And Marketing Strategies Post COVID-19’. Whether we are post COVID-19 yet may be open to debate, but what is certain is that consumer behavior is changing, and marketing is scrambling to keep up. Shelter in place requirements and recommendations to stay “socially distant” have driven consumers across the country to the only means of connection that remains to them: social media. We’re all spending more time on our screens than we’ve ever before, and we rely on multiple social media channels to help us feel in touch with our friends, our extended families, and the world. 

In June 2020, the American Marketing Association and Deloitte, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business published a joint survey called “COVID-19 and the State of Marketing”.  They found that marketers report an increased value on digital experiences (84%), an increased openness to new digital offerings (85%), and more online research before purchasing (58.8%). 

And marketers have stepped up, producing digital content and creating consistent, inspiring presences on social media that engage a growing fan base. Making a splash on social media today means competing with not hundreds but thousands of brands who are there with no intention other than to capture your audience.

It’s hard to stand out from the crowd, but it’s not impossible. The trick lies in producing engaging, scroll-stopping content on a consistent basis, and to follow the same social media trends that your preferred audience is following. Here I’d like to look at a few of these trends and talk about ways you can craft a social media marketing plan that takes advantage of them and carves out a niche of relevance in this post-COVID world.

The Instagram Story: Building Engagement with Snapshots of Who You Are

If you view Instagram as only a silent look-book of carefully curated pictures that showcase your brand to the world, you’re missing out on some huge potential in your social media marketing strategy. Instagram stories have skyrocketed in popularity, and there’s a reason: they offer the potential for real connection and a behind-the-scenes, sleeves-rolled-back view of a brand or personality. Boasting 500 million users every day, this social media trend is one you can’t afford to ignore. 

Post on your brand Instagram story, early and often. Post everything: sneak peaks, behind-the-scenes views, and fun insider knowledge your fans will be excited to see. But don’t just post static content.  Interactive content allows your followers to really feel connected, so post quizzes, bingos, and polls as well. 

Keeping up with a running feed of engaging Instagram stories can be a full-time job, but if you play smart it doesn’t need to be. Use Instagram story templates such as those available (for free!) on online graphic design editors like PosterMyWall to create fun, inspiring content that brings in new followers and keeps your current fan base inspired and invigorated. 

Video Snippets: Elevating Your Brand with Home-grown Video

Tiktok had 115 million downloads in March of this year alone. The rise of this short-form video app only highlights a trend that spans social media and digital content as a whole: mini-videos is where it’s at if you want to engage a media-saturated audience. People watch an average of 16 hours of online video each week and Cisco estimates that by 2022 video will make up 82% of internet traffic

It used to be that producing professional-quality video for business meant investing mega-bucks in a good camera and hiring a camera crew. But today you can take clips with your phone, and edit them up into captivating videos with PosterMyWall’s handy video editor. There are social media video templates there too, and you can use the easy drag-and-drop editor to customize them with your brand colors, logo, and relevant text. 

Hashtags and Challenges: Waking Up Your Captive Audience

Grabbing your audience’s attention through video ads and Instagram stories is important, but there’s more. What people read they might forget, what they see they may remember, but what they act on once they’ll never forget, and it will continue to be part of their lives forever.  That’s why hashtag campaigns and challenges are so important. 

Take the Vogue challenge as an example. This summer, black models, designers, fashion photographers, stylists, and make-up artists came together in the viral challenge to create faux Vogue covers, underlining the way black fashion and art has been excluded in the fashion industry as a whole. Browse #voguechallenge to see the wonderfully artistic covers they came up with and click here to create one. 

While your hashtag challenge may or may not gain the same amount of viral traction, it should have something else in common with this one: motivate people to get creative, get moving, and produce something that represents their connection with your brand. 

Growing a Community: Connecting Through Groups and Threads

There’s one more trend that every social media marketer should be aware of: a hunger for community, manifested on Facebook as new popularity of Facebook groups and in Instagram as increased usage of Instagram Threads. Create a brand-focused community, and keep a presence there by sharing content and answering queries or participating in discussions. 

One big warning: spammers love the potential soap-box groups’ supply, and there’s no better way to denigrate your brand than to let your official Facebook group turn into a spam fest. Don’t skimp on the admin-ing, and change your settings to allow only approved posts if it turns out to be more than you and your small business marketing team can handle. 

Bonus Tip

Create content for one channel, then repurpose it across your channel. Not only does this cut down on your workload, but it also adds consistency to your social media persona. If you’re creating quality content for Youtube, reuse it on IGTV. Tiktok content can be reused for your Instagram Reels. If you’ve been creating images or videos on PosterMyWall, resizing for different social media outlets is a free, one-click step. 

Over To You

Social media for business has exploded this year, but you don’t need to be lost in the crowd. Create engaging content using services like PosterMyWall, keep up with all the social media trends, and take advantage of Instagram Stories, video marketing, hashtag challenges, and online community. It won’t be long before you see your own circle of influence explode.