If there’s one lesson to take away from 2020 it’s that every business needs an effective online presence. In practical terms, that means a website and a well-run brand account on at least one social media platform. With that in mind, here are three digital marketing must-dos for 2021 and beyond.

Reboot your website

The basics of a good website have largely been the same since the internet began. Essentially, you want to tell visitors, quickly and simply, who you are, what you do, why they should care and how they can get in touch with you. The way you go about doing this, however, has changed a lot over the years.  

By committing to updating your website once a year (or in response to significant developments), you vastly increase your chances of staying ahead of the digital curve. This is far better than having to rush to catch up with what everyone else is already doing.

For example, companies which were quick to implement mobile optimization gave themselves a competitive edge over companies which didn’t see the development emerging until it was mainstream.  

The rise and rise of mobile devices (and smart home assistants) is influencing how we search for information. In particular, it’s encouraging the use of voice search. This could have major implications for web design. If it does, the companies which are the quickest to act will get the most benefit.

Remember to keep the law in mind

Another benefit to undertaking annual website reviews is that it creates an opportunity to make sure that your website is (still) in compliance with all relevant laws. For example, the UK is currently transitioning between GDPR, as set out by the EU, and UK-GDPR, a UK domestic law which is compatible with regular GDPR. The two sets of laws are virtually identical, but there are subtle differences between them which could be important to some businesses.

Even if the laws themselves are still the same, there may be new guidance on what is necessary (or at least desirable) to be in compliance with them. For example, as the use of the internet has grown, so has the importance of making sure that business websites are made as accessible as possible given the current state of technology.

The good news is that measures to make your website more accessible will tend to bring other benefits. For example, making your site navigation as clear and simple as possible is generally appreciated by everyone, not just people with disabilities.

Review your social media presence

For businesses, all social media is basically now “pay to play”. You can pay in content. You can pay in cash. You can pay in a mixture of both. One way or another, however, you are going to pay. Being realistic about this can help to focus your mind on the importance of using social media strategically. In simple terms, this is the way to get the most from your money.

In general, it’s far better to have a strong presence on a small number of social media platforms (even just one), than to dabble in a lot of them. There are several reasons for this, but most of them hinge on the fact that success on modern social media depends on producing great content (or having it produced for you).

The skills and equipment needed to produce great written content (e.g. for Twitter, LinkedIn or Quora) are very different from the skills and equipment needed to produce great photographic content (e.g. for Instagram) or great video content (e.g. for YouTube).  

It’s therefore generally best to focus on producing outstanding content in one medium and then promoting it as much as your budget will allow. Promotion doesn’t have to mean sponsored posts (although they can certainly have their place). It can also mean having someone interact with the community on the platform and promote your brand organically. Either way, you will need to allocate resources to making it happen.

Be realistic about your goals

If you’re new to social media, or even just to a particular platform, then be aware that it generally takes time to get real traction. Effective promotion can shorten this growth period, especially if you have the funds for paid promotion, you are, however, going to have to prove yourself and develop your community.

At the same time, however, if a platform isn’t working out for your brand, it’s important to have the courage to cut yourself loose from it, at least for the immediate future. You can always return to it later if your circumstances change and you think you could make it work better.

Use social media influencers effectively

Even if you have built a powerful social media presence, you are still likely to benefit from working with social media influencers. Depending on your needs, they can either spread a message out to a new audience or reinforce a message with an existing audience.

The key to getting the most out of social media influencers is to choose the right influencers for the right promotions. This can, however, be easier said than done, especially if you’re a smaller company with more limited resources.

There’s a lot more to choosing suitable social media influencers than just looking at raw numbers. You need to be comfortable that there’s synergy (but not competition) between your brand identities. You also need to be comfortable that the influencers understand their obligations to your brand and to the law.

Use an agency to make your life easier

For many companies, especially smaller ones, the most practical solution is to use a social influencer agency such as ww.unrulyagency.com. These can act similarly to traditional employment agencies by pairing brands with suitable, pre-vetted influencers. They can also play a more hands-on role in managing projects, whether that’s digital content creation or live events.

These agents have become popular due to the convenience they offer both brands and social media influencers. In short, they make it their business to understand a brand’s needs, wants and budgets and to set realistic expectations about what can be achieved.  

They can then provide social media influencers with clear briefs about what is required by when. This allows the social media influencers to focus on what they do best, namely making content for their communities.