For marketers, 2021 was a year of growth and reckoning. We emerged from the challenges of 2020 with a bit more understanding and focus, and an eagerness to adapt. With 2022 on the horizon, we're not letting that momentum wane. Before we celebrate the new year though, we couldn’t help but look back at all the lessons we’ve learned in 2021. Fueled by consumers’ expanding adoption of digital behaviors, we turned to new tactics like performance marketing while striving to continue long-term brand building for a stronger, lasting connection to our audiences. From a deeper look at data and social listening to the increased use of influencer marketing, here are some of Hart’s top takeaways from our own agency experts this past year.
Seize the Data
Data continued to be a priority for the marketing world in 2021, due in part to Google’s plan to eliminate third-party cookies by 2023. Hart’s VP of Media Strategy and Analytics Kira Clifton weighed in on this shift in her blog, What Life Without Third-Party Cookies Means and How to Prepare for it Now. Her advice? “Rather than looking for a third-party cookie replacement, drill down on the 3P tactics you’re deploying and for what reasons. Knowing this will help develop a cookie-less action plan that aligns with your strategy and objectives.”
At Hart, we are always on the lookout for trends. And one trend we couldn’t ignore in 2021 is the exponential increase in the interest and requests from current and prospective clients about social media. From strategy development to content calendars to community management, social media has undoubtedly become one of our most sought-after services. However, there’s one social media service in particular we recommend first and foremost: social listening, meaning the mining, analyzing and understanding of the public’s conversations (via social media) about your company or brand.
Hart’s VP of Corporate Communications and Content Jeff Lutz provided his expert guidance on the importance of social listening in a webinar with global social media intelligence company and Hart partner, Digimind, recapped in the blog, 4 Strategies to Solve the PR Puzzles with Social Listening and Tools. His main takeaways? Feed your insights from a variety of sources, use real-time data to remain contemporary with integrated campaigns, keep things fluid and open for adjustment, and backup your messages with action.
The rise of influencers has really changed the game in the marketing and PR world. From increasing visibility and reach to gaining credibility and trust, influencer marketing came on full force in 2021, and that’s sure to continue in 2022. But while the majority of brands, both B2B and B2C, know influencers can help, they’re not sure where or how to start.
One of our go-to tips for influencer marketing comes from Hart Corporate Communications Specialist (as well as our own resident influencer) Heather Klatt. In her blog, The Key to Successful Influencer Marketing? Authenticity, Heather pointed out, “When a product/service doesn’t match the brand of each party, credibility is lost for both. When an influencer’s brand and values align with yours, it lays the foundation for a genuine creator/brand relationship.” Continuing, she said, “Developing a consistent, ongoing partnership with influencers should be driven by authenticity. Over time, their audience will also develop a trust in your brand because of the genuine relationship the influencer represents.”