Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
I’m Rachel Onamusi, founder of VN Sync, a full-service digital agency with expertise in all aspects of digital media, with a special focus on strategy development, implementation and facilitation. My projects have ranged from media & publicity strategy development and management, to marketing consulting, market research, corporate & personal brand management, and product launches.
How would you define the main trends that shape social media marketing in 2021?
The main trends are undoubtedly human connections and communities. As the world moves away from large, impersonal anonymous brands, the brands that will emerge as clear winners on the social media landscape are those who create content that resonate with people, create communities with human interests in common, and work to solve human problems, as opposed to incessant sales broadcasts.
Do you think that the rapidly changing social media content has influence on people’s judgement of who they really are? Why is that?
Absolutely. Content polarizes. As people, we gravitate towards content that not only resonates but also gives us something to aspire to, and we mould our behaviour accordingly. Similarly, we disconnect from content and brands that do not resonate, and feel distant and disengaged from their would-be followers.
How would you best describe 2021 social media user?
The 2021 social media user is a very savvy individual. Having spent over a year in lockdown with only social media for entertainment, the 2021 user is sensitive; responding positively to campaigns that has users at its centre, and turned off by mechanical, metric-determined campaigns. This user-led trend possibly explains the success of TikTok as it allows users to be the centre of their videos. They dance, communicate and use hashtags that seem personal to them and align with their values, and will not be distracted by non-personal content.
How do you deal with negative comments or a brand reputation crisis?
One of the most important tools for dealing with a brand reputation crisis is speed. The days of snail-mail are far behind us, and most users expect a swift response – particularly if they are already highly charged with negative emotions.
The second is to address the issue head on, apologise and own the problem without trying to wriggle out of it, shirk responsibility, or cast blame elsewhere.
A savvy social media manager should address the issue in public, take the conversation offline – where both parties focus on a resolution, and then come back to the public to make it clear that conversations have been had and the issue is now resolved.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that you may not win them all. You may take all of the necessary steps in defusing a situation and still be left with a disgruntled user. While no one wants this, the steps you took in trying to resolve issues are as important as the final outcome. More importantly, it is important that your followers see you making the effort.
What lessons have you learned from the pandemic? (in terms of social media marketing)
I learnt that everything can – and sometimes, does – change in the twinkling of an eye. Brands must be agile and creative in their methodology while keeping their eyes on the prize: building trust and credibility with your audience so that they align with you.
I’ve learnt that we need to be flexible and quick with decisions about media channels; work on our creatives, messaging, moments and phasing, and do that in human ways that enable a truly reactive approach. We’ve seen people re-evaluate what matters to them, making it harder for brands to win consumers’ attention, preference and hard-earned money, so we must completely throw out the old rulebook and constantly re-evaluate in this new normal.
Finally, I have learnt that pre or post pandemic, a strong brand with great values is still a strong brand. The journey might change, but the destination remains the same: creating solutions with users at the heart of all they do.