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Lockdown Trends: What Will Stay and What Will Go?

It’s been a long road. Over 12 months we’ve seen daily life change irrevocably. Remote working has become the standard. We’re either shopping ultra-locally or having products delivered from the vast expanses of the internet. Zoom calls with friends & family have replaced jaunts to the pub. 

But how many of these trends will last? It’s a question on a lot of people’s minds – including our own. Of course, we can’t speculate as to whether long-distance travel will return to it’s pre-pandemic highs or if loungewear will become the new smart-casual. One thing we do know about at E1MA however, is digital marketing. We select a handful of key online trends that either emerged or were accentuated by the pandemic, and explore whether they’ll become part of everyday life post-lockdown.

TikTok & Instagram Reels

TikTok is synonymous with the pandemic. The app has been out since 2016, but reached a feverish level of popularity in 2020 as consumers desperately sought new forms of entertainment. It’s since been downloaded over 2 billion times. With over 686 million monthly users, it’s clear this short-form video platform won’t be a passing fad.

The app has spawned the careers of countless influencers, with brands also taking advantage of its popularity amongst Gen Z. That’s not to say TikTok doesn’t appeal to older audiences too – 60% of users are between 18 – 44.

The reason we expect TikTok to stand the test of time is because it has an intimate understanding of what consumers want. The content is snappy and vertical-first, taking the best parts of both Snapchat and IG Stories and presenting it in a clean, highly personalised environment. Questions of data privacy aside, TikTok knows users don’t want to sift through endless posts to discover something worth watching. Both its brand identity and its content are light-hearted and jovial – exactly what consumers want during these challenging times and beyond.

You can’t mention TikTok without saying ‘Reels’ in the next breath. Instagram’s unerringly similar offering will likely succeed through pure muscle power. With Facebook’s level of resources, Reels is almost too big to fail. It certainly didn’t have the smoothest of launches – users were quick to point out that most Reels were simply TikTok re-uploads. Others simply felt Reels was one addition too many for Instagram, which already features a newsfeed, stories and IGTV. Instagram has yet to reveal how many people use Reels (a classic sign of sub-optimal performance), but we expect it to compete fiercely with TikTok over the coming years.

Will it stay? Yes.

Online Shopping

This is the most obvious contender for the ‘trend most likely to stay’ award, simply because the pandemic only accelerated our already rapid shift towards online shopping. 2 in 5 shoppers say they’ll make more online purchases following the end of lockdown (the rest probably already spend copious amounts online). You only have to look at the phenomenal success of online-only retailers such as ASOS and Amazon, both of which are producing record profits. Meanwhile, the demise of brick-and-mortar favourites such as Topshop (bought by ASOS) and Debenhams signals the death of the great British high-street.

It’s easy to say that these retailers only collapsed under the weight of several successive lockdowns, but that only tells part of the story. Such brands failed to implement technological and supply-chain innovations that are expected as standard by modern shoppers. Fast delivery, user-friendly experiences and social commerce features are all critical to success – it’s not enough to simply ‘have a website’ in 2021.

Online shopping isn’t going anywhere. It has achieved many of the advantages brick-and-mortar shopping once had to itself and added more. More choice, more flexibility and more convenience. Real-life shopping is slowly being reduced to a social experience that you do with your friends & family on the weekends. Even during the brief summer reopening period, high street footfall was down 65%. Lockdown drove us to buying everything from loo roll to plant pots online. We expect this to be a concrete shift in consumer behaviour.

Will it stay? Yes.

Live-streaming

The first lockdown in March 2020 marked a high point for live-streaming. Everyone from Boiler Room to Borough Market took advantage of the previously-neglected content format. The E1MA team witnessed first-hand just how effective live-streams could be as both a marketing tool and a source of entertainment. We even launched our own platform, SofaStreams – a catalogue of the very best virtual events the internet had to offer.

Unfortunately, the initial momentum didn’t last. The brief relaxation of restrictions during the summer saw interest in live-streams nosedive. There was a small resurgence over the winter period, but it never quite hit the same heights as before. Virtual events simply cannot compete with real-life. Even trips to the park with your friends can overshadow a 2-hour video of a DJ performing in his kitchen. That’s without mentioning all the problems that come with live-streaming. Technical difficulties, copyright issues and most importantly – a lack of real revenue.

It’s difficult to see the role live-streaming will play as venues open their doors and live events return. They can still act as great promotional tools for generating FOMO and reaching digital audiences, especially as many fans won’t be able or willing to attend real events. But ultimately we can’t see live-streams returning en-masse once the national lockdown is over.

Will it stay? No.

Clubhouse

Clubhouse was one of the later lockdown trends to grip the internet. However, it could easily fade into obscurity just as quickly as it emerged. The audio-only social platform garnered real interest for both its exclusivity (it’s invite-only) and celebrity user base. The likes of Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have been spotted. 

Clubhouse’s simple offering of ‘virtual discussion rooms’ taps into the rising popularity of podcasts and audiobooks. But it’s exactly this simplicity and inexperience that will lead to its demise. Social media giants were quick to notice Clubhouse’s success and began developing their own audio-only alternatives. Twitter in particular were quick to launch Fleets, which has had promising early feedback. Facebook, now well known for borrowing ideas off rivals, are also developing a similar experience.

Clubhouse meanwhile still isn’t available on Android – accounting for 85% of the world’s smartphones. It’s the sad but all too common situation of a fledgling start-up being gobbled up by the giants of Silicon Valley. It will be interesting to see whether audio-only discussions have a place in post-lockdown life. Commuting springs to mind as a scenario where the likes of Twitter Spaces could thrive. Only time will tell.

Will it stay? No.

Job Opening: Junior Graphic Designer

JUNIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER – FULL TIME

E1 Media Agency is looking for a creative, talented, innovative, enthusiastic candidate. The applicant should be keen to develop their career in design, with attention to detail, a willingness to get stuck-in and have initiative.  

E1MA started life as an agency focused on music. We have since evolved to deliver marketing services to food & beverage, travel, fashion, but retain a strong foothold in music and events.

THE KEY FOCUS AREAS OF THIS ROLE ARE:

– Producing attractive and effective designs for all media including motion graphics.

– Creating visual aspects of marketing materials, websites and other media, including infographics.

– Developing strong and engaging online content.

– Offering input to creative meetings and sharing ideas.

– Communicating with senior team members to receive feedback.

PERSON SPECIFICATIONS:

– Graphic Design qualification or similar.

– Some creative industry experience.

– Experience with design software and motion graphics software. The Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop, Indesign, Illustrator and Aftereffects)

– Knowledge of design techniques.

– Adaptive design eye and skill.

– Self-disciplined and have good time management skills with the ability to manage a number of priorities.

– Ability to work well within a team.

– A talent for problem-solving.

– Experience working with WordPress templates.

TO APPLY 

Send CV and portfolio to talktome@e1ma.co.uk

Please note this role is London based. We are working remotely currently but will be back in office when it’s safe to do so. 

How to Sell More Tickets to Your Event (Part. 2)

In Part 2 we outline how to use Paid Social to help you sell more tickets to your event. (3 min read)

• Know your audience inside and out

• Choose the right objective

• Good creative draws attention

• Compelling copy drives clicks

• Monitor and tweak the campaign if necessary

1. Know your audience

Who do you want to buy your tickets?

You’re probably thinking “anyone and everyone, it doesn’t matter”.

But it DOES matter.

Advertising to consumers who have no interest in your events is a waste of time and money. That’s why it pays to research your target audience prior to launching paid ads.

Initially you’ll want to know their basic demographic info such as age range and location. But more advanced audience information is what will sell tickets. What are they interested in, which events do they attend, who are their favourite artists?

This wealth of audience data can be found in Facebook Business Manager under ‘Audience Insights’.

A safe option is to target consumers who already connected to your page. They’ve already displayed interest and are therefore more likely to purchase a ticket.

If your event has just launched, you may want to consider creating a ‘lookalike audience’. This is where Facebook creates a new audience for you to target, based on your previous customers (in this case, event attendees).

As you learn more about your potential audience, you’ll want to create several ‘sub-audiences’ that hone in on particular interests, for maximum effectiveness.For example, you can funnel down your “electronic music” audience to “fans of [headline act A]” and “fans of [headline act B]”.

2. Decide your campaign objective

Once you’ve set up your audiences, the next step is establish your marketing objective for each ad campaign. Facebook Ads Manager gives you several options. As expected, the most important one for driving ticket sales is Conversions.

(Another popular option is ‘Brand Awareness’ which is useful for growing your social following, but not for selling tickets).These options aren’t just namesakes – Facebook’s algorithm targets specific segments of your audience depending on your choice.

No doubt you’re thinking: why wouldn’t I always choose Conversions if the goal is to sell tickets?

Because Conversions campaigns are costly, and only effective once Facebook’s algorithm has been given time to learn about your audience. In other words, they have to proceed through the ‘Awareness’ and ‘Consideration’ stages first.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter which option you pick if you don’t have an eye-catching creative.

3. Prepare your creative

The ‘creative’ is marketing-speak for the image/video that accompanies the text (or copy).The creative and the copy are, without a doubt, the two most important elements of an ad.

It can be easy to spend too much time on targeting. Even if your ad is displayed to the right audience, without good creative and copy they aren’t going to pay attention.

It’s down to personal preference whether you work on the copy or the creative (the image or video) first but in our experience, the creative is far more important.After all, visual content increases the desire to read text by up to 80%.

Most consumers only skim through posts on social media – an eye-catching creative makes them stop scrolling and pay attention to your message.

For Clovelly, we use a combination of professional photography and user-generated contents for our ads (and organic social posts).

Have specific outcomes in mind when carrying out these exercises – if you plan to run ads showcasing your new drinks menu in the future, take these photos well in advance.

Videos typically out-perform images (by at least 20%). Videos are more eye-catching and auto-play by default on Facebook and Instagram. 

Combining this with an in-app ticket link is a recipe for success.

You always want to make the customer journey as streamlined as possible.If you run events regularly you should already have a bank of content taken from previous events. Of course, in the age of COVID, this isn’t as simple. It’s up to you whether you show pre-pandemic event photos. If you do, make sure it’s communicated clearly.

If you’re low on content, you can use the creative from your organic posts, in your ads. This works best if you’re targeting an audience that doesn’t already follow your page.

4. Craft your copy

You’ve grabbed your audience’s attention with the creative, now the copy needs to convince them to purchase a ticket.

First and foremost: keep it short. Edit and re-edit your copy, until it’s as concise as possible without losing the key message.

Here’s an ad we were running for Karma Kitchen:

Short, enticing copy, followed by a bright photo and ‘Book Now’ CTA that leads straight to the booking system, rather than the website. It’s often best not to mention price in the copy (unless you’re running a special promotion).  If you convince consumers that the occasion is ‘unmissable’, they’ll be less influenced by the price.

5. Monitor the campaign’s progress

Once you’ve done all the hard work and your ads are running, you need to keep an eye on their progress.We’re not suggesting you have to look at it every hour, but at least once a day you should check on their performance. If you find they aren’t producing the results you hoped, consider tweaking the creative or copy. 

Paid Social is all about trial and error, over time you (and Facebook’s algorithm) will learn more about your audience, which form of creative resonates most and which copy drives ticket sales.

You may want to look into A/B testing: this is where you have two similar ads running simultaneously.  You might discover that your audience responds well to the ‘hard sell’.

On the other hand, if you find your ads are already driving strong sales, consider increasing your budget, or running the same ad with a separate ‘lookalike’ audience.

Follow these tips and you’ll be selling more tickets to your events in no time.

Have a question?

talktome@e1ma.co.uk