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Seven Ways To Embrace The Power Of Social Connection In 2020 (Forbes Agency Council)

The following interview was held between CEO Jaymie Scotto Cutaia and JSA’s VP of Marketing & Account Strategy, Karissa Campbell, to develop our latest piece in the Forbes’ Agency Council.

Jaymie Scotto Cutaia: With about 45% of the world’s population active on social media, it’s important that businesses understand not just the influence of social media, but the power of targeted content that allows a brand to hook users and stand out. And as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, the importance of human connection took on a whole new level. 

Karissa Campbell: Indeed – it has been quite the year already.  That’s why in 2020 – now more than ever – it’s not just about businesses having a social media presence and content strategy, it’s about improving their customer experience, brand professionalism, tone, authenticity and trustworthiness. Simply said, it’s about connecting person-to-person in a new digital, social reality.  With COVID-19, internet usage has skyrocketed due to working from home, distance learning, streaming media, gaming and more.

According to Statista, the average daily in-home data usage in the United States has increased significantly during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in March 2020. Compared to the same time in March 2019 the daily average in-home data usage has increased by 38 percent to 16.6 gigabytes, up from 12 gigabytes in March 2019.  

Jaymie Scotto Cutaia: Even before so many companies had to pivot their marketing strategies due to COVID-19, it was predicted that social media ad spend by marketers this year would soar to $102 million+. We are observing this trend right here with our own JSA clients, especially as top social media platforms roll out new features, upgrade ad tools and create new ways for users to engage. Social media advertising will continue to ensure more targeted, relevant audiences.

Karissa Campbell: Right! And I am sure this number will continue to soar well beyond $102 million based on the sheer fact alone that companies are getting more creative, such as re-allocating their live (in-person) event budgets towards social advertising, and ramping up their social marketing initiatives in response to how the pandemic has shifted our world. Companies are engaging in even more social listening — the routine monitoring of social channels for feedback, direct mentions or discussions, followed by an analysis to gain insights and act on opportunities — making it a critical strategy component in 2020. More marketers are paying more attention to what is being said versus how many users react to a single post. And going back to our point on how important it is to make real connections with people right now, intelligent marketers are focusing more on   personalized, account-based marketing (ABM), making lead volume less important and shifting focus to revenue. I’m proud to say JSA is leading the charge when it comes to ABM, working with our clients to ensure their sales and marketing teams work together in order to customize messaging and improve outreach to a specific account’s needs, goals, pain points and motivators.

Jaymie Scotto Cutaia: YES – ABM is where it’s at! We’re helping our clients make that personal connection with their target audience, and arming them with the best team and tools to engage and foster new and meaningful business relationships. To effectively manage these relationships, there also has to be transparency and trust-building. We help our clients find ways to strike this balance between personalization and privacy, and ensure that their customers feel they have control over their internet experiences. 

Karissa Campbell: Yes, this is an absolute must! Offering transparency when it comes to data helps marketers be upfront about what customers can expect — assets that can go a long way in building trust and positive business-customer relationships. Instead of overloading them with irrelevant and/or pushy ads, offer them meaningful, humanized content they can attach to their everyday lives and that connects with their needs, both business and personal. In 2020, social media content is not about post frequency, but rather on the quality of what we post.  And it’s about making it fun, too – especially at this time in our lives, where many of us feel isolated, confused, and to be honest, scared! We need to focus on family, health, job security, safety – and the important relationships that matter. We are in need of uplifting content, and video is a great way for businesses to give that to consumers. This method of marketing continues to engage more consumers than any other content type in 2020.

Jaymie Scotto Cutaia: Absolutely; this is so important, K. People love visual experiences, especially when they can laugh, smile, cry and feel part of the moment. We are also finding that GIFs are another way businesses are engaging their audiences. Tactful, relevant usage of GIFs can be an integral, fun part of smart social media marketing, especially as consumers become less receptive to traditional advertising. 

Karissa Campbell: And continuing on the importance of personalization, today’s top brands continue to leverage user-generated content (UGC) for social media to provide a more intimate touch and engage followers. Micro-influencers (users with social followings of 2,000 to 50,000 and that usually specialize in a niche), for instance, are stepping in as some of the most sought after “tools” for social media marketing in 2020. Building brand awareness, loyalty and getting followers and micro-influencers to actively engage with content is a great way to help convert users into paying customers with minimal investment.

Jaymie Scotto Cutaia:  Love that! And let’s not forget Artificial Intelligence too, and how that contributes to a more personalized and overall “better journey” for social media users. With streamlined searches, businesses can use AI to their advantage, moving closer to instant gratification that customers demand.  

Karissa Campbell: Yup! I see AI hard at work every time I am on social media! (It knows how much I am longing to get my hair done again, for instance!)

All in all, even before COVID-19, we started seeing the trend of more and more people slowing down and getting “back to basics.” The silver lining to what has happened to our world and in our daily lives is that now even more of us are engaging in this mentality – slowing down and really focusing on what really matters: connections – to our family, friends, coworkers, and engaging in activities like real, honest relationship-building, supporting our community; especially those right at the forefront of this pandemic; and ensuring our health and safety. It’s so important for companies – and individuals – to demonstrate that we, together as the human race, are looking out for the greater good of people;  for the planet, for our children and grandchildren’s future.

At the end of the day, we all know that social media was not invented to be used as an outright sales tool but rather to build communities and create a sense of belonging. When authenticity is applied to your social media practices, it can better ensure long-lasting, relevant and valuable social connections.

To read the entire Forbes article, click here

Want to brainstorm more with our top marketing strategists at JSA? Contact us at [email protected].

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