Last updated:

According to a recent study, preliminary numbers show that COVID-19 has pushed up internet use by 70%. With so much of the world’s population under lockdown, millions have spent most of 2020 creating and consuming digital content — it became the year for fleeting jokes, social challenges, and new platforms. Let’s head down memory lane and explore four of the most buzz-worthy marketing moments and how to incorporate these recent internet behavior changes into your 2021 strategy.

Fleetwood Mac + Cranberry Juice = Winning TikTok Video

TikTok, with its never-ending stream of content, exploded in popularity this year. One of its top videos? Nathan Apodaca (@420doggface208) swigging cranberry juice while skateboarding on a highway, lip-synching the 1977 hit “Dreams.” The video gained over 50 million views, launched Fleetwood Mac’s single back to the charts, spawned over 134,000 tributes, and led to a branded outreach from Ocean Spray. Not bad for a spur-of-the-moment video recorded by someone commuting to work after his truck had broken down. 

Takeaways for 2021:

  • With over 500 million users, TikTok is the platform you’ll want to start learning, especially if you have younger customers. 
  • Branded cultural moments aren’t always created by a marketing team. Sometimes, they’re the result of customers. Pay attention to what’s buzzing. 
  • Stop trying so hard to get views. You may become buzz-worthy just by capturing a simple sentiment or moment that others can resonate with. (Gen Zers refer to this as “immaculate vibes.”)

For more on how to create buzz-worthy marketing via TikTok:

4 Ways Brands Can Use TikTok Marketing to Go Viral

Bored? Conquer These Challenges

Influencers, children, and even grandparents looking to waste time in 2020 flocked to social media challenges. From the #savageremixchallenge to #therenegade, challenges popped up all over TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter. Some were dance-related (such as the Blinding Lights challenge based on a song by The Weeknd), while others were more random (such as the “social challenge” conceived by Dolly Parton, where you post four pictures you would use for Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Tinder). 

Takeaways for 2021:

  • People have always hopped on social media bandwagons — remember the ice-bucket challenge in 2014? For companies, challenges are a great way to build brand awareness and gather user-generated content. 
  • Given shelter-in-place restrictions, virtual challenges are an excellent way for people to build community and camaraderie. If you’re designing a challenge, make sure there’s a social element to it. 

For more ways to create buzz-worthy marketing via social media:

How to Connect With Your Target Audience Through Social Media

Still Bored? Go Live

Celebrities flocked to Instagram Live earlier this year as a means to entertain their fans — Chris Martin played live music, Miley Cyrus shared “bright-minded stories,” Chrissy Teigen streamed herself cooking, Amy Adams read books to children. Instagram Live became the go-to platform for those looking for more organic and intimate interactions with their audiences. 

Takeaways for 2021:

  • With more people familiar with live streaming in general — whether it’s Instagram Live or Twitch — brands can use these channels to connect with their customers better. From behind-the-scenes sneak peeks to product giveaways to “ask me anything sessions,” the possibilities are endless. 
  • Instagram Live has a less polished vibe than the Instagram grid itself, given the fact that, well, it’s live. Stay clear of experiences that may feel a little too polished or scripted. Goofs and blunders are a-okay, but just make sure you don’t say anything too appalling or inappropriate

Zoom Your Way Into 2021

If there’s one company we all became too familiar with this year, it’s Zoom. They have transformed from a nondescript tech company to an app we’ve all come to rely on for work, socialization, and play. Given how ubiquitous Zoom is to our stay-at-home lifestyles, brands have run with these creative ideas:

  • Denny’s created special breakfast-themed backgrounds for Zoom users. (Consistent with its snarky brand voice, the accompanying Tweet says, “No, you didn’t ask for them… But they’re here.”) 
  • The Rosé Mansion, an experiential museum dedicated to all things rosé, organized Zoom happy hours for rosé lovers to connect with the people behind the brand. The recurring event includes games, recipes, and even dance parties. 

Takeaways for 2021:

  • Being unable to connect with customers in-person is no excuse to shirk on delivering experiences that can build brand awareness and loyalty. Digital experiences using video conferencing — virtual hangouts, classes, workshops, and conversations — are great opportunities to reward existing customers and connect with potential ones. 

For more social media case studies:

How 4 Powerhouse Brands Mastered Social Media — and You Can, Too

Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021!

The trend towards digital will only continue in the new year. For e-commerce marketers, this is super exciting — we can’t wait to see what new opportunities, platforms, and tactics are in store. If you’re ready to build enduring relationships with more customers come 2021, be sure to check out the AdRoll e-commerce marketing platform today. 

Author

Angie is the Content Marketing Manager at AdRoll. Prior to AdRoll, she was a Content Writer at various digital marketing agencies. A writer by day and a reader by night, Angie’s other hobbies include cooking and learning useless movie trivia.