2021 Digital Marketing Trends for Rec Centers

2021 digital marketing trends

2021 digital marketing trends are here.

As a full-time marketer, I spend a lot of time researching and learning from other experts. Since the digital world is always growing and changing, it’s important to continue my own education and seek out ideas I may not be familiar with. After doing the research, here are the top 2021 digital marketing trends I see continuing and growing:

Engaging Content

The tale is as old as time. If your content isn’t engaging and eye-catching within the first three seconds, it will flop. What defines engaging content for you is going to change based on your audience, platform and current circumstances. The idea of engaging content though should drive all your initiatives and plays into every other trend. Focus more on good, quality content on less platforms than subpar content on more platforms.

The Shorter the Better

Talk about short attention spans! Today’s students’ attention spans are that of a goldfish, according to Tech.Co, lasting only about eight seconds. If your digital content isn’t short, sweet and to the point you’ll lose your audience rather quickly.

Video is Top Rated

As we have seen over the past couple of years, video continues to be the most popular way to digest information. Algorithms put videos first, and this is only backed by new platforms like TikTok, Instagram’s Reels and YouTube’s Shorts. These 15 to 60 second videos reinforce the fact that video is the preferred content and here to stay.

EXTRA CREDIT: Drexel University got creative with video marketing, creating a music video.

The new video platforms also suggest if you aren’t filming vertically — for optimal phone use — this is a good place to start. These apps are designed specifically for cellphones so while we might not be on-the-go due to COVID, consumers are still using their cellphones more than desktops.

Audio is on the Rise

Something new to look out for in 2021 is audio-only content, like the recent rise in the popularity of podcasting and the new app, Clubhouse.

While we continue to be socially distant, we still crave human interaction and genuine conversation and connection. Podcasting gives users the ability to pick and listen to their favorite topics while doing other things. The new app, Clubhouse, acts much in the same way and may give users a greater connection to one another. While this app is invite-only for now, you should be thinking about ways to use audio-only platforms to your advantage.

Authenticity is Still Key

Regardless what platform you choose, authenticity is key when connecting with your members.

Generally, we are seeing a trend toward consumers distrusting brands. The more we can put a “face to the name” and connect with our students and members on a human level, the more credibility and trust you’ll build. How can you do this? Bring on a student voice where you can showcase everyday students in your videos, and let the students tell you what platforms they are on and where they want to connect with you.

EXTRA CREDIT: Here’s some advice for creating unique social media strategies, like using your resources and offering variety.

The bottom line is students want to see other students, not a professional staff member. The recreation center should feel like a place that belongs to them, which is best illustrated in a “show not tell” fashion.

Out-of-the-Box Ideas

Lastly, I encourage everyone to try a new idea or something their strategy hasn’t seen before. We are surviving, if not thriving, in such abnormal times why not try something new and take that risk? Set up a Spotify to jam together during at-home workouts, partner with a fitness influencer in your area for a virtual live workout or start a blog utilizing the student voice.

If we aren’t taking risks during this wild year, what will push you to try new things?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Ashley Demshki
Ashley Demshki serves as the outreach coordinator at the University of California, Riverside Recreation Department. Ashley received her B.A. in public relations and advertising from Chapman University in Orange, California. She began her career in the fashion industry, working on editorial and ecommerce shoots. Moving to focus on public relations, Ashley worked with numerous nonprofit and government agencies to help empower community organizations and the members they serve. She is passionate about student development and how recreation contributes to academic, physical and social success.

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