The Top 5 New Marketing Trends Leaders Need To Know

By |2024-07-12T20:04:04+00:00July 11th, 2024|In The Media|

Overall, my tip is to focus on what you’re passionate about and then keep learning. If you want to attract more business, picking a niche and pushing yourself to learn all sides of the business is the fastest way to differentiate yourself and tip the scale.

Marketing trends are always changing, and it’s so important to stay relevant. What are the latest trends? How does one stay abreast of the new trends? Is it good to be an early adopter or is it best to see which trends withstand the test of time? To address these questions, in this interview series, we are talking to experienced CMOs who can share their “Top 5 New Marketing Trends That Leaders Need To Know About.” As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Anna Covert.

Anna Covert (annacovert.com), author of The Covert Code: Mastering the Art of Digital Marketing, is the founder of Covert Communication, the largest digital marketing firm in Hawaii. Over the past 20 years, Covert has become recognized in the industry as an authority in digital advertising, having worked with hundreds of companies worldwide in a wide range of industries. Her team has developed API technology solutions for both SunPower and Panasonic and is featured as a preferred marketing partner for their extensive dealer networks.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Thanks for having me! Even as a child, I had a head for business. At the age of 8, my best friend and I started a doggy daycare called K9 Villas. We printed flyers and went door-knocking. We only got one furry signed up, but it was the start of my love for marketing. My father was an entrepreneur and founder of Aspen Ski Tours which eventually became ski.com. On my mother’s side, the family were artists working in theater, painting, and writing. While for a bit I planned to pursue art school, I realized that I didn’t want to be the subject of the criticism and would rather help others tell their story. So, I decided to attend business school with a focus on marketing, allowing me to blend my talents and love for sharing concepts and communication.

With regard to digital marketing, that happened out of necessity. I’m often asked how I acquired the knowledge that has moved my business into a position of authority as a digital expert. It all boils down to one key choice that I made in 2010 to learn WordPress. At the time, it was out of necessity. I had herniated L4 and L5 in my back and was undergoing physical therapy when the owner of Harris Therapy asked me if I could build her a website and help her with some online ads. My first instinct was to say “no,” but an old boyfriend of mine had recently shared that he had started installing WordPress websites to increase revenue for his photography business. I was surprised because he couldn’t write a line of code. I felt confident that if he could do it, so could I. Thus, my online journey began. I went home that night and called him for some tips, which included filtering by the best sellers or most popular template themes, which helped guarantee that there was clear documentation and support should I run into any problems. Then, assuming the client’s domain was hosted on GoDaddy, they had a quick setup for the WordPress environment. After that, all you had to do was follow the documentation. I did just that and launched harristherapy.com five weeks later. Then I built another site and another and another.

It has been said that our mistakes can sometimes be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Oh boy! One that comes to mind was early in my career when I was wearing many hats (basically all of them) and didn’t have the full team of developers that I do today. I was installing a new website for Hospice Hawaii when I accidentally deleted their mySQL database. That meant that the old site was gone permanently. The result — I stayed up all night building the new template, but it taught me that no matter what the original timeline says, what the client remembers is the end result and if you’re not prepared, the right decision is to move the meeting, not rush it.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

One of my favorite early memories was when I first moved to Hawaii and was working as the Marketing Director for Paul Brown Salons & Spas. Charlie Harrington, the publisher of Hawaii Parent and Hawaii Military Guide, called to invite me to lunch at Dave and Buster’s to share his publications. At the time, I was advertising with the “official military guide” published by Marco. It was a large guide, glossy, well produced. Charlie showed me his rates and what made him different from the competition, but I wasn’t sure. I mean, I was in the official guide, and was this the best use of our small marketing budget? At the end of lunch, he said, “So have you ever been to a military base before?” No, I hadn’t. “Would you be interested in coming with me on my next visit to distribute our upcoming edition?” I happily agreed. A few weeks later, we met at the Kahala Mall, jumped into Charlie’s truck, and headed to Joint Base Pearl Harbor/Hickam. Charlie knew everybody, from the girls at the grocery store on base to the boys at the help desks. He greeted them by name, and they always lit up when they saw him. “Oh, Charlie, I’m so glad to see you! The magazines are just flying off the rack; we need more!” was the consistent message. After the sixth location, I started to notice a pattern. I hadn’t seen one copy of the “official guide” that I was advertising anywhere. Ummm, so where exactly was this being distributed? I finally asked Charlie, and he laughed. “Actually, it’s coming up at our next stop; let’s go.” And we drove to the welcome center for new military families. That was where new service members would pick up their badges and register for all kinds of family services. And yes, I did see the publication, but the majority were in the back office, still in the crate sealed in plastic wrap. Just one or two were visible on the shelf next to a gigantic stake of Hawaii Military Guide editions. I had seen enough and learned an important lesson. Just because the rate card shows distribution numbers, or it’s marketed as “official,” didn’t mean they had the eyeballs on it. Just because the bases were listed, and it was “official” didn’t mean people used it. The same is true of all media distribution channels — especially online as there is zero third-party oversight.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

Great questions. There have been a few that come to mind but they all relate to focusing on the solar industry vertical. During COVID, as the state shut down, the agency lost several tourism-focused businesses. I was looking for ways to offset income and one of my local solar clients invited me to join the sales team and help grow their residential division. While I had been considered an “expert” in the solar marketing field for several years, learning how to build a system, and having the opportunity to sit with homeowners was transformative. In just eight months I had sold over 100 MW of solar. That also gave me the experience required to build Solar Wizard, which has grown to become the largest WordPress plugin with downloads in over 25 countries. This also gained me the trust of Panasonic USA and my team was selected as the technology partner to aid them in developing their solar + storage calculator. Overall, my tip is to focus on what you’re passionate about and then keep learning. If you want to attract more business, picking a niche and pushing yourself to learn all sides of the business is the fastest way to differentiate yourself and tip the scale.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

What makes Covert Communication different really boils down to transparency. In the traditional advertising model, media commission is expected. The problem with this model is that it doesn’t work in a digital future. Through optimization, our clients spend less not more year-over-year. As a result, we view ourselves as an extension of the business’s internal team’s marketing department and they can trust that anything we recommend is because we believe it will drive higher results, not because we’re taking a cut. We believe in screen sharing and working together with our clients no matter what. This means owning up when things don’t work out as expected and most importantly being the source of truth and fighting tooth and nail for our clients to ensure they’re protected from digital fraud, i.e., when the numbers don’t add up, we open support ticket after support ticket until they’re refunded.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes, we’re close to the official rollout of Solar Wizard 2.0 which is built in Reactium.io and will allow solar companies globally to provide the same solutions on any website framework, not just WordPress. Our tool helps the company increase leads at a fraction of the cost but also provides the end user (homeowners or business owners) with transparency and the ability to understand how much solar they need and what the cost will be. The agency is also about to launch a Roofing Calculator for WordPress which will provide similar functionality to our Solar Wizard plugin, allowing for roofers to increase leads fast. It includes the option to add building-integrated solar shingles into their quote if applicable. This then provides the customer with a quote for a roof repair, roof replacement, and how adding solar could save them BIG through incentives and additional financing, meaning they wouldn’t have to come out of pocket above their insurance premium to get the new roof.

Fantastic. Let’s now shift to the main part of our interview about Marketing Trends. As a CMO, you’re at the forefront of the marketing space and leading diverse teams. What resources or tools do you use to you stay abreast of the ever-changing landscape?

This breaks down into two parts — external tools to help clients reach the right person, at the right time, with the right message and internal tools to increase the speed-to-lead and help clients control all leads along the purchase journey. Some of our trusted media solutions are Quantcast, StackAdapt, Outbrain, and Criteo. Plus, our favorite CRM tool has quickly become GoHighLevel, which has a fair pricing model and features that save clients thousands and increase productivity by offering speed-to-lead features such as texting, emails, call recordings, calendars, social media scheduling, review collection, and the like. This reduces the need for third-party plugins or services that increase operating expenses and can become bottlenecks in workflow processes. Of course, we’re also exploring A.I. solutions to increase SEO value, as well as scaling creative opportunities, such as quickly creating programmatic radio, video, CTV, and OTT commercials using A.I. generated voices and stock footage to fill in the gaps. We’re also keeping a close eye on Web 3.0 and how we can leverage social media influencers to reach Gen Z as online behaviors shift toward a more decentralized framework.

In your experience, is it possible to forecast upcoming trends? How does this process work? Please share a story.

The evolution of the consumer towards digital has allowed the agency to understand trends faster by collecting real-time behavioral data. With the help of AI, marketers can now identify search and contextual interests at scale. For example, one trend we discovered that has proven to be successful was in changing the traditional “solar calculator form” into a full application “game” which provides real-time results and learning opportunities to the end user. The trend this was inspired by is Gamification and aligns with the consumers’ shift toward trusting companies that are transparent, authentic, and speak their language (easy to use and understand).

In marketing, would you say it’s better to be an early adopter of trends or wait to see if they stick before allocating resources? What are the pros and cons?

Just like in financial planning, marketing should set short-term and long-term goals and assess potential risks and rewards. If the company is in a tight financial situation, then jumping on trends can backfire (volatile like the stock market). Overall, I always recommend clients focus on creating an “objective task” budget, and depending on their unique situation and goals, it’s good to always try new things but never put all your eggs into one basket. Some of the pros, of course, are creating deeper connections with our audience. For example, those already investing in the Metaverse and other ways to reimagine their brand in a virtual space are experiencing a big lift in awareness, engagement, and a direct correlation to sales (such as Nike and other large retailers). I think it really boils down to scale. If your brand is already known and loved by millions, then it’s easier to have wins by adopting new trends but it can also backfire. Example: Bud Light and Dylan Mulvaney. For those unestablished or with smaller niche audiences, placing an emphasis on trends isn’t the best use of funds but rather it’s recommended to use proven marketing strategies to achieve growth around your core products and services.

What are some of the past trends that you embraced? What results did you see?

The latest trend I embraced was adding programmatic advertising to our clients’ media mix. Traditionally, display ads were the focus of remarketing budgets. But as I noticed consumer behavior shifting toward adding audio remarketing (podcast sponsorships) and CTV/OTT and most importantly in-game, we’re able to reach critical mass messaging at a fraction of the cost. The results so far have been easy to spot. Our onsite conversion rates are increasing by 5% (so far) and clients of all sizes are enjoying the opportunity to share their stories through traditional ways that previously were too expensive. Programmatic advertising allows us to reach the right person, with the right message, at the right time without a big IO (insertion order) and NO contract. The opportunities are endless and this really levels the playing field for small to medium business owners.

Can you share a time when a strategy didn’t deliver the results you expected and what you learned from the experience?

Recently the agency engaged in some EDDM (every door direct mail) which has always yielded measurable results — the phone would ring. The number of calls always varies depending on the target, offer, urgency, and brand awareness but we never questioned if the mail dropped. However, this latest time was in support of hurricane preparedness for a Florida solar dealer. Out of 10,000 cards, we received no calls. As a result, we had serious concerns about whether the cards were delivered. A couple of weeks later we got a call, but it left me feeling that this medium couldn’t be trusted in the same way as before. While we had confirmation the cards had been received by the post office (from the printer), we didn’t know when the post office had distributed them (no trackable scan in or scan out). The learning here goes back to how we evaluate marketing choices and pick the right partner. If you can’t trust that the impression was delivered on time (or at all), then it’s time to switch strategies. And please note that I’m not in any way implying that I don’t trust the postal service; it’s just about the allocation of media spend. If you’re running a promotion and the cards are supposed to drop on X date and they are delivered two weeks later, then that has a direct effect on the campaign’s success.

What factors should leaders consider before jumping on a trend? Can you please explain what you mean?

Before jumping on a trend, you must ask yourself if you’re doing it for the right reason. Does it really fit into your brand’s leverageable points of difference and resonate with your existing audience? In the example from Bud Light and Dylan Mulvaney, the results were catastrophic and alienated the existing loyal Bud drinkers. Trends need to align with your brand’s vision, mission, and existing customer base. While the goal is to grow and attract new customers based on the trend, we mustn’t ever jeopardize or confuse our core audience (or team) by trying to be something that we’re not.

Here is the main question of our interview. We’d love for you to share your expert insight. What are the top five marketing trends leaders should know about in 2024? Can you please share a story or example for each?

1. Changes in how to reach Gen Z — Gen Z is growing up and is the first generation to do so with social media. What we are seeing is a significant shift in marketing’s ability to reach and influence this audience. The two main trends we’re seeing are the group that is very focused on themselves or the “ME” generation. They are attracted to authenticity and want everything to be customizable for them. They are not motivated by paid ads and as a result, we’re seeing the role of social media influencers soar. While this trend is here to stay, it has placed a burden on businesses to find and manage those relationships. For example, it’s very easy to purchase friends, followers, likes, and other engagement scores across all channels, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, TikTok, etc. There are some companies that are helping to curate influencers, but none that the agency has used personally yet. The other part of this generation is Gen Z “WE”. They are motivated by social justice and want to be part of a community focused on change — human rights, climate change, etc. The agency is currently looking at potential social media influencers to help our solar clients but it’s a new initiative. We don’t have any examples yet to share.

Another big trend that we are implementing is using programmatic blended-in game displays to reach users across all devices — Xbox (other consoles), desktop, tablet, and mobile. This is highly impactful and with gaming set to reach 3 billion users this year, a big opportunity for marketers to stay top of mind. It’s like product placement, and while non-clickable, we believe that this noninvasive media is more impactful as those playing the game are not multitasking. One example of how we monetized this trend toward Gamification was in the development of the Solar Wizard Plugin. We saw a 500% or more lift in form completions when walking the homeowner through a quick “game” to learn how much solar they needed versus filling out a traditional form. The future mandates that companies provide free resources and transparency to gain and keep trust.

2. Growing distrust of content online — A noticeable trend is the growing consumer distrust online. With so many big-name brands going out of business (in solar, for instance, Sunnova declared bankruptcy and others like Titan Solar, a beast, just exited the market), paired with fake reviews, it’s becoming clear that brands have to work harder to build and keep trust. For example, over the past year, we have noticed a sharp decline in our Google and Microsoft Ads Search conversion rates. This has always been the easiest way to show ROI to clients and is considered “intent” marketing because the consumer is on a search and seeking a solution themselves. They already know what they want and are trying to find a partner. What is interesting is that while search overall is up or has remained constant, the number of those clicks that turn into real leads has dropped by almost 50% in some industries. As we manage so many solar accounts, we can report that nationwide all our paid accounts have experienced the same results.

While this can also be tied to other factors such as interest rates, inflation, and political fear, what I believe is really happening is that the consumer is not as confident as they were in the past when it comes to picking a partner online. This will also increase with the rise of more A.I. generated content which makes companies look and sound similar. If everyone looks the same, then how can a customer make the right decision? This trend is important for marketers to understand so they can focus efforts and resources on creating content that is authentic to the brand. This can include producing video testimonials, offering more transparency with free resources, ensuring that customers can speak with a real human, and demonstrating that they are honoring customer privacy. These actions are key to curating trust and increasing conversion rates.

3. Increase in bot activity — The battle of the bots is on! Marketers need to understand that they can’t blindly trust media platforms. Google, Facebook, and Microsoft all deploy bots to click on their own ads and inflate ad numbers. The same is true for SEO companies that are “spinning” traffic online. This means that they deploy robots to visit sites en masse for the purpose of then attracting ad spend or services from businesses that don’t understand the difference. Yes, we want more traffic, but it must be humans (not from Dubai) and they must be “engaged,” meaning that they stayed on the site for a period of time before exiting. To really understand the value of adding protection, I recommend business owners install ClickCease bot protection. When the agency implemented this service in 2022, I noticed an immediate savings of around 30% on all agency-managed paid accounts. It adds up to BIG results.

4. Changes to search results — The subject of an ongoing lawsuit, Google has essentially a monopoly on search. One of the most common concerns for a business owner is SEO and how to get to the top of the page. The challenge is that with so many changes behind the curtain, achieving a high rank today for a search phrase can be expensive and time-consuming. For me, the biggest element in any paid marketing is trust in the outcome. As a result, we advise our clients not to invest in off-site SEO strategies with limited resources. Why? Well because we can’t control it. What worked today may not work tomorrow. A good example of this is a change Google made on backlinks. One proven SEO strategy is to use distribution services like EIN Presswire, and press release distribution, to build rank by providing links to a company’s site on hundreds of trusted news sites. In the past, we saw this have a trackable impact on backlink building in third parties like spyfu.com. But that changed in 2019 as Google rolled out new ways to measure link value. Essentially that stripped away some of the SEO value by defaulting Google News Publishers to use “no follow” links in releases. While there still is proven SEO value in distribution, changes like this happen ALL THE TIME, and advertisers need to be aware that all parts of search are controlled by the browser and can change at any time. In fact, it’s common for users with similar geographic locations to have completely different search results while searching for the exact same keyword phrases. That paired, with no third-party oversight, it is risky to place focus on achieving the top organic placement, and is easier to get to the top time and time again with paid ads that we can control (at least to some extent).

5. Privacy and protection — The movement toward consumer protection is rising. This means that states, including California, have implemented stricter policies on how user data is collected, stored, and shared. I was recently invited to be a guest on a webinar hosted by the International Association of Privacy Professionals titled “Universal Consent: Building Beyond Cookie Consent.” The invitation came during a call discussing Arlo Gilbert’s new book, The Privacy Insider: How to Embrace Data Privacy and Join the Next Wave of Trusted Brands.

This book opened my eyes to the challenges in developing next-level privacy programs to respond to data protection regulations, and to the opportunities that compliance has in attracting new customers and communicating with existing users.

It’s important to fully understand the risk in identifying a user’s online interest and sharing something they might be surprised and delighted by, such as a new pair of boots, a trendy purse, or those perfect ski goggles for their upcoming trip to Tahoe. The problem is all of the other ways data is being used. For example, location data could be used to identify that someone was at an abortion clinic or a cancer treatment center.

That’s why consent is so important. Users must be able to decide whether personal information is identifiable or shared with a third party, and that decision must be just as easy to retract as to give. The good news for advertisers is that practicing universal consent and adhering to these new guidelines can make your marketing more effective. Too much spam on your domain can result in all company emails being flagged as malicious. Once a domain is so marked, it’s almost impossible to get it unmarked. That means you’ll need to change your company’s email addresses, which can lead to brand confusion and missed opportunities.

The same is true with texting or calling customers. If they keep opting out or asking to be removed, the result is not more business but less at a higher cost in labor, fees, and time. The cost of storing inefficient or inaccurate data matters, too. I recently discussed this in a Forbes article: https://annacovert.com/consumer-privacy-how-universal-is-universal-consent/

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

My hope is that with my book The Covert Code — Mastering The Art Of Digital Marketing, I can help spark a movement toward creating clear rules on how ads are bought and sold online. Just like when we had to clean up the broadcasting and publishing industries, there needs to be an unbiased third party that can oversee the ad exchange. Creating fair rules is critical to protect businesses by enforcing clear data and monitoring invalid traffic. For example, third-party networks such as Facebook or Yelp that report data on ad performance, i.e., clicks, and impressions, should be verified with a third-party service to prove that they did in fact run those ads and that the clicks are real (and match G4 analytics). This is also important for consumer privacy and, if done correctly, could contain a way to manage cookie consent or universal opt-in standards, meaning that if a customer opts out of a campaign or list, that their information is purged system-wide from all third-party audiences.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Personal LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anna-covert/

Personal Website: Annacovert.com

The Covert Code Website: Thecovertcode.com

Covert Communication Website: Covertcommunication.com

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

HI Now Feature

By |2024-07-15T04:48:39+00:00July 9th, 2024|In The Media|

Don’t miss out on the incredible limited-time offer for the #1 Kindle bestseller, “The Covert Code: Mastering the Art of Digital Marketing” by Anna Covert, published by Forbes. From July 10 through August 7, you can get this essential eBook for just 99¢ on Amazon. This is a golden opportunity to dive into the world of digital marketing and enhance your strategies with insights from a leading expert.”The Covert Code” is a comprehensive guide designed to help both beginners and experienced marketers unlock the secrets of successful digital marketing. It covers everything from the basics of digital strategy to advanced techniques that will give you a competitive edge. Anna Covert, a renowned digital marketing guru, shares her wealth of knowledge and practical tips that you can apply immediately to see results.But that’s not all! When you purchase the eBook and leave a review, you will receive an exclusive free gift as a token of our appreciation. This free gift is designed to complement your learning experience and provide additional value, helping you to apply the principles learned in the book more effectively.In addition to the Kindle version, “The Covert Code” is also available in other formats online at Barnes & Noble, Target, and in airport bookstores across the country. Whether you prefer a physical book or another digital format, you can easily get your hands on this must-read resource.This offer is available to all customers, but remember, it’s for a limited time only. Each customer is eligible for one 99¢ eBook and one free gift. The offer is non-transferable and cannot be combined with other promotions. Terms of the promotion may be subject to change without prior notice.Grab your copy of “The Covert Code” today and start mastering the art of digital marketing. Unlock the strategies that will drive your success and make a significant impact on your business. Don’t miss this chance to learn from the best for just 99¢!

Featured In SpecialityRetailer – Gen Z Marketing Tips

By |2024-07-09T04:56:06+00:00July 4th, 2024|In The Media|

Original Article Posted June 12th
by Krystina Skibo

Gen Z are a unique subset of consumers — they’re tech-savvy, they view social media and advertising differently than other generations and expect more from brands than just good products. And even though it may feel like you constantly have to change up your marketing strategies to appeal to a new generation, it’s extremely important to learn what the new kids on the block like and dislike.

“Recent research shows that over 54% of Gen Zers spend 4+ hours on social media, and at least 35% spend more than four hours,” says digital marketing expert Anna Covert. “As Gen Z and newer generations turn towards social media for community, their purchasing power is also rapidly growing alongside their online presence.”

Covert notes that as of December 2023, Gen Z has a global estimated purchasing power of $450 billion, which is higher than any previous generation in history. This is not even the full economic power they can reach as new technologies such as AI algorithms and shopping become more convenient and popular.

So how can retailers effectively capture their attention? Covert offers three key marketing tips to attract and retain Gen Z consumers:

1. Be Open and Transparent About Your Message

Marketers need to remember that Gen Z is the first generation to grow up with social media, notes Covert, which means they are on the lookout for companies that don’t “do what they say and say what they do.”

“These consumers are seeking authentic, purpose-driven companies to engage with and champion,” she says. “Companies should spend more time on each message to make sure it’s clever, insightful, shows the true value of the brand and is unique.”

To really stand out to Gen Z consumers, Covert advises retailers to really focus on why you are in the business and what value you are providing below the surface.

“For example, a dentist provides teeth cleaning and dental surgery,” she says. “To connect with Gen Z, the focus should be on the provider’s mission and passion around helping people feel confident enough to smile from cheek to cheek. Why? We believe a smile is the gateway to human connection and will make your life happier. The proof? Video testimonials from happy customers and the team on how their lives were transformed.”

2. Create Content and Opportunities That Involve Gen Z in Your Story

Covert explains that it’s crucial for retailers to develop content and opportunities that include Gen Z consumers. Including them in your brand story can help not only attract this generation but also retain them for the long run.

“For example, that same dentist could have an interactive application allowing the person to upload a picture of their current smile and see how it can change the way they feel about themselves,” she says. “Gen Zers are motivated by the concept of ‘gamification’, where they are part of the process of building something that has a result they influence.”

All in all, Gen Z consumers are attracted to content that doesn’t explicitly seem like an advertisement. For inspiration, look at companies such as Tinder, Duolingo and Taco Bell that use creative memes and current trends to attract attention. They also engage as viewers, commenting on random videos to get their online presence out there and to make them seem more relatable.

3. Play Into Trends

Covert advises that one of the best ways you can attract Gen Z consumers is to play into trends. “As Gen Zers primarily use apps such as TikTok and Instagram, these services provide an algorithm that makes specific videos viral and allows others to gain attraction based on their interactions with these videos,” she says.

Because of TikTok’s algorithm, retailers should start taking advantage of popular trends and memes to get more eyes on your content.

For smaller brands that don’t have a big marketing budget, keep your focus on TikTok since that’s where most Gen Zers will be. “Marketers should use TikTok analytics and take advantage of TikTok Shop,” says Covert. “TikTok Shop makes shopping convenient compared to other social media platforms. You can advertise a video on TikTok and attach your link to your shop without the viewer having to exit the app.”

As you utilize these tips and strategically market to Gen Z consumers, Covert reminds retailers to change things up every now and then. “Doing the same thing will lead to a high burn rate with Gen Z, as they’re easily bored and experts at multitasking,” she says. “This makes it even more important to stand out or create reasons for them to share, save or engage.”

Featured In AdAge – How Social Media Warning Labels Could Upend Digital Advertising

By |2024-07-09T05:05:58+00:00July 4th, 2024|In The Media|

AdAge logo in black text on a white background.

HOW SOCIAL MEDIA WARNING LABELS COULD UPEND DIGITAL ADVERTISING—MARKETING EXPERTS REACT

Original Article Posted June 28th, 2024
by Asa Hiken
Digital advertisers could be forced to adjust their social media strategies after the U.S. surgeon general proposed a new policy that would dramatically alter how young people interact with social platforms.

In an opinion piece published last week in The New York Times, Dr. Vivek Murthy did not mince words about his suggested action: “It is time to require a surgeon general’s warning label on social media platforms, stating that social media is associated with significant mental health harms for adolescents,” he wrote.

The probability that such a warning will be implemented is unclear, for it requires congressional action to become law. Should a label be brought to social media, it would likely cause a decrease in time spent on platforms by young people, according to preliminary research cited by Murthy. This could feasibly reduce brands’ engagement with Gen Z and Gen Alpha audiences. But marketers may find upsides too, such as by sharpening their influencer deals and benefiting from a healthier ecosystem, experts told Ad Age.

Murthy’s call to action comes amid continued scrutiny of social media platforms over their negative effects on mental health, particularly for young people. Brands have struggled to navigate the issue of online content, sometimes defending the platforms and other times opting to leave them.

A significant decrease in social media usage could prompt certain brands to downsize their social media strategies, said Anna Covert, co-founder of digital marketing firm Covert Communications. These would most likely be marketers whose revenue does not rely heavily on social media engagement, Covert said. Retailers, however, would stay the course given the role that social platforms play for consumers for discovering products, shopping and communicating with a brand.

More troubling for marketers is the possibility that labels could be expanded to include ads placed in social media environments, Covert said. Murthy did not mention ads in his opinion piece, but such a move has precedent. In 1964, following a publication from the U.S. surgeon general that smoking was harmful, the FTC announced that warning labels would be required on cigarette packaging. Six months later, those labels were expanded to include cigarette advertising.

Murthy alluded to the efficacy of these labels on tobacco products in changing user behavior when arguing for similar messaging on social media platforms. Should the labels be brought to ads, Covert warned that brands will have an even harder time engaging with young users, regardless of whether those ads are static placements or videos.

“It’s a major concern because how can you tell your brand message with a tiny bit of space and only 10 seconds?” she said.

Another potential issue depends on how a warning label would be implemented. Katelyn MacKay, CEO of social media management company Planoly, wonders whether users would see a label every time they enter a platform, or rather only upon interacting with content deemed harmful. Labeling tools, such as those that attempt to identify AI-generated content, are known to mess up; just this week, photographers accused Meta of doling out AI labels to their real images, per TechCrunch. If marketers’ ads become the object of flagging, confusion could arise.

“Is it only for teens, or everyone? Even the [warning label’s] goal could go a lot of different ways,” MacKay said.

Upsides, too

Despite levying a possible disruption to engagement, a warning label on social media could usher in positive outcomes for advertisers, too.

“I’m hopeful,” said Jen Willig, co-founder and CEO of social impact agency Wrthy. Willig, like Murthy, does not see a label as a cure-all, but rather a message that could grow awareness of problems on social media and lead to new legislation. Brands would benefit from the outcomes of a healthy ecosystem, Willig said, in which young users would be less fearful of dangers and other chaos that could meet them on various platforms and thus more comfortable exploring.

And should a warning label kickstart congressional action to clean up social media, brands would also have to worry less about harmful content that may appear beside their ads, Willig said. This issue has plagued advertisers on platforms such as X, and is becoming an even greater issue as a result of the rise of AI-deep fakes that can be difficult to identify as fraudulent.

Covert sees a warning label compelling brands to sharpen their influencer strategies. Her thinking is that if young users end up spending less time on platforms, marketers would need to ensure their outreach is even more effective.

“If there’s less time, then we need to be more strategic about who we pick,” she said.

Social media is a significant driver of wasteful spending on digital advertising; brands lost $140 million in 2023 on Facebook and Instagram alone, according to a report by agency Next&Co. Covert believes the effects of a warning label could help galvanize brands to take their wastage more seriously.

Lisa Jammal, CEO of Social Intelligence Agency, is also optimistic about a warning label. She thinks it could be a welcome authority amid a score of platform-specific policies, many of which have been criticized for being ineffective. These siloed attempts have also forced advertisers to require a different, and sometimes conflicting, strategy for each platform.

With a universal guideline, “[marketers] are going to feel like there’s more control,” she said.

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