New Year’s is traditionally a time of reflection. We look back on the previous year and begin planning for the next. We read reviews of the last 365 days and raise a toast to the coming 365. Whether you make resolutions or not, this holiday is a good time to think about what went well in 2021, and what you plan to do differently in 2022.
So, as we celebrate the calendar-change, let’s take one last look back at 2021.
Change in 2021
Perhaps most relevant for companies of all sizes, 2021 was the year of the Great Resignation. Thousands of employees left for greener pastures. Some wanted new jobs. Others wanted new careers. And some wanted to go out on their own as solopreneurs.
The Great Resignation gave fuel to the rise in entrepreneurship that began during the pandemic. Not all of these new entrepreneurs participate in the gig economy, but many do, working as independent contractors in engineering, design, financial planning, and even marketing.
Some of these solopreneurs produce content. Which makes them part of the democratization of content, a trend begun in the early days of the Internet and accelerated in this past year by influencers, copywriters, and independent journalists. When select YouTubers can now earn more than many Fortune 500 CEOs, we are truly living in a different world than we did a decade ago.
Not all of these solo content creators are young people, but some are in high school or college. Gen Z is certainly making its voice heard. 2021 was a good year for the generation born between 1997 and 2012, which has now become a serious presence. Gen Z may not produce a majority of the content, but pop culture has always been aimed at the under-25 crowd. Which means Gen Z consumption choices and tastes are fueling the democratizing trends. While many popular creators are older than 24, their audiences often are not.
A related trend that grew in 2021 is the shift away from an ad-based Internet. While advertising remains a powerful force, people increasingly use ad-blockers (or they just tune ads out). Interruptive ads can no longer hold people’s attention unless they entertain. The growth of streaming services and platforms like Substack indicates that many consumers are turning away from ad-based content.
Combined with increased demands for privacy and transparency (and consumer demands that their data won’t be monetized), as well as Apple’s move to kill read receipts, these changes are forcing marketers to rethink their strategies.
Rethinking Your Content Creation in 2022
Facebook’s new facelift – rebranding as “Meta Platforms Inc.” – may have sparked a lot of jokes, Mark Zuckerberg clearly saw the signs that his company needed to shake things up.
If you’re thinking about changing things up in 2022, here are some suggestions.
- Crowdsource: Take advantage of the democratization of content creation. If you’re having trouble churning out new articles and tweets, you now have thousands of options for outsourcing.
- Embrace Gen Z: Whether you’re giving your youngest employees a louder voice or watching young consumers’ taste preferences, 2022 is a good year to get serious about Generation Z. If you want to tailor your content to Gen Z tastes, you might think about asking a few young people what to say.
- Engage Your Employees: If you want to bring people back, focus on treating your workforce well. Much of the Great Resignation was fueled by worker burnout. While some who left don’t want to go back to corporate life, many do. They just want an employer who treats workers well. You can set an example by making sure your current employees love their jobs so much they don’t want to leave. If you pull it off, you’ll have no end of job applicants.
- Try Something New: You could combine each of the previous three. You could crowdsource your content creation to your employees, including your youngest employees. It’s a new concept, but one we believe in. If you’re on the fence, 2022 is a great time to give it a shot.
Experiments, not Resolutions
Everyone knows that New Year’s Resolutions often fail. That’s why some gurus advise a different tactic. If you want to get in shape, or change a habit, don’t set an unrealistic expectation you’ll struggle to meet. Instead, think of it as an experiment
While resolutions create pressure and set people up for failure, those who think of change as an experiment often succeed in getting healthy or quitting smoking (at least over time). If you want to start going to the gym, don’t resolve to go to the gym. Just try doing it a couple times a week starting in January. If you miss it, no big deal. Just go next week.
With an experiment, the stakes are lower than with a resolution. Which makes experiments easier. In 2022, try an experiment. Test out employee advocacy. Give it a trial period. See what your workforce can come up with. See what they can do for you.
We’re betting you’ll like the results enough to stick with it. Until then, have a Happy New Year!