Seven trends that will influence content marketers in 2021

April 7th, 2021 | Katherine Scarrow, Monica Bialobrzeski and Jeanine Brito, Globe Content Studio

Three illustrations showing in-person conferences. 1. People sitting on a stage in armchairs for a fireside chat, 2. A view from the stage looking out at the audience with clapping hand emojis above the speakers, 3. A large conference hall with people sitting at round tables.

As the business world continues to adapt to political and pandemic pressures, content marketers have to shift their strategies and communications on a dime to stay relevant.

Here are some of the biggest creative, cultural and societal trends to watch in 2021:

 

 

1. Rebel against perfection

After decades of polished imagery and manufactured celebrity, people are craving a sense of raw imperfection. We’ve been building to this for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has definitely fast-tracked a cultural shift. Spearheaded by Gen Z, this trend is all about personality. Marketing needs to be genuine to this moment. It’s about meeting your audience where they are—not just on the right platform, but in the same headspace.

Headshots of three influencers on TikTok: Vi Lai, Brooke Averick, Lizzo.
TikTok is the platform of choice for those hungering for candid, unpolished content. From left to right: skincare influencer Vi Lai, vlogger Brooke Averick, and celebrity Lizzo.

2. Screen time on overdrive

As their popularity and influence continue to grow, virtual worlds will likely continue to transform our society. Today’s gaming platforms offer profoundly meaningful experiences and new economic opportunities. For marketers, they’re rich terrain for exploration, offering unexpected ways to create and distribute content and connect with new audiences.

"Gaming is set to emerge as the next dominant technology platform much the way search engines, mobile phones and social networks redefined industries in previous decades. " - Michael Wolf, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Consulting Firm Activate Inc.
Michael J. Wolf, Activate CEO, says gaming has surged since the pandemic and explains how platforms are being built out to encompass a wider array of activities than ever before, during Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live 2020.

3. Reimagining spaces

Over the past 12 months, we’ve collectively experienced spatial displacement, and how our world will look in the context of indoor and outdoor spaces continues to evolve. Space has direct power to influence our behaviour, needs and wants, and ultimately dictates how we adapt our businesses for our target markets.

Cars parked at a large outdoor rock music venue
Drive-in experiences are no longer a thing of the past and have led the way of providing ‘social’ experiences during the pandemic. This is just one example of how old formats are experiencing a modern-day resurgence.

4. Collaboration at every level

Around the world, people are coming together in unprecedented ways. We’re seeing grassroots initiatives like community fridges and other mutual aid. On an international scale, pharmaceutical companies worked together to develop COVID-19 vaccines in record time. The future calls for messages of unity, and marketers have an important role to play. How can we use our platforms to bring people together?

Photo of President Joe Biden inauguration in the background, with quote from the president (“With unity, we can do great things, important things.”) in foreground.
Biden’s inauguration marked a shift in political messaging. While the divisions that existed before his presidency are very much still in place, his administration is starting on a different note than that of his predecessor.

5. Hitting the wall

Mental health awareness boomed in 2020 and brands continue to bring attention to mindfulness in their products and services. But it’s not enough to use the word ‘mindful’ in marketing material. Successful companies understand the complex challenges facing new generations and provide them with accessible, tailored and applicable solutions that enhance wellbeing.

A reel showing new offerings from Walt Disney (Zenimation), HBO (His Dark Materials: My Daemon) and Netflix (Headspace: Guide to Meditation)
Content creators – from Disney to HBO to Netflix – are taking a new approach by encouraging audiences to practice meditation, mindfulness and self-care.

6. Financial ch-ch-ch-changes

Habits learned during the pandemic could inform a lifetime of financial behaviours. It’s important to be sensitive to your audience’s burdens and potential concerns in your communications and content marketing strategies.


In search of guidance and more control, people are turning to their peers for advice. Over the past year, influencers like Haley Sacks, Humphrey Yang and Ryan Scribner, are posting finance videos on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube to share their frustrations and financial habits.

7. Cautiously optimistic

We’re at a historic point of tension. Our current landscape presents many similarities to those of the Roaring Twenties: optimism toward shedding the pandemic lifestyle and living in future abundance, and cautiousness knowing there are still many economic, social and political issues that need to be solved.

Split screen: Image on left – A person with colourful shirt sitting at a desk with a lot of cups and books and other things strewn on it, along with a lot of pictures and illustrations posted up behind the person. Image on right – A person all in black sitting at an empty desk with a dog sitting next to her in a large room with almost no furniture and a couple of paintings on the walls in the background.
The growing design trend of maximalism is a sheer contrast of the last decades trend of minimalism and is one example of a cultural tension we face today.

Black and white text that says State of Creativity / Globe Content Studio
‘State of Creativity’ is an engaging presentation revealing and contextualizing emerging trends that represent the future of storytelling, and offers ideas on how to use insights to drive content marketing opportunities for brands.

 


 

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