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Our Take: ModSquad’s 2021 Digital Predictions

2020 was anything but ordinary, and we’re all eagerly awaiting the new year. Will it bring as much change to the digital landscape as we’ve experienced in recent months? Join us as we take this moment to present our annual forecast of the digital trends for 2021.

But before we jump into our predictions, here are some thoughts to consider:

  • More than 4 billion people use social media, with more than 2 million joining each month. How are organizations engaging with them?
  • More than half of all consumers are using social media to research products. How does that impact the customer experience?
  • 2020 was the year of the short video. How can brands tap into this in 2021?

While our predictions for 2020 proved to be on point, here’s what we think the coming year may bring.

1. A focus on the integrated social customer experience 

As more and more consumers flock to social media for their customer service needs, it’s clear that many organizations will need to build a social media strategy that supports this trend. While community building, moderation, and engagement are all part of the social media strategy, they’re also closely tied in with the user’s support experience. Customer experience teams and social media teams should go hand-in-hand, a dynamic duo that work closely together to collaborate on a great, consistent user experience.

2. Video, again… again 

And now we’re really seeing that 2021 will be an even bigger year for video. Instagram Reels and Snapchat Spotlight emerged as valid competitors to TikTok, and video creators don’t seem to be slowing down yet. We can expect longer-form videos in the new year as apps like TikTok explore increasing video lengths, and perhaps we’ll even see some new competitors in the space begin to emerge.

There are some who predict an end to text content altogether, reiterating the sheer popularity and success of video content. We don’t necessarily expect the change to be that drastic by 2021, but with 78% of people watching online videos every week, we can certainly assume next year will bring more videos and more viewers. As an added bonus, there are thousands (if not millions) of dollars to be made as a successful video creator, which is a huge draw for anyone with access to a mobile device and a little creativity.

3. The growth of empathy-based service

2020 brought with it increased levels of anxiety and insecurity for consumers. With the economic status of 2021 still unclear and the ongoing impact of COVID-19 restrictions, there will be a great pressure on customer spending and customer service. Customers, however, expect companies to show them empathy during turbulent times. (And in 2020, according to a Genesys survey, 48% of consumers felt that companies were failing at this.) By putting themselves in the customers’ shoes, brands will be better positioned to predict customer pain points and proactively develop support solutions to address those needs and concerns. This effort can’t be automated; it has to be organic, emanating from human brand representatives with compassion and heart. With the right people and processes in place, companies can help make a material difference in customers’ lives, enhancing their reputation and solidifying customer loyalty.

4. Flexible workplaces take root

Working remotely has always been the norm for us, but that isn’t the case for many organizations. Although 2020 brought some extenuating circumstances, we expect remote-based work to become even more commonplace, as the traditional office-only arrangement gives way to work-from-home situations (or, for many, a hybrid arrangement). Thousands of organizations spent this year setting up virtual workplaces and acclimating their teams to Zoom and other online tools, and many realized that their employees are and can continue to be productive in such an environment.

5. Innovation in video calls and conferencing

2020 is the year of peer-to-peer(s) streaming through video calls or video conferencing. Zoom is not just a household word, it’s commonly used as a verb, with its ubiquitous use for school, meetings, family connections, and social gatherings. Video streaming is the connective tissue keeping people engaged when socially distanced.

We’ve seen old school Bingo, virtual audiences, co-streaming opportunities like Teleparty, and the most whimsical bluescreen backgrounds and quirky facial filters. Both Amazon Echo and Facebook Portal have movement-tracking features. If you want to talk to your parents while cooking dinner, it’s like having a mini camera operator follow you about the kitchen with ease. 

People will continue wanting to connect virtually in more meaningful ways. As the world begins to reopen, video platforms and conferencing will want to keep the traffic demand. To do that, they’ll need to innovate with emerging tech that can maintain quality in the face of explosive growth. But a good portion of P2P streaming’s success will rely on the end users themselves; without innovative content, Zoom fatigue may set in. Streamers will look for new ways to offer presentations that engage and inspire. 

This past year brought more surprises and more challenges than anyone could have ever imagined. At the very least, we should be a bit more prepared for anything to happen in 2021. What’s your take on our predictions? Let us know in the comments section below.

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