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January 2021 News You Can Use

Marketing updates from 2020 affected the digital marketing landscape and forced marketers to be swift to make changes aimed at boosting the effectiveness of their campaigns in 2021.

In this January issue of Stukent’s News You Can Use, eight of the most relevant digital marketing updates and articles from 2020 are highlighted. Use this list of updates to engage students in conversation around marketing news. Be sure to check out the five bonus articles at the end of this report to find out more.

What do TikTok and Twitter say their most-shared content was in 2020? What do top digital marketers think will be the biggest trend-changers in 2021?

Get the scoop on essential digital marketing updates from 2020. Keep reading.

E-Commerce Shopping Up 49% in 2020

Topic: E-commerce

Online shopper getting ready to complete an online order.

Key Point: Mastercard reported that holiday retail sales grew by three percent during the 2020 holiday shopping season. However, online sales exploded by 49 percent during that same period (October 11-December 24). 

Matercard senior advisor, Steve Sadove, said this: “American consumers turned the holiday season on its head, redefining ‘home for the holidays’ in a uniquely 2020 way. They shopped from home for the home, leading to record e-commerce growth …” You can get key findings from that report, including which sector showed the strongest growth, in the Mastercard Newsroom.

TikTok Releases the Top 2020 Brand Campaigns

Topic: Social media marketing

Makeup content creator using cellphone and ring light to shoot a video for social media marketing

Key Point: TikTok released an article showcasing the top brand campaigns for the United States on the TikTok app for 2020. The report is grouped into 10 key digital marketing categories including viral videos, community building, and small businesses.

Infographic: TikTok Brands & Campaigns That Inspired Us

Check out this infographic put together by Andrew Hutchinson (@adhutchinson) at SocialMediaToday:

Infographic of the top campaigns by brands from around the world.
Source: SocialMediaToday’s Infographic

Get a deeper look beyond the infographic by diving into the “Brands that inspired us” article posted in the TikTok newsroom.

People come to TikTok not just for entertainment, but for education, inspiration, and a sense of community. Meaningful connection was more important in 2020 than ever before, and looking back we’ve seen partner brands in nearly every vertical bring our community together through authentic, unforgettable, and inspiring TikTok videos.”

Bryan Thoensen, Head of Content Partnerships, TikTok

Discussion Idea

How can a brand leverage TikTok? Which industries would perform best there? What updates should a brand make to their digital marketing going forward?

14 Predictions for 2021: Digital Marketing Updates Marketers Can Expect

Topic: Digital marketing

Digital marketing graphic icons floating over an iPad.

Key Point: Digital Marketer surveyed “digital marketing’s best minds” to find out what they think will be the major trends in digital marketing this year. The article was written by Caleb Mynatt, a recent grad of Texas A&M University.

From the need for advertisers to put extrinsic data above intrinsic data in 2021, to a rise in the ability of smaller platforms to get your message seen and heard, there’s plenty to chew on here. Read Caleb’s article, and then follow him on Twitter.

Discussion Idea

Do you agree or disagree with the experts? What are other trends you expect to see in digital marketing for 2021?

Brands Worldwide Plan to Upgrade Their In-house Digital Marketing

Topic: Digital marketing | E-commerce

Two marketers review marketing updates from 2020

Key Point: A Serpico by Croud research project polled CMOs to find out how severely the COVID-19 pandemic was pushing them to cut back on in-house digital marketing in favor of outside help. The survey revealed that 44 percent of the CMOs surveyed said they plan to upgrade their in-house marketing this year.

What do you think the CMOs said is the main challenge to in-house digital marketing work? It’s an interesting revelation for digital marketing students. You can download the free Serpico by Croud’s report on in-housing digital marketing in 2020 and beyond from their website.

Discussion Idea

What do you think of the main challenge that concerns CMOs? What can you do to capitalize on that problem?

Impact of SolarWinds Hack on WordPress Users

Topic: Cyber Security

Key Point: Chloe Chamberland says WordPress users shouldn’t pass off the recent SolarWinds Orion hack as a threat only to enterprise or federal government websites. Consequently, digital marketers concerned about internet security have plenty to learn from the outcome of this event, especially WordPress site owners and developers.


Why pay attention to Chloe Chamberland (@infosecchloe)? Well, for starters she’s a threat analyst and member of the Wordfence Threat Intelligence Team. Chloe holds certifications in OSCP, OSWP, OSWE, Security+, CySA+, PenTest+, CASP+, SSCP, Associate of (ISC)2, CEH, ECSA, and eWPT. This isn’t just a good read, it’s a must-read for every digital marketer who has anything at all to do with security (and that’s all of us). Read Chloe’s full article on the Wordfence blog.

Discussion Idea

Who should be concerned about internet security and why? What immediate updates can be implemented to reduce potential risks?

Suggested Activity

Use a security plugin like Wordfence to monitor threats on a WordPress website. Make note of any surprises in the number of attempts to gain unauthorized access to the site.

Twitter’s Top Tweets for 2020

Topic: Social media marketing

#thishappened graphic

Key Point: Twitter’s annual report on “the trends, the moments, and the memes that dominated Twitter” in 2020 is out — and it’s a humdinger. So whether you think Twitter really is “the place where we came together” or not, you can still gain plenty of insight from their report.

From the passing of actor and playwright, Chadwick Boseman, to a triple-sized uptick in tweets about cooking, and a meme about the wisdom of astronauts … Twitter was on fire. Want to know what the top three hashtags of 2020 were? Read the Twitter Insights article “Spending 2020 Together on Twitter” to find out.

Suggested Activity

Have you ever heard of “Twitter Mining?” Find out what it is, and give it a whirl. It’s a prime source of information for digital marketers.

Periscope is Saying Goodbye in March

Topic: Social media marketing

Big marketing update from Twitter in 2020, they're shutting down the Periscope App.

Key Point: Twitter is shutting down its Periscope App in March 2021. Launched in March of 2015, Periscope was (briefly) the rage in live video streaming. Early on, brands and marketers at many companies had one question as they considered adopting the Periscope app: Should we embrace it immediately or wait for it to prove itself before considering it? In the end, those who championed the latter were soon proven correct. 

Within five months of the launch, Periscope crossed the 10 million users milestone. In 2016, the NFL embraced the app. That same year Congressman Scott Peters used Periscope to report on a sit-in on the floor of the United States House of Representatives to lobby for a vote on a gun control bill. The decline in usage and the cost of keeping the app stable is what ultimately led to Twitter’s decision to shut it down. Twitter Live will continue to be available to users. Around the same time Periscope’s imminent shutdown was confirmed, Twitter also acquired the app Squad. Research Squad and move onto the discussion idea below.

Discussion Idea

Why do you think Twitter would shut down the Squad app almost immediately after acquiring it?

How Will SEO and Digital Marketing Be Affected by the December 2020 Google Search Algorithm Update?

Topic: SEO

Marketing updates from Google corporation.

Key Point: Google released a core update to the Google Search algorithm in December 2020, and, as usual, there were winners and losers from the change. For instance, the Dr. Axe website was hit hard by the August update in 2018. However, following the December 2020 adjustments, it was able to gain back some ground previously lost. On the other hand, Vaccines.gov was a big loser, signaling that Google may have spread the net wider for authority-based information on the now-approved COVID-19 vaccines. 

Dr. Marie Haynes (@Marie_Haynes) made the observation that the pages gaining the most from the update were ones that “made good use of headings.” To dive further into that and other observations by Dr. Haynes on the latest Google core algorithm change, read the “Some early observations on the Google December core update” article on Search Engine Land.

Suggested Activity

Research the December 2020 algorithm updates. Compile a list summarizing 10 suggestions you would give to a website owner to capitalize on the update and improve SEO. Compare Google’s update with some of the other marketing updates in 2020, and share your thoughts on the long-term impact this will have on websites.

How Can Students Benefit From Staying on Top of Marketing News and Updates Like the Ones From 2020?

These are just a few of the digital marketing updates from 2020. Staying on top of the updates that happen in the digital marketing industry will help students prepare to step into their first professional role. The events of 2021 have yet to be written. Get your students thinking about what they can do to gain ground professionally. Why not decide, right now, that they’re going to become a valuable asset to any company fortunate enough to employ them? And if entrepreneurship is what they dream of doing, encourage them to start taking action now and put their skills to work.

Students may not be able to do much to impact the future of the world in 2021, but, they CAN change their own future by building, sharpening, and expanding their marketing skills. Keeping up with marketing updates is one simple way they can make a difference.

Bonus Articles: Additional Reading Suggestions for Digital Marketing Changes That Took Place in 2020

The promising post-cookie world

8 paid media changes marketers should make in 2021

Social media trends in 2021

Announcing LinkedIn Sales Insights

Twitter to share tweets in Snapchat Stories — Instagram coming next

December Edition of News You Can Use

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